The iPhone 5 and Sony Xperia Z are two of the most popular phones of the year. Picking between them is pretty tricky.
Do you want more games, or more screen inches? We’re compared the two phones to find out which will be right for you.
iPhone 5 – Aluminium rear, toughened glass front,
iPhone 5 vs Xperia Z - Design
Xperia Z – Glass-covered front and rear, IP57
If anything, the Sony Xperia Z has more in common with a previous iPhone, the iPhone 4S, than the iPhone 5 design-wise. It uses two glass layers on the back and front, which give the phone a glossy look without resorting to using glossy plastic.
However, in-hand the feel isn’t dramatically different from a plastic phone.
The iPhone 5 is, though. Its rear is aluminium, apart from the glass inlays on the top and bottom of the phone’s rear. Get the phone between your fingers and the phone’s build quality is immediately obvious.
They’re also phones of very different sizes. The Xperia Z is significantly larger. The Sony phone is just over 7cm wide while the iPhone 5 is under 6cm, making it much less of a handful.
What they do have in common is slimness. These are exceptionally skinny phones. The iPhone 5 is 7.6mm thick, the Xperia Z 7.9mm . Phones don’t get much thinner than this.
They’re also fairly similar in the way they approach their body shape. They’re severe, boxy phones rather than curvy ones – part of the reason why they’re able to be so slim.
One of the most notable features of the Xperia Z, though, is its water resistance. The phone uses rubber-sealed flaps that cover all of its ports to make the phone able to be submerged in water without dying,
It’s rated to IP57, which means it’s guaranteed to be able to withstand jets of water and is dust-proof. However, in real life it can happily be dunked.
We’ve heard tales of iPhones that have survived being dropped in water – but it generally involves a few days drying out in an airing cupboard.
iPhone 5 vs Xperia Z - ScreeniPhone 5 – 4-inch IPS 1,126 x 640
Xperia Z – 5-inch 1080p LCD screen
The Sony Xperia Z’s screen specs are far better than the iPhone 5’s. Its display is much larger – five inches instead of four, and both screen resolution and pixel density are much higher.
Specs-wise, the Xperia Z is well ahead. However, in person the iPhone 5 provides better image quality. The Xperia Z’s contrast is surprisingly poor and angled viewing is not great. It’s not as good a screen as its specs suggest.
It’s partly deliberate too – the Sony Xperia Z's image engine reduces contrast in order to improve battery life.
Contrast, colour and black levels are all excellent in the iPhone, which has a high-grade IPS screen. Of course, there are still benefits to a large screen like the Xperia Z’s.
For playing games and watching movies, the large screen of the Xperia Z is a godsend.
It also comes with a plastic screen protector fitted. Again, this does the image quality no favours, but does make some practical sense. You end up with no annoying air bubbles and it’ll keep the actual glass of the screen scratch-free, although the screen protector itself scratches quite easily.
iPhone 5 vs Xperia Z - PoweriPhone 5 – dual-core Apple A6 CPU, 1GB RAM
Xperia Z – quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2GB RAM
As they run completely different systems, comparing the Xperia Z to the iPhone 5 is to compare apples to oranges, but the Xperia Z undoubtedly has more powerful innards.
It has a quad-core Snapdragon S4 chip running at 1.5GHz while the iPhone 5 has a dual-core 1.3GHz Apple A6 chip. The cross-platform Geekbench benchmark is one of the best ways to compare the raw power of these phones.
The iPhone 5 wins 1600 points in the benchmark, where the Xperia Z scores 2100. The Xperia Z has the beefier CPU.
Of course, this isn’t reflected a great deal in their day-to-day performance. Both phones are very nippy, and if 3D gaming is what you’re after, the iPhone 5 is a much better bet. iOS has a better games selection than Android, making the iPhone a superior gaming machine despite the larger screen of the Sony phone.
iPhone 5 vs Xperia Z - CameraiPhone 5 – 8-megapixel camera with LED flash
Xperia Z – 13-megapixel sensor with LED flash
Both the Sony Xperia Z and iPhone 5 have cracking cameras for a phone. In good lighting, they can produce some great photos.
However, once again the Xperia Z is the more problematic phone. It has a higher-spec camera than the iPhone 5, with 13 megapixels at its disposal instead of eight, but technically it’s the inferior camera. Dynamic range, exposure judgement and colour accuracy are better in the iPhone, although shoot on a sunny day and the Xperia Z will be able to resolve a little more fine detail.
The iPhone 5 is also slightly quicker at focusing.
Where the Xperia Z wins back some cred is with its app, which offers many more features than the camera app of iOS 6. The iPhone 5 camera app is extremely pared-back, only offering HDR and panorama in terms of extra features.
With an Xperia Z you get all sorts of filters and effects, although the iPhone 5 will get these sorts of things once iOS 7 lands in September or by using third party apps.
iPhone 5 vs Xperia Z - SoftwareiPhone 5 – iOS
Xperia Z –Android
iOS or Android – it’s a commonly-asked question when buying a phone. Comparing them isn’t easy, as they’re totally different. iOS is simple, Android is flexible.
One of the key benefits of Android is that if you don’t like a part of a phone, you can generally swap it out for a third-party alternative – even for things like SMS messaging interfaces. You can't do such things with an iPhone.
Widgets also let you customise what your phone looks and feels like – they add things like calendars and clocks to your home screen. Again, you don’t get these with an iPhone.
What iOS is still the best at, though, is apps and games. Android is pretty good – Google Play is home to over a million apps, apparently – but the depth and breadth on the App Store is far superior.
VerdictThe Sony Xperia Z is a phone that boasts some significant spec advancements over the iPhone 5, which was released earlier. It has more power on tap, a much higher-resolution screen and a higher-resolution camera. Its waterproofing is very neat too. However, it is also a more problematic phone. The camera isn’t quite up there with the very best and the screen is a little disappointing in person. It offers far better fiddleability, though, and we’d much rather watch a movie on that big 5-inch screen.
The iPhone 5S will be with us very soon, packing a better processor and camera. In the meantime read our round-up of best phones.