Which phone to choose? Apple iPhone 5S or the Sony Xperia Z1?

Setting aside the fact that most users have a personal preference for either the Apple or Android operating systems, I’m writing this review imagining that an alien has landed, understands the concept of mobile phones, but knows neither system and is therefore unbiased. What are the things that he will want to know before he buys his new smartphone?

Battery Life

Modern smartphones demand far more of their batteries with users wanting always-on email and facebook updates, bright screen displays and multi-tasking. It’s important to know that a battery is going to last all day, even with a fair pummelling of the internet on the commute to and from the office.

  • The iPhone has 1570 mAh offering 250 hours standby and 10 hours talktime.
  • The Xperia has 3000 mAh offering 850 hours standby and 15 hours talktime.

Xperia wins this round.

Processor Power

Smartphone users now expect to be able to use their devices like they do their computers – playing music, browsing the web and downloading a file at the same time. This means the phones need to be powerful.

  • The iPhone 5S has doubled the speed of its predecessor’s processor with a 64 bit A7 chip.
  • The Sony Xperia Z1 only has a 32 bit chip, but it’s a quad-core and is works at a whacking 2.2GHz with a generous 2GB of RAM.

Both handsets get a point on this round, as they’re both powerful – just in different ways.


As photo quality gets better, images are becoming larger. Apps are becoming more complex and space-hungry. We’re also using our smartphones as music and video players, so we demand much of our phones in terms of storage.

  • The iPhone S5 offers you a choice of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB – for different prices. But the phone is still lacking a space for a memory card.
  • The Xperia Z1 only ships with 16GB of memory built into the phone, but you have the flexibility of expanding the storage with a micro-USB card. I’d put a 64GB card in and add that to the phone’s 16GB, I’d get 70. I can also carry around more than one card, so i could keep films on one and slot it in when I wanted to.

The Xperia wins that round – for flexibility.


We expect our devices to connect to each other. These two phones are very close – they both have Bluetooth 4.0,
Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G LTE. The Sony just goes a step further with the NFC connection, so it wins this round, too.


Picture quality and camera reliability are an important factor in the phone buying process as we live in an on-demand, social-media rich environment where every event has to be snapped and immediately uploaded.

  • Apple has vastly improved their camera by adding a larger active sensor than its predecessor and offers 8 megapixels, which it combines with the ‘True Tone’ system, which is meant to make pictures have a more natural colour. The iPhone can give you 1080p video at 30 frames per second and has a 1.2 megpixel camera on the front for video calling.
  • The Sony seems to stomp all over the Apple’s specs offering a 20.7 megapixel camera. Like the iPhone, it will shoot video in 1080p at 30 frames per second. The Xperia also offers a 2 megapixel camera to the front for better video calling and skyping.

Looks like the Xperia wins that round, too.


We’re watching more high definition videos and playing detail-rich games on our phones. We’re also editing photos and reading our kindle books on these devices. Can these phones live up to our new demands?

  • The Z1 offers a 5 inch screen and pixel density of 441ppi – giving you 1080×1920 pixels crammed into the screen for ultra high definition.
  • The 5S has a slightly smaller screen at 4 inches with a 1136×640 Retina display, giving a pixel density of ust 326ppi.

Both screens are capable of a great deal, but the Sony picks up the prize again.


The iPhone is a snug 123.8×58.6×7.6 and the Xperia is larger at 144x74x8.5. That super screen comes at a cost and that is the space in your pocket.

iPhone wins this one.


As you would expect, along with the size, the weight of the handsets differs. iPhone comes in at just 112 grammes, whereas the Sony lumbers along at 170 grammes.

Apple gets the point here, as well.

Build Quality

  • Apple have done it again in terms of the design of their phone. They have kept the beautiful aluminium body of the previous version giving it a neat finish and a nice feel in the hand.
  • The Sony phone doesn’t disappoint, however, with a sleek back made of glass and metal edges to the trim.

Both phones are highly desirable in terms of look, feel and quality. So this goes down to personal taste.

Anything Else

  • iPhone 5S introduces the fingerprint scanner for added security. Personally, I think it’s a bit of a gimmick and most users will revert to a more traditional approach to phone locking – especially if family members or colleagues also use the phone.
  • The Xperia offers superhero powers of being waterproof and dustproof, which I think is going to be a major hit – especially to those who have dropped their phone in a puddle or down the toilet in the past.

And the winner is…

So, to the Alien thinking of buying an up to date smartphone, it looks as though the Sony Xperia Z1 beats the Apple iPhone 5S.

For the rest of us, I guess that the Apple fans will stay Apple fans and will be exceptionally happy with the upgrades made to a beautifully designed phone, regardless of whether they meet the competitor’s standards or not. Those of us in the Android camp can walk away feeling pretty smug once again, although if we don’t actually have THAT phone, we’re not going to be happy… now, when is my upgrade due?

Article Name
Which phone to choose? Apple iPhone 5S or the Sony Xperia Z1?
A head-to-head battle between the iPhone 5S and the Sony Xperia Z1. Comparing the specs for both phones and giving advice to an alien who has no preconceptions about either brand.

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