Showdown: Samsung Galaxy S5 VS Sony Xperia Z2

We pit Samsung's upcoming smartphone flagship against Sony's new contender

Samsung and Sony recently showcased their upcoming flagships at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The two smartphones are neck-and-neck; however, there are a few differences and you'll find them here.

Neck to neck

We’ll start by saying that, on paper, we’re completely in awe of what both of these smartphones have achieved. Sony and Samsung are clearly pushing the smartphone envelope as far as it can go, and a glance at the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2's spec sheet makes this clear.

Sam Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5

Sony Xperia Z2

Sony Xperia Z2

Verdict

?
Operating system
Google Android 4.4 (KitKat)
Google Android 4.4 (KitKat)
Draw
Screen size
5.1in
5.2in
Sony Xperia Z2
Display resolution
1920x1080
1920x1080
Draw
Pixel density
432ppi
424ppi
Samsung Galaxy S5
Speakers
Mono
Stereo
Sony Xperia Z2
Durability
IP67 (Dust and water resistant)
IPX5 and IPX8 (waterproof) and IP5X (Dust protected)
Sony Xperia Z2
SIM card
Micro-SIM
Micro-SIM
Draw
Front camera
2-megapixels
2.2-megapixels
Draw
Rear camera
16-megapixels, single LED flash
20.7-megapixels, single LED flash
Sony Xperia Z2
Camera features
Phase detection, HDR, selective focus, virtual tour shot, autofocus, panorama
HDR (for picture and film), burst mode, image stabiliser, object tracking, red eye reduction, scene recognition, smile shutter, sweep panorama, touch focus, face detection
Sony Xperia Z2
Video recording
Ultra HD @ 30fps
Ultra HD @ 30fps
Draw
Internal memory
32GB
16GB
Samsung Galaxy S5
Expandable memory
Yes, microSD up to 128GB
Yes, microSD up to 64GB
Samsung Galaxy S5
Thickness
8.1mm
8.2mm
Draw
Weight
145g
163g
Samsung Galaxy S5
RAM
2GB
3GB
Sony Xperia Z2
Processor
Qualcomm 2.5Ghz (quad-core)
Qualcomm 2.3Ghz (quad-core)
Samsung Galaxy S5
LTE support
Yes
Yes
Draw
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
NFC
Yes
Yes
Draw
Quoted battery life (talk time)
Up to 21 hours
Up to 19 hours
Samsung Galaxy S5
Battery size
2800mAh
3200mAh
Sony Xperia Z2
Connector
Standard Micro USB
Standard Micro USB
Draw

Design

The two upcoming smartphones really aren’t all that new on the outside. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 largely resembles the Galaxy S4 that came before it, and Sony’s Xperia Z2 shares many of the design attributes first defined by the original Xperia Z.

Samsung Galaxy S5

None

Samsung’s Galaxy S series have been subtly revised over the last couple of years. The greatest difference in the Galaxy S5's is the new perforated pattern on the back of the smartphone. Samsung claims the patterned design makes the S5 easier to grip, and we have to admit it’s no sore sight on the eyes either.

Samsung's Galaxy smartphones keep getting bigger in size, but somehow the South Korean company is able to do this without the weight getting out of control. Despite the improvements made to the Galaxy S5, it weight just 16 grams more than the Galaxy S4, and it weighs 18 grams less than the Sony Xperia Z2.

Few other tweaks have been made to the S5’s appearance. The styling of the front is nearing three years old, and this look isn't ageing as well as the two-year-old Xperia Z2.

Sony Xperia Z2

None

There’s minimalist and then there’s downright simpleton, and Sony’s design language appears to be the latter. There is no ergonomic curve to the Xperia Z2’s back cover. The design philosophy here has been dictated by protractors and rulers, apart from the subtle rounding of four corners.

Sony manages to make this boxed design work by minimising the weight and thickness of the smartphone. It weighs 163 grams and is just 8mm thick. Then there’s the build quality, with the subtleties afforded by details such as a rear panel coated in glass.

