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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2

Andrew Williams


Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2

Which is the better phone?

The Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2 are Samsung and Sony’s two top Android phones for 2014. They both cost upwards of £500 and are sure to sell by the million.

But which should you buy? It’s not an easy question to answer, and we gave both phones a positive review.

However, there are differences, and benefits to each. Read on to find out which you should buy.

Galaxy S5 vs Xperia Z2 – Design

Galaxy S5 – Plastic dimpled rear, 4 colours

Xperia Z2 - Glass and aluminium construction, 3 colours, water resistant

These phones are roughly the same size, and sell at a similar price. But their constructions are pretty different. The Galaxy S5 is mostly plastic where the Xperia Z2 is made of glass and metal.

The Sony phone is a lot slicker-looking, with the sort of shiny and sophisticated design you might associate with the company’s high-end TVs. Samsung’s Galaxy S5, on the other hand, is a bit of an oddball.

Its back is pitted, to help give it a different look from the Galaxy S4 and to improve grip a bit. It looks a bit unusual at first, and it’s no jaw-dropping beauty. But you do get used to the look, and the soft finish feels pretty good.

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 14

The Galaxy S5 comes in four colours at launch, but not all of them have quite the same finish, though. There are black, white, blue and gold varieties, and the white feels a lot more plasticky than either the blue or black. Avoid the white if you want a nice soft touch feel, and we recommend avoiding the gold unless you’re into your gaudy-looking phones.

As the Xperia Z2’s colour is mostly under the glass surface, there’s no real difference in feel between the three colours on offer. You can get black, white and purple Z2s. The latter is particularly eye-catching.

The Sony has more consistent finishes, and it feels a bit more expensive - a bit more like a £500-odd phone. The Galaxy S5 doesn’t feel bad in-hand, but those expecting it to feel conspicuously like the world’s best phone – as it is sold in many places – may be disappointed.

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 5

Galaxy S5 vs Xperia Z2 – Dimensions

Galaxy S5 – 8.1mm thick, 142mm tall, 72.5mm wide, 145g

Xperia Z2 – 8.2mm thick, 147mm tall, 73.3mm wide, 163g

While the Galaxy S5 looks and feels a bit cheaper than the Xperia Z2, we find that in pure practical terms it’s a bit easier to get on with.

It’s a little smaller, and its more curvy body makes the Galaxy S5 feel more petite than the Z2. The boxy design of the Sony phone means it maintains most of its width right to the edge of the phone, where the Galaxy S5 back tapers at the rear, making it fit more comfortably in the hand.

So while the Galaxy S5 is itself a fair bit bigger than the Galaxy S4, it’s still easier to handle than the Xperia Z2.

The Galaxy is just under 20g lighter too, although we don’t think this sort of weight disparity is worth worrying about. It’s handling that is the issue here, and the Galaxy S5 makes day-to-day use that little bit easier.

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 11

Galaxy S5 vs Xperia Z2 – Water Resistance

Galaxy S5 – IP67

Xperia Z2 – IP55, IP58

One of 2014’s most in-fashion phone features is water resistance. Of course, Sony has been doing this for a while, so it’s no surprise that it offers slightly better water resistance than the Galaxy S5.

Both phones use rubber seals to keep water and dust out, but they are in slightly different places thanks to the differing modes of construction. The Galaxy S5’s removable battery cover is lined with a thin rubber strip, and the USB 3.0 port on the bottom is covered by a rubber-lined flap.

The design of the battery cover means there’s some room for grime to get in certain parts of the phone, but waterproofing in ‘normal’ phones like these isn’t meant to be tested daily anyway.

The Xperia Z2, on the other hand, is essentially fully sealed - the back isn't removable - so just needs a couple of flaps to provide access to the SIM and charging port. They are big and obvious, but are in-keeping with the slightly industrial-looking design.

Neither phone needs a flap for the headphone jack, thankfully, as the sockets are fully sealed.

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 12

The average user may think of these phones as ‘waterproof’, but the Xperia Z2 is rated slightly higher. Where the S5's IP67 certification means the phone can officiually be dunked in water up to 1m deep, Samsung recommends not taking it near salt water or really submerging it at all. In contrast, the Xperia Z2 is IP58 certified, which means it's essentially completely sealed so can go a bit deeper and withstand fairly powerful water jets too.

The Xperia Z2 is the clear winner on this front, but both phones will prove a little annoying for some of you. The issue? You need to reseat the flap that covers the USB port whenever you charge the phone. And for most of us that’ll be every day. Unless, of course, you get either the wireless charging back for the S5 or the charging dock for the Z2.

