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Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 - specs comparison

Katharine Byrne
7 Sep 2014
Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
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The Xperia Z3 is finally here so we've compared it to Samsung Galaxy S5 to see which phone you should buy

Sony has finally unveiled the Xperia Z3 at its IFA press conference in Berlin. It comes just six months after Sony launched its predecessor, the Xperia Z2, which is starting to become a recurring cycle with Sony's top-end phones. This doesn't leave much time to introduce any huge improvements to the Z3, but how does Sony's latest handset compare to other top-end handsets? With Samsung's Galaxy S5 still one of the best Android phones around, we've pitted the two against each other to see which one you should buy.

Be aware that this is purely a specification comparison to highlight the differences as they stand on paper. We've included benchmark figures where we've got them to show any performance gaps, but until we get the Xperia Z3 in for a full review we can't judge things like battery life, screen quality and camera image quality. We'll have to wait for an official release to give a final verdict, but in the meantime you can decide whether it's worth waiting for, or whether the Samsung Galaxy S5 would be a better buy.

DESIGN

Dimensions: The Xperia Z3 is a huge handset, but its meagre dimensions measure just 146 x 72 x 7.3mm. The Samsung Galaxy S5 isn't far behind, measuring 142 x 73 x 8.1mm, but it's just under 1mm fatter. Samsung has the edge when it comes to weight, though, as the S5 weighs just 145g compared to the Z3's 152g.

Materials: Previous Xperia Z phones have always had tempered glass rear panels, and the Xperia Z3 is no different. This time, though, it also has new nylon corners on its aluminium frame to help reduce the impact from any falls or tumbles. It's available in white, black, copper and silver green. 

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 side by side

The Galaxy S5, on the other hand, is still made from plastic rather than metal, so it lacks the premium materials to put it on par with the Xperia Z3. It still feels well-made, though and it certainly doesn't feel like a cheap hunk of plastic like some cheaper phones tend to. The dimpled soft-touch plastic on the back also gives the phone a little more grip, and the plain black finish on the front looks stylish. It's available in black, white, gold and blue.

DISPLAY

The Xperia Z3 has a large 5.2in screen with a 1,920x1,080 resolution. This gives it a pixel density of 423ppi, so the screen should be perfectly clear and sharp for watching Full HD video at its native resolution. The Z3 also uses Sony's Triluminos display technology to supposedly deliver brighter, more vivid colours. Sony claims the Z3 will have the world's brightest smartphone display as well, measuring a huge 600cd/m2, but we'll have to test this ourselves before we can pass judgment.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S5 also has a 1,920x1,080 resolution, but has a 5.1in screen, giving it a higher pixel density of 432ppi. This means the pixels are more tightly packed than the Xperia Z3, but you'd be hard pushed to notice the difference during day-to-day use, even when watching Full HD video.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 screen size

Both phones have a 16:9 aspect ratio, but their large size means that people with smaller hands may find it difficult to reach the very top of the screen when using the phone one-handed. It can, however, make reading websites optimised for the desktop much easier than phones with smaller screens and smaller resolutions. 

PERFORMANCE

Processor: Both the Xperia Z3 and Galaxy S5 use a quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. While we've yet to test the Z3 for ourselves, the Samsung Galaxy S5 scored a lightning fast 391ms in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark test.

Hopefully, this should mean the Z3 will be able to compete with the S5 on a level playing field when it comes to web browsing performance, but we suspect this won't be the case. After all, the Xperia Z2, which used a 2.3GHz version of the Snapdragon 801 processor, scored almost 200ms slower than other phones we've tested with this model such as the HTC One m8, so it's possible the Xperia Z3 could suffer from the same decrease in speed. With this in mind, we wouldn't be surprised if the Samsung Galaxy S5 was significantly faster than the Z3 when it came to final testing.  

Memory: The Xperia Z3 has a massive 3GB of RAM, which is more than enough for handling multiple tasks at once in Android 4.4. Samsung, by contrast, has put just 2GB of RAM in the Galaxy S5, but we certainly don't have any complaints about the time it takes to open apps. 

Storage: The Xperia Z3 will be available with 16GB of storage, but Sony has also revealed a 32GB variant in its white paper for the device. Whether this model will come to the UK is unknown, but all models will be compatible with microSD cards up to 128GB as well, but new file permissions in Android 4.4 KitKat mean you have to use Sony's File Commander app to organise your music, videos and photos on the SD card as third party file managers won't work.

The Galaxy S5, on the other hand, comes in both 16GB and 32GB versions. It also has a microSD card slot, which supports up to 128GB cards. Samsung also has its own file manager app called My Files app, making it easy to move files between folders on the SD card.

CAMERA

Like its predecessor, the Xperia Z3 uses a 20.7-megapixel 1/2.3” ExmorRS sensor and Bionz mobile processing engine. It has an 8x digital zoom, can record video in 4K and has an ISO sensitivity of 12,800, which means it should be able to perform well in very low lighting conditions. This is a world first for a smartphone, but we'll have to test it ourselves before we can say whether it's any better than the Galaxy S5's camera.


Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 camera

The S5 has a 1/2.6in sensor with a 16-megapixel sensor. The S5's camera also uses the new ISOCELL sensor technology, which reduces the crop factor of the final image and improves dynamic range by preventing light leaking from one pixel to another. It can record 1,080 video at 60fps and 4K video at 30fps. 

FEATURES

The Xperia Z3 improves on the Z2's waterproof and dust-prevention capabilities even further. It's now been certified as IP65/68 compliant, which means you can use it up to 1.5m of fresh water for up to 30 minutes and it's completely protected against the ingress of dust. 

The Galaxy S5 is also water and dust resistant, but is only certified as IP67. This means it can only survive up to 1m of water, but both phones should be protected against accidental drops down the loo, for example. The Galaxy S5 has its own fingerprint sensor as well, which is built into the home button. Rather than press and hold, you have to swipe your finger across the button to authorise PayPal transactions, protect files or folders and unlock the handset.

One thing that really sets the Galaxy S5 apart from other handsets is its heavy focus on fitness. It has ANT+ support for connecting a heart rate monitor or pedometer, and a heart rate sensor built into the back of the phone and is also compatible with Samsung's wearable range, including the original Galaxy Gear, new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit smart band. It will work with other Android Wear devices as well, such as the LG G Watch and the imminent Moto 360.


Sony Xperia Z3 PS4 mount

The Xperia Z3, meanwhile, will appeal to PS4 owners, as it will be the first Sony phone (along with its smaller cousin, the Xperia Z3 Compact) to use Sony's PS4 Remote Play app. This lets you use your phone as a remote screen to connect and control your games on your PS4, which means you can still play games if other members of your family want to watch something on TV. It's a similar idea to the Nintendo Wii U's Off-TV Play feature, but it effectively turns your PS4 into a handheld gaming console - as long as you're prepared to buy the GCM10 Game Control Mount to connect it to the Dualshock 4 controller, that is. We don't know how much this will cost yet, but this will be a hugely attractive feature for anyone who wants to be able to play their PS4 games anywhere in the house. 

CONCLUSION

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is our current reigning champion of Android phones, and the Xperia Z3 will have a fair amount to prove if it's ever going to stand a chance of taking its crown. We don't know how much the Xperia Z3 will cost yet either, which will be another deciding factor in which phone you should go for.

However, PS4 owners will definitely want to watch this space, as the Xperia Z3's PS4-compatibility could prove to be one of its most winning features. We'll deliver a final verdict once we get our hands on a review sample. 

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