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iPhone 5 vs. Sony Xperia Z

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At CES 2013, Sony unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the Sony Xperia Z, a device that the company hopes will take on upcoming devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC M7 in 2013. Upcoming phones aren’t the only devices that the Xperia Z will have to contend with though as it will be doing battle with current smartphone as well. One of those devices is the iPhone 5, Apple’s latest and greatest iPhone, and one that will be competing against the Xperia Z for the attention of consumers.

Read: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs. Sony Xperia Z.

In September, Apple debuted its current-generation smartphone, the iPhone 5. The debut came after almost a year of rumors and it produced a smartphone that has gone on to sell millions of units across the world. And while there are already rumors about an iPhone 5S or an iPhone 6, Apple is likely in no rush to get a new smartphone on shelves as the device still is one of the top smartphones on the market and likely will be well into 2013.

Both the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 have faced stiff competition from Samsung and its Galaxy S series, specifically the Samsung S3, an Android powered smartphone that debuted back in May and has gone on to sell over 30 million devices worldwide since. Samsung has emerged as Apple’s greatest Android threat, but that doesn’t mean other companies are taking that lying down.

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The iPhone 5 is one of Apple’s current mobile devices.

In fact, Sony hopes to muscle in on Samsung’s rivalry with the iPhone in 2013 with Sony CEO Kaz Hirai planning to ditch low-end models in favor of devices that he hopes will compete against the likes of the iPhone, Galaxy S3 and their successors.

The start of that new direction may have come at CES 2013 when the company announced the new Sony Xperia Z, a device that is high-end, current and perfectly capable of attracting customers.

But just how does the Sony Xperia Z compare to the iPhone 5? Here, we take a look at the Xperia Z versus the iPhone 5 in terms of its release date, features and more.

Release Date

Since September, the iPhone 5 has been one of the featured smartphones on the market as it arrived with some unique iPhone qualities including 4G LTE data speeds for the three biggest U.S. carriers and a larger display. And as expected, the response to the new features was positive.

Apple’s iPhone 5 quickly sold out through all avenues and became one of the hardest devices to find over the course of several months. It wasn’t until December, right before the holiday shopping season, that Apple was able to get its supply under control and deliver the device to customers in a timely fashion.

Unlike many devices, the iPhone 5 is already available on a number of major and regional carriers and it’s possible that this year will bring even more carriers to the surface. We’ve heard that Virgin Mobile will at some point be getting the iPhone 5 and we expect that T-Mobile will likely carry it for its 4G LTE network as well. Neither has set a release date as of yet.

Read: Sony Xperia Z Release Date Could Be February 18.

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The Xperia Z release date, at least in Europe, could be February 18th.

As for the Sony Xperia Z, its announcement at CES 2013 in Las Vegas did not come as much of a surprise. We knew that Sony was working on a device called the Sony Yuga for 2013 and it was only a matter of time before it was announced. The Yuga turned out to be the Xperia Z, arguably Sony’s biggest announcement at the show. We gave it our Best Smartphone Award of CES 2013 though competition was weaker than most years.

In typical Android announcement fashion, Sony relayed all of the Xperia Z’s details but left out two important ones. Pricing and release date. It did say that the Xperia Z would see a global launch in the first quarter but it did not say exactly when or where.

So far, leaks indicate that February 18th could be its release date, at least in Europe. No release date has emerged for the United States and we imagine if it is headed to the U.S., we won’t hear about a release date for quite sometime.

Those in the United States looking to get this phone right off the bat should be able to order it unlocked when it arrives later on this quarter however.

Design

The first thing that jumps out to those about the iPhone 5 will likely be its design, which is different than most of what’s currently on the market. Apple vastly changed the design of the iPhone 5 from the designs of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 by using a combination of metal, anodized aluminum and glass to create an extremely good-looking industrial design.

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The iPhone 5 features an industrial design made of glass, aluminum and metal.