Galaxy S5 vs Xperia Z2 – Screen

Galaxy S5 – 5.2-inch 1080p Super AMOLED

Xperia Z2 – 5.1 1080p Triluminous LCD

The Xperia Z2 has a slightly larger screen than the Galaxy S5, but there’s not much in it. The Z2 screen is 5.2 inches across, the Galaxy S5 5.1 inches. It’s not the sort of difference you’ll notice much unless you get the tape measure out.

They are the same resolution as well – both are 1080p phones. We’re likely to see 2k screen phones appear later this year, but unless you’re a real spec-head, it’s not worth waiting for them. These screens already look very sharp.

Performance in both is pretty impressive too. Both offer excellent colour accuracy and great contrast. Each marks a step on from its predecessor.

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 8

The Galaxy S5 has a slight edge, though, because its Super AMOLED display is capable of maintaining truly deep-looking blacks even when in a completely dark room. Now that Samsung has sorted out its colour accuracy issues – a big issue with previous-generation AMOLED phones – it has truly made a class-leading screen.

And if you like larger-than-life colours, the Galaxy S5 offers them thanks to its various screen modes. In the most muted of modes, Cinema, the Galaxy S5 brings more accurate colours than even the Xperia Z2.

Galaxy S5 vs Xperia Z2 – Storage and SIM

Galaxy S5 – 16GB, microSD

Xperia Z2 – 16GB, microSD

For a while, it looked like high-end Androids were going to stop using memory card slots. However, all of this year’s most important Androids let you use microSD cards.

In the Galaxy S5, the slot lives under the battery cover. In the Xperia Z2 it sits under a plastic/rubber flap on the right edge.

Both phones use a microSIM too, currently the most popular type among higher-end phones. The HTC One M8 and iPhone 5S are the most obvious aberrations, using nanoSIMs - which are even smaller.

Having expandable memory reduces the appeal of the Xperia Z2’s and Galaxy S5’s higher-capacity models, though. In most places in the UK you’ll only find the 16GB versions of these mobiles. There are 32GB versions too, but the lower-end edition will be far more common here. But when a 64GB microSD card costs just £20-£30 storage really shouldn't be an issue.

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 7

Galaxy S5 vs Xperia Z2 – CPU,RAM and Performance

Galaxy S5 – Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz quad-core, 2GB

Xperia Z2 - Snapdragon 801 2.3GHz quad-core, 3GB

These two phones both have Snapdragon 801 CPUs. This is the latest (as of April 2014) Snapdragon processor, but new chipsets are already on the way. We’ll see Snapdragon 805 phones later this year, and Snapdragon 808/810 devices in early 2015.

However, it is a powerful processor. Both models are quad-core, but the Galaxy S5 version is clocked slightly faster – at 2.5GHz to the Xperia Z2’s 2.3GHz. A slight step up like this isn’t going to cause a world-changing performance difference, but it should be slightly noticeable in benchmarks.

For more, read our Snapdragon 805 vs 801 vs 800 comparison

The Xperia Z2 has its own spec win, though. It has 3GB of RAM while the Samsung has 2GB. Much like the clock speed difference, it’s not going to alter day-to-day performance much, as this is so dependent on software optimisation.

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 6

After using the phones for a few weeks after launch, we found that the Xperia Z2 offers marginally better everyday performance. Its interface is a good deal lighter than the Galaxy S5’s TouchWiz, and the S5 tends to slow down and become quite erratic when the system starts to run low on resources. You really need to make sure there’s plenty of spare storage when you use a Galaxy S5.

Benchmarks show that the two phones are roughly comparable when pushed. In 3DMark, the Galaxy S5 scores 18,600, the Z2 18,430. That’s a negligible difference.

Galaxy S5 vs Xperia Z2 – Camera

Galaxy S5 – 16-megapixel ISOCELL camera, LED flash, f/2.2

Xperia Z2 – 20.7-megapixel sensor, LED flash, f/2.0

The Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2 have two of the most accomplished mobile phone cameras on the market. We’re not generally people to be swayed by megapixels, but they also have two of the highest-resolution sensors around too.

The Galaxy S5 sensor is a 16-megapixel setup while the Xperia Z2 goes even higher-res with 20.7 megapixels. However, even Sony seems to admit that a tiny mobile phone sensor can’t do much with that high a resolution. In most camera modes the phone is restricted to taking 8-megapixel photos, using the extra pixels to enhance image quality/accuracy.

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 13

Although this strategy does make sense, and the Xperia Z2’s 8MP photos do look cleaner than its 20MP ones, we found the Galaxy S5 was able to harvest a bit more detail.

