Sony Xperia Z1 vs Sony Xperia Z

Sony announced their first camera centric flagship device – Sony Xperia Z1 at the IFA 2013 in Berlin. Prior to launch, Sony Xperia Z1 had leaked numerous times that when Sony announced it, nothing came as a surprise – even the 20.7MP camera. Currently, Sony Xperia Z1 has the biggest camera sensor on an Android smartphone, even bigger than the one on the camera-phone – Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, but without the optical zoom.

Sony Xperia Z was announced during CES 2013 nearly ten months back it was Sony’s first Full HD smartphone. Sony Xperia Z was one of the first phones to set the trend for industrial build quality in Sony’s smartphone lineup and it came with water and dust resistance. Sony Xperia Z1 is the successor of Sony Xperia Z in a lot of terms that include a better camera, better processor and supposedly better display.


Today, we will be bringing you the comparison of Sony Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z. Both the phones have a similar design language, almost identical software features and are water/dust resistant, but are in terms of processing power, one outperforms the other. Lets dive right into the differences and you can check out our in-depth comparison video right below.

Design and Build Quality

In terms of looks, Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z are quite similar. Industrial design is the common keyword here and both the phones come with a rectangular build and a single piece of aluminum at the center and glass for the center and back. When Sony first introduced the design of Xperia Z, we were pretty impressed with that, but ever since that, Sony has stuck to the same design and it kind of feels played out on the Xperia Z1. Xperia Z1 is relatively bigger than the Xperia Z although both the phones have the same 5inch display.


In terms of dimensions, the Xperia Z1 is taller, wider and thicker than the Xperia Z. As far as the weight is concerned, Xperia Z1 weighs a hefty 170g while the Xperia Z weighs nearly 25g less at 146g.

The display dominates most of the front screen real estate on both the phones although the Xperia Z1 has less display to area ratio than the Xperia Z. On the Xperia Z1, above the display, the earpiece is along the top edge and on the right side of the Sony logo, we have the 2MP front camera. On the left side of the Logo, we have the proximity and Ambient sensors. Even on the Xperia Z, we have the earpiece along the top edge above the Sony logo, but in addition to the proximity and ambient sensors on the left side of the logo, there is the front camera.


On both the phones, there are no navigation keys on both the phones and everything is restricted to on screen buttons. The lack of navigation keys eats away some part of the screen for the on-screen menu. The mouthpiece seems to be hidden on the Xperia Z1 while it is there along the bottom edge on the Xperia Z. The display is protected by shatter proof and scratch resistant glass of unknown make on both the phones.


The positioning of keys is similar on both the phones as they follow a similar design language. On the right side, we have the circular and symbolic Sony power lock button, volume rocker and microSIM card slot. The iconic Sony lock button was introduced in the Xperia Z. On the Xperia Z1, we have an extra camera shutter key since it is a camera centric device while on the Xperia Z, we have the loudspeaker.


On the bottom of Xperia Z1, we have the loud-speakers while there is nothing on the Xperia Z.


There is a provision for docking on both the devices and there is a covered microUSB charging port and microSD card slot on the left side of both the phones.


On the top, Xperia Z1 has an uncovered 3.5mm audio jack while the 3.5mm audio jack is covered with a flap on the Xperia Z. Both the phones are water and dust resistant – Xperia Z1 is IP58 certified while the Xperia Z is IP57 certified.


As we move to the back of the phones, we find more similarities. The glass back is common to both the phones. The glass back is not removable on both the phones and while it is good to look at, it is reflective and can be a fingerprint magnet. The back is also slippery and highly scratch prone on both the phones. Xperia Z1 has the 20.7MP camera sensor on the top left corner while the Xperia Z has a 13MP towards the top center. Both the phones come with a single LED flash below the camera. There is Sony branding at the center and at the bottom, we have the Xperia branding on both the devices.


Overall, the industrial build quality of both the phones is pretty nice. In terms of handling, both the phones are slightly an issue to be held properly because of the sharp rectangular build. The Xperia Z1 poses even more of a challenge because of its bigger size while the Xperia Z fits in the hand relatively better.



Being Sony’s latest, Sony Xperia Z1 has Sony’s Triluminous Full HD displays while the Xperia Z still has the Mobile Bravia engine 2 display. Both the phones – Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z have a 5inch Full HD display with a pixel density of 441ppi.

Both the displays are average because of the very poor viewing angles. The viewing angles of Xperia Z1 are very poor and remind us of the screen of Xperia Z which suffered from similar problems. When seen from a slightly different angle, the screen of Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z appears whitish.

We really couldn’t tell much of a difference between the displays of both these phones.

Hardware and Performance

Sony Xperia Z1 brings along with it the best available quad-core chip in the market – Snapdragon 800 SoC clocked at 2.2GHz, Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB RAM while the Xperia Z uses the tester generation Snapdragon S4 Quad-core SoC clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB RAM and Adreno 320 GPU.


Both the phones come with 2GB RAM and out of the 2GB RAM, Xperia Z1 has 1.7GB usable RAM and when the device is idle, around 1GB is free while the Xperia Z has 1.7GB is usable and when the device is idle, around 1.2GB is free.


In terms of internal storage, there is 16GB internal storage on both the phones and both of them have a support for microSD cards. Out of the 16GB, around 11.7GB is user-accessible on both the phones.


