Last year, the Samsung Galaxy S III was the undisputed King of Android. Many expect its inevitable follow-up to repeat in 2013. But one company hoping to carve out its own piece of the pie is Sony. Its Xperia Z is the Japanese company's most serious foray into smartphones. How does it stack up against 2012's best? Let's take a look.

Size

These are two big smartphones. The Xperia Z is slightly longer, but roughly the same width. Sony's handset is also notably thinner.

Weight

The Xperia Z is heavier, but not by a huge margin. You can trace that directly to its higher-quality build materials. The Xperia Z has a glass back; the Galaxy S III's is plastic.

Display

The Xperia Z joins the Droid DNA and Huawei Ascend D2 in the first wave of Super Retina phones. Its 441 pixels per inch may or may not be overkill. Either way, 1080p smartphones will be a trend in 2013.

Processor

The Xperia Z has the same Snapdragon S4 Pro chip found in the Nexus 4, Optimus G, and Droid DNA. It's a screamer.

The chips in the two versions of the Galaxy S III aren't quite on par with the S4 Pro. But for most customers, their performance will be more than adequate.

RAM

The Xperia Z's 2 GB of RAM match the North American version of the Galaxy S III. The global edition settles for 1 GB.

Storage

Samsung sells its flagship in three different storage options. The Xperia Z comes in one 16 GB flavor.

Both handsets allow expandable microSD card storage.

Wireless

If your local carrier supports LTE, both phones will deliver today's fastest mobile data speeds. There are also HSPA+ (slightly faster than 3G) variants of both devices, in addition to standard 3G.

Battery

On paper, the Xperia Z has a slightly higher capacity. But many factors determine battery life, and the Xperia Z powers a display with over two million pixels.

Sony is advertising "Battery Stamina mode," which shuts down battery-hogging apps when you don't need them. Until the Xperia Z is put through its paces, though, take Sony's claims of "outstanding" uptime with grains of salt.

Camera

Another 2013 smartphone trend will be 13-megapixel cameras, and the Xperia Z is leading the way.

The Xperia Z also shoots High Dynamic Range (HDR) video. Like HDR still photography, it combines the best of high and low exposures, creating a shot with fine detail in both bright and dark areas.

Intangibles

Sony is marketing the Xperia Z as a waterproof phone. We wouldn't recommend soaking it in a fish tank, but it should survive an unfortunate drop into a bathtub or toilet.

Smartphones age quickly, and the Galaxy S III is growing a bit long in the tooth. The Galaxy S IV could arrive by May, which could only be a few months after the Xperia Z's (unknown) Q1 release date.

Summing up

The Xperia Z comes out of this showdown looking good. In fairness to Samsung, though, we're comparing two generations of phones. Perhaps the more appropriate comparison would be later this year, between the Xperia Z and the Galaxy S IV. If the Xperia Z is as popular as Sony hopes it will be, perhaps we'll revisit that around June.

To see how Sony's latest stacks up against the latest "pure Android" handset, check out the Xperia Z vs. Nexus 4.