Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2: Droid gladiators

GSMArena team, 04 June 2014.

Displays

Both phones represent each company's screen-making expertise. Samsung put a Super AMOLED on the Galaxy S5, while Sony packed the Triluminos and X-Reality trademark features on the Xperia Z2.

The Galaxy S5 has a 5.1" screen of 1080p resolution and 432ppi. The diamond-pattern PenTile matrix, however, means the actual sharpness is lower than that of Sony's LCD screen. Not that you can tell even looking at them side by side, other things like color rendering, contrast and viewing angles stand out more.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Sony Xperia Z2 Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Sony Xperia Z2

Samsung took several years to perfect Super AMOLED for it to finally offer the most accurate colors in the market. Using the display mode settings you can tweak that to a more saturated look if you prefer. It has excellent viewing angles and practically infinite contrast too.

Sony has fixed the viewing angle issues plaguing its screens and the Triluminos display on the Xperia Z2 looks great. The X-Reality engine (successor to the Bravia engine) lets you tweak contrast, saturation and sharpness of images.

Contrast is excellent though the maximum brightness is actually lower than that of the Super AMOLED (typically the roles are reversed).

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia Z2 - - - 0.41 488 1195
Sony Xperia Z1 - - - 0.38 580 1513
Sony Xperia Z - - - 0.70 492 705
Oppo Find 7a 0.33 280 842 0.68 580 852
Samsung Galaxy S5 0 274 0 529
Samsung Galaxy S4 0 201 0 404
HTC One (M8) 0.20 245 1219 0.46 577 1256
LG G2 0.10 149 1522 0.45 667 1495
HTC Butterfly S 0.15 165 1117 0.43 451 1044
Apple iPhone 5 0.13 200 1490 0.48 640 1320


While both screens offer great image quality indoors, the Samsung Galaxy S5 screen does noticeably better outside. The LCD on the Sony Xperia Z2 is on the reflective side, which affects legibility in direct sunlight.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.970
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.950
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.790
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.940
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.740
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.680
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Samsung Galaxy Core LTE
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • HTC Desire C
    1.300
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.270
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.180
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

The two screens have special tricks they can do thanks to their sensitive digitizers. We've seen Samsung's Air View, which detects your finger at about an inch distance and trigger special previews of image folders, messages and calendar events.

Sony goes after the Galaxy Note with the ability to use a regular pencil as a stylus.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5. The accurate color rendering is great in theory, but it only matters to the few that know what sRGB is. It's the great sunlight legibility that wins the day, thanks to the less reflective and even slightly brighter Super AMOLED.

The Sony Xperia Z2 screen is slightly bigger (but you lose space due to the on-screen buttons) and sharper on some occassions, but most people don't have the eyesight to spot the difference. The drop in maximum brightness and increase in reflectivity from the Xperia Z1 hurt Sony's latest flagship.

Connectivity

Both phones are powered by Qualcomm chipsets and enjoy all the connectivity benefits that come with it. Starting with the basics like quad-band 2G and penta-band 3G, the two flagships also enjoy the fastest mobile data around with Cat. 4 LTE (up to 150Mbps down and 50Mbps up). Without an LTE network where you are, they'll still go quite fast at 42.2Mbps down and 5.76 up courtesy of HSPA.

Local connections are blazing fast as well thanks to dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac (a/b/g/n are supported too). Bluetooth 4.0 is available for connecting with accessories including low-power devices like wearables. Both phones also support the ANT+ standard, which is popular with sports accessories.

Wired connectivity is where the two flagships start to diverge. The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a microUSB 3.0 port, which will provide faster data transfers between the phone and a computer. It also integrates MHL 2.1, which means it can, with the right adapter, output 1080p video.

The Sony Xperia Z2 has a regular microUSB 2.0 port but it takes the MHL version up to 3.0. The key difference here is that the newer standard supports 2160p video @ 30fps, just the kind you can record with the Z2's camera (you'll need a new UHD TV too).

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Sony Xperia Z2 Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Sony Xperia Z2
microUSB 3.0 / MHL 2.1 on the Galaxy S5 microUSB 2.0 / MHL 3.0 on the Xperia Z2

Both phones feature NFC for use with tags and easy pairing with some devices.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 also has an IR blaster on top to control electronic equipment at home, including TVs, disc players and even air conditioners.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Sony Xperia Z2 Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Sony Xperia Z2
IR blaster on top of the Samsung Galaxy S5

Winner: Tie. The key features - 150Mbps LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC - are evenly split.

The Galaxy S5 has USB 3.0, which offers faster transfer rates for those who still use cables, and the IR blaster is great for HTPC setups though not vital.

However, if you have a UHD TV then the MHL 3.0 port on the Xperia Z2 becomes more valuable as it allows you to view 2160p videos you've shot straight from the phone.