Due to its larger display, the iPhone is now taller than its predecessors, but also cuts down the weight and thickness. The iPhone 5 is extremely thin, measuring in at a measly 7.6mm in thickness. That’s slimmer than most smartphones on the market right now. The iPhone 5 is also lightweight with a weight of only 112 grams. That’s much lighter than the iPhone 4S and lighter than just about every high-end smartphone on the market currently.

The slim and lightweight form factor also make the iPhone 5 pocketable and easy to hold.

The iPhone 5′s design puts many others to shame. However, Sony has done an admirable job with the design of the Sony Xperia Z and it too boasts a look that is both appealing and durable.

The design features a rectangular shape that possesses some semblance of roundness around the edges. The Xperia Z also features glass panels in both the front and back that help to give it a very modern look, especially for an Xperia smartphone.

Sony Xperia Z award 2

The Xperia Z won our Best Smartphone award for CES 2013. One reason? Its design.

It does however feature a much larger display than the iPhone 5 which means that it has a larger footprint. But that doesn’t come at too much of a cost.

The Sony Xperia Z is very thin, sporting a 7.9mm frame. That’s close to the iPhone 5 and much thinner than many smartphones of its size including the Droid DNA. It also weighs a mere 146 grams. That’s not as light as the iPhone 5, but it’s still light for a smartphone with a large display.

What’s more, Sony has also ensured that the design is extremely durable. It’s both water resistant and dust proof and Sony proved this in a demo at CES 2013 wherein the device was left submerged underwater for nearly an hour without taking any damage.

Display

Prior to the iPhone 5, the iPhone always came with a 3.5-inch display. Finally though, Apple caved and decide to up the iPhone’s display with the new 4-inch Retina Display found on the iPhone 5.

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The iPhone 5 features a 4-inch Retina Display.

The iPhone 5′s display uses 1136 x 640 resolution and 326 pixels-per-inch which make for crisp images, video and text. Another, more subtle feature of the display is its 16:9 aspect ratio which offers widescreen resolution for content like television shows and movies. It also helps for those that might consume a lot of YouTube content on their phone.

Sony on the other hand has followed in the footsteps of its Android ilk and bestowed a large display on its Sony Xperia Z. Like many of the Android smartphones that will arrive in 2013, the Sony Xperia Z features a massive 5-inch Reality display with 1920 x 1080 resolution and 443 pixels-per-inch. It’s Sony’s first stab at a 1080p display on a smartphone and from our limited time with the Xperia Z, it’s a good looking first effort. Text is crisp, colors are rich, videos are vibrant and easy to look at.

Sony Xperia Z

The Xperia Z is the start of Sony’s plan for high-end smartphones.

The company also included its Reality Display TV and Mobile Bravia Engine 2, both of which should make the Xperia Z one of the better looking displays on the market in the beginning of 2013 and beyond.

Camera

The iPhone 5 features an 8MP iSight camera that is one of the best cameras found on a smartphone. It handles itself well in most environments and can call up some amazing video quality as well. The iPhone 5 also features an HD front-facing camera that produces high-quality video chats for those that need them.

For those that wish to go more in-depth, have a look at our hands-on with the iPhone 5 camera.

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iPhone 5 camera sample.

The Sony Xperia Z figures to possess one of the better cameras on an Android smartphone, at least in the beginning the year, as it features a 13MP Exmor RS sensor that translates into fantastic pictures in good and bad lighting environments. As we’ve pointed out before, the noise that has affected Xperia cameras in the past is not be found in the Xperia Z camera.

We’re not convinced the camera is going to set the gold standard for 2013, but it will be good enough for most users out there. We should also mention that the Xperia Z also has a 2MP front-facing camera for video chatting.

Both cameras are solid and those who take a lot of photos and video will likely not be disappointed.

Specs

Smartphones of course go beyond just a design, display and a camera. There are a whole lot of other elements to them as well. Here, we take a look at the rest of the iPhone 5 and Xperia Z specs, noting their similarities and differences.

