Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II: S-hootout

GSMArena team, 09 March 2012.
Pages: 123456

Software and hardware overview

The Sony Xperia S and the Samsung Galaxy S II both have 4.3" screens with roughly the same aspect ratio, so you'd be forgiven for thinking that both phones are about the same phones.

The Galaxy S is shorter, slightly wider and noticeably thinner than the newer phone, the Xperia S. The Sony's Human Curvature design means it's nearly the same thickness at the edges, it's much thicker for the most part of its body. It's also heavier than the Samsung.

Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II
Samsung Galaxy S II

Here are some specific measurements - the Sony Xperia S is 128 x 64 x 10.6 mm big and weighs 144 g. The Samsung Galaxy S II is 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm and 116 g.

The Xperia S has a fresh design with the illuminated transparent strip at the bottom, which help it to really stand out.

Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II
Sony Xperia S

We'll cover the screens in a separate chapter, there are more general hardware differences to cover here. We'll just note that both have scratch-resistant glass covering the screens, the Galaxy relies on the popular Gorilla Glass, while the Xperia uses an undisclosed source.

Moving on to storage, the Xperia S comes with 32GB of built-in memory, but it's non-expandable. The Galaxy S II on the other hand comes in 16GB and 32GB varieties, but it does have a microSD card slot if you really need that much storage.

When speaking of card slots, it's worth noting that Samsung use the traditional SIM card format, while Sony have opted for the newer (but less common) microSIM.

There's a lot to be said about connectivity, so we'll give it its own chapter further down.

Both the Sony Xperia S and the Samsung Galaxy S II run Android 2.3 Gingerbread and both are behind the times. However, both are going to be updated to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich soon, so they'll have a chance to catch up.

They have different user interface customizations, with TouchWiz changing more (notification toggles, adding/deleting homescreens, etc.), while Sony staying closer to the vanilla Android experience.

Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II
The custom interface of Sony Xperia S • TouchWiz on Samsung Galaxy S II

Which one you prefer is up to you, but since you can easily change the launcher on Android that's not a big deal.

Both phones come with a number of apps out of the box, including several tools for social networking. They're powerful enough to run anything in the Google Play Store (the rebadged Android Market), so you can easily add to their functionality.

Screen comparison

The Sony Xperia S and the Samsung Galaxy S II have 4.3" screens but this is where the similarities ends.

The Galaxy S II uses a SuperaAMOLED Plus screen with 480x800 pixels resolution. It's characterized by deep blacks (zero light coming from black pixels), theoretically infinite contrast and excellent viewing angles. The pixel density of the screen is 217ppi.

The Xperia S has an LCD screen with a much higher resolution - 720x1280 or 2.4x the number of pixels. This pushes the pixel density to the whopping 342ppi, higher than even the iPhone 4 and 4S, which are largely responsible for the pixel density craze.

Anyway, the 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.

Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Xperia S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II
Sony Xperia S and Samsung Galaxy S II have excellent screens in their own right

Here's the table that compares the brightness and contrast of the Xperia S, Galaxy S II and other phones we've tested. Note that we couldn't get accurate measurements for the Xperia S screen at 50% brightness and they are not included in the table (Sony's software always adjusts the screen brightness according to the ambient light sensor, no matter what you do).

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
HTC Sensation XE 0.23 172 761 0.64 484 752
Nokia 701 0.64 619 964 1.121022 905
LG Prada 3.0 0.19 184 993 0.81 835 1031
Sony Xperia S - - - 0.48 495 1038
LG Optimus Black 0.27 332 1228 0.65 749 1161
Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc 0.03 34 1078 0.33 394 1207
Apple iPhone 4S 0.14 205 1463 0.52 654 1261
Samsung Galaxy Nexus 0 112 0 247
Motorola RAZR XT910 0 215 0 361
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II 0 231 0 362
Samsung Galaxy Note 0 287 0 429
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