The newer processor gives the Xperia Z1 a clear advantage in terms of performance. Because of the newer processor, the Xperia Z1 scores better in the benchmarks. Whatever you do is fast on both the phones – be it opening apps or switching between them. In terms of day to day performance, both the phones are blazing fast.

As you would expect, the newer phone with the newer generation processor is faster.


Sony Xperia Z1 is the company’s first step towards a camera centric flagship as it comes with the biggest sensor on an Android smartphone. The Xperia Z1 comes with a 20.7MP Sony G Lens sensor and houses Sony’s own Bionz Image processor for superior image quality. Though the Sony Xperia Z1 runs on Snapdragon 800 SoC, there is no 4K video recording and you do not even get 1080p Full HD recording at 60fps which you find on LG G2 and Note 3. The front camera on the Xperia Z1 is nothing special as it is just a 2MP one which can record 1080p videos as well. Xperia Z comes with Sony’s EXMOR RS 13MP camera at the back and a 2MP camera on the front.


In terms of camera UI, despite coming from the same manufacturer, there is some notable difference. On the Xperia Z1, the camera UI is different as the mode selection button is present on the bottom right corner above which we have the camera shutter key and video record button. The shortcut to recent images is on the top right corner. On the left side, we have the toggles for Flash and switch for Front/Back camera. Below it is the three vertical dot icon for settings. While on the Xperia Z, the mode selection mode is on the top left corner and the rest are pretty similar. There is difference in the various shooting modes available as the Xperia Z1 includes the regular Superior Auto mode, Manual mode, Timeshift Burst mode, Picture effect mode, sweep panorama, AR Effect, Social Live and Info-eye. The special modes in the Xperia Z are restricted to Burst mode, Picture Effect and sweep panorama. Also Xperia Z1 produces over-sampled 8MP images in Superior Auto mode. This is one of the first Android smartphones to produce over-sampled images (which was introduced to smartphones by Nokia).


In terms of image quality, the photos and videos taken on the Xperia Z1 are much better with better details and more colors. Clearly, the Xperia Z1 is the winner and you can check that out for yourself right below.

Software Features

Both the phones run on Android 4.2.2 JellyBean with customized Sony skin. The UI is exactly same on the both the phones.

The app drawer on both the phones is quite same and both of them allow you arrange the icons in any order, alphabetical order or most recently used first. On the notification bar, both the phones have exactly ten toggles for various connectivity options like Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC and so on. Both the phones have Sony’s small apps which can be accessed by pressing the third navigation key that also opens the list of already open apps. There are various small apps like calculator, recorder, timer, bookmarks and so on. You can open any number of these apps at a time and have them on screen. They are always present on the screen unless you close them. Instead of closing them, you can drag them to the right side of the screen where they become small icon and attach themselves to the right side of the screen. On clicking those minimized icons, they are visible again. These small apps can be very useful for taking down notes and doing small things in a fast manner.

Since both the phones have exactly the same in terms of software, it is an obvious tie.


Multimedia apps like Album, Walkman, Movies are exactly the same on both the phones. The Album app which is the image gallery is quite functional as it supports pinch to zoom feature. When you pinch out inside the app, all the images rearrange themselves to the smallest possible thumbnail size and when you pinch in, they zoom in and keep zooming in until you are with a single image and even when pinch in further, they zoom the picture. The rearranging takes place so fast thanks to the Snapdragon 800 on the Xperia Z1. Walkman is Sony’s trademark music player and comes with all the features and some good Eye-candy. Movies is the video player for Sony smartphones and not it does it play the movie, but also fetches information about the movie from the Internet which gives you a quick summary of the movie. Snapdragon 800 is capable of 4K video playback, but Xperia Z1 does not support 4K videos. The loudspeaker performance is definitely better on the Xperia Z1.


Xperia Z1 is absolutely great for gaming because of the Snapdragon 800 SoC. Gaming on the Xperia Z is good, but simply not as good as the Xperia Z1. We noticed that both the devices heated up while playing graphics intense games.

Battery and Connectivity

One of the surprisingly good things about the Xperia Z1 is its amazing battery. The Xperia Z1 comes with a 3000mAh non-removable Li-ion battery while the Xperia Z comes with a 2330mAh battery of the similar variety. The bigger battery of the Xperia Z1 definitely gives it an advantage in terms of battery life. Both the phones are equipped with Sony’s Stamina Mode that helps the phone last a little longer on battery.


In terms of connectivity, both the phones are equipped with WiFi(802.11 a/b/g/n), DLNA, WiFi Direct, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth, TV out(via MHL), GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS, NFC, microUSB and USB OTG. However, only the Xperia Z1 has WiFi 802.11 ac support.


Sony Xperia Z1 is the company’s first camera centric flagship and a significant upgrade over the Sony Xperia Z which was the company’s first Full HD smartphone. With Xperia Z, Sony got it right in terms of specifications for the first time after trailing behind the market in the specs race and things just got better for the Japanese company as the Xperia Z1 houses the currently available best SoC in the market. Currently, the Sony Xperia Z1 retails for Rs. 42,000 while the Sony Xperia Z retails for Rs. 33,000.


Being an upgraded successor, the Sony Xperia Z1 beats the Sony Xperia Z in almost every aspect. The difference of Rs. 9000 fetches you a better overall device.

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Author: Monish Kumar

Monish is passionate about smartphones who is also interested in User Experience and Design. He is currently using Samsung Galaxy S3. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+