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Sony Xperia Z3 Compact vs Samsung Galaxy S5 – FIGHT!

By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , updated on September 3, 2014

Hi everyone, Mike here and in this post we’re pitching the Samsung Galaxy S5 against the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact.

As the name suggest, the Z3 Compact is one of the smaller top-tier Android smartphones available these days and pretty much the only one that doesn’t compromise on any of the important features and specs. So if you want to compare it to the Galaxy S5, that’s the main thing you should be aware of: this Xperia is smaller and much easier to use single handedly, mostly because it only packs a 4.6 inch screen.

However, keep in mind that I’m having a pre-production version of the Z3 Compact in this clip, and that’s why some of the specs and details mentioned in the clip could be wrong and might differ from what you’ll get on the final retail versions.

At the same time, the Xperia Z3 Compact feels like the more premium device here, with glass covered front and rear faces and soft plastic rounded edges. The phone is also waterproof and dust resistant and packs stereo front-facing speakers.

In comparison, the Galaxy S5 is entirely made out of plastic and it just squeaks and creaks when grabbed in hand firmly, which just does not happen with any of the other premium smartphones of the moment. Its back plate is removable though, and allows access to a replaceable battery, which the Z3 Compact lacks. And the Galaxy is also water and dust resistant, but its rear-mounted speaker is rather tiny.

The S5 does offer a few extra features though, like the fingerprint-scanner embedded within the Home button, the heart-rate sensor on its back or the IR blaster on top, but also the micro USB 3.0 slot that allows faster charging times and transfer rates. You won’t find any of these on the Sony.

Hardware wise though, these two are motorized by the same hardware platform and pack 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage space, with the ability to expand that with microSD cards. They also both run Android 4.4 KitKat, but each customized in different ways and bundled with a selection of proprietary apps.

Long story short though, Sony’s simpler and cleaner UI does work smoother and more consistent than Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, which tends to choke and hiccup from time to time. But both handsets are capable of dealing fine with anything you’d throw at them, from games to light everyday activities.

The screens are of course extremely important on a modern smartphones and neither side disappoints here. The Xperia Z3 Compact does get an IPS Triluminos panel, with natural colors and clean whites, but rather poor viewing angles, while the Galaxy S5 gets a Super AMOLED panel, with deep blacks and contrast, but over-saturated colors.

Both displays are sharp though, with 1920 x 1080 px resolutions (scrap that, the final version of the Galaxy Z3 Compact will only feature a 720p screen), so while there is the matter of choosing one approach over the other, you’ll probably be happy with any of the options.

Cameras

The same can be said about the cameras. The S5 is one of the best overall shooters out there, with a fast-focusing 16 MPx main camera, capable of delivering sharp images in most conditions, as well as high-quality videos.

Both feature capable cameras

Both feature capable cameras

The Z3 gets the 20.7 MPx camera from the older Xperia Zs with a few improvements, a large sensor and a dedicated shutter key, which does deliver solid results as well, although its Intelligent Auto+ mode is not as versatile as Samsung’s Auto solution and tends to mush up a fair amount of details out of the captured images. Oh, and it still only shoots 8 Mpx stills.

However, I can’t show you side by side samples from these two phones for the time being, as the tested Z3 is a pre-production sample and the results coming out of it can be misleading. I will however update this section as soon as I’ll get my hands on a final retail version, so stay tuned.

Last but not least there’s the battery life matter and here’s where the Galaxy S5 takes the point, as it packs a larger battery which can actually be swapped with another one when really needed. As expected, the S5 does last longer on a charge, but both these phones will get you through roughly two days of fair use, which is not bad at all.

Wrap-up

To wrap this up, the Xperia Z3 Compact really is a worthy competitor for the Galaxy S5. It’s not as sleek and it might lack the larger replaceable battery or all the minor features of the Samsung flagship, but it delivers where it needs to. The Z3 Compact should however be your pick if you want a mid-sized Android phone with top-tier specs, where it actually has very few rivals.

If you’re after a full-sized Android heavyweight though, then you should consider the Xperia Z3 instead, which plays in the same league as the Samsung Galaxy S5. BTW, I’ve compared the Z3 and the S5 in this other post.

The Galaxy S5 offer more features, but the Xperia Z3 Compact offers a package nearly as good, in a much smaller wrapping

The Galaxy S5 offer more features, but the Xperia Z3 Compact offers a package nearly as good, in a much smaller wrapping

Anyway, that’s about it for now. Let me know which of these two is your favorite, the compact Xperia, or the features packed Galaxy. The comments sections below is open and I’m around to reply to your questions, if any.

Andrei Girbea, aka "Mike", Editor-in-Chief at TLBHD.com. I absolutely hate carrying around heavy stuff, that's why I'm fond of mini-laptops and portable computers. I'm primarily using such devices and have been testing them for many years now. Get in touch in the comments section below.

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