Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2

An early look at Barcelona's headliners

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2

We're feverishly awaiting our review samples of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 – so to help keep you going in this barren period (assuming you've already gazed your fill at the New HTC One /M8 and iPhone 6 info we've parsed) we've pitted these two phones against one another in our early look.

If you're one of those people that think 'well, they're both big phones that do roughly the same thing'…well, you're kind of right.

But it's the smaller (and in some cases, bigger) differences that inspire us to keep reaching for the same handset time and again each day, but these can also be the reason we hate ourselves for choosing the wrong phone for two years.

We've spent nearly an hour with each handset to germinate some opinions on each before our full review (spoiler: they're both pretty good) but given some of you may be already thinking about a cheeky pre-order, here's our look at the specs that both are rocking plus a little bit of extra information to help you make the right decision.

Design

Design is a pertinent issue to both parties, but for very different reasons, and once again that's been brought to the fore with the launch of Sony and Samsung's new flagship phones.

Let's start with Sony's pocket warrior: once again, it's gone for the 'Omnibalance' design which means a more industrial-looking shape with that quickly-becoming-iconic power button on the side.

Sony Xperia Z2

Straight away it feels like a premium device, one that's made with top quality materials and is put together in a way that doesn't feel like it's going to break. That's improved by the fact every port (bar the headphone jack) is covered to make the Xperia Z2 waterproof, which makes things feel a bit more compact and strong.

The Z2 also has dual front facing speakers, a fact Sony oddly played down when it launched the device – they certainly make your music played without headphones better, and show that perhaps HTC had the right idea with BoomSound.

Z2

The Samsung Galaxy S5 has been roundly criticised from most quarters thanks to its…iterative design, which is a kind way of saying it looks a bit like the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 together. It's certainly on the same level as the likes of HTC and Apple when it comes to the design.

However, it does feel the most solid in the hand of all the Galaxy S devices, and the dimpled rubber-esque back is actually really nice to hold, as it's really grippy.

Like the Z2, it's also water resistant, but the only cover is at the bottom to stop water getting in, with the microSD and microSIM slots hidden under the cover.

Galaxy S5

However, there's a worry about the protection that cover offers, as it took four attempts to make sure it was fully snapped into place – if not, then it doesn't seem like water protection is on offer.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is slightly better protected against dust, but is a little less water resistant, coming in at IP67 rating compared to the IP58 of the Sony Xperia Z2. This shouldn't really affect your purchase decision unless you're planning to submerge the phone deeply for a long time… if you are, then perhaps you should be thinking about a more specialist device.

When it comes to comparing the two dimensionally, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is the smaller device – just.

We're talking 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm for the Xperia Z2 compared to 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm for the Galaxy S5, with the former weighing 163g and the latter 145g. So the Galaxy S5 is thinner, shorter and weighs less – if that matters to you.

Screen

What is it about a screen that matters to you? A strong colour reproduction? Size? Amount of pixels?

Well, there's actually not a lot between the two options here. The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a Full HD display at a 5.1-inch size, and the Sony Xperia Z2 offers the same resolution (1920 x 1080) with a 5.2-inch offering.

The underlying technology is significantly different though, with Samsung employing the same Super AMOLED screen that it has in years gone by.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Not quite the same, as it's evolved significantly over time, but it seems that the Galaxy S5 has the best display Samsung has ever produced. We're awaiting official confirmation of the exact technology used, but it certainly looks brighter and sharper than before despite being slightly lower in the pixels-per-inch stakes compared to its predecessor.

If we're talking PPI, the Galaxy S5 has the win over the Sony Xperia Z2 as well. The former runs at 432 PPI, where Sony comes in at 424PPI thanks to the slightly larger screen. You shouldn't let such discrepancies sway you though, as there's very little in the perception, if anything.

Sony has tried to take on the perceived 'over saturation' of Samsung's Super AMOLED screens by introducing Live Colour LED. In short, this alters the output of the LEDs that light the screen to allow them to produce a wider gamut of colour.

The upshot of this is that images on the screen, particularly red and green, will appear more full, and general output will be improved as well.

Sony Xperia Z2

Samsung's come under fire in the past for its higher colour range, making things seem a little too colourful at times, but this can be dialled up and down, so shouldn't be a complete negative.

However, the pictures on the Xperia Z2 are just sublime, meaning it's going to be a great phone for movie watching and the like.