First, the iPhone 5.

  • 4-inch Retina Display with 1136 x 640 Resolution
  • Apple A6 Processor
  • 16GB/32GB/64GB models (No microSD Card Slot)
  • 8MP rear camera/HD Front-Facing Camera
  • 1440mAh Battery (Non-Removable)
  • 1GB of RAM

And now, the Xperia Z.

  • 5-inch Reality Display with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor
  • 16GB Storage (microSD Card Slot)
  • 13.1MP rear camera/2.2MP front-facing camera
  • 2,330 mAh battery (Non-Removable)
  • 2GB RAM
  • NFC

There are a few takeaways from these specifications. First, the iPhone 5 comes in three storage sizes but it doesn’t offer expanded storage space. The Xperia Z only comes with 16GB of on-board storage but it offers a microSD card slot that can hold up to a 32GB microSD card.

Second, don’t be fooled by the iPhone 5′s small battery. The device has some of the best battery life on a 4G LTE smartphone, providing up to 8 hours of battery while surfing the web over 4G LTE.

Sony Xperia Z Hands On - 1

The Xperia Z does have a microSD card slot, but not a removable battery.

Third, neither have a removable battery, so those that are unhappy with the battery will not be able to replace it with something different. And four, the Xperia Z has NFC support which means it will function with mobile payment services like Google Wallet. Thus far, Apple has been reluctant to include NFC with its mobile devices.

Software

Apple’s iPhone 5 comes stock with the company’s latest operating system, iOS 6. iOS 6 replaced iOS 5 and comes with more than 200 new features. Many of those features can be seen in the video below.

Some of the biggest ones include updates for Apple’s virtual personal assistant Siri, a useful Do Not Disturb feature that can be seen below, Facebook integration, Apple’s new controversial Maps application, Panorama mode for the device’s stellar camera, and a app called Passbook which allows users to store gift cards, airline tickets, sports tickets and more. That’s just a taste.

The iPhone 5 won’t lose its luster like an Android phone either. Instead, the iPhone 5 should get mobile updates from Apple for years to come. That should include iOS 7 which will likely be announced this year.

Sony’s Xperia Z will come with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at the start, something that might peeve those that are familiar with the Android ecosystem. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is not the most current version of Android, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is. And while Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, seen below, is a fantastic operating system, the fact that the Xperia Z is not running the most current Android OS out of the box is a bit of a drag.

Fortunately, Sony says it will be upgraded to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean soon after launch and that means users will be able to take advantage of all of the nifty features seen in the video below.

Like most non-Nexus Android phones, the Sony Xperia Z will be coming with a skin over the top of Android. Luckily, the skin won’t be as intrusive as most manufacturer user interfaces. In fact, Sony won’t even be giving it a name.

Read: Sony Xperia Z Android 4.2 Update Rolling Out “Shortly After Launch”.

This doesn’t mean that the software on board the Xperia Z is vanilla, it’s not, but after spending time with the Xperia Z’s software, it looks better than any UI we’ve seen on an Xperia smartphone and it’s certainly less intrusive.

Carriers

One of the strengths of the iPhone 5 is the fact that it’s available on the three largest service providers in the U.S., in addition to several smaller and regional operators. Many devices don’t have those kinds of options.

AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all offer it on their 4G LTE networks and T-Mobile says that it will be offering an iPhone at some point in 2013. The carrier has said that it will arrive within three to four months and given the time frame, we imagine that it will be the iPhone 5 and not the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6.

If that’s the case, the iPhone 5 will be available on the LTE networks of America’s four largest carriers, giving consumers a nice choice.

As for the Xperia Z, we still don’t know where it will land. Last year, Xperia devices were scarce on American carriers so it’s possible that it won’t come to any at all. If that’s the case, the device will more than likely only be available unlocked which means that it will be able to run on GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile.

