Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z, ZL
Smartphone market is something that marketing graduate students often dwell on. It has a lot of interesting case studies for them to witness the theoretical knowledge they learn being applied. A typical scenario is where different manufacturers taking different approaches to market their products. This is a type of differentiation, but it is also a market positioning strategy. We can elaborate on this if we are to consider Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z/ZL. Samsung has a reputation to keep and their sales depend on how well they are maintaining their reputation. As such, Samsung had to organize a massive event to release their signature device Galaxy S4 which is more or less like what Apple does when they release major iPhones. On the contrary, Sony revealed Xperia Z/ZL in CES and MWC 2013 with a lot of praise from the critics backing up their product. Samsung Galaxy S4 is attractively built but still feels plasticky while Sony Xperia Z is elegant, attractively built and comes with IP 5/7 certification for water resistance and IP 5X certification for dust proof (Xperia ZL does not carry these certifications and that’s the only difference between Xperia Z and ZL). Like before, Samsung address the layman’s market here while Sony addresses the needs of a higher end niche market who wouldn’t mind a little ruggedness. We can certainly continue discussing about their respective marketing tactics, but let us finish off the review on both these smartphones and get back to the marketing part. So here’s our review on Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z/ZL.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 is finally revealed after the long anticipation and we are here to cover the event. Galaxy S4 looks smart and elegant as ever. The outer cover emanates Samsung’s attention to detail with their new polycarbonate material making up the cover of the device. It comes in Black and White with the usual rounded edges we are used to in Galaxy S3. It is 136.6 mm long while 69.8 mm wide with 7.9 mm thick. You can clearly see that Samsung has kept the size almost the same as Galaxy S3 to give a sense of familiarity while making it rather thin for a smartphone of this caliber. What this would imply is that you are going to have more screen to look at while having the same size as Galaxy S3. The display panel is 5 inches Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display panel featuring a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels at a pixel density of 441 ppi. This is actually the first Samsung smartphone to feature 1080p resolution screen although several other manufacturers beat Samsung to it. Nonetheless, this display panel is incredibly vibrant and interactive. Oh and Samsung features hover gestures in Galaxy S4; that is to say you can just hover your finger without actually touching the display panel to activate certain gestures. Another cool feature Samsung has included is the ability to perform touch gestures even with wearing gloves which would be a step forward towards usability. The Adapt Display feature in Samsung Galaxy S4 can adapt the display panel to make the display better depending on what you are looking at.
Samsung Galaxy S4 has 13MP camera that comes with bunch of awesome features. It certainly doesn’t necessarily feature a newly crafted lens; but Samsung’s new software features are sure to be a hit. Galaxy S4 has the ability to include audio in to photos you snap which can act as a live memory. As Samsung put it, it’s like adding another dimension to the visual memories captured. The camera can capture over 100 snaps within 4 second which is just awesome; and the new Drama Shot features means that you can choose multiple snaps for a single frame. It also has an eraser feature which can erase unwanted objects from your photos. Finally Samsung feature dual camera which lets you to capture the photographer as well as the subject and superimpose yourself in the snap. Samsung has also included an inbuilt translator called S Translator which can translate nine languages as of now. It can translate from text to text, speech to text and speech to speech in any way convenient for you. It can also translate written words from menu, books or magazines as well. Right now, S Translator supports French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish. It is also deeply integrated with their chat applications as well.
Samsung has also included a customized version of S Voice which can act as your personal digital assistant and Samsung has optimized this to be used when you are driving too. We are yet to test their new navigation system which is integrated with S4. They have made the transfer from your old smartphone to new Galaxy S4 very easy with the introduction of Smart Switch. The user can separate their personal and work spaces using the Knox feature enabled in Galaxy S4. The new Group Play connectivity seems like a new differentiating factor as well. There were a lot of rumors going on about Samsung Smart Pause which tracks your eyes and pauses a video when you look away and scrolls down when you look down or up which is awesome. S Health application can be used to track your health details including your diet, exercises and can connect external equipment to record data as well. They also have a new cover that is more or less similar to the iPad cover which makes the device sleep when the cover closes. As we have speculated, Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with 4G LTE connectivity as well as 3G HSDPA connectivity along with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n for continuous connectivity. Strangely enough, Samsung has decided to include a microSD card slot on top of the 16 / 32 /64 GB internal memory you already have. Now we come down to what’s under the hood; it’s not very clear about the processor although Samsung seems to ship Galaxy S4 with two versions. The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor is featured in Samsung Galaxy S4 which Samsung claims as the world’s first 8 core mobile processor and models in some regions will feature Quad Core processor as well. The Octa processor concept follows a recent whitepaper released by Samsung. They have taken a patent for the technology from ARM and it’s known as big.LITTLE. The whole idea is to have two sets of Quad Core processors, the lower end Quad Core processors would consist of ARM’s A7 cores clocked at 1.2GHz while the high end Quad Core processors will have ARM’s A15 cores clocked at 1.6GHz. Theoretically, this will make Samsung Galaxy S4 the fastest smartphone in the world as of now. Samsung has also included three PowerVR 544 GPU chips in Galaxy S4 making it the fastest smartphone in terms of graphics performance as well; at least theoretically. The RAM is the usual 2GB which is plenty for this beefy device. You certainly don’t have to worry about the performance with Samsung’s signature product because that is going to pack up plenty of action to keep it running for a whole year at the top of the market. The inclusion of removable battery is also a nice addition compared to all the unibody designs we’ve been seeing.
