Sony Xperia Z: Galaxy Killer? (Part 3)

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Spec Wars: Sony Xperia Z Vs Samsung Galaxy S III

Does the Xperia Z have what it takes to stop the Galaxy S III?

The Galaxy S III is the biggest-selling Android smartphone ever, with more than 40 million units being shipped worldwide since its launch last summer, contributing to the more than 100 million Galaxy devices sold in total. Sony’s Xperia Z is arguably the most powerful mobile device ever launched, with a superfast processor, quality next-gen camera and ultra-high resolution display, and as a premium phone from one of the world’s largest tech companies, it is being pitched as the ultimate Galaxy killer. But does it have what it takes to halt the Galaxy juggernaut? We take a look at the specs and our hands-on tests to find out.

Sony Xperia Z Vs Samsung Galaxy S III

Sony Xperia Z Vs Samsung Galaxy S III

Sony Xperia

Design and build: draw

Sony’s device is minimalist in design and rather angular in shape, giving the impression that the phone is larger than it is. It is also weightier than the S III, although it does still slip into a pocket comfortably. For added value the phone is well protected against the weather.

Xperia Z

Xperia Z

Power and performance: win

Powered by the quad-core Krait processor, the Xperia Z really flies. Even with non-final firmware the power of the CPU shows itself, and coupled with a skin that feels far lighter than Samsung’s TouchWiz we’d expect few issues with the responsiveness of this device.

Features: draw

The Xperia Z is mostly built around the hardware specs – the 1080p display in particular is stunning. All the basics are here, including NFC and HDMI-out capability, but so much of the added extras are designed to get you buying into the Sony ecosystem, whether you want to or not.

Ecosystem and extras: lose

Lots of Sony apps and services are on board, so if you’re a Sony fan you’ll be in your element, especially being able to use the device as a remote control for your other Sony kit. If you’re manufacturer agnostic, you may find less value in the extras that are on offer.

Hack ability: lose

Time will tell how popular the Xperia Z is in the Android hacking community. Sony does offer support through its official boot loader unlocking tool, but past experience shows that Sony’s handsets struggle to capture the imagination of the hacking crowd.

Key specs

·         OS version: Android 4.1.2

·         Processor speed: Quad-core 1.5GHz

·         Graphics: Adreno 320

·         RAM: 2GB

·         Camera: 13 megapixels

·         Weight: 146g

·         Screen resolution: 1080x1920

·         Screen pixel density: 441ppi

·         Battery: 2330mAh non-removable

Samsung Galaxy S III

Design and build: draw

A far curvier design than the Xperia Z may not be quite as refined or classy but it feels great in the hand. The tapered edges emphasize the phone’s slimness so the device feels less large than you might expect. The plastic casing does not have the most premium feel, however.

Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III

Power and performance: lose

The S III was one of the trailblazing quad-core phones and still offers superior performance. But it’s limited in RAM – 1GB where the noticeable difference lies. It has always been the S III’s major weakness, especially where the bloated TouchWiz skin is concerned.

Features: draw

The S III has all the bases covered, albeit in sometimes obscure ways – the MHL port for HDMI-out functionality is proprietary, for example. The camera is excellent and a much larger-than-average battery ensures the phone will keep running throughout the day and sometimes more.

Ecosystem and extras: win

Samsung doesn’t miss the chance to encourage you to use the S III as a hub for your Samsung gear, but in a more subtle way than Sony. While Samsung does replace virtually all the stock Android apps with its own S-branded alternatives, some of the tweaks do add real value.

Hack ability: win

The Galaxy S III currently ranks among the most popular devices for hacks, tweaks and ROMs, so you can customize the device to your heart’s content. With such a large user base we’d expect it to remain relevant for some time, just as the S II continues to be a well-used handset.

Key specs

·         OS version: Android 4.1.2

·         Processor speed: Quad-core 1.4GHz

·         Graphics: Mali-400MP

·         RAM: 1GB

·         Camera: 8 megapixels

·         Weight: 133g

·         Screen resolution: 720x1280

·         Screen pixel density: 306ppi

·         Battery: 2100mAh removable

And the winner is...

Samsung Galaxy S III

It really couldn’t be much closer, but we’re still giving the nod to the S III based on the likelihood that it remains a more hack-friendly handset than the Xperia. If that’s not a priority for you then the contest is far tighter. Indications are that the Xperia Z is considerably faster and more powerful, and has a better and less resource-hungry skin. We’ll need to wait on the final release of the Z, where we can test battery and uncover any other issues before we are able to make the final call.

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