Sony Xperia Z1 vs HTC One



The Sony Xperia Z1 arrived amidst hype and huge expectations as it aimed to deliver an outstanding camera and powerful performance, all in one sleek package. However it has yet to prove it can do better than one of Android’s finest, the HTC One.

The Xperia Z1 and the HTC One, the two ‘ones’, are devices that are actually similar in one way - they both feature exquisite designs on Android, something that was a bit of a rarity on Google’s platform. The glass on the Xperia Z1 and the unibody aluminum frame of the HTC One are both great, however they also differ a lot.

Most importantly, the Xperia Z1 comes with a key advantage - it’s released half a year after the One and features way beefier specs. Will this swing the scales its way? Or can the HTC One still take a beating? Let’s find out.


The HTC One was among the first Android devices to become popular not just for its under-the-hood power, but also for its exquisite design. Sturdy and stylish, the phone features an aluminum unibody frame. It is not the only one to boast a great design, though. The Sony Xperia Z1 is equally very well made, but instead of curved shapes and aluminum, it bets on flat lines, boxy looks and glass. It’s hard to compare apples to oranges, or aluminum to glass in this case, so we’ll just settle on saying that it’s a matter of personal preference. What we like about both is that they feel very solidly put together, with no screaking parts.

One important difference between the two is their size. Both are too large for single handed use, but the Xperia Z1 just feels huge. It’s almost as large as a phablet, and it’s definitely larger than the HTC One. The Z1 is a bit thinner, but its the size that makes it a bit harder to operate. It is also way heavier at 6 ounces (170 grams), while the HTC One is 5.04 ounces (143 grams).

A huge advantage the Sony Xperia Z1 has is its water and dust resistance. Unlike any other Android flagship (HTC One included), the glass frame of the Z1 is sealed and protected from the elements. It has the IP58 certification and that means it is well protected from dust and you can immerse it in water beyond 3 feet deep for prolonged periods of time.

The HTC One features two capacitive navigation buttons, while the Sony Xperia Z1 relies on on-screen keys. In terms of physical buttons, the One has got a very well made, large and convenient to press aluminum volume rocker on the left, and a plastic lock key that is a bit hard to reach on top. The Xperia Z1 buttons are all located on the side and are easy to reach and press, but a bit small. The Z1 features the signature rounded Sony lock key that is stylish but with a bit shallow travel, a volume rocker, and a bonus button in the form of a dedicated camera shutter key.

Sony Xperia Z1

5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches

144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm


6.00 oz (170 g)


5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm


5.04 oz (143 g)

Sony Xperia Z1

5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches

144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm


6.00 oz (170 g)


5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm


5.04 oz (143 g)

See the full Sony Xperia Z1 vs HTC One size comparison or compare them to other phones using our Size Comparison tool.


The HTC One wowed us with one of the best displays we’ve ever seen on a smartphone - a 4.7” 1080 x 1920 pixel screen with crisp image and vivid colors. The Xperia Z1 features a slightly larger, 5-inch 1080 x 1920 pixel display that is even brighter, but colors on it seem just a bit washed out comparatively. Blacks are not that deep as well. Both screens are very sharp, featuring 1080x1920-pixels resolution; resulting in 468 ppi for HTC One and 441 ppi for the Xperia Z1.

The HTC One uses a Super LCD 3 display, while the Xperia Z1 features something that Sony calls a “Triluminous” display. The screen of the Xperia Z1 is quite impressive almost every way you look at it. With its natural and realistic colors, the Z1 is among the more accurate screens out there right now. Its gamma still has some issues, though, resulting in some lost detail in the brighter areas (since some brighter levels are actually brighter than they should be), but overall, it's a great screen. The viewing angles are disastrous, though. . The HTC One has slightly colder, bluer tonalities, but is still very high quality screen with color representation that is perceived as quite realistic.

The two displays are bright enough to be legible even under direct sunlight, but the Xperia Z1 is a bit more luminant and easier to read.

Interface and Functionality

The Sony Xperia Z1 and the HTC One currently run on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with a custom skin on top. We wish we could run the more contemporary Android 4.3 on both, but we don’t think having 4.2.2 is a dealbreaker in any way - after all 4.3 is just a slight gradual update.

The two skins are clean and modern looking without any of the gaudy cartoony looks typical for Samsung and LG. We’re talking about well polished looks with more toned down, mature colors.

Even though they do share these commonalities, there are real difference in functionality as well. We still find some of the Sense 5.0 decisions extravagant - the vertical scrolling icon grid, the default view with only 3 icons in a row, the forced on us BlinkFeed in the home panel feel a bit strange to have. The Xperia Z1 lacks those extravagant decisions and favors more conservative looks, but opts for various animations to liven it up throughout.

In terms of customization, the Xperia Z1 is more versatile too offering differently colored themes and a large number of high-quality wallpapers, whereas the HTC One lacks the themes. We like some small touches like the ability to sort the app grid by most used applications, a unique and useful feature.