Samsung Introducing Galaxy S4
Sony Xperia Z, Xperia ZL Review
Sony Xperia Z is a smartphone that is placed at the center of the stage for Sony. In fact, this is a game changer and customers already anticipate the release of this smartphone. To start with, it has a big screen with full HD resolution powered by a Quad Core processor. That eliminates any need for me to declare that Xperia Z is one of the best smartphones today. It follows the usual Sony form factor with an elegant, premium look to it. It’s rather slim and weighed moderately. First thing you would notice is the 5 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen that features a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels at a pixel density of 441ppi. The display panel is shatter proof and scratch resistant. Xperia Z offers you premium movie experience with Sony Mobile BRAVIA engine. As you can guess, the display panel recreates the images and texts crisp and clear with the ultra-high pixel density of the panel. We are somewhat disappointed about the lack of AMOLED panel though. You won’t be missing much, but you need to stare directly at the display panel for good image reproduction. Angled views mimic washed out reproductions which are not desirable. Sony’s decision is fair given you look straight at your smartphone 95% of the time. What I appreciate most about this handset is it being water resistant and dust resistant. In fact, it has IP57 certification which means you can submerge Xperia Z up to 1m of water for 30 minutes, and this is the only feature that differentiate Xperia Z from Xperia ZL.
Sony’s new flagship product is the first Sony smartphone to feature a Quad Core processor. It has 1.5GHz Krait Quad Core processor on top of Qualcomm MDM9215M / APQ8064 chipset with Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. No wonder it performs so well in Android OS v4.1 Jelly Bean. Sony has included a slightly modified Timescape UI, which is more towards the Vanilla Android experience. Xperia Z comes with 4G LTE connectivity along with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and the ability to host a Wi-Fi hotspot to share your internet connection. The internal memory stagnates at 16GB, but we are delighted to spot a microSD card slot that will let you expand the storage up to 32GB more. Sony has also included 13.1MP camera on the back with image stabilization, sweep panorama, continuous autofocus and improved Exmor RS sensor that enables better low light performance. The initial reports attest to the fact that the camera is indeed superb. A 2.2MP front camera is also included for video conferencing, and it can capture 1080p HD videos, as well. Another interesting and innovative feature is the ability to capture HDR videos. This means the camera will capture full HD video stream and process each frame three times under three different exposure conditions and decide the optimal condition. As you can see, this will be incredibly computing sensitive. Hence it is a very good opportunity to test the power of the CPU, as well as the mileage of the battery, under those tough conditions. Sony promises that their innovative battery saving techniques provides longer battery life with the included 2330mAh battery.
Sony Introducing Xperia Z
A Brief Comparison Between Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z/ZL
• Samsung Galaxy S4 is powered by Samsung Exynos Octa processor which is an 8 core processor with 2GB of RAM while Sony Xperia Z is powered by 1.5GHz Krait Quad Core processor on top of Qualcomm MDM9215M/APQ8064 chipset with Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM.
• Samsung Galaxy S4 runs on Android OS v4.2.2 Jelly Bean while Sony Xperia Z runs on Android OS v4.1 Jelly Bean.
• Samsung Galaxy S4 has 5 inches Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display panel featuring a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels at a pixel density of 441 ppi while Sony Xperia Z also has 5 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen that features a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels at a pixel density of 441ppi.
• Samsung Galaxy S4 has 13MP camera that can capture 1080p HD videos @ 30 frames per second with awesome new features while Sony Xperia Z too has 13.1 MP camera that can capture 1080p video at 30 frames per second with HDR.
• Samsung Galaxy S4 is slightly smaller and lighter (136.65 x 69.85 / 7.9mm / 130g) than Sony Xperia Z (139 x 71 mm / 7.9 mm / 146g).
• Samsung Galaxy S4 has 2600mAh battery while Sony Xperia Z has 2330mAh battery.
Sometimes the conclusion is not as difficult as we think it is. In this case, conclusion is relatively easy. As we have clearly declared, Sony Xperia Z/ZL and Samsung Galaxy S4 are addressed at different market segments. Obviously there are some overlaps in the respective markets; but your choice will bias towards Sony Xperia Z if you love your smartphone yet aren’t much careful with it. The benefit is that you can keep your smartphone submerged in 1m water for 30mins without a single water droplet leaking to your smartphone. On the other hand, if you think that this is not necessarily a requirement and you’d rather have a smartphone with a removable battery; Samsung Galaxy S4 can come in to your rescue. Additionally Samsung Galaxy S4 is bound to be faster than Sony Xperia Z at least theoretically. We don’t have information about the prices these handsets are offered; but we’d take an educated guess and mention that Samsung Galaxy S4 will be slightly more expensive than Sony Xperia Z. Taking all these details in to consideration, we think you can make an educated purchasing decision on what you are going to purchase this time around.