Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2

24 March 2014

The Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5 are the two new flagships for Sony and Samsung. They’re both powerful Android devices with a whole train of bells and whistles. Perhaps more importantly, they’re both highly resistant to water and liquid damage without the need for special cases or added protection.

So how do they compare? Samsung takes the cake every year in terms of sales thanks to a long-running tradition of clever marketing to back up its awesome smartphones. The S5 is almost pre-destined to be the best-selling Android of 2014 based on its reputation alone, but most popular doesn’t necessarily mean best.

In the last 12-18 months Sony has really stepped up its game, first releasing the Xperia Z, then Xperia Z1 and now Xperia Z2 in rapid succession. The Z and Z1 were fantastic phones and lead the way in water resistance and dust proofing. Now that Samsung is catching up in that department, Sony is going to need to match pace with hardware and user experience.

Galaxy S5

Xperia Z2
Display 5.1 inch 1080p (432ppi)
5.2 inch 1080p (424ppi)
Display tech
Triluminous IPS LCD
Android version
4.4 KitKat
4.4.2 KitKat
Camera 16MP 20.7MP (usable underwater)
CPU Quad-core 2.5GHz
Quad-core 2.3GHz
Storage 16GB/32GB 16GB
MicroSD Yes Yes
USB 3.0 2.0
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
802.11 b/g/n/ac
Battery 2800mAh 3200mAh
4G LTE Cat4 Cat3
GPU Adreno 330
Adreno 330
Dimensions 142mm x 72.5mm x 8.1mm 146.8mm x 73.3mm x 8.2mm
Weight 145g 163g
Water resistant?
Yes, IP67 certified
Yes, IP55 and IP58 certified

The important differences

Of the two, the Xperia Z2 is the more water-resistant. It can legally be advertised as waterproof, thanks to its IP58 rating. IP58 means that it can be submerged in over 1.5m (around 4-5 feet) of water with no time limit, although Sony suggests no longer than an hour or so. The camera can even be used underwater, thanks to its dedicated camera button.

The S5 is rated IP67, meaning that it is totally dust-proof but only water resistant. It can be submerged in 1m (3 feet) of water for up to half an hour. It'll survive accidental drops and spillages, but it's probably best to not take it for an extended swim.

The Z2 also has the advantage in battery size. The 3200mAh battery has the potential to provide a two-day charge. It'll be impossible to judge if it can actually put this off until we start getting review units, but it's definitely worth keeping in mind until then.

The Galaxy S5 has a faster CPU, but has 1GB less RAM than the Z2. Both devices will likely end up providing a similar experience in terms of speed, multitasking and general UI smoothness.

As far as storage goes the S5 wins with options for both 16GB and 32GB on-board. Both devices have a MicroSD port for expanding storage up to a further 128GB. Transferring information to and from the S5 will be significantly faster thanks to its USB 3.0 connection.

In terms of size the Galaxy S5 is smaller, thinner and lighter. The bezels around its screen a much less obvious and it should fit a little bit more comfortably in the hand and pocket. The trade-off is that the Z2 has a slightly larger screen, which may or may not be important to you.

The final difference is that the S5 has support for Cat4 (category 4) 4G LTE internet. Cat4 is faster than the current standard (Cat3) by about 50%. Unfortunately, it's not particularly common yet. Not all carriers support Cat4 and those that do don't have it over their entire network. This is unlikely to be an important factor when the two phones are launched, but may give your device better longevity once Cat4 starts to become more common.

Which is better?

On paper, the Z2 appears to have a lot of advantages. It's more water-resistant and that potentially two-day battery would be a great feature.

By comparison the Galaxy S5 is more compact, has more options for storage, faster internet and USB, and is backed up by Samsung's sterling reputation for releasing fantastic phones year after year.

The battle won't be won on paper. To really judge which of these two is the better device we'll have to wait till we can actually review them. Until then let's just say that the Z2 definitely has the potential to cause some upsets in 2014.



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