Of all the smartphones that we see today, the Sony Xperia Z perhaps is one of the best we’ve seen so far in terms of raw hardware as well as design. The fact that it’s water resistant also helps greatly in adding to the durability factor which we see very little in smartphones these days. The Xperia Z however cannot hold on to the tag of the best smartphone in the market forever. In fact we have a strong feeling that upcoming smartphones from HTC and Samsung will certainly be forces to reckon with and it will be very interesting to see how these devices fare against each other when all three are inevitably compared side by side.
This, for a consumer isn’t a good thing as he/she is potentially spoilt for choice, and not knowing which one is better or worse isn’t a good position to be in. In the current scenario however, fans aren’t really in a condition to pick the Xperia Z for the simple reason that they think there’s something better coming up. Especially from Samsung which has raised the bar when it comes to smartphones and has made us all think whether other manufacturers stand a chance against its dominance in the market. I’m sure HTC, Sony and LG would object to that, but we can’t deny what has happened in the past couple of years. Having said that, 2013 could be the year for other manufacturers to make inroads in the smartphone segment and eat up some of that marketshare from Samsung.
So we ask today, is it possible for users to get the Xperia Z without thinking about what’s to come in the future? And by future we mean in two months as that’s when the Samsung flagship is slated to break cover. And lest we forget, HTC will be revealing its flagship in less than three weeks from now so Sony has that to look forward to as well. Regardless, it would be fair really observe the market situation and pick a smartphone wisely. This is applicable especially for locations without the carrier contract system where purchasing a smartphone is nothing less than investment as it costs upwards of $600-700 per smartphone. So if you’re upgrading from an old smartphone and want the latest and the best smartphone in your hands, it would behoove you to wait until the Samsung and HTC droids are out to properly assess what’s best for you. The Sony Xperia Z is expected to be out globally by March while the HTC M7 could be available during the same time after its February 19 announcement.
Now for the more rational argument, which one is or will be better? We only have the specs for the Xperia Z now since the HTC M7 and the Galaxy S IV still haven’t been launched, so this might be a little unfair comparison, but we’ll go with whatever info we have on these devices.
The Sony Xperia Z features a 5-inch 1080p FHD panel (probably made by Sharp) with a resounding pixel density of 443 ppi. If you’re wondering why the pixel density is more with the Xperia Z as compared to the HTC Droid DNA, it’s because it doesn’t exactly utilize the entirety of the 5-inch panel as there is some space left at the bottom for onscreen keys. So that’s something which is in the favor of the Xperia Z. However, the HTC M7 is supposed to feature a 4.7-inch 1080p Super LCD panel which will produce pixel density of 469 ppi. This will certainly give HTC the edge, but at the expense of having a smaller display. The Samsung Galaxy S IV however is said to be level with Sony as far as the display is concerned. The Koreans showed off the 4.99-inch Full HD panel at CES last month, which will most likely make its way with the next Galaxy flagship. The difference however will be in terms of viewing angles and general visibility as Samsung’s AMOLED panel will have no competitors when it comes to this.
The Xperia Z packs a mammoth 13MP Sony Exmor RS camera sensor which for the first time brings HDR Video in a smartphone. Seriously, this is a very big deal for a smartphone. The HTC M7 is rumored to pack a similar 13MP camera but of unknown make, and its features are relatively unknown too. But in the likelihood that the smartphone will feature the same chipset as the Xperia Z, then we might just be able to see the same feature on the M7 as well along with some new and exclusive features. As for the Samsung Galaxy S IV, there’s hardly any information as to what the camera would be like, so I guess we will have to wait until there’s more information available on that. As of now, the specs of the Galaxy S IV is a huge mystery.
As of today there are only a couple of chipsets that the manufacturers can work with, and these are the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro and the recently launched NVIDIA Tegra 4. The Xperia Z makes use of the former and we expect the HTC M7 to feature the same chip as well. But in this area, it is Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa which stands out and would flat out beat the competition rather convincingly. This eight core chipset based on four ARM Cortex-A7cores and four Cortex-A15 cores doesn’t run all the eight cores at once, contrary to what the name would have you believe. Instead, it intelligently utilizes the A15 cores for heavy duty tasks and uses the Cortex-A7 cores for minimal CPU tasks. This will certainly be a treat to watch and while we shouldn’t pass judgment until we see the chip live in action, we think this is a no-brainer.
This is probably the only area where manufacturers differ from each other in every aspect, and it all comes down to a matter of preference. Sony’s Timescape UI is more minimalistic than it used to be which is good as those unnecessary UI elements didn’t do much justice to the phone. HTC’s Sense UI was considered the king of all user interfaces at one point, but that has slowly faded now as the newest iterations of Sense UI take up way too much memory causing performance issues. However, this could be fixed with subsequent versions of Sense UI. Samsung’s TouchWiz UI however has been one of the best UIs of the year, mainly because of the amount of features it brought to the table. We saw the Multi Window feature introduced with the Galaxy Note II which subsequently made its way the Galaxy S III as well. Along with that, there were other features like Pop Up Play and S-Voice(which wasn’t all that well received) too. All in all Samsung’s custom UI won appreciation all across the park and it is expected that Samsung will continue with that going forward.
We won’t go into the design of these smartphones as we have no idea what the HTC M7 or the Samsung Galaxy S IV would look like. However, we would like Samsung to up the ante when it comes to the overall look of the smartphone and make it attractive to the eye as well. HTC will definitely continue making good looking smartphones and the M7 won’t be an exception to this. The Xperia Z is one of the best smartphone designs we’ve seen in a long time, although there are a few things about it which strike as surprising to me.
Now for that unique feature which sets the smartphone apart from the rest of the competition. This to me is the water and dust resistant nature of the Xperia Z. While it’s highly unlikely that we would see HTC or Samsung match Sony in this department, it goes without saying that Sony has gotten almost everything right with this new offering. The HTC M7 on the other hand would come with its standard array of features which won’t make as much as an impact as the Xperia Z’s features. There will be Beats Audio branding on board of course along with some improved audio enhancements as well as the improved HTC ImageSense chip for better shots from the camera.
We’re not sure if Samsung will implement the S-Pen stylus into the successor of the Galaxy S III, but many think it will. Especially after the Koreans bought a 5% stake in Wacom which is a company that makes digitizers for the Galaxy Note smartphones. But we’re not going to take that seriously until we have concrete evidence. Until then though, we’re bound to believe that Samsung will bring forth some neat software enhancements much like it did with the Galaxy S III last year.
So should you wait until all three smartphones are out? Damn right you should. Because you don’t want to rush yourself into one of these and regret within the next month. So we advise you to check all the three smartphones carefully, and there is also going to be the LG phablet breaking cover at the MWC, so we’ll have plenty of devices to choose from in a couple of months.