We have a great matchup for you today – the new Sony Xperia XZ1 takes on the venerable Samsung Galaxy S8. Here we have two premium smartphones, loaded with features, and either loved or hated by their respective supporters and detractors. The Galaxy S8 has been with us a while now and is a proven device following an accumulation of accolades. The Sony Xperia XZ1 is now making its way around the globe and is exactly what we have come to expect from Sony with its large bezels, stellar camera, and no fingerprint sensor for the US market. Side-by-side, the design of the Samsung Galaxy S8 blows the Sony Xperia XZ1 out of the water. But when it comes to hardware, the playing field somewhat levels out. Prices are fairly comparable with the Sony Xperia XZ1 coming in at $699 and the Galaxy S8 about $760. Let’s take a look at what these two devices have in common before we look at each individual device.
While both are premium devices they could not be more different in physical looks. The Sony Xperia XZ1 uses an all-metal design whereas the Galaxy S8 uses a glass backing. The displays are different sizes and use different technologies as Sony continues to use its FHD LCD display while Samsung uses a QHD Super AMOLED display. Both the Xperia XZ1 and the Galaxy S8 use the same Snapdragon 835 processor clocked at 2.35 GHz and an Adreno 540 GPU for graphics. Although international markets get Samsung’s Exynos 8895 processor. You will find 4GB of RAM in each device and 64GB of expandable internal memory. Both devices have excellent camera areas, although the Xperia XZ1 has higher megapixels in both cameras. This is one area where Sony seems to excel, but the other manufacturers have caught up in photo quality. The battery is smaller in the Sony but both devices should last you an entire day. The two smartphones are almost identical in height and weight, because of the Galaxy S8’s 18.5:9 ratio it is slimmer than the Xperia XZ1. Both sport BT 5.0, advanced charging, a USB Type-C port, Hi-Res Audio, IP68 water and dust resistance, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Please take a thoughtful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another. After that, we will look at each device in greater depth and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
Sony Xperia XZ1
The new Sony Xperia XZ1 (as well as the Compact model) will not fool anybody familiar with Sony-designed smartphones. The main design has not changed for years, although refinements are made with each iteration. It is not a bad looking phone, just a bit dated when compared to the likes of the Galaxy S8 and other new designs. While most smartphone manufacturers are doing away with bezels and going with edge-to-edge QHD displays, Sony proudly holds on to its rather ‘blockish’ look with large bezels on the top and bottom, and smaller FHD displays. The Xperia XZ1 does have the latest processor, great battery life, stereo speakers, and a solid camera. It will also be the first non-Google smartphone to run Android 8.0 (Oreo) out-of-the-box. The US model, which only works on AT&T and T-Mobile, has the fingerprint sensor inactive. Let’s see how it compares to the Galaxy S8.
The Xperia XZ1 sports a 5.2-inch Triluminos IPS LCD display with the normal 16:9 aspect ratio. It is a Full HD display with a pixel resolution of 1920 x 1080 and 424 pixels-per-inch (PPI). Sony also uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for the display, but metal for the backing. The Xperia XZ1 uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 clocked at 2.35 GHz and an Adreno 540 GPU. It sports 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 64GB of expandable memory.
When it comes to cameras, Sony is an expert and that expertise carries over to the Xperia XZ1 camera area. It includes a main 19MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, laser and phase detection auto focus (PDAF), LED flash, and EIS. The FFC uses a 13MP sensor with a f/2.0 aperture, and a wide-angle lens with EIS. The Xperia XZ1 packs a 2,700 mAh non-removable battery with support for Quick Charge 3.0. Although the battery is small by today's standards, it is running on a very efficient OS, a processor that is power conscious, as well as a FHD display. You should have no trouble getting through an entire day.
Sony did make some updates to the body of the Xperia XZ1 – the corners are rounded nicely to make it a pleasure to hold and the antenna has been removed from the back and placed on the sides of the device. This new configuration makes the phone looks more solid and less like it was put together in several pieces. The Xperia XZ1 comes with IP68 certification for water and dust resistance, stereo speakers, BT 5.0, and NFC allowing you to use Android Pay. It is available in Black, Warm Silver, Venus Pink, and Moonlit Blue depending on what market you live in and what carrier you use. It will be running Android 8.0 (Oreo) out-of-the-box. The device measures 148 x 73.4 x 7.4mm and weighs in at 155 grams. It will cost you approximately $700.
Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung went through some rough patches in 2016, but the Galaxy S8 has proven to be huge hit for the company this year. It has both looks and hardware to back up its status as the best selling smartphone of 2017. The Galaxy S8's Infinity Display goes from edge-to-edge and ‘melts’ into the sides making it look almost futuristic compared to the Xperia XZ1. There are no side bezels and even the top and bottom bezels are minimal. Samsung did away with their iconic Home button, placed the fingerprint sensor on the back, and the navigation keys are now on-screen. The top bezel houses the front-facing camera (FFC), the earpiece, the proximity sensor, and the notification light. The bottom bezel is a clean slate.
The Galaxy S8 features a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED ‘Infinity Display’ that comes with an aspect ratio of 18.5:9, a pixel resolution of 2960 x 1440 and a 570 PPI. Samsung uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5 all around for protection. As in most cases, Samsung sells two models – the US/China model uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 clocked at 2.35 GHz and an Adreno 540 GPU. The EMEA model sold in most regions around the world is powered by an Exynos 8895 clocked at 2.3 GHz and a Mali-G71 MP20 GPU. The Galaxy S8 sports 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 64GB of expandable memory.
The Galaxy S8 camera area is one of the highest rated among smartphones. It includes a main 12MP sensor that uses Samsung’s Dual Pixels. It comes with a large f/1.7 aperture, phase detection auto focus (PDAF), LED flash, auto HDR and OIS. On the front, there is an 8MP sensor with auto-focus, the same f/1.7 aperture, and wide-angle lens with HDR. The Galaxy S8 packs a 3,000 mAh non-removable battery with support for Adaptive Fast Charging and wireless charging for both Qi and PMA formats.
Samsung added some new features in its Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. The Connect feature allows you to control Samsung’s appliances and other home controls. Samsung introduced its own AI personal assistant called ‘Bixby.’ Like other personal assistants, you can ask Bixby simple questions and receive an answer as well as more advanced features such as the ability to get information from a picture via the camera of architectural landmarks. Also new is Samsung’s DeX that allows you to hook up a monitor, keyboard, and mouse for a ‘desktop’ experience. The Galaxy S8 also comes with IP68 water and dust resistance, iris scanner, heart rate monitor, and SpO2 sensor. It is available in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue, and Maple Gold depending on what market you live in and what carrier you use. It comes with Android 7.0 (Nougat) out-of-the-box. The device measures 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm and weighs in at 155 grams.
...And The Winner Is...
The Final Word
This was a tough decision because these two devices use the same processor, the same memory, excellent cameras and the price separation is only about $60. In the end the Samsung Galaxy S8 proved to be the winner of this comparison due to simply how good it looks, its larger AMOLED display with QHD resolution, the use of the fingerprint scanner, face recognition, and it can run on all of the networks in the US.
The Sony XZ1 is a solid device and comfortable to hold with its rounded edges. It has good battery life, a great camera, but one that gets beat out by other Android devices. It has stereo speakers and will be running Android 8.0 Oreo. While it is slightly cheaper than the Galaxy S8, the S8 seems more modern and up to date compared to the Xperia XZ1 which now represents more of a throwback design.