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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z1 comparison review

In our full comparison review, we ask: Should you splash out on the latest Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, or save some cash and bag the still-awesome Sony Xperia Z1 instead?

As much as we enjoyed the Samsung Galaxy S5 (check out our full Galaxy S5 review), the near-£600 price tag is steep enough to make all but the well-off tremble. Of course that’s a pretty standard cost for a brand new premium mobile, but don’t worry if you’re a bit skint – you can still enjoy the slick features of a flagship device, on a bit of budget, if you bag one that’s a little older. Step forward, Sony Xperia Z1.

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 comparison review

We’ve already compared the Samsung Galaxy S5 with last year’s Galaxy S4, now available from around £350, but you can also grab the five-star Sony Xperia Z1 for just £400 – even though it was only launched in September 2013 – as the Xperia Z2 is already on its way.

The Xperia Z1 boasts many of the same features as the Galaxy S5, including a water-resistant body, Full HD screen and 4G support, meaning on paper they stack up well. So, is the Samsung Galaxy S5 really worth the extra bucks, or should you save some cash and bag the Sony Xperia Z1 instead? Check out our full comparison review video below.


Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z1: Design

The Galaxy S5 is quite a handful with its 5.1-inch screen, just a mite larger than the Xperia Z1’s 5-incher. They’re both big boys, but the Sony feels more robust thanks to its glass backing and one-piece metallic rim.

In contrast, the Galaxy S5’s lighter, plastic body doesn’t look or feel as premium. However, the Galaxy S5 is now fully water-resistant, just like the Xperia, so both phones can survive a serious dunking in a toilet, bath or pint of bitter.

Samsung Galaxy S5 or Sony Xperia Z1, which should I buy?

The Galaxy S5 does have one serious advantage too: the home button doubles as a fingerprint scanner, and it ain’t just for unlocking the phone. You can even use it to securely pay for stuff online using PayPal, a feature that could prove highly popular going forwards.

Samsung Galaxy S5 or Sony Xperia Z1, which should I buy?

In terms of looks and build quality, we’ll give this round to the Xperia Z1 – it’s still absolutely gorgeous, and hardy enough to survive a good few knocks.


Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z1: Screen

In terms of resolution, the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z1 have almost identically crisp Full HD displays. However, the Galaxy S5 does enjoy richer colours and wider viewing angles thanks to its Super AMOLED tech. There’s also more space on the Galaxy S5 for your content, as there are no on-screen home and back buttons.

Samsung Galaxy S5 or Sony Xperia Z1, which should I buy? Sony Xperia Z1 screen

Movie fans will definitely prefer the Galaxy S5, or should take a look at the Sony Xperia Z2 instead, with its much-improved 5.2-inch screen.


Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z1: Power

Both the Sony Xperia Z1 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 pack speedy quad-core Snapdragon processors, which can smash through the latest games with ease. However, the Galaxy S5 benefits from its later release by showcasing the fresh new SnapDragon 801, which will survive the tests of time longer than the Xperia’s SnapDragon 800.

Samsung Galaxy S5 or Sony Xperia Z1, which should I buy?

You should get a day of battery life from both phones with restrained use, and they each have battery saver modes too, for squeezing out an extra bit of life. Samsung’s Ultimate Power Saver Mode (nice, dramatic title there) is the more in-depth effort, limiting you to a black and white desktop with just a handful of available apps.

Another round to Samsung, although there’s really not much in it.


Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z1: Camera

The Galaxy S5’s camera can’t match the Xperia Z1’s for megapixels (16-megapixel vs 20.7-megapixel), but both phones produce stunningly sharp photos in daylight. You get more realistic colours from the Galaxy S5 and its uber-fast shutter speed impresses, although the Xperia Z1 is still by far the best for low-light photos, capturing cleaner, brighter images. If you’re always taking shots of your mates in pubs and clubs, the Xperia Z1 will fare you better.

Samsung Galaxy S5 low-light shot  Sony Xperia Z1 low-light shot

Samsung Galaxy S5 (left) vs Sony Xperia Z1 (right)

Both phones pack plenty of unique camera modes – the Xperia Z1 can stream direct to Facebook, give you info on stuff that you shoot, and throw virtual creatures into your photos, while the Galaxy S5 packs in plenty of motion gimmickry with the likes of Drama Shot, and can shoot virtual tours.

Samsung Galaxy S5 camera features

In terms of home movies, the Galaxy S5 wins hands-down thanks to the slow and fast motion modes and the uber-sharp 4k video mode. You probably don’t own a 4K TV yet, but just think about those crystal clear images when you finally do, in a decade or so. If you want these modes on a Sony smartphone, you’ll need to upgrade to the Xperia Z2.


Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z1: Extra features

In most other areas, the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z1 are evenly matched. They both enjoy 4G LTE super-nippy internet as well as NFC, with their own apps for connecting to other devices and sharing content.

Samsung Galaxy S5 or Sony Xperia Z1, which should I buy?

However, the Galaxy S5 is geared more towards fitness fans, with its built-in S Health 3.0 app and heartbeat monitor, while the Kids Mode is a fun and creative way for a nipper to enjoy the phone, without accidentally texting rude messages to your auntie. If you regularly pound the pavement or hand your phone to the kids to keep them quiet, the Galaxy S5 is a solid choice.


Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z1: Conclusion

So, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has greater longevity and proves better for shooting and viewing back movies, but the Sony Xperia Z1 holds up impressively well at a lower cost and boasts a sleeker, more solid design.

If you can’t stretch to the Galaxy S5’s steep asking price, the Xperia Z1 is a seriously worthy alternative – or you may prefer to bag the Xperia Z2, coming in April, with its improved performance and super-vibrant new screen.


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