Summer Showdown: Galaxy S4 Active vs Xperia Z
It used to be that Sony was the reigning king of waterproof smartphones in the market. It started with their Sony Xperia Z, which evolved into a tablet, and now, into a phablet as well. Still, the Sony Xperia Z was one of the things that put Sony back in the game thanks to the premium glass materials as well as the waterproofing it provided.
Unfortunately, Samsung has a habit of trying everything, especially something that a competitor has tried. Samsung recently released a variant of their main Galaxy S4 flagship device, which is aptly named the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. Meant for active people, the Galaxy S4 Active is also a waterproof device that features the power of a flagship smartphone.
So the big question this summer is: which one should you pick as the perfect pool and beach buddy smartphone? Let’s have a faceoff to find out!
First, let’s judge these two smartphones based on their pure power. After all, when you opt for a flagship device, one of the most important factors is how it stands above the rest in performance. Usually, the performance is measured using the processor and RAM that is available for the operating system to use and abuse.
For the Sony Xperia Z, the processor equipped uses last year’s Snapdragon S4 processor running at 1.5 GHz. It has 2 GB of RAM for effective multitasking. On the other hand, the Galaxy S4 Active features this year’s model in processors, the Snapdragon 600, running at 1.9 GHz. It also has 2 GB of RAM, so you can see that in terms of sheer power, Samsung definitely wins.
Another highly sought after attribute of a smartphone is the ability to provide high quality photos. We use our smartphones for photo taking more often than a real camera since it is always there. Since we are looking at a summer and getaway companion, it is important that the phone is capable of taking high quality shots for those awesome getaway memories.
This battle is a bit tough to call. On one hand, the Sony Xperia Z wins big time thanks to the larger sensor on the device, which can take 13 megapixel photos. Samsung’s offering was downgraded to 8 megapixels so in pure power, Sony wins. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Sony may have a bigger camera sensor, but Samsung offers the best in camera features. The software of the Galaxy S4 Active is bound to have the same powerful and varied photo taking features found in the original Galaxy S4. It will also have an underwater photo taking capability, a feature somewhat missing in Sony’s offering.
For the vacation, if you need only the best raw photos, then your best bet is Sony’s Xperia Z. For a more varied and fun photo taking experience, Samsung would hold a better position, even with a smaller photo size.
When it comes to going on a trip, there are times when you aren’t simply having fun in the sun or taking pictures. There are times when we have to sit in a boring vehicle and deal with all the boredom of waiting to get to your destination. That is why it is very important that we have a smartphone that can entertain you in between these trips.
To be honest, Sony is pretty much the clear winner in this department. While Samsung’s features may indeed be fun sometimes, Sony excels in what people use all the time to have fun. Regardless if it is watching a video or listening to pure music ecstasy, Sony has you covered with the best engines for video rendering and music playback in the business, thanks to their long standing role in multimedia devices. Samsung’s device may be no slouch, but Sony just provides the best in the league right now.
Dust and Water Proofing
Here’s one of the most important specs in this battle. The reason they are being rammed up each other’s circuits is the fact that they both advertise dust and water proofing to some extent. While they are not invulnerable to water, they can survive submersion and water splashes for a certain amount of time. This is invaluable if you are into any form of wet getaways. Dust protection is important especially for the sandy beaches and dusty mountains.
Sony’s offering has been given a rating of IP57. It can survive up to 1 meter in depth of water for about 30 minutes. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Active is rated higher at IP67. It has the same water dipping capabilities as the Sony Xperia Z, but Samsung has a higher protection against dust particles. Ultimately, they are about par in this area, save for the fact that Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Active is technically more durable.
Software Support and Root
Of course, more than party goers, we are Android enthusiasts who love to root and customize our mobile devices. In addition to finding the best hardware for the ultimate summer getaway, we also want a smartphone that is friendly to developers and to people who love to root.
Samsung had a pretty good run back in the day when they actually cooperated with the independent developers by providing source codes and help in building custom ROMs and rooting Android devices. They were pretty well loved by developers until they started becoming stingy with sources. That may change thanks to the Snapdragon processors for the international variants, but it may also remain the same as before. With the Galaxy S4 Active being merely a variant of the actual flagship, we may see even less development and updates for this device.
On the other hand, Sony has opened up an open source hub for people who would love to develop AOSP Roms for the Xperia Z. This means that people with the right know-how can easily root and develop ROMs for the Sony Xperia Z. Sony has been more generous lately with code, which is impressive and very welcome for the Xperia loving community.
It goes without saying that Sony has a clear advantage over Samsung in developer support and ease, but it can still change over time. Samsung has historically been easier to root and modify, but Sony isn’t far behind in this respect. For now, Sony gets the upper hand in this battle between rugged powerhouses.