In many conditions the cameras are fairly evenly-matched, though. And the Xperia Z2 offers oodles more creative filters and fun modes for the kids, if that’s your bag.

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 2

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 4

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy S5 3

Still, there are some places where the Galaxy S5 camera wins outright. HDR is the most important. Samsung makes one of the most effective HDR modes in the business, improving many normal photos without making them looking unreal and adding a bit of photographic magic to sunsets and backlit scenes. The Xperia Z2 has HDR as well, but it’s just not quite as good:

Xperia Z2 HDR

Galaxy S5 HDR

The Xperia Z2 HDR mode is OK, but the Galaxy S5 one is far better. Check how much more punchy and full of contrast the S5 shot is here.

In low light, they both fare surprisingly well. The Xperia Z2’s downscaling of images lets it take pretty good snaps quickly while the Galaxy S5 really takes its time on photos. It can take up to 5-6 seconds to take a shot, but they’re almost universally pretty good as long as you have a steady-ish hand. For speedy night shooting the Z2 is much better, though.

Which is the better phone?

If you care a lot about having a phone that feels as expensive as the money you shelled out for it, the Xperia Z2 is a better buy than the Galaxy S5. And we feel its software is a bit more reliable at launch.

However, in a few other respects the Galaxy S5 is a bit better. It has a slightly superior screen and the camera is a smidge more versatile if you don’t need fancy filters.

The conclusion? We don’t have a definitive one. However, you need to consider the pros and cons we’ve outlined here carefully.

Next, read our Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S comparison


February 25, 2014, 1:06 pm

Isn't the screen in the Z2 and IPS panel, from the TFT in the Z1? I'd say that's a much bigger jump than the screen from S4 to S5?


February 25, 2014, 4:04 pm

And it's not just an simple IPS display, it's a Sony special version, they say it has the best color gamut on the market.
The processor on the Z2 it's also diferente, the Snapdragon 801 has a faster ram than the S5!


February 25, 2014, 4:15 pm

To say it's 'special' is overstating things slightly. Sony doesn't some neat things with colour filters, but it's not game changing.

Anderson Tan

February 25, 2014, 7:01 pm

From a mono speaker to stereo is big for me too. Because of the water resistance, the volume is low and I hope this could solve it. And what are u saying? The screen is not same man! The viewing angle is so much better because it was a IPS panel now.


February 25, 2014, 7:18 pm

Shouldn't you at least correct the article though? Saying the screen is the same is just incorrect


February 25, 2014, 9:35 pm

And noise canceling. Now I don't know if I'm buying the Bose noise canceling ear buds ($300) or just upgrade.


February 26, 2014, 9:59 am

Well be updating it soon.

Ari Ermawan

February 26, 2014, 11:40 am

No Contest. Xperia Z2 has beaten Galaxy S5. Better Speaker (Stereo), Better Battery (3200 mAH), Better Camera (20 MPx), Better Headphones (Noise Cancelling), Built-in FM Radio Hardware, Better Product Finish, Less Dust-Proof (Level 5) but Better Waterproofing (Level 8) as per IP58.
Samsung foolishly remove their FM Radio since Galaxy S4, and do just tiny improvements.
Do we really want to finger-print our self? Our face might already be stored somewhere without our permission. Do we want to surrender our finger-print as well?


February 26, 2014, 11:43 am

Being an owner of the Z1 I can say that the build quality on it holds up slightly better than the xperia Z which my wife owned and which stopped being water proof fairly quickly. Neither of the Sony devices like being dropped as this will affect the snug fit of the case and so a move away from plastics was definitely the right move for the Sony phone but Samsung have a less elegant approach for water resistance so not so reliant on the quality of the engineering which could mean that it potentially lasts longer. So if you drop your hand sets regularly then the Samsung might work better than the Sony.

Having owned an S2 in the past I'd definitely say that Samsung is the way to go if you’re looking for a media consumption device as Sony really lock down the file format support. Other then that I guess there both really good choices for a phone just wish Samsung felt more like a premium device in the hand which ultimately moved me away from a Samsung for my last upgrade.


February 26, 2014, 4:24 pm

What makes you say that 'Sony relaly lock down the file format support'? Both devices run Android - file format support is the same. Regardless, you could root either to get the same software but I don't think that is necessary given that they both run Kitkat.

If anything, Apple are the poor option here who REALLY lock down file support.


