Sony Xperia Z1 vs. LG G2: Android smartphone showdown

Which is the better Android phone, the Sony Xperia Z1 or LG's G2?

Samsung's Galaxy S4 and the HTC One are two of the most popular Android phones on the market, and often lauded as the best alternatives to the iPhone 5s. There's plenty of challengers on the market right now, however, and two of the newest in Australia are the Sony Xperia Z1 and the LG G2. Which one is right for you?

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Read our full review of the Sony Xperia Z1 here
Read our full review of the LG G2 here

The Xperia Z1 has an attractive, glass-back design, that's fully waterproof and boasts an impressive 20-megapixel camera, while the G2's extensive software features, glossy, plastic finish and an excellent 5.2in screen immediately draw comparisons to the popular Galaxy S4.

Let's find out how these new flagship Android smartphones compare.

For a more detailed specifications comparison, click here to use the compare function on Good Gear Guide.

Sony Xperia Z1

Sony Xperia Z1 Android phone

LG G2

LG G2 Android phone

Verdict

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Operating system
Google Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
Google Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
Draw
Screen size
5in
5.2in
LG G2
Display resolution
1920x1080
1920x1080
Draw
Display technology
TFT
IPS+
LG G2
Pixel density
441ppi
424ppi
Sony Xperia Z1
Front camera
2-megapixels
2.1-megapixels
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Rear camera
20-megapixels, single LED flash
13-megapixels, single LED flash
Sony Xperia Z1
Camera features
Autofocus, tap to focus, face detection, optical image stabilisation, HDR, panorama
Autofocus, tap to focus, face & smile detection, image stabilisation, HDR, Simultaneous video and image recording
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Video recording
1080p HD @ 30fps
1080p HD @ 60fps
LG G2
Internal memory
16GB
32GB
LG G2
Expandable memory
Yes, microSD
No
Sony Xperia Z1
Thickness
8.5mm
8.9mm
Sony Xperia Z1
Weight
170g
143g
LG G2
RAM
2GB
2GB
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Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.2Ghz Krait (quad-core)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.2Ghz Krait (quad-core)
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Australian 3G networks
HSDPA 850/900/2100
HSDPA 850/900/2100
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Australian 4G networks
LTE 1800MHz
LTE 1800MHz
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Wi-Fi
802.11a/b/g/n/ac
802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Draw
Bluetooth
4.0 with A2DP
4.0 with A2DP
Draw
HDMI-out
No (Yes via MHL adapter)
No (Yes via SlimPort adapter)
Draw
Quoted battery life (talk time)
Up to 15 hours
Up to 17.5 hours
LG G2
Battery size
3000mAh
3000mAh
Draw
Connector
Standard Micro USB
Standard Micro USB
Draw
SIM card
Micro-SIM
Micro-SIM
Draw

Sony Xperia Z1 vs. LG G2: Design

The Sony Xperia Z1 follows a similar design to its predecessor, the Xperia Z. It retains a long, rectangular shape with flat sides, square corners and a sheet of tempered glass on both the front and the back. On the plus side, the glass on the back combined with a single piece of aluminium wrapped around the edge gives it a real premium feel.

On a negative note, the Z1 weighs a pretty hefty 170g, the glass back easily picks up scratches, and the shape of the handset makes for poor ergonomics. The edges of the phone are a particular annoyance — they're a little sharp and often dig into your fingers.

The best design feature of the Xperia Z1 is the fact that it is waterproof, not just water resistant. The phone will handle fresh water at up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes, and is also dust resistant, provided the flaps covering the microSD card slot, micro-USB port, and SIM card slot are all sealed.

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The LG G2 is a very different smartphone as it's constructed largely from plastic. The hard, glossy surface on the back has an attractive, etched pattern printed into it, and it doesn't creak or rattle when pressed. There's no microSD card slot, however, and that's a feature you'll find on the Xperia Z1.

The key design feature is LG's decision to put the volume rocker and power buttons on the back of the phone, just below the rear camera lens. It doesn't work very seamlessly in real world use, though, as we often accidentally pressed the lock screen key when aiming for the volume down button. Because the buttons are just below the camera, we also ended up smearing our grubby fingerprints all over the lens.

The G2 also happens to be one of the slipperiest smartphones we've ever held. The device just feels like it's on a water slide every time it's in your hands and constantly feels slimy. We definitely recommend investing in a case with good grip to avoid dropping it.

Sony Xperia Z1 vs. LG G2: Display

The Sony Xperia Z1 has a 5in screen with a full HD resolution of 1920x1080. The screen is relatively bright and clear and displays very crisp text when looking directly front on, but its viewing angles are mediocre compared to many rival models, including the G2. While most people who use their smartphone will be looking at the display directly front on, the Xperia Z1's screen is clearly the weakest aspect of this device.

The G2's 5.2in IPS screen is one of the best on the market.
The G2's 5.2in IPS screen is one of the best on the market.

One of the Xperia Z1's biggest weaknesses just so happens to be a huge strength of the G2. Its 5.2in IPS screen is highlighted by a super thin 2.5mm bezel and means the display almost looks like a completely edge-to-edge screen. It's a full HD 1080p display with a resolution of 1920x1080 and it offers superb colour reproduction, excellent clarity and outstanding brightness. It also performs very well in direct sunlight, and displays super crisp text. It's one of the best looking displays on any smartphone we've ever reviewed and the clear winner in this battle.

