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Galaxy S8 vs Xperia XZ Premium: both excellent, but only one will make you wish you'd bought the other

AndroidPIT Sony xperia XZ Premium vs Samsung galaxy s8 0608
© nextpit

Last year, I switched my Sony Xperia Z2 for a Samsung Galaxy S7. Up until that point, I'd never even considered getting a smartphone that ran TouchWiz. With the update to Android Nougat, Samsung has proven that it's not only capable of delivering great hardware but it can do really good software too. Today, I use a Galaxy S8, and if I compare it to the Xperia XZ Premium, there’s no way I’d go back to using a Sony device.

Over the years, Sony has been slowly and steadily cleaning up its software and making it look more like pure Android. Samsung, on the other hand, has been loyal to TouchWiz from the beginning. However, with its new UX Experience, it’s redesigned the whole system. When you unlock the screen on the Xperia UI, the first thing you see is the app drawer. On the Galaxy S8, you clearly don´t see it since, like the Pixel Launcher, Samsung opted to go with gestures to access apps.

Software differences between the Galaxy S8 and Xperia XZ Premium

Samsung Galaxy S8 Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Experience UX 8.1 Xperia UI
June 2017 security patch June 2017 security patch

This is a perfect example of the impression I have of each model: one is stuck in the past, while the other is looking to the future. The Xperia UI reminds me a lot of the Nexus line, which will stop receiving new update support in September of this year, whereas the Galaxy S8 software brings different features from Pixel. Are you guys starting to see where I’m headed with this?

AndroidPIT Sony xperia XZ Premium vs Samsung galaxy s8 0625
Both models run Android Nougat alongside their respective UIs. / © NextPit

The European and some other national Galaxy S8 and S8+ models are packed with an Exynos 8895 processor, which comes with 10nm technology developed by Samsung. However, the US version comes equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 CPU, which is also 10nm. It has four cores that clock in at 2.45GHz and the other four at 1.9GHz. Sony also opted for this latter processor in the XZ Premium. So, in other words, the performance of both devices is very similar. So much so that in our speed test, which was based on daily use, both devices finished the actions at the exact same time.

The XZ Premium did get a higher grade on the most detailed benchmark though. Using the PC Mark Work 2.0, Sony's device got 6338 points, while Samsung’s earned 5094 points. Obviously, basing everything on benchmarks isn’t the same as actual daily use of a device. However, I should mention that if you put the devices side-by-side and open an app at the same time, the Xperia XZ Premium does respond a few milliseconds more quickly.

AndroidPIT Sony xperia XZ Premium vs Samsung galaxy s8 0615
Both devices have USB Type-C and microphones on the bottom edge. / © NextPit

The graphics on both devices are top of the line, and neither loses any details on images. However, the Galaxy S8 does have Game Launcher, which improves gaming experience with screen and notification locking features, while nicely collecting all your games into one place. But remember, Sony makes PlayStation, and there’s an undeniable integration between the XZ Premium and the gaming console. I especially like being able to continue playing on my phone.

Performance differences between the Galaxy S8 and Xperia XZ Premium

Samsung Galaxy S8 Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, up to 2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, up to 2.4GHz
8 cores 8 cores
Mali-G71 MP20 GPU Adreno 540
64GB storage, support for microSD card 64GB storage, support for microSD card
Single & Dual SIM Single & Dual SIM

Now, there’s one thing that Sony will never leave in the hands of another manufacturer: sound quality. In this respect, the XZ Premium earns the title. The stereo sound for both gaming and videos is everything you could ever want on a smartphone.

Things get even better when you use the XZ Premium with wireless accessories, like speakers or headphones. Since Sony supports LDAC technology, there isn’t any data lost on sound quality.

Compared to the XZ Premium, the sound quality on the Galaxy S8 is just ok. The device offers UHQ sound quality when using headphones or Bluetooth speakers. But a feature that Galaxy S8 comes out ahead of the Xperia XZ Premium in is Bluetooth 5.0. Don't get me wrong, the XZ Premium has the same version, however, it doesn't allow the user to take full advantage of this standard like Samsung does at the moment.

In other words, the dual audio feature, which allows you to simultaneously connect two Bluetooth speakers or even two headphones to a device, is only offered on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ at the moment. However, Sony may offer the same function through a software update in the future.

AndroidPIT Sony xperia XZ Premium vs Samsung galaxy s8 0630
These are two of the best displays available on the market. / © NextPit

As audio always comes hand-in-hand with images, it's a heated battle over screen quality between these two devices. On the one hand, we have the Super AMOLED display, with curved edges, HDR and the new 18:9.5 ratio; on the other hand, a lovely example of an LCD screen, with excellent resolution, HDR and a 16:9 ratio. Both manufacturers have done a fantastic job in this area, and either one of these devices will give you one of the best displays you can find on the market today.

However, to reiterate my point, Samsung shows that it’s thinking about the future while Sony is keeping things conservative. This isn’t necessarily bad though. While S8 users are prepared to receive content in a new ratio, as it’s just starting to pick up some momentum, they’ll have to deal with videos with different margins and games with hidden menus due to the image adapting to the screen. No one ever said being an innovator was easy.

Even the XZ Premium has to go through content restrictions for your 4K screen. Currently, not many services support screens with such a high resolution, such as YouTube, Netflix and also Amazon Prime.

Screen differences between the Galaxy S8 and Xperia XZ Premium

Samsung Galaxy S8 Sony Xperia XZ Premium
5.8 inches, Super AMOLED 5.46 inches, IPS LCD
18:9.5 ratio 16:9 ratio
Resolution 2960 x 1440 pixels (568 ppi) Resolution 3840 x 2160 pixels (801 ppi)
Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Corning Gorilla Glass 5

With the quality of the display and audio, using the XZ Premium for games and watching videos on Netflix or YouTube is incredible. It’s exceptionally comfortable to hold since it has such wide edges, however, considering that the Galaxy S8 uses 83.6% of the front display, when you put them side by side, it’s like putting Prince Charming next to Shrek.

Yes, I realize that the Galaxy S8 isn’t the most comfortable device to hold to watch an entire episode of Stranger Things since there aren’t any side borders and the ones on the top and bottom are basically non-existent. With a bit of practice though, I discovered how to hold the device in my hands without it getting uncomfortable.

AndroidPIT Sony xperia XZ Premium vs Samsung galaxy s8 0620
Yes, the sound quality of the two front speakers is incredible, but that design though... / © NextPit

The XZ Premium is swimming against the current; it’s massive, square and conservative. To give you a clearer idea, it can stand up on one edge without having to support it. And no, this isn’t an extra feature! Regarding the design, Sony forgