Sony made the right noises at MWC this year. They embarked on a completely fresh design path on its new Xperia XZ2 line up. While Samsung this year made a big leap on the imaging segment adding variable aperture on the latest Galaxy S9 series and slow-motion capability at 960 frames per second.
Sony flagship’s release date for global markets is yet to be decided, although users in Europe will be the first to get their hands on the device. Samsung, however, quite posthaste with the unveiling of its new flagship duo, brought the Galaxy S9 and the S9+ in India just a week after its official debut at MWC 2018 in Barcelona. The devices are launched at a price slightly lower than their predecessors.
Both the Sony and the Samsung flagships have some striking features to offer its user-base. While the Sony Xperia XZ2 and the Galaxy S9+ have a bunch of similar aspects under the hood, there are a few factors that differentiate these smartphones.
Let’s see how these devices compare with each another-
Sony finally waking up from its long siesta swapped its half a decade old loop design for a smooth curved sleek bezel aesthetic. The smartphone is sheathed with Gorilla Glass 5 both, at the back and up front. The XZ2 has an aluminium chassis and the edges are now curvy instead of the obstinate squared-off design we saw on Sony devices over the past years.
The fingerprint sensor has been moved from the power button to the rear side in a place slight unusual. The fingerprint reader sits at the centre and it rather seems to create a division line on the rear panel. Sony, however, believes that it is a more comfortable position to use and unlock the device (at least the camera module won’t get smudged). Sony has opted for a new design language called ‘Ambient Flow’ which is inspired by the flowing nature of water. The design appears seamless and shines when light reflects onto it.
Coming to Samsung’s new flagship model, the Galaxy S9+, the company continued with the design language from last year. The Galaxy S9+ still looks flawless, with a sleek body, metal and glass encasing. The awkward placement of the fingerprint sensor next to the camera module at the back has now been fixed. The fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S9+ sits below the camera sensor. Further, the bezels on the phone have been slightly shaved off by 1.2mm. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ basically looks like an identical twin of its older brother, the Galaxy S8+.
Both, the Sony Xperia XZ2 and Samsung Galaxy S9+ have IP68 rated water and dust resistance. They both feature glass-clad, slim bezels (the Galaxy S9+ being the slimmest) and curvy design. However, one of the beetling differentiators on these devices is the 3.5mm headphone jack which Samsung retained and Sony mitigated with a Type-C dongle.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 features a 5.7-inch 18:9 display while the Samsung Galaxy S9+ comes with a 6.2-inch 18.5:9 screen. The Galaxy S9+ front panel has a higher resolution compared to the Xperia XZ2. The S9+ comes with 2960 x 1440 pixels stretched across the display while the Sony has a pixel resolution of 2160 x 1080.
If you talk about the front, the Galaxy S9+ appears more elegant than the Xperia XZ2. Even though Sony has extensively cut down the bezels on the new flagship, the Xperia XZ2 is still chunkier. The Galaxy S9+ meanwhile serves up a rich AMOLED panel stretching nearly to the curve of the side bezels.
Sony is still stuck with LCD screen, although it has Bravia brand tagged in it that promises wide colour gamut. But interestingly, the company has implemented a feature that upscales SDR footage to HDR using X-Reality engine.
Both the Galaxy S9+ and Xperia XZ2 packs some exceptional aspects in the imaging department.
Samsung improving the sensors on its new flagship duo has introduced variable aperture technology, the first in the smartphone industry. Sony meanwhile has incorporated 4K video recording capability on its new XZ device, which is also the first of its kind in a ‘mainstream phone.’
This time around, Samsung has set onboard 12MP dual rear sensors on the Galaxy S9+ instead of a single camera unit that we saw on the Galaxy S8+. The variable aperture works with the primary sensor and switches based on the lighting conditions.
Sony Xperia XZ2, on the other hand, pegs a single 19-megapixel camera module and integrate Sony’s Motion Eye technology for better action sensitivity. The smartphone carries the same sensor like the previous iteration, but Sony in conjunction with Qualcomm has designed an image signal processor to produce images with vibrant colours.
Sony pioneered the slow-mo capture functionality on the Xperia XZ Premium last year. Samsung Galaxy S9+ now brings in this striking feature and is capable of recording 720p footage with similar frame rates like the Xperia XZ Premium.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 also has the ability to capture slow-mo footage but unlike the Galaxy S9+, it can record videos at 1080p. While this seems to be an advantage, the Sony handset can capture for a maximum of 3 seconds, the Galaxy S9+, on the other hand, can shoot for 6 seconds. Further, to savour the incredible footage on the Xperia XZ2, you need a bit of practice to hit the button at the right time. The scenario is different on the Samsung phone as it has a ‘motion detection’ option that lets you watch for the movement in the frame and set off the ‘high-speed’ recording.
A key element missing on the Xperia XZ2 is facial recognition which the Galaxy S9+ utilises (along with iris scanner) to open certain important apps with Intelligent Scan technology
Processing hardware & battery
Both the tech giants have thrust Qualcomm’s powerful SoC, Snapdragon 845 on their latest flagship smartphones. Samsung’s high-end Galaxy S9+, however, accommodates the in-house Exynos 9810 processor for certain regions. The proprietary chipset is believed to deliver a similar performance like the Snapdragon 845. Both the devices are expected to offer a boost in CPU and GPU performance and easily tackle power-hunger & high-intensive apps.
In terms of RAM and storage, the Xperia XZ2 comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ has three storage offering- 6GB RAM/64GB storage, 6GB RAM/128GB inbuilt memory and 6GB RAM/256GB native storage. It is worth noting that Samsung brought only two storage versions in India- 6GB RAM paired with either 64GB/256GB storage. Both the phones support expandable storage of up to 400GB using microSD card.
As for the battery, the Galaxy S9+ packs a slightly bigger 3500mAh battery compared to the Xperia XZ2 that carries a 3180mAh battery. It is hard to determine which phone will offer better battery life, but given that both feature Snapdragon 845, the Galaxy S9+ & the Xperia XZ2 are expected to have enhanced power efficiency. Notably, both the handsets include wireless charging support too.
Other add-ons & similarities
Talking about the supplements first, Samsung has introduced AR Emoji on the new Galaxy S9+ that scans your face and creates a 3D character. It further creates animated GIF once it is saved automatically.
The Xperia XZ2 has a similar feature but this time Sony has improved the 3D creator app on the phone. While earlier it used the back camera (first debuted on the previous XZ lineup) to create a 3D character, the Xperia XZ2 now uses the front camera to scan and animate your face.
Sony and Samsung both have put emphasis on audio quality with the former adding S-Force surround sound while the later has tuned the speakers with AKG and Dolby Atmos to offer spatial audio experience. Sony has also put Dynamic Vibration system to deliver sonic output. The vibration engine also adds haptics to gaming, music etc.
Both the devices run Google’s latest Android OS version, Android Oreo with respective proprietary UI skin layered on top. The Galaxy S9+ and the Xperia XZ2 include DRAM that is claimed to reduce noise in images. Further, the devices are IP68 rated water and dust resistant which means dipping the phones in water for a few seconds won’t kill them off. Additionally, the phones can record 4K video with Sony Xperia XZ2 shooting @30fps while the Galaxy S9+ capturing @60 frames per second.
To sum up, the flagships from both the leading tech companies are exceptional in their own field. While the Xperia XZ2 has 4K HDR video recording capability, Galaxy S9+ promises to capture striking shots in any lighting environment, thanks to the variable aperture technology. Sony’s flagship wins over Samsung’s new Galaxy S9+ in slow-mo aspect with the former able to shoot at 1080p versus the latter’s 720p. However, the XZ2 offers a maximum 3-second footage instead of 6 seconds recording on the S9+ which is a little blow-off.
In case you are a Sony fan and have long been waiting for a major design overhaul, Sony’s fresh take on a glossy panel, curvier body and slim-bezel display on Xperia XZ2 can be a good option. But if you want an elegant, slimmer and elongated screen smartphone with nifty camera features, Samsung Galaxy S9+ could be a better deal.
Both the Xperia XZ2 and the Galaxy S9+ are expected to provide more or less similar output in terms of performance since both pack top-of-the-line innards. The final verdict will have to wait till we review both.