Now bolt a big and bright Triluminos display to such a body, and what you end up with is a good looking smartphone. We only hope the boxed design feels good in the hand.

Competitive edge

Numbers alone don’t tell the full story as both Samsung’s and Sony’s smartphones are differentiated by unique traits.

Samsung Galaxy S5

None

The Galaxy S5 features a Finger Scanner; although we’re not quite sure the smartphone makes use of the home button like Apple’s iPhone 5S, or if it has optimised its screen technology to recognise fingerprints. Either way, the inclusion of a Finger Scanner, combined with the company’s existing Knox solution, should make the Galaxy S5 an ideal device in the enterprise space.

The Galaxy S5 features a heart monitor in what Samsung claims is a World-first. In doing so, the Galaxy S5 immediately appreciates in the eyes of exercise enthusiasts and people who need to monitor their vitals. If you do fall in the latter category, no smartphone will be able to meet this specific need apart from the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Samsung has also optimised the Galaxy S5’s connectivity by bonding the latest Wi-Fi ac standard with 4G LTE technology. This feature, referred to as Download Booster, quickens your download speed. Samsung claims the Galaxy S5 can download a gigabyte movie in just thirty seconds.

Battery life is another point of difference. The Samsung Galaxy S5 manages to deliver more talk time than the Xperia Z2, and this is in spite of it featuring a smaller battery. Samsung has managed to increase the S5’s battery life by designing efficient software modes, particularly the Ultra Saving Power mode.

Sony Xperia Z2

None

Sony’s Xperia Z2 has inherited a large part of its technologies from other divisions within the company. The 5.2in screen borrows the triluminos display popularised by Sony’s televisions, while the camera features mobile versions of the company’s imaging technologies. These little details don’t necessarily stand out on a spec sheet, but they ultimately add up to an improved user experience.

There are other details that set the Sony apart from Samsung’s Galaxy S5. People might be quick to overlook its 3GB of RAM, but that is 50 per cent more than the Samsung’s 2GB. The extra RAM should help the Xperia Z2 juggle more applications simultaneously and better fend off the aging process.

Then there’s the novelty of the Sony flagship. Its superior durability rating means the Xperia Z2 can be used in freshwater 1.5m deep for a period of 30 minutes. Although Samsung has made the Galaxy S5 resistant to water, we doubt it can withstand the same kind of punishment.

Final thought

Samsung and Sony are two heavyweights in the smartphone industry, and we’re confident both will be ideal for everyday use. Samsung’s older Galaxy, the S4, was criticised for featuring too many superfluous applications and most of them were considered to be gimmicks. The Galaxy S5 seems promising because its Samsung’s attempt to return to the basics.

But the gap between Samsung and companies like Sony and HTC is decreasing. When the Galaxy S3 was launched, Samsung gained a sizable lead because its smartphone was significantly better than the alternatives. Now with the Sony Xperia Z2, we’re not even sure if there is a gap.

Sony’s flagship Xperia could be the ‘something new’ the market is craving. We say ‘could’ because you won't know which smartphone will come out on top until you're holding both slabs of smartphones in the palm of your hand. Sony intends to begin the global roll out of the Xperia Z2 two weeks following its 24 February unveiling. Samsung claimed the Galaxy S5 will be available in 100 markets on the 11 April.Good Gear Guide will bring more news and reviews on the two smartphones in the meantime.

Update, 7 Mar: Samsung has issued invites for the Australian launch of the Galaxy S5. Click here for more information.

Update. 7 Mar: Added speaker specifications in the comparison chart.

Related articles

Samsung Galaxy S5: Australian telco availability and plans
Battle of the Personal Assistants: Apple vs Samsung vs LG vs Google
Samsung reveals Galaxy S5: Water resistant, biometric security, 16MP camera and more
Sony's Xperia Z2 flagship takes the fight to Samsung

Read more: Sony’s flagship Xperia Z2 goes on sale in Australia today

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Tony Ibrahim

Tony Ibrahim

PC World

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