Heavily modded vs. heavily modded vs. stock - the Xperia XZ Premium stands out. Sony's been taking the hands-off approach when it comes to Android and is leaving the user experience for Google to handle, save for a few light touches and its in-house multimedia app portfolio.
Vanilla Nougat (sweeet...) comes with its expandable notifications and dull-gray quick toggles - simple, yet functional. On top of that you get Sony's Album, Music, and Video apps - immediately recognizable as part of the same package, the apps are full-featured without being cluttered - call us fans.
The G6's interface visuals mimic the display's rounded corners while some apps make use of the 2:1 display aspect. Those novelties aside, the latest overlay doesn't stray far from LG's traditions of being bright and colorful.
Samsung put TouchWiz behind it with the Note7, and the Galaxy S8 comes with an updated version of the overlay that debuted on the ill-fated phablet. Redesigned visuals aside, the S8 has the most flexible multi-window implementation of the three and the edge panels could also be useful.
Winner: Tie between the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and the Samsung Galaxy S8. The XZ Premium will appeal to purists, while the S8 is the most feature-packed. The G6 offers little on top of stock Android, but is thoroughly redesigned nonetheless.
The Xperia XZ Premium stands out once again in this chapter as well - it's the only one of the three to have stereo speakers. Unfortunately, more speakers doesn't mean more bang - the Premium is also the quietest. Still, it does okay in the ringtone simulation test (the one where we measure the decibels from a retro phone ringtone), so you could make sure you don't miss incoming calls by picking the right tune. The Galaxy S8 and LG G6 are both louder, falling in the Good category as far as our ratings go.
The G6 tries hardest in the bass department, but gets distorted at full volume, so you need to pick the right position of the slider. The S8 is less eager, but still full-bodied, while the Xperia is, well, just quiet.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
Winner: Tough one. We'd call it a tie as none really excels. The Xperia has stereo speakers going for it, but they're pretty quiet; the G6 is loud, at the expense of distortion at maximum volume; the S8 is the most balanced, but we can't call it a winner, when it doesn't have stereo speakers, and a competitor does.
The trio delivers superbly clean output when used with an active external amplifier, as you would expect from any decent smartphone these days, let alone top-dollar flagships. This means that the first part of the battle is settled on loudness alone and the Samsung Galaxy S8 easily comes on top here. The LG G6 is second, while the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is the quietest of the bunch.
When headphones come into play some differences begin to appear - the Galaxy S8 is capable of keeping the quality consistent, while the Sony Xperia XZ Premium does pretty well itself except that stereo tends to deteriorate more prominently. The LG G6 loses the most here and, with no gains in loudness for any of the handsets involved, the overall standing remains Samsung > Sony > LG.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8. The loudest output with the least degradation in quality when under load comes from the Samsung headset.