Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2 – which phone is best?

Samsung-vs-Sony copy

Two of the heavyweight phones we got our hands on at this year’s Mobile World Congress duke it out.

For Android users, it’s a tough choice trying to decide which of the myriad of devices is best. This year at Mobile World Congress, Sony and Samsung went head-to-head with both releasing new premium Android models.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the successor to the popular Samsung Galaxy S4. It features a fingerprint reader, Ultra Power Saving mode and is water resistant.

Likewise, the Sony Xperia Z2 (an upgrade to the Sony Xperia Z) can also handle a downpour or spillage without having a meltdown. It’s other big claim to fame is that it records 4K video. We place the two rivals up against each other to see which reigns victorious.

Bookmark our MWC 2014 news hub for all the latest news, views and hands-on videos from the Which? team at the show. Also, follow the @whichtech twitter feed to send us your requests and questions.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2 – design

Samsung has stuck doggedly to the plastic design despite the criticisms levelled at its plasticky predecessor. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – the new S5 is lightweight while dimpled back makes it less slippery and easier to hold than previous models. And while it may still be plastic, it certainly doesn’t feel cheap.

The Sony sports an all-glass finish. While this might look great (and we prefer it to the S5), we wonder whether it will lead to cracked cases as well as shattered screens, should you happen to drop your phone.

When it comes to the screen, the Samsung has a 5.1-inch display with a beautiful 1980×1080 resolution. The Sony has the same resolution though is a smidgen larger at 5.2-inches. Both screens look great so we’ll have to call it a draw there.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2 – three key features

Durable phones for all weather condition – the new S5 is water resistent meaning that it can survive a walk in the rain or a tea spillage. Yet it still doesn’t match the resilient Sony Xperia Z2, which is waterproof up to a depth of 1.5m. This means that you can fully submerge it (with the ports shut) for up to 30 minutes and it’ll emerge unscathed.

The camera clash – The S5 has a 16Mp sensor whereas the Sony sports a 20.7Mp camera. But it’s not all about having the most megapixels. Samsung has chosen to improve its camera by speeding up the shutter speed which means that it takes just 0.3 seconds to take a photo – that’s pretty darn quick.

Sony on the other hand has opted to include 4K video recording capabilities in the Z2. The only downside is that you’ll need a pricey 4K TV in order to enjoy your home recorded 4K films.

A fingerprint reader – These phones are pretty similar when it comes to processor, operating system and screen technology. But one thing that does tell them apart is the fingerprint reader, or lack of it on the Sony. Like the iPhone, the new Samsung Galaxy S5 includes a fingerprint reader that can be used to unlock the phone. You can also use it to authorise online payment transactions. We think this is a pretty handy security feature and it’s a shame not to see it on the Sony too.

Which? expert view – “with my practical hat on, the Samsung wins”

jess finalIf it was down to style and design alone, I would certainly chose the Sony. It’s sleek glass finish might not be practical but it looks great and gives it a more premium feel than the Samsung.

But when it comes to useful features – Samsung has gone the extra mile and rises victorious over the Sony. The fingerprint reader is a truly useful security feature. Similarly, the camera improvments on the Samsung are genuninely useful – the snappier shutter speed makes taking photos of fast-moving action much easier. Whereas I don’t think I’d ever see the benefit of the 4K video functionality on the Sony. Of course it’s clever, but I won’t be buying a 4K TV anytime soon which renders this functionality useless.

So for me the Samsung wins – but that doesn’t mean you’d be disappointed with the Sony. Both handsets are fantastic premium phones and worth rivals of the iPhone 5S.

Jessica Moreton – Senior Technology Researcher-Writer

More on this…

Samsung Galaxy S5 first look video – we get our hands on the new S5
Sony Xperia Z2 – watch our first impressions video
Samsung S5 vs iPhone 5S - which one comes out on top?

Categories: MWC, Smartphones

8 replies

  1. For me z2 because if you are just spending money and going to buy a ugly looking phone for practical reasons just buy the midrange or don’t buy anymore because you will just be laughing stock of people. You just wasted money for that ugly looking phone. Please have some style. Fingerprint sensors renders it useless if your fingers has some problems. The sensor will fail to recognize you. Z2 is equipped with almost the same as s5 or much better and is a good looking phone. S5 is not a innovation anymore camera wise Sony and Nokia are both better than it. Water resistance, sony have it before and it has higher resistance than s5, fingerprint sensor iPhone had it already. Where’s the new thing here? You answer it.

  2. For me z2 because if you are just spending money and going to buy a ugly looking phone for practical reasons just buy the midrange or don’t buy anymore because you will just end up to becoming laughing stock for people. You just wasted money for that ugly looking phone. Please have some style. Fingerprint sensors renders it useless if your fingers has some problems. The sensor will fail to recognize you. Z2 is equipped with almost the same as s5 or much better and is a good looking phone. S5 is not a innovation anymore camera wise Sony and Nokia are both better than it. Water resistance, sony have it before and it has higher resistance than s5, fingerprint sensor iPhone had it already. Where’s the new thing here? You answer it.

  3. Actually the fingerprint scanner was first used on an android phone, the only reason its a big thing now is apple is marketing it! Love those apple adds Not! Ipad air ad makes everyone think its the thinest and lighest pad out there. Take a look at the new sony z2 pads there 30grams lighter and 1mm thinner than the air, but where are the Adds like apple. Market

    1. Lets see 4k recording 4g network, can be burned on blueray and played on ps4. Or fibreoptic broadband meaning you can stream 4k. 20MP camera oLED diplay. You can do slow motion on that and see the future. Sony came up with water resistance way back decided to use face match, works for me, finger print wont work when phone screen is wet. Let me put it nice and simple. Sony talks samsung and apple lessons. Lets give it to apple and sumsung they know how to make friendly and fun to use phones and tablets they sell and people wont to pay for it and then they are led to believe that they are leaders in creating technology. Lol creating stupid proof things. I’m gonna go and see if i csn get ke a 4k tv. Cause the fist blue ray i saw was something. Something that sony would make actually

  4. version s5 doesn’t support 4G. LTE
    S5 has varied chipsets and make customer confused!
    S5 is plastic plate and design is the worst in all galaxy
    Fingerprint is nonsense and heart rate sensor is gimmick and it attacks your heart due to low quality sensor
    In Water proof , its back cover is removable and it is impossible to seal water and fake water proof gimmick
    sony 3gb ram s5 2gb
    sony has better photo quality then samsung
    Slightly more battery power 3000 mAh v 2800 mA
    Slightly bigger screen size 5.2 ” vs 5.1 “

  5. Okay, tbh both phones are amazing. I own a z2 and have worked with the s5. Z2 is just more of a rugged phone in my opinion. Drop the z2 in water from about 1.6 meters nothing will happen, now drop the s5 from the same height and you will have problems, back will pop off and render the seal or “waterproof” phone useless. I would go for, and went for the z2 because its more rugged and awesome.

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