Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 full review

IFA 2014 brought along the Sony Xperia Z3 which means the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a new rival. See how these two flagship smartphones compare in our Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 comparison review. See also: The best smartphones of 2014.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Price

Since the Xperia Z3 is a brand-new smartphone, it's no surprise that it's more expensive than the Galaxy S5 which is a few months old. Read: Sony Xperia Z3 release date, price and specs.

In the technology market, especially mobile, those few months make a big difference and while the Sony Xperia Z3 is £549 (the official price), the Galaxy S5 can be yours for around £390 at the time of writing.

That's a fairly big difference but the price of the Xperia Z3 will quickly drop. In fact, Clove already has it for £515 (with free accessories) so it shouldn't be long before it drops below the £500 mark.

Is the Xperia Z3 worth paying extra for? Read on to find out the different in hardware, performance, unique features and software. Related: Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact comparison review: Is the mini Z3 too good?

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Design

Sony has been producing dust- and water resistant phones (and tablets) for a while now, almost solely, and the Xperia Z3 is, of course, no exception – although the feature has trickled down to cheaper phones in the form of the Xperia M2 Aqua.

Samsung likes features and has added this to the design of the Galaxy S5 also. They phone has a rating of IP67 and the Sony Xperia Z3 touts IP68. The first number relates to dust, so both are completely dust tight. The second refers to water so while the Galaxy S5 can be submerged in up to 1m of water for up to 30 minutes, the Xperia Z3 can handle up to 1.5m so is marginally better.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z3

One thing we worry about is the fact that the Galaxy S5's rear cover is still removable so if it's not clipped into place properly a seal won't be made and water will easily get in. The Z3 only has a couple of flaps to keep shut.

The Xperia Z3 is a little thinner at 7.3 mm compared to 8.1 mm but since it's a slightly larger phone, it's heavier at 152 g against 142 g. These are small and pretty insignificant differences. What has far more effect is that the Sony handset feels far more premium and luxurious with the combination of aluminium and glass. The Galaxy S5 is too plastic fantastic for a flagship smartphone.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Screen

Things are pretty similar when it comes to the screen on these two smartphones. Both have Full HD resolution, which we've come to expect from top-end handsets and they are only 0.1in different in size. The Galaxy S5 has a 5.1in screen while the Xperia Z3 sticks with the 5.2in display found on the Xperia Z2.

The slight size difference means the Galaxy S5 has a pixel density of 432 ppi while the Z3 offers 424 ppi but that's far too negligible to notice.

Samsung uses its favoured Super AMOLED technology while Xperia Z3's IPS LCD display employs its own Triluminos and X-Reality. We've seen both and the Xperia Z3's screen is more easy going and out favourite while the AMOLED tech is a little too in your face – you may disagree though.

Samsung Galaxy S5 screen

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Processor and GPU

Things are identical when it comes to the engine room with both Sony and Samsung opting for a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and Adreno 330 GPU. It's a 2.5 GHz quad-core chip no matter which phone you opt for and we've found performance to be top notch on each.

The Xperia Z3 does win a little one-up on the Galaxy S5 since it has 3 GB of RAM instead of 2 GB. More memory will always be a good thing as far as we're concerned.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Storage

Storage is another area where these two handsets are very similar but it's Samsung which gains a brownie point this time with a 16- or 32 GB model – although the higher capacity tends to be a little harder to find. Sony has decided to launch the Xperia Z3 is just 16 GB. Both have a microSD card slot for adding up to 128 GB of storage.

Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Wireless

As you would expect from two high-end flagship smartphones, the Xperia Z3 and Galaxy S5 come with the latest wireless technology: 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and Cat 4 LTE 4G. However, there are a couple of differences to point out.

The Galaxy S5 has microUSB 3.0 which means faster charging and transfer speeds with the right cable and it has a 'download booster' which combines your Wi-Fi and 4G connection for faster speeds. In the Xperia Z3's favour is MHL 3.0 which supports 4K video output with the right adapter.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Unique features

With such a similar set of hardware, it's unique features which will massively help you decide which one to buy. Which appeal to you will depend on your taste (and whether you own a PS4).

The Galaxy S5 has a number of features which the Xperia Z3 doesn't have such as a fingerprint scanner (housed in the home button), an IR blaster for controlling other gadgets with and a heart rate monitor.

Sony Xperia Z3 PS4 Remote Play

That's a nice trio of items but they may be of no use to you. Perhaps the support for High-Res audio (including DSD files) on the Xperia Z3 will appeal more – and noise cancelling with the right headphones as per the Xperia Z2. It also has front facing stereo speakers and gamers will be delighted to hear that PS4 Remote Play is on-board.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Cameras

There's little difference for front facing selfie camera fans as the Galaxy S5 has a 2Mp webcam while the Xperia Z3 offers a slightly higher resolution 2.2Mp shooter. Both can shoot video in 1080p quality.

However, there is a bigger difference when it comes to the main cameras. Samsung has opted for an impressive 16 Mp on the Galaxy S5 while the Xperia Z3 sticks to the 20.7 Mp camera with Sony's Exmor RS sensor found on multiple predecessors. It is worth noting that the Z3's camera has a new 28 mm wide-angle lens and a whopping maximum ISO of 12800. Both can shoot up to 4K (2160p) video with digital stabilisation features.

In the Galaxy S5's favour is a dual-tone flash while the Xperia Z3 offers a dedicated camera/shutter button on the side of the phone. Each has a large array of camera apps such as HDR, panorama, dual camera etc.
The Xperia Z3 marginally wins for us but the Galaxy S5 has one of the best smartphone cameras around too so we don't think you'll be disappointed either way.

Samsung Galaxy S5 TouchWiz

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Software

The Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z3 both come pre-loaded with the latest version of Android, 4.4.2 KitKat. But that doesn't mean they are the same in this area. In fact, they are far from it because Samsung and Sony add their own user interfaces on top of stock Android.

Sony's is much closer to plain Android and still looks much the same as before with only some minor changes. For some users a lack of change will be a good things and Sony's interface is stylish, easy to use and comes with a good amount of decent wallpapers, widgets and apps such as Walkman.

Samsung's TouchWiz interface is well known for being one of the most complicated and customised around. While it may not be the most user friendly, if you like additional features then it may be the one for you. It offers smart pause, smart stay, multi-window, private mode, kids mode and many more plus the Magazine UX which is a swipe away from the homescreen.

These are two very different approaches to software so if you don't know which you prefer from reading this then try them out via friends or in shop before making a purchase.


Samsung Galaxy S5: Specs

  • Display: 5.1 inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 432 ppi
  • Processor: 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
  • GPU: Adreno 330
  • OS: Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) with TouchWiz
  • Camera: Main (Rear): 16 Mega pixel phase detection autofocus with LED flash, up to 4K video
  • Sub (Front): 2 Mega pixel camera, Full HD recording @30fps
  • Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (MIMO), GPS/GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 (LE), Infrared (Remote Control), 4G LTE (Cat 4)
  • Memory: 16/32GB internal, microSD slot (up to 128GB), 2GB RAM
  • Dimension: 73 x 142 x 8.1 mm, 145g
  • Battery: 2,800 mAh removable

Sony Xperia Z3: Specs

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS
  • 5.2in Triluminos Display (1080x1920, 424ppi)
  • 2.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD slot (up to 128GB)
  • 20.7Mp rear camera AF with LED Flash
  • 2.2Mp front camera
  • Video recording at up to 2160p
  • Wi-Fi up tp
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE Cat 4
  • Nano-SIM
  • 3100mAh battery
  • Dust and waterproof (IP68)
  • 72x146x7.3mm
  • 152g