Sony Xperia Z vs Samsung Galaxy S III

Introduction and Design

Sony was quick to release its flagship smartphone for the first half of 2013 – the Xperia Z. The company did its job ahead of everyone else and is now enjoying a comfortable specs lead against the current Android flagships on the market. But as we all know, specs ain't everything! Could it be that the Galaxy S III, one of the best smartphones of 2012, can still prove to be a worthy opponent to the Xperia Z, even though technological evolution is on the side of Sony's handset? Let us take a closer look and find out!


There are some evident differences regarding the design language for both devices. On one hand, we have the Sony Xperia Z, which has this rectangular shape and all-glass body, while on the other there's the Galaxy S III with its rounded corners and plastic build. Generally, we'd say that the Xperia Z has the more striking appearance of the two, definitely the more stylish one, though the GS III is easily the winner when it comes to comfort, as its rounded edges make the device feel substantially smaller in the hand.

In terms of build quality, the Galaxy S III is really no match for the Xperia Z, as its thin, plastic body may be pleasant to the touch, but leaves a lot to be desired as far as sturdiness and materials go.

One thing we really appreciate about the Xperia Z is the fact that it's water- and dust-resistant, which is a feature that you cannot find in any other flagship smartphone, including the Galaxy S III.


Both the Xperia Z and Galaxy S III have a lot going for their displays, though both take very different approaches in that area. This is also one area where technological evolution has played its part, as the Xperia Z is armed with what seems to be the standard for high-end Android phones in 2013 – a 5” screen with 1080x1920-pixel resolution. This kind of size and res make for an amazing pixel density of 441 ppi, which means that pretty much anything that comes out on this screen is exceptionally sharp and clear. The GS III with its 4.8”, 720x1280-pixel resolution (306 ppi) screen is also very detailed and sharp, but of course the Z has the advantage here.

Being an advanced LCD screen, the one of the Xperia Z features much more realistic-looking colors, especially when compared to the Galaxy S III's colder tones. Overall though, the GS III is much more saturated and vibrant, so you may find it a bit more suitable for multimedia stuff, whereas the Xperia Z features the Mobile BRAVIA 2 engine, which also adds a certain degree of vibrancy to the image, but that feature only works in the gallery and video player, so overall you tend to end up looking at a slightly more lifeless image.

That said, the GS III has the dimmer screen, so keep this mind if you plan a lot of outdoor usage. Both handsets fail to impress with their viewing angles.

Interface and Functionality

The Xperia Z and Galaxy S III both run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with the respective custom UI on top. We quite like both user interfaces. The manufacturers have done a pretty decent job at creating a unique, yet relatively streamlined experience that is both open to customization and not too cluttered.

The Xperia Z UI seems to be a bit more polished in terms of little details, but it also offers fewer options and settings to play with. Thankfully, both manufacturers have also customized all the core applications to make them more suitable to the rest of the UI. Because of that, you'll be having a uniform and standardized experience whatever you're doing with your phone, which is a great thing.

Understandably, the onscreen QWERTY keyboards of the Xperia Z are slightly more spacious due to the bigger screen, but the difference isn't really significant, as the GS III also has one very large display.

Processor and Memory

The Galaxy S III may be a bit old now, but its hardware is still perfectly capable of running whatever you throw at it. Meanwhile, there is no doubt that the Xperia Z will be a bit more future-proof thanks to the newer silicon that it employs.

Sony has used the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset for the Z, which is of course one super-powerful chip, especially when coupled to the Adreno 320 GPU. Samsung, on the other hand, prefers to make its own chips rather than buy from other companies, and thus uses the Exynos 4 (4412) for the GS III, which is also a wonderful chip.

The Galaxy S III is a bit more flexible in terms of storage space. The device comes in 16, 32 and 64 GB flavors and also features a microSD card slot for additional storage. The Xperia Z only comes as a 16 GB model with the ability to increase that via microSD.