There is hope, given that it has had UK carriers Three UK, Vodafone and O2 confirm it for their networks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean its heading stateside, even if demand is higher than normal.

iPhone-5-Review-393x575Price

The iPhone 5 follows Apple familiar pricing point and starts at $199.99 for a 16GB model. This starting price has been a constant for Apple for many years and it’s a price that other companies, like Samsung, have mimicked.

Here is how Apple’s on-contract price for the iPhone 5 breaks down:

  • iPhone 16GB – $199.99 on-contract
  • iPhone 32GB – $299.99 on-contract
  • iPhone 64GB – $399.99 on-contract

Those prices apply to AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. If and when the device arrives on T-Mobile, it’ll only be available with an off-contract price due to T-Mobile moving away from subsidies. The carrier has not confirmed the pricing as of yet, but it could be similar to the pricing of Apple’s unlocked iPhone 5 models.

Here is how the off-contract pricing of the iPhone 5 looks:

  • iPhone 16GB – $649.99 off-contract
  • iPhone 32GB – $749.99 off-contract
  • iPhone 64GB – $849.99 off-contract

Again, we haven’t seen the Xperia Z pop up with any official pricing as of yet and we likely won’t see any credible American pricing emerge for many weeks. If the device does come to a carrier, expect it to arrive for $199.99 or less so as not to trump the price of the iPhone 5.

Read: Sony CEO Plans to Take on Galaxy S4, iPhone 5.

If it arrives unlocked-only, those in the U.S. hoping to get it will likely have to shell out quite a bit up front for the privilege of using one. Unlocked pricing typically hovers around $600 or so though we could see this phone go for more given its high-end specifications.

14 Comments

  1. Larry

    01/19/2013 at 4:32 pm

    Are you for real??? The Sony will crush the ip 5!!! That’s a no brainer !!

  2. johnonline

    01/19/2013 at 8:40 pm

    I believe the author is an american..no wonder he thinks iphone 5 is on the same level of xperia z. Very bias review! Apple is no longer the leader in tech, they are merely patent trolls. Xperia Z, Galaxy S4 and the new android phones in 2013 will lead the pack. Stay delusional apple fanboy!

  3. Bo

    01/20/2013 at 1:38 am

    This not even a comparison. Xperia z is like a brand new 911 turbo. The icrap 5 is more like a mini, lol. It’s old and very bland. Have fun zooming in while surfing the web, lol. I cant wait for the note 3.

  4. George

    01/21/2013 at 1:11 am

    this site just WONT say the iphone is an inferior product will they? so funny. i wouldnt have an ip5 if it were $50 unlocked, it really is lagging behind in design, specs, software any way you look at it really.

    and thats before the 1080p android phones land in a few months. bad time to be an apple fanboy.

  5. Umara

    01/22/2013 at 2:55 am

    The iphone Sucks *********BIG TIME********
    Xperia Z is no comparison to THis B.S!11!!!!

    • Uzin

      01/22/2013 at 3:46 am

      Who do you think will be better bet out of iPhone5 and Samsung S3

  6. Bill K Bear

    01/28/2013 at 3:31 pm

    “Adam is an editor based in San Francisco, California who loves his iPhone 5…”
    This was never going to be an unbiased comparison…

  7. Marcelo Navarrete Signorile

    01/31/2013 at 12:55 am

    What a biased piece of … Andy you love your iphone 5 i got it, but cammon your article is an insult to the intelligence. So the 8MP camera is awsome but the 13MP in the Xperia is good enough… you are just being driven by ios maps…

    “The iPhone 5 features an 8MP iSight camera that is one of the best cameras found on a smartphone. It handles itself well in most environments and can call up some amazing video quality as well.”
    “The Sony Xperia features a 13MP Exmor RS sensor that translates into fantastic pictures in good and bad lighting environments. We’re not convinced the camera is going to set the gold standard for 2013, but it will be good enough for most users out there”.

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