Sony has a very fine set of first-party apps like its Walkman music player, video player and media gallery. All those apps share similar modern looks, and offer great functionality. HTC however does not lack much behind. Its apps might not have the same flawless design, but the media gallery definitely delivers in functionality with features like Zoe and automatic video highlights completed with groovy music and various effects, made out of all the images you’ve captured in a day.

Basic functionality is well covered on both as you have rich phonebooks with tabs that you can swipe between. Both are great devices for texters. The stock keyboards are spacious, with large convenient buttons that you quickly get used to.

Processor and Memory

The Sony Xperia Z1 comes nearly half a year after the HTC One and that grants it the advantage of getting the latest, most powerful hardware. In daily use, navigating around Android runs perfectly smooth on both and you won’t notice any difference with light usage.

Start playing games, browsing or using the camera more, you’d start noticing that the Xperia Z1 has the upper hand and is just faster. Sony’s handset runs on the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 system chip (MSM8974), while the HTC device features the Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T) chip. Both feature quad-core processors, but the processor cores are Krait 400 on the Z1 and Krait 300 on the HTC One. Both are built on a 28nm node, but the 400 is built on the more advanced HPm process with High-K and Metal Gate, made to consume low power at peak performance, while the Krait 300 is manufactured using the LP process. The Xperia Z1 processor runs at up to 2.2GHz, while the HTC One's processor – at 1.7GHz. The Krait 400 in the Z1 also has lower latencies and a faster L2 cache. Both devices come with 2GB of fast LPDDR3 RAM.

Probably the biggest difference between the two comes in gaming. The Adreno 330 graphical chip in the Xperia Z1 is a leap ahead of the Adreno 320 in the One, and it allows you to play all the latest games without any lag. Looking at benchmarks, you’d notice that the Xperia Z1 stretches the limits of benchmarks like GFXBench 2.5 and scores close to the coveted 60fps. It also approaches the smooth 30fps framerate on the most intensive game simulations in tests like Basemark X 1.0 and GFXBench T-Rex 2.7.

QuadrantHigher is better
Sony Xperia Z120277
HTC One12481
AnTuTuHigher is better
Sony Xperia Z130838
HTC One23308
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen(fps)Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z153
HTC One31
Vellamo MetalHigher is better
Sony Xperia Z11115
HTC One781
Vellamo HTML 5Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z12889
HTC One2395

All in all, it’s clear that time has taken its toll and the Xperia Z1 is simply the more powerful and more future-proof device in terms of performance.

One big difference between the two is internal storage. The Xperia Z1 comes with 16GB on board (some 10GB of them are user-available), but you can easily expand this via microSD cards of up to 64GB. The HTC One in contrast does not support expandable memory. Instead, it has a set amount of either 32GB or 64GB.

Internet and Connectivity

While HTC and many other companies still include their own custom browser and Google’s mobile Chrome on board, Sony with the Xperia Z1 decided to only feature Chrome. That’s not a bad decision as Chrome is a great mobile browser that stands out with its amazing cross-platform syncing capabilities, speed and intuitive user interface.

Looking at the actual performance, we were smitten with the almost instantaneous loading times on the Xperia Z1. JavaScript just flies on Sony’s flagship and in most cases uple of times faster on the Z1 than on the HTC One. That’s one tangible advantage. As to actual scrolling and zooming around, it’s all buttery smooth on both devices with again a slight edge for the more powerful Xperia Z1.

Both devices feature 4G LTE connectivity, but the Xperia Z1 supports even higher downlink speeds peaking at 150Mbps thanks to LTE Cat4 support. The HTC One’s 4G LTE connection maxes out at 100Mbps. Dual-channel Wi-Fi, A-GPS, Glonass, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 are all on board. The HTC One has one slight advantage here - it supports an infra-red (IR) blaster built inside its lock key so you can use it as a remote control for your TV.


The HTC One came with huge aspirations and HTC marketed it as having a new type of camera, something HTC called UltraPixel. In reality, the implementation turned out not so great - it is a 4-megapixel camera after all and it cannot resolve the level of fine detail other Android flagship cameras could.

The Sony Xperia Z1 also comes with huge aspirations, but in this case, it also delivers a great deal. The Z1 features a 20.7-megapixel auto-focus camera with a single LED flash that captures extremely sharp and detailed images. The camera sensor is also larger than that of most other top-shelf devices at 1/2.3”. The HTC One has a smaller, 1/3” sensor. Both devices have a wide, f/2.0 aperture.

Interestingly, the Z1 does not always shoot in the full 20-megapixel resolution. Instead, in the Superior Auto Mode it tries to detect what you take a picture of and if the conditions are right captures an 8-megapixel image using ‘pixel binning’ technology. The gist of it is that it combines information from multiple pixels to create a clearer image with less noise in it. It’s similar to what Nokia uses on its Lumia 1020.

