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Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5

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Camera

We generally found the 16-megapixel snapper on the S5 to be superior to the 20.7-megapixel unit on the Z2. It is the slightly more reliable shooter, and it churns out the slightly more attractive stills overall.

Well, well, well! Finally the plot thickens. By all current standards, both the Xperia Z2 and the Galaxy S5 are no joke when it comes to imaging, as the two pack some serious configurations. For its part, Sony's flagship sports one of the largest sensors in a smartphone camera: 1/2.3'', or large enough to house the whopping 20.7 million, 1.1-micron large pixels. The 27mm G Lens' aperture of f/2.0 is also pretty wide, theoretically allowing more light to enter the sensor at any given time. In comparison, the Galaxy S5 features a slightly less incredible-sounding, 1/2.6'' sensor with 16 megapixels and 31mm lens with narrower, f/2.2 aperture.

Starting with the Xperia Z2, we have the more simplistic user interface of the two – controls are mostly intuitive and there aren't as many options as with the cluttered interface of the Galaxy S5. Both devices also come with a number of shooting modes, like Background Defocus (Z2) or Selective Focus (S5), both of which offer fake bokeh effect. So far, so good. But what about the results these impressive snappers produce?

Camera UI of the Sony Xperia Z2 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
Camera UI of the Sony Xperia Z2 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
Camera UI of the Sony Xperia Z2 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
Camera UI of the Sony Xperia Z2 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5

The camera app of the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The camera app of the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The camera app of the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The camera app of the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The camera app of the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The camera app of the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The camera app of the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The camera app of the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5

Looking at Sony's new flagship, we see a lot that we like, though we don't necessarily feel the Z2 introduced any significant improvements over its predecessor. Snaps when light is abundant are great on the whole and have natural colors with a tinge of over-saturation. Sony's default Superior Auto mode shoots 8-megapixel stills instead of 20.7-megapixel ones as you might expect, but the extra resolution isn't exactly wasted. Rather, the software resizes and enhances images in order to arrive at a finer-looking still and to also allow for some lossless zooming. What's more, Superior Auto is a very good judge of the composition in front of it for the most part, and rarely mucks up imperative variables such as proper exposition. Images are pleasantly sharp, and noise levels are perfectly acceptable.

As for Samsung's phone, we definitely see an evolutionary step forward with the Galaxy S5. Color reproduction is quite realistic, and the snapper captures some very detailed and dynamic shots that are very attractive to look at. Samsung's Auto mode churns out much bigger, 16-megapixel snaps, and is also consistently arriving at a proper verdict as far as judging the scene goes. This means that variables like exposure and shutter speed are properly set.

Indoors, in lower light, the two phones act rather differently. The Z2, for its part, fires the flash more often than the S5, which leads to comparatively colder (bluish) shots with washed out colors. This is especially noticeable when the Xperia's stills are put next to the more naturally-toned snaps from the S5. However, in low light, when both phones use their flashes, the Z2 gains an edge, with better overall color. In those scenarios, the snaps produced by the S5 exhibit a visible blue fringing.




A stroll through the video capture department yields equally satisfying results with both devices, though there are some nuances. Perhaps most importantly, both devices deliver properly-exposed clips with natural color reproduction and consistently high frame rate, though we did feel the Z2's samples were just a tad more lifeless, and especially when light wasn't as abundant. That said, the Z2's microphone does a great job of capturing lower frequencies – a field in which the S5's underperforms. Lastly, both devices support 4K video capture, and can even shoot slow-moes in 720p at 120 frames per second.


Multimedia

Full-fledged multimedia hubs for on-the-go consumption.

We found both the Z2 and the S5 to be perfectly reasonable for on-the-go media consumption. Their large, but crisp displays played a big role here, and the crop of multimedia apps in their respective galleries and music and video players are tried and tested. That said, we can't help but give Sony the advantage here, at least as far as looks go – Samsung's software design feels a bit stale in comparison.

Album app - The multimedia experience on the Sony Xperia Z2 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The multimedia experience on the Sony Xperia Z2 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
Walkman player - The multimedia experience on the Sony Xperia Z2 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The multimedia experience on the Sony Xperia Z2 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5

Album app

 

Walkman player

 

Gallery - The multimedia experience on the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The multimedia experience on the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
Music player - The multimedia experience on the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
The multimedia experience on the Samsung Galaxy S5 - Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5

Gallery

 

Music player

 

Sound reproduction is something of a surprising tie. We sure dig the duo of front-facing speakers on the Xperia Z2, as they offer a true stereo effect and sound has a nice depth to it, but, at the same time, volume levels are just unsatisfying. In comparison, the singular speaker on the Galaxy S5's rear offers some serious volume punch, and sound fidelity is also pretty good for a loudspeaker on a phone.



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