Samsung Galaxy SII vs. Sony Xperia S: Battle of the S’s

Sony Xperia S vs. Smasung Galaxy SII

For quite a while now, Samsung Galaxy SII has been basking in the spotlight of the smartphone centerstage. Among the repertoire of gadgets that ring, it has the melody that got the most nods from the gadget geeks, a crowd pleaser to the very least. In fact, in an earlier post I favored it over my iPhone 4. So to speak, Samsung’s flagship is the top of the pops- “was” or “still is”, you decide. Xperia Arc was an understatement at the time when dual-core entries such as Samsung Galaxy SII, Motorola Droid Razr and LG Optimus were enjoying the specs-hungry consumers’ awe. Running on a single-core is till acceptable though, except that Arc appear rather dressed down for the party. It was a shame that even the puny upgrade of its processor from 1 to 1.4 GHz didn’t help either. This year, Sony is back with their latest monster, with some few “firsts” in their own standards. All eyes on the Sony Xperia S please. Now first thing noteworthy is the fact that Xperia S is the first model that came out under the brand Sony- now divorced of its second name “Ericsson”. Among the Xperia line, it is the first to have a front-facing camera and finally it is run by a dual-core processor, a little too late but still a welcome innovation as far as Sony (then Sony-Ericsson) is concerned. While the much anticipated quad-core upgrade is still in the works, there might still be a window of time for Xperia S to strut its stuff against, dare I say, Samsung Galaxy SII.

Overall Design-  I was impressed by the svelte, elegant take on the design by Sony’s Xperia S. First thing you’ll definitely notice is the transparent band of fiberglass just before you get to the base of the handset. This band illuminates in different colors depending on the customization of the phone’s activity (incoming call, message, etc.). Embedded on the very band are three virtual buttons (back, home and options). You won’t find any physical button on the front panel as opposed to GS2’s home button that you can literally press down. Apparently, this same band has more to it than its aesthetic purpose as it also serves as the antenna. The back is that of a matte finish though plastic, still looks fabulous more than GS2’s somewhat cheap, wafer-looking battery cover. The entire make up of Xperia S is a unibody approach with a very solid feel. The back camera lies at the top and the single LED flash is just right below it followed by a slim vertical speaker in such a way that they are all in-line vertically. GS2’s camera and its single LED flash on the side is somewhat housed together in a rectangular protrusion which I find rather unattractive. Sony Xperia S is a little thicker (10.6 mm), taller (128 mm), slimmer (64 mm) and heavier (144 g) than Samsung Galaxy S2 (125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm and 116 g, respectively). Overall, the design advantage goes out to Sony Xperia S’ elegant ensemble over Samsung Galaxy SII’s tiresome, redundant design.

Software, Customized User Interface-  Both devices come with Android 2.3 Gingerbread and both are eligible for the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade so we don’t have issues in that area. Meanwhile, whether it’s Samsung’s TouchWiz UI or Sony’s own UI will depend on your personal taste. They both have the same functions and they only differ in the approach (graphics, gestures, etc.) so we have a draw here.

Processor- GS2 wowed us with its 1.2 GHz dual-core processor which was one of the reason it sits at the throne as the most powerful smartphone then.  However, I will have to go with Xperia S’ 1.5 GHz obviously.

Screen- Both devices have 4.3″ screen if they sound the same to you, here is where you draw the line: GS2 uses Samsung-pioneered Super AMOLED plus of 480 x 800 pixels resolution and has a pixel density of 217 ppi.  Xperia S’ LCD screen on the otherhand with 720 x 1280 yielding a pixel density of 342 ppi which is even higher than that of the iPhone 4 & 4S.  Put it this way, the higher the pixel density (ppi) the better display is given out.  Even better is that Sony used the “Bravia Engine” technology which they have patented for their flatscreens.  But going beyond the specs on paper, GSMArena reports that Xperia’s screen has decent black levels (though the Xperia arc did a little better here. The Xperia S brightness is generally middle of the road but it’s still about 50% brighter than the Galaxy S II. The contrast is over 1000:1, but is lower than the Xperia arc and the Galaxy S II screens.  Both screens have about the same reflectivity and they have very good sunlight legibility.  Given the higher resolution/pixel density, Xperia S takes it home.

Camera- Nokia N8 was the first smartphone with the highest camera resolution of 12 Mega Pixels and nobody seemed to have followed suit until now that Xperia S came out with the same.  GS2 has got 8 Mega Pixel camera on board so if you think it has got to do with the higher MP, you’ll definitely go for Xperia S.  But as they say, it’s not the Mega Pixels that count as there’s more to nice photos than that.  Comparing the picture with GS2 upscaled to 12 MP, the pictures taken from Xperia S  appear to be more oversaturated than that from GS2.  This makes pictures look sharper though a little farther from the original colors of the subject.  GS2 meanwhile can produce pictures in low light conditions with lesser noise (grainy).  I give it to Samsung Galaxy SII this time.

So there’s a lot more other minute details to consider when we talk of smartphone upgrades and what I have tackled here are at least the main issues we commonly take note of first.  Personally between these two,my choice would be the Sony Xperia S.  Let me know what yours by answering the poll.

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