February 27, 2014, 7:24 am

For me the most important thing is the area of phone I am holding consists how much percentage of screen.
Where s5 has made up to larger bezelz than s4 and a 6mm taller for nothing except waterproofing.
Where z2 is a very good update from z1 considering the screen size is increased and bzels are greatly eeduced coz its narrower than z1.
Except that the area below the screen is more than s5 still sony goes with onscreen keys hurts me again.

I am satisfied by the power of both, and I have a dslr , I can go with any camera better than galaxy s2 for mobile shooting on some conditions of emergency.
I have a bluetooth speaker , and I have a sennheiser headphone too.
So those are also not my things to worry.

I have note10.1 2014 edition.. so actually I am not binded for any kind of better screen. I have seen z1 and s4 . I am ready for any screen of such they offer at 1080p.

Ergonomics, handling and better screen to body ratio and a good look factor are my dealmakers.

Yet I am torn between the. I am buying anyone of them as soon as they release.

And yes I dont like superlight weight big phones..
150g should atleast be on the phone if it is a 5incher . Or it appears if I am holding a dummy.


February 27, 2014, 7:27 am

And the real life contrast goes better than z1 compact .. so z1 had 1490:1 and z1 compact has 1800:1 .. I wish after the tests z2 comes with a 1900:1 ...stating that it has deeper blacks than increased liminance.. so expect a much better screen than z1.. its not subtle its significant update


February 27, 2014, 9:37 am

Samsung S5 falls over at the starting gun; its plastic light weight feel and appearance could be anything from China you can buy on eBay. Also Samsung did nothing to dispel the rumours that they were going down the premium feel and look of metal construction route that others have embraced. All they have achieved with S5 is produce a "Tart in a new dress"

The Z2 is an evolution but in this case the starting point was so much further forward. The premium feel is unmistakably Sony, the brand image is further enhanced by the bezel to screen ratio.
The screen issues of previous models looks to have been fully addressed by the all new IPS panel and improved image processing.
The addition of another 1Gb of ram will I believe give more real world performance advantages than the Samsung solution, which effectively overclocks the same processor.
I like the fact that Sony are now learning lessons about over skinning the OS too heavily, this I hope will make OS updates more rapid.
Samsung waterproofing is more a splash proofing "me too" approach in that they are keen to advise the customer NOT to submerge the phone! where Sony guarantee water resistance to 1.5 metres and are happy to demonstrate the phone submerged.
I have to say that again imho Sony appear to have done a number on Samsung and assumed the mantle of producing the best Android phone out there and set a "if you think your hard enough" challenge for HTC One 2.
Finally please don't label my comments as "Sony Fan Boy" stuff I have several pieces of Samsung tech in my home including phones, Fridges and washing machines, all of which I would recommend but for me and just at the end of my current mobile contract it looks like Z2 will be gracing my pocket very soon.


February 27, 2014, 2:08 pm

Both are on preorder in Germany at amzon.de, honestly there is no reason why you sould spend 100 bucks more for the Galaxy!!

Zperia Z2 = 599€

Galaxy S5 = 699€


March 2, 2014, 10:15 pm

Definitely my money goes to Z2..I want a premium phone with a premium feel..I dont live within the hype


March 2, 2014, 10:25 pm

Definitely the Z2..I want a premium phone with a premium feel..I dont usually live within the hype..


April 4, 2014, 11:55 am

Samsung (I am the owner of a Note) will need to eventually switch to more premium materials to build their premium phones. And the design sucks.
Sony seems to have taken seriously the role of getting into the Android game (with the failure to commit and deliver in Win Mobile in the past) and does really follow up when it's still (near) the top.
Sony has more things that makes sense, while Samsung seems to prefer adding things that look good on the spec sheet (heart rate monitor only when you touch that tiny point... what's the point then or the "old version" of fingerprint scanner).
Or for example both devices have microSDXC slots. Irrelevant of what they say on the leaflets (Samsung says 128GB and Sony 64GB) I am 99.99% sure they can support the SAME size memory cards (i.e. the largest supported by SDXC protocol).
I am positive (although make this 99.99% an 80%) that same thing happens with USB as these are things handled by 801's controller.


May 10, 2014, 2:14 am

http://www.theglobeandmail.... man i was about to buy the phone until i saw this.

Pumpkin King

May 19, 2014, 4:42 am

The Z2 is a great device for sure and shows that Sony has come a long way....
However the S5 is still on top in most cases.