QuadrantHigher is better
Sony Xperia Z8221
Samsung Galaxy S III5335
AnTuTuHigher is better
Sony Xperia Z20835
Samsung Galaxy S III15152
Vellamo MetalHigher is better
Sony Xperia Z626
Vellamo HTML 5Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2198

Internet and Connectivity

Being Jelly Bean devices, both smartphones have Chrome as their default browser. Still, the GS III has also kept the standard TouchWiz browser, which is built on the ICS internet browser. We like it that Samsung has decided to keep this one, because it actually performs better than Chrome. Of course, for those who are into Chrome and use it on their desktops too, sticking with mobile Chrome will probably provide better experience for them. Neither handset has Flash Player, but you can install it on both. With the Xperia Z, you'll also need to install a third-party browser to enjoy Flash content, because Chrome doesn't support it.

Users will not miss anything whichever phone they choose as far as connectivity goes. The handsets have it all – LTE, HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0, high-speed Wi-Fi n 5GHz and NFC. Their specs sheets are really feature-rich, so if you like having all the latest features and technology in your phone, you won't be disappointed by either of them.

Camera and Multimedia

Despite the buzz around the Xperia Z's 13MP camera and its Exmor RS sensor, we were a bit disappointed to find out that the camera is not quite up there with the best. For example, even though it's a 13MP camera, we found the details to be lacking compared to those in the Galaxy S III's images. On top of that, there's a noticeable purple shade in the Z's images, making things look somewhat unnatural.

When shooting indoors, pics from the Xperia Z tend to come out a bit better, especially if there's plenty of light, partly thanks to the higher resolution.

Sure, the Galaxy S III is still one of the best cameraphones out there, but we expected more from the hyped camera of the Xperia Z.

Video recording is also better with the Galaxy S III, as the clips shot with Samsung's handset are a bit sharper and have better brightness and contrast levels. Still, the Xperia Z has a special trick up its sleeve here, as it allows for the recording of HDR video, which may be helpful in some low-light or night situations.

Taking a picLower is betterTaking an HDR pic(sec)Lower is betterCamSpeed scoreHigher is betterCamSpeed score with flashHigher is better
Sony Xperia Z3
Samsung Galaxy S III2.5
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Both handsets are incredible for multimedia consumption. The Xperia Z has the advantage of a slightly bigger screen, while the Galaxy S III benefits from the vivid and saturated colors of the AMOLED screen technology. We can't see the 0.2” size difference as being of any major importance, so it'll mainly depend on what you prefer – a brighter and more realistic screen or a slightly dimmer but super high-contrast and vibrant image.

Call quality

Samsung's Galaxy S III remains one of the better smartphones to make calls with, thanks to the quality components and special equalizer which makes sure to adjust the signal in real time to that it sounds good to you. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the Xperia Z, the earpiece of which happens to be on the weaker side. The microphone is also sub-par, delivering a modulated and easily distorted voice.


Both handsets have some pretty impressive stats for talk-time and stand-by battery life. The Xperia Z for example is rated for up to 14 hours of talk-time and 22.1 days of stand-by in 3G, while the Galaxy S III should last for up to 11.6 hours of talk-time and 32.1 days of stand-by in 3G. Of course, battery life will vary greatly depending on your usage. Display brightness is usually one of the main juice consumers, and with the Galaxy S III there's even another factor that come into play – the content you are viewing. That's because AMOLED screens tend to consume more power when showing brighter images, and less power when showing darker stuff. So, our advice is to not think about it too much and just be confident that you can get up to two days of moderate use out of both phones.

Headphones output power(Volts)Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z0.37
Samsung Galaxy S III0.3
Loudspeaker loudness(dB)Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z67
Samsung Galaxy S III79


It should be clear by now that you can't go wrong with either handset. Both the Sony Xperia Z and Samsung Galaxy S III are exceptional smartphones with their own pros and cons. On one hand, we have the Xperia Z with its exquisite glass design and powerful hardware, but on the other, there's the Galaxy S III that offers almost the same amount of goodies and does some things better.

Being a newer device, the Xperia Z has the benefit of technological evolution, which allows it to outshine Samsung's 2012 flagship in some areas like the display. As a whole, however, the Xperia Z didn't do enough to make us see it as the ultimate victor in this struggle. The Galaxy S III managed to hold its ground without too many casualties, proving once again that its place among the smartphone elite is well-deserved.

Sony Xperia Z vs Samsung Galaxy S III:

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