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Sony Xperia Z vs. Nexus 4

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January 13, 2013

How does the Sony Xperia Z compare to the LG Nexus 4?

How does the Sony Xperia Z compare to the LG Nexus 4?

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Samsung phones may rule the Android roost, but the platform's biggest fans hold a special place for Nexus handsets. The latest, the Nexus 4, has been selling out as quickly as LG's (limited) shipments can stock them. But is the Nexus 4 a better buy than 2013's first big release, Sony's Xperia Z? Let's take a look.

Size

The Xperia Z is slightly longer and wider, but also thinner

The Xperia Z is a bit longer and wider than the Nexus 4, but it's also thinner. Though not quite classified as "phablets," both phones continue the wave of giant-sized Android handsets.

Weight

The Xperia Z is a bit heavier

The Nexus 4 is a bit lighter than the Xperia Z. Both phones add some heft with glass backsides, which also give them a premium feel.

Display

The Xperia Z's display is larger and denser, but few customers complain about the Nexus 4'...

The Xperia Z has a larger display with many more pixels. But, in this case, does "more" really mean "better?" The Nexus 4 already has a massive screen, and few people will be able to discern individual pixels on its sharp display.

Processor

Both phones sport the Snapdragon S4 Pro

No issues – or differences – here, as both phones sport the speedy Snapdragon S4 Pro.

RAM

RAM is equal

All even here as well, with both phones packing 2 GB of RAM.

Storage

The Xperia Z offers more storage, with an SD card slot

The Xperia Z offers more storage, with 16 GB and an expandable microSD slot. To limit its off-contract price, LG and Google settled for 8 GB or 16 GB with no expandable storage in the Nexus 4.

Camera

If you want more megapixels, Sony has you covered

The Xperia Z's cameras win the megapixel battle, with 13 in the rear and 2.1 in the front. This is, however, another category where you need to ask yourself whether more is better or overkill?

Wireless

Only the Xperia Z has speedy LTE

If you want the fastest mobile data speeds, the Xperia Z is your winner. To better sell off-contract, LG and Google skipped LTE in the Nexus 4. But its HSPA+ is still faster than 3G.

Battery

The Xperia Z has a slightly higher-capacity battery

There isn't a huge difference in battery capacity, but many other factors determine battery life. With the Xperia Z's display packing over 2 million pixels, we'd take Sony's claims of "outstanding" battery life with a few grains of salt.

Intangibles

Water resistance, or the latest version of pure Android?

Sony describes the Xperia Z as "waterproof." Its IP55/IP57 ratings mean that it is dust resistant and can be soaked in three feet (0.91 meters) of water for 30 minutes, and come out as good as new.

As important as hardware is, sometimes it comes down to software – and the Nexus 4 wins that battle. Sony's custom skin covers Android 4.1 (updated to 4.2 soon after launch). But the Nexus 4 runs pure Android, and should receive immediate updates to future versions.

The Nexus 4's pricing is another perk. It starts at US$299 off-contract. Though Sony hasn't released carrier or pricing info for the Xperia Z, we expect it to start at around $200 on-contract.

If you're the hacking type, the Nexus 4 is your champion. Like all Nexus devices, you can easily unlock its bootloader, gain root access, and install custom software.

Summing up

If you want slightly bigger and better specs, the Xperia Z is your phone. But do those specs outweigh the Nexus 4's great off-contract pricing, quick software updates, and pure Android?

No matter which phone you prefer, though, you may have to wait. Whenever LG replenishes its stock, the Nexus 4 typically sells out of Google Play within hours. The Xperia Z, meanwhile, is still waiting in the wings, and will release sometime in the next few months. If you want instant Android gratification, perhaps you'd be better off with the Samsung Galaxy S III.

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About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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5 Comments

I'm a nexus 4 owner living in the UK (so LTE has essentially no significance here at the moment), so I may be a bit biased. But I have to say, the battery life on my Nexus is nothing more than adequate - with my typical usage (push notifications for email, facebook, twitter, etc. on constantly, a couple of hours web browsing and phone calls - fairly heavy use really) I'll get about 12 hours out of it.

With the xperia Z's battery being only slightly bigger, and powering significantly more pixels, I fear for the day-to-day longevity of the phone. It does have a stamina mode that cuts data connections when the screen is off, but if anyone uses their phone as much as I (or most people) do, then I doubt that will make much difference.

It's SIM free price is apparently going to be £528 in the UK (that's the pre-order price on Clove anyway) - more than double the Nexus 4.

This phone looks great, but it doesn't make me regret buying the Nexus in the slightest

Leon Slater
14th January, 2013 @ 04:12 am PST

One thing these Gizmag comparisons consistently lack is any info on screen -types-. This makes a huge difference on visibility in daylight and battery life, and is a hugely important feature in selecting a phone - especially for those planning to root anyway, since this means OS concerns are moot and hardware is usually close to equal for high end phones.

Also, been using a 2100mAh battery on my Galaxy Nexus for over a year now, and frankly, it's not impressive. The only smart phones with impressive batteries are the Razor MAXX phones (at over 3000mAh). Anything else will be dead with normal usage by the end of a long day, as I can attest to many times over.

Charles Bosse
14th January, 2013 @ 09:29 am PST

Does the Xperia Z have wireless (inductive) charging like the Nexus 4? I use this extensively with my Nexus 4 at work, just dropping the phone on an LG charging pad to keep the battery "topped off", and probably won't buy a phone that doesn't have this feature going forward. Thanks!

Jeffrey Tschiltsch
14th January, 2013 @ 09:35 am PST

Well, most Sony phones offer a better experience even with lower spec. Take the dual core s4 Xperia t out performing the Samsung S3 quadcore phone for example.

As for the camera. The camera mode on the Xperia t has a 13, 10 and 2 megapixel mode so it's clearly the winner over any 8 megapixel camera. Especially since the Z has HDR and Exmor RX technology. Come on.

Let's not forget that Sony thankfully avoid AMOLED so no over saturated colours and screen burn.

Simon Tompkins
15th January, 2013 @ 12:24 am PST

I have a Nexus 4 and I love it. It's more delicate than a lot of people realise though. I've babied it in the 3 weeks I've had it and already the chrome trim round the edge is marked and the back glass is scratched.

I tried the Xperia Z last week in the flesh and it is just amazing. The screen is incredible and it's built like a brick! The guy was bashing it on the corner of the desk to prove it.

If finances allow, I'm heading for the Sony.

Trevor Beckett
18th February, 2013 @ 12:17 am PST
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