One of the reasons behind this the most is by how they focus most on the practical.
Despite the first comment here by NLS (NULUSIOS)
Sure not every one single thing in there is the most practical.
What most people do not get is just because YOU like aluminum or glass more does not make it "the best". Nor does it change the fact that both are no less cheap recyclable materials. And that Poly Carbonate is premium higher grade plastic that is the most overall durable and practical of the three material...
Boohooo. It's not the prettiest to you. None of them look as good as the Motorola Droid Razr XT912.
Plus the Note 3 is a great looking device to most with great feel. The S5 does not look as falshy, but it is way more ergonomic than the most of the other devices. While still retaining removable back, more comfort from a soft touch material, and water resistance.

The S5 takes better more clear images. Only outmatched by the 1020 and 808.
The Isocell tech helped improve low light a bit, though Samsung is still a bit behind there. Also handles bright lights much better. And the real time HDR plus Phase detection auto focus in 0.3 seconds is great.

While the Z2 might have more natural colors and win in most low light shots the S5 has almost every other advantage.
When it comes to video the Z2 can seem a tad washed depending on the lighting while the S5 is still saturated. The Z2 is more stabilized, but the S5 gets more detail and motion better. As well as handles light and contrast better.

The front camera of the S5 is just a flat win. Wider view, clearer detail, natural light and colors, better in bright and low light.
The mic so far in normal condition was better on the S5.

The S5 has the world's best mobile display right now. Basically the best in sunlight and also dimmest in dark.
Others screens main and only claim is slightly more accurate colors. In Movie mode the colors are fairly natural, plus a boat load of other advantages like better white balance, more even lighting, real blacks, best contrast, and all the Amoled goodness.
And LCD's are not even overall natural or have truly accurate colors anyway.

Both are great...All are great...except one evil monopolistic restricted over priced crap.
But in the end the S5 has more advantages.
No one device will ever be perfect for everyone and they do all have advantages and cons too.

Pumpkin King

May 19, 2014, 4:49 am

The Z2 was a smaller update from Z1 than S5 was from the S4. In fact compared to Z2, M8, 5s, and such the S5 had the most improvements from it's older version.

It's just a brick. Get over it. You like glass. That's fine. It's still no less a cheap recyclable material. It's still more fragile, still used in a larger thicker less comfortable shape. Still closed off.
You like the look of yours better. That's fine. However the S5's design focused more on practical than just OOOOO shiny. It's overall more durable, malleable, thinner, more ergonomic, and the soft touch back is one of the most comfortable there is out there.
And it was still able to retain removable battery and water resistance. And Sony's closed off one is only one level higher IP rating.

Sony's panel was not the only to improve.

Overclocked the same processor? LOLOLOLOLOL. Please do not post things you do not understand out of fanboy bias.
They are two different version clocked differently by Qualcom.
The AB version which Sony chose to use instead..
And the AC version that Samsung was basically the only smart enough to use.

And while I give the one and only main fault to Samsung that they stuck to 2GB instead of using their 3Gb ram that they even provide to Sony...Touchwiz is still made to multi task more so than most other UIs.

Pumpkin King

May 19, 2014, 4:50 am

Sony's water "resistance" is only one level higher and Samsung advertised it just fine.
You are just reaching for things now.
Fine. I won't label you a "Sony" fanboy. I'll just label you as a Z2 "fanboy" and not understanding logic or facts.

Pumpkin King

May 19, 2014, 4:52 am

Then you do have a really tough decision on your hands, but will be happy either way in the end.

Pumpkin King

May 19, 2014, 4:57 am

More MP does not mean better camera. The S5's camera is capable of a lot more and produces better pictures in most cases.
Ok. Sony gives decent headphones with "some" areas. S5 still outputs louder and cleaner headphone audio. I'll appreciate with my own great headphones.
I wish Samsung still used FM built in. But they do offer a great free radio service commercial free to Galaxy users. And group play makes videos and music surround.
Better finish is taste. Samsung's is more overall durable and practical. As well as more comfortable and ergonomic. Sony's is a brick that looks better to some.
One level water "resistance" higher by being sealed shut, while Samsung's can remove battery.
Samsung also has the best display on the market and more overall feature rich, functional, and optional software.
S5 also does video better, mic better, and the front camera is absolutely no contest. Z2's fails in comparison.

So try again?

Pumpkin King

May 19, 2014, 4:58 am

The Z1 also does a lot better in sunlight than many are willing to let people believe.
So I wonder how the improved display tech, but overall dimmer backlight improves or degrades that.

Pumpkin King

May 19, 2014, 5:00 am

Amoled has the widest color gamma. And can make the most overall natural image or most saturated dependent on the users liking.

Um...They both use the 801 chip. Sony just chose to use the slower Ab version while Samsung was basically the only ones to use the faster AC version.

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