Sony Xperia Z1 vs. LG G2: Software

The Xperia Z1 and the LG G2 may both be Android devices, but the software overlays that sit on top of the operating system are very different. LG has followed Samsung's path by completely skinning the 4.2 Jelly Bean UI with its own overlay, while Sony takes a less is more approach, making minimal changes to the stock version of Android. Whether you prefer one of the other is ultimately going to be a personal preference.

The Xperia Z1's interface is very similar to its predecessor but with some nice new additions. There's now four customisable toggles in the notifications drop down, an upgraded applications drawer with a new swipe out menu, a minimalist lock screen, and excellent Album and Walkman apps. Most of the changes Sony has made actually add to the overall user experience.

The Xperia Z1's user interface is clean, slick and intuitive.
The Xperia Z1's user interface is clean, slick and intuitive.

On the other hand, we think LG's overwhelming desire to cram as many features into the G2 as possible actually makes the phone less intuitive to use. The notifications panel is a good example — quick settings toggles, and a large QSlide apps menu take up more than half of the screen, leaving room for just two notifications. LG says the QSlide apps "help you multitask easily" but we found it easier just to use the regular multitasking menu to switch between apps.

The worst feature of all is LG's take on multitasking, called 'Slide Aside', which is no quicker or better than using the regular multitasking menu. The autocorrect software on LG's keyboard is also poor.

Sony Xperia Z1 vs. LG G2: Camera

The camera on the Xperia Z1 boasts a 1/2.3in sensor, a G lens with 27mm wide angle and a range of software features. The highlight is performance in low light. The LED flash doesn't wash out images like most other smartphone cameras do, and even without the flash, the Xperia Z1 takes decent images in low lit environments.

The Xperia Z1 has a 20-megapixel sensor, but the camera app is by default set to capture 8-megapixel photos. Capturing full 20-megapixel images is only available by switching to "manual mode", which allows users to adjust settings like white balance and ISO. This is a little disappointing as Sony's "superior auto" mode captures some excellent images with a minimum of fuss.

A photo we captured with the Xperia Z1 (click to enlarge).
A photo we captured with the Xperia Z1 (click to enlarge).

Other camera features include a "Timeshift burst" mode that takes 61 images in just two seconds — a second before and after pressing the shutter. It's a nice feature and works well when trying to capture fast motion. There's also an "Info-Eye" feature that uses augmented reality to provide a visual search function on any captured landmarks or particular items, a sweep panorama mode, and an effect mode that let's you shoot with up to nine live filters.

The LG G2 has a smaller, 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with optical image stabilisation, and a front-facing 2.1-megapixel camera for video calls. Like the rest of the software, LG has added a wealth of options and settings to the camera application. There's a whopping 12 modes in total, including the ability to remove objects or people from photos, panorama, burst shot, time catch and intelligent auto modes. The app is surprisingly intuitive, however, with most controls and settings easily accessible.

A photo we captured with the LG G2 indoors. (click to enlarge)
A photo we captured with the LG G2 indoors. (click to enlarge)

We found photos captured with the G2 impressively detailed, especially outdoors in good lighting. However, indoor performance was less impressive with image noise and grain hindering many of our shots. Overall, the G2's 13-megapixel camera is capable of capturing some excellent photos, but it is not significantly better than its competitors.

Sony Xperia Z1 vs. LG G2: Internals

Like most flagship smartphones, both of these handsets boast impressive specifications. The Xperia Z1 is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM. The phone doesn't exhibit any notable lag or slowdown during basic tasks and also handles graphically intense games with notable ease. There's 16GB of internal memory, along with a microSD card slot for any extra storage.

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Thankfully, all that extra software doesn't slow down the G2. It remains one of the fastest and most responsive Android phones we've used, no doubt helped along by the same 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor used in the Xperia Z1, and 2GB of RAM. We didn't experience any performance issues or lag, and the device handles most graphically intense games, including Real Racing 3 and FIFA 14 without skipping a beat. The only real complaint is the lack of removable storage. The 32GB of internal memory will be enough for most, but if not, there's no microSD card slot for memory expansion.

The Sony Xperia Z1 is available now in black, white, and purple colour variants through major Australian carriers Telstra, Optus and Virgin Mobile. It is also available outright for AU$779 through Sony Centres, Harvey Norman and Dick Smith Electronics retail stores.

The LG G2 is available now exclusively through Optus. The handset also sells for an outright RRP of AU$699.

What do you think about the Sony Xperia Z1 and the LG G2? Which smartphone would you buy and why? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Related content

Sony Xperia Z1 review
Optus prices Sony's Xperia Z1, Z Ultra
Sony's 20-megapixel Xperia Z1 coming to Telstra, Optus, Virgin Mobile
LG G2 review
Optus to sell LG's flagship G2 from 4 November

Tags android phoneslgAndroid 4.2mobile phonessmartphonessonyjelly bean

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

Good Gear Guide

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