Firing up the camera is very quick on both devices, but once you open the camera, the actual interface differs a lot. Both are rich in functions and both have separate large and convenient buttons for taking image still and recording video, but HTC has buried deeper manual settings like white balance and ISO in menus and submenus that are harder to find. Both handsets support panoramas, but lack automated shooting modes like ‘portrait’, ‘landscape’ and others to assist newbie photographers.

The actual images turn out great on the Xperia Z1, better than all other phones we've seen save for the Nokia Lumia 1020. They are extremely detailed, sharp, lack noise and have pleasing color fidelity. The HTC One is a good camera, but it’s simply out of the Z1’s league. It lacks detail and has somewhat disappointing low-light indoor performance. When light gets scarce, the Xperia Z1 captures more pleasing colors while the HTC One turns everything to unnaturally cold tones. The Z1 also has a flash with a better reach, that lights up the scene more evenly than the one on the HTC phone.

Taking a picLower is betterTaking an HDR pic(sec)Lower is betterCamSpeed scoreHigher is betterCamSpeed score with flashHigher is better
Sony Xperia Z13.2
No data
HTC One3.4
No data

Video recording is again impressive on Sony’s flagship with an extremely sharp footage at 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and 30 frames per second. The recordings turn out very smooth with no skipped frames and only barely noticeable rolling shutter effect. The HTC One again has comparatively low detail, but wins a lot from its optical image stabilization that keeps the video steady even when your hand shakes. That is one feature the Xperia Z1 is missing.

Both devices also feature very basic 2-megapixel front facing shooters capable of recording 1080p video.


With large and vivid displays, the Sony Xperia Z1 and the HTC One are great for enjoying media on the go. The Z1 has the slightly larger screen and that’s an advantage, but on the downside it has poorer viewing angles so you have to make sure you hold it pointing directly at your face in order to see these great colors.

We’ve already mentioned that Sony has bundled in some great apps in the Xperia Z1. The Walkman music player, the video player and the image gallery all share the same design cues, and are rich in functionality. Both devices support the most popular video codecs out of the box and have no trouble playing back 1080p video.

For music, the front facing stereo speakers on the HTC One are a definite plus as they pump out rich sound with some depth to it. The Xperia Z1 has its speaker on the bottom and not the back. That’s convenient as sound does not get muffled when you lay the device on its back. Yet, it’s not a particularly impressive speaker - loud, but with none of the depth of the One.

Headphones output power(Volts)Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z10.29
HTC One0.68
Loudspeaker loudness(dB)Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z168
HTC One78

Call Quality

Call quality is decent on both handsets, but it’s not great. Listening to our callers, the Xperia Z1 sounds very hollow in the earpiece, but it’s still easy to understand. The HTC One is better in this regard - with voices sounding in their full rich tonality. On the other end of the line, our callers reported that the Xperia Z1 has decent call quality and it’s easy to clearly hear other people’s voices. The HTC One however disappointed with its microphone capturing a lot of echo and yielding a bit muffled voices.


With some clever engineering, Sony managed to cram in a 3000mAh battery inside the slim body of the Xperia Z1, and that’s a great asset that will allow your phone to easily last a full day of use. The HTC One in comparison has a more modest 2300mAh battery. With slightly more conservative use, you’d also be able to use it a full day without recharging.

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script,designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage.All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.
hoursHigher is better
Sony Xperia Z1
4h 43 min(Poor)
5h 45 min(Poor)


The Sony Xperia Z1 comes half a year after the HTC One and good news is that Sony has used the time fully to its advantage. We can safely say that the Xperia Z1 is the better among the two - with a faster processor, a camera thatis light years ahead and similarly great design and polished user interface. The dust and water resistance is another important benefit.

As for the HTC One, it is still a great device on its own. We would still recommend it for buyers on budget - after all, its price has dropped and it’s way cheaper than the Xperia Z1. The aluminum unibody frame is sturdy and feels great, too. Moreover, the One is still fairly compact while the Xperia Z1 feels a bit too big. However, if money is not an issue and you can make do with a larger phone, the Xperia Z1 is the phone to get.

Video Thumbnail

The Sony Xperia Z1S is T-Mobile US' version of the Z1. The Z1S has launched a bit later, though, so while pretty much everything that you've read
in our comparison thus far holds true, we're publishing an updated comparison conclusion below.

Sony Xperia Z1S vs HTC One: Conclusion

The Sony Xperia Z1S comes almost a year after the HTC One and good news is that Sony has definitely used the time to its advantage. We can safely say that the Xperia Z1S is the better among the two - with a faster processor, a camera that is light years ahead, and equally great design and polished user interface. The dust and water resistance of the Z1S is another important benefit which potential buyers should keep in mind.

As for the HTC One, it is still a great device on its own. We would still recommend it for buyers on budget - after all, its price has dropped and it tends to be cheaper than the Xperia Z1S. The aluminum unibody frame is sturdy and feels great, too. Moreover, the One is still fairly compact while the Xperia Z1S feels a bit too big. However, if money is not an issue and you can make do with a larger phone, the Xperia Z1S is the phone to get.

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless