Gold and Glass: Apple iPhone 5s vs. Sony Xperia Z1
Image Credit: @sony_jpn via Twitter

Gold and Glass: Apple iPhone 5s vs. Sony Xperia Z1


The iPhone 5s doesn’t need an introduction at this point in time. The handset in question was launched several weeks ago, selling out or facing delays in markets around the globe. While not everyone considers the device to be “innovative,” it is seen by many as a step up in the right direction for Apple. The handset’s A7 processor is a beast, simply crushing the competition in synthetic benchmarks, most likely due to its use of 64-bit architecture. The way we see it, Apple has upgraded the device where the company thinks it matters the most. The handset is more powerful, the display is more responsive, the new iOS 7 operating system is richer than the previous version, and as expected, the camera has been slightly updated as well.

Speaking of which, Apple smartphones have always been held in high regard due to their camera capabilities (among other things). While no iPhone has actually been advertised as a “cameraphone,” the main sensor has always been somewhere at the top of the food chain. However, with multiple camera-centric smartphones hitting the shelves lately, we’re wondering whether or not the iPhone 5s can actually keep up. Let’s see how Apple’s finest fares against the photography-inclined Sony Xperia Z1.

iPhone 5s vs. Sony Xperia Z1 – Raw Specs

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

On paper, the Sony Xperia Z1 is clearly the superior device. It features a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.2 GHz, an Adreno 330 graphics chip, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage (expandable by up to 64 GB via microSD). The entire package is powered by a 3,000 mAh Li-Ion battery.

On the other hand, the iPhone 5s packs a 1.3 GHz Apple A7 dual-core processor, a PowerVR G6430 GPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 16/32/64 GB of storage (with no possibility of expanding). The Apple flagship draws its energy from a 1560 mAh Li-Po battery.

While the Xperia Z1 is the superior device in terms of numbers, the iPhone 5s seems to handle synthetic benchmarks more successfully.

iPhone 5s vs. Sony Xperia Z1 – Display Comparison

Apple hasn’t really been that eager to adopt the “bigger is better” mentality when it comes to display sizes. As such, the iPhone 5s features a conservative 4-inch panel with a resolution of 640 x 1136 and a pixel density of 326 ppi. In contrast, the Sony Xperia Z1 delivers an impressive 5-inch panel with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 and a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch.

However, due to the nature of these displays, the iPhone 5s manages to deliver a crisper image. While the resolution is lower and the diagonal is smaller, the LED-backlit IPS LCD panel on the iPhone 5s delivers better color accuracy and viewing angles than the TFT panel of the Z1, despite Sony’s efforts to improve the TFT technology by adding features such as “Triluminos” and an “X-Reality Engine.”

iPhone 5s vs. Sony Xperia Z1 – Design

Claiming that an iPhone wins the battle of design in front of any Android smartphone is a thing of the past. While certain Android smartphone manufacturers continue to use materials that feel cheap in the hand, Sony is definitely not one of them. The Xperia Z1 comes with shatter-proof glass on both the front and the back panel, and features IP58 certified dust and waterproof capabilities.

For the most part, the iPhone 5s retains the same design elements as its predecessor. The handset is being built out of aluminum, and thanks to its reduced dimensions (123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm), the 5s feels light as a feather, weighing only 112 grams.

In contrast, the Sony Xperia Z1 measures 144 x 74 x 8.5 mm and weighs 170 grams.

iPhone 5s vs. Sony Xperia Z1 – Camera

As most of you already know, one of the main selling points of the Xperia Z1 is its camera, but as mentioned before, Apple smartphones are also expected to deliver greatness in this department. So how do these smartphones compare when it comes to their camera capabilities?

In short, Sony and Apple have taken slightly different approaches in building their sensors. The Xperia Z1 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor, 1.1 micron sensor pixels, f/2 lens, and 20.7 megapixels (8.3 MP in standard mode). On the other hand, the iPhone 5s delivers a 1/3-inch sensor, 1.5 micron sensor pixels, f/2.2 lens and 8 megapixels.

In other words, while the Sony Xperia Z1 has a larger sensor than the iPhone 5s, due to its 20.7 MP resolution, the pixels are also smaller. Additionally, the lens is slightly faster (f/2 vs. f/2.2), so on paper, the Xperia Z1 takes the cake.

In practice however, the iPhone 5s’ camera has some advantages over the Z1′s. Pictures taken with the Sony flagship are oftentimes subject to aggressive oversampling and excessive edge sharpness. However, when it comes to macro, depth of field and low-light shooting, the Xperia Z1 seems to do a better job, in general.

In the end, both devices offer great specs and cameras, but the iPhone is no longer at the top of the pyramid. Both shooters have their pros and cons, but as a day-to-day pocket-camera, the Xperia Z1′s sensor seems to do a better job in most cases.

Are any of our readers planning on buying either one of these smartphones? If so, then which one would you pick, and why? Share your thoughts below.

Vlad Andrici is editor for and writes about technology issues. Follow Vlad on Google Plus.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief