Thursday, 3 July 2014

Early view: Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini vs Sony Xperia Z1 Compact


Early view: Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini vs Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Until now the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact has arguably reigned as king of the compacts and mayor of the minis, with its impressively high end specs and premium build.
But Samsung's back and has its eye on the throne with a shrunk down version of its latest flagship, the Galaxy S5 Mini. So has Samsung taken a similar approach to Sony? And how do these two pint sized prospects compare? We've got all the answers.

Design

The Galaxy S5 Mini stays very close to the design of the Samsung Galaxy S5. In other words it has a mottled plastic back cover and faux-metallic edging, while at 131.1 x 64.8 x 9.1mm and 120g it's fairly small and light, somewhat living up to its name.

S5 Mini
The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact certainly looks the better of the two, thanks to real metal around the edge and a glass back. For better or worse it's more angular than the S5 Mini, but it certainly looks more premium.
That metal and glass comes at a cost though, as it's a little heavier at 137g. It's also slightly thicker, measuring 127 x 64.9 x 9.5mm. It's worth noting that both the S5 Mini and the Xperia Z1 Compact are dust and water resistant, with IP67 and IP58 certifications respectively.

Z1 Compact

Screen

The Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini has a fairly large 4.5-inch Super AMOLED screen, pushing the definition of mini. The good news is that with that large size comes a decent 720 x 1280 resolution, for a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch.

S5 mini screen

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact has a slightly smaller 4.3-inch IPS LCD display, but it has the same 720 x 1280 resolution, so its pixel density is actually a marginally higher 342 pixels per inch.
That's not likely to be a noticeable difference and both are among the best that you're likely to find on a smaller size smartphone.

Power

Both the Galaxy S5 Mini and the Xperia Z1 Compact have gone quad-core, so neither should feel short on power, but there are some substantial differences between them.

Z1 Compact

The S5 Mini has an own-brand 1.4GHz quad-core processor paired with 1.5GB of RAM, while the Xperia Z1 Compact has a meaty 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM, so despite being older it should still be the more powerful of the two.

Operating system

Z1 Compact

Both handsets run Android 4.4 KitKat, however their UI's are quite different as the S5 Mini uses Samsung's TouchWiz, while the Z1 Compact uses Sony's Android UI.
It's subjective as to which is better, but Sony's one is a lot closer to stock Android, while TouchWiz is more feature packed and includes Samsung staples like S Health.

Camera

These two shrunken smartphones come with very different cameras. The Galaxy S5 Mini has an 8MP snapper inherited from the S4 Mini, coupled with a 2.1MP camera on the front.

Z1 Compact camera

The Xperia Z1 Compact on the other hand has a 20.7MP main camera, so we'd be surprised if the S5 Mini can compete with it.
The Z1 Compact even has a dedicated shutter button, so there's no need to tap on the screen. There's less difference on the front though as the Z1 Compact has a 2MP snapper above the screen.
Both phones also have an LED flash and various shooting modes, such as Virtual Tour on the S5 Mini and Timeshift Burst on the Xperia Z1 Compact.

Battery

The Galaxy S5 Mini has a 2100mAh juice pack. Samsung hasn't released any battery stats but it comes with the same Ultra Power Saving Mode as the Galaxy S5, so one way or another you're likely to be able to eke a lot of life out of it.

S5 Mini

The Xperia Z1 Compact has a slightly bigger 2300mAh battery which we've found can easily last a day of use and has its own battery saving features in the form of Stamina mode.

Connectivity

The two phones have more or less identical connectivity options. They both support Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC. However the Galaxy S5 Mini one-ups its competitor with an IR blaster.

Z1 Compact

Their storage capacities are totally identical, with 16GB built in along with a microSD card slot that supports cards of up to 64GB.

Extra features

The Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini inherits two of the main features of its larger sibling, namely a fingerprint scanner buried under the home button and a heart rate monitor below the camera lens. We're not convinced that a heart rate monitor on a phone is likely to get much use, but it's there if you want it.

Galaxy S5

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact doesn't really have any extra features that haven't already been covered. What you see is essentially what you get, but when that's a high end, good looking smartphone in a small package that's no bad thing.

Price

Samsung hasn't announced the price of its S5 Mini yet, but we expect that it will cost roughly £350-£400 when it starts its global roll-out in July.

S5 Mini

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact carries a similar SIM free price tag, coming in at around £350. Hopefully the S5 Mini will land at that end of the price range, as if it creeps up to £400 it could be a tough sell.

Early verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini looks like a compelling little handset, but on paper at least it doesn't quite match up to the Xperia Z1 Compact, which has a superior design, more power and in all likelihood a better camera.

Z1 Compact

The only edge the S5 Mini really seems to have is its heart rate monitor and fingerprint scanner and while your mileage may vary with them we'd be inclined to say that they veer more towards gimmicks than genuinely useful features.