Sony Xperia Z1 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
The Xperia Z1 comes packing some impressive camera hardware for a smartphone. For starters, there is a 20.7 MP sensor with a size of 1/2.3", while the Galaxy S4's 13 MP camera has a sensor size is 1/3.06", which is smaller. Meanwhile, the Z1's aperture is also quite wide at f/2.0, which is a bit better than the GS4's f/2.2. Focal length of the Xperia Z1 is 27mm (compared to 31mm for the S4), which will allow you to capture more of the scene in front of you.
In terms of camera UI, both handsets are quite versatile and convenient to use at the same time. The Xperia Z1 does manage to trump the GS4 a bit in the comfort department, due to its better organized camera settings, but the GS4 kind of makes up for it with the plethora of different modes that it offers, such as Beauty face, Night, Best face, Best photo, Sports and so on. The Xperia Z1 has a bunch of cool modes of its own, though. For example, there's Social Live, which is really fun feature that lets you broadcast video directly to your own Facebook feed.
Turning our attention to the images themselves, it really makes us glad to see that technology is moving forward, as the Xperia Z1 tends to produce even better pictures than the Galaxy S4, which is already a wonderful camera phone. In-focus details are significantly sharper in the 20.7 MP photos taken with the Xperia Z1. There is still a noticeable amount of noise, but on the whole, the data captured by the Z1 is a bit more substantial than what you can get out of the Galaxy S4's snapper. Colors are another interesting area to observe, as the Xperia Z1's photos are usually more realistic-looking. That's not to say that those from the Galaxy S4 are bad — quite the contrary — but they are a bit too contrasting. However, we definitely don't like the way the Z1 overexposes certain brightly-lit areas, which otherwise appear fine when captured with the Galaxy S4.
An added bonus to the 20.7 MP camera of the Xperia Z1 is that it lets you use the so-called Clear Zoom, which enables up to 3x high-quality zoom, unlike the simple digital zoom that the GS4 is capable of.
Indoor pictures are great with both phones. There is once again a bit more detail with the Xperia Z1, but there's also a slightly higher amount of noise. Still, the Z1 does seem to manage the color balance better in lower-lit scenarios. Comparing the power of the LED flashes, the one on the Z1 has the upper hand, as it's capable of illuminating slightly more of the scene in front of the camera.
When it comes to video recording, both handsets can go up to 1920 x 1080 resolution and a smooth frame rate of about 30 fps. There is a bit more sharpness and contrast to the image quality of the GS4's video, while the Z1 once again sticks to a slightly more realistic image. There isn't such a big difference between the two, though. The sound quality of the recorded video is a tad better with the Xperia Z1. The one of the Galaxy S4 is loud and clear, but lacks a bit in the low frequency department.
The Sony Xperia Z1 and Samsung Galaxy S4 are true multimedia powerhouses. With both of them featuring massive 5" 1080p displays, you can imagine that they'll be absolutely fantastic for video playback. This is another area where it'll be up to you to decide if you'd prefer the Galaxy S4's contrasting and vivid visuals, or the Xperia Z1's more natural color balance. You should also keep in mind that the Z1's viewing angles are quite poor, which means it'll be difficult for a number of people to enjoy a video at once. Sound-wise, we prefer the loudspeaker of the GS4, as it is more powerful and sounds a bit better than the Z1's run-of-the-mill speaker.
As far as music playback is concerned, you have Google's Play Music app with both, as well as Sony's and Samsung's custom music players, respectively. Both of them are good and represent what the companies stand for – Samsung's music app sports lots of settings and features, while Sony's Walkman music player is cleaner and a bit more modern. Both handsets come with high-quality earphones, with those of the Xperia Z1 managing to output a slightly better sound. Other than that, neither pair of earphones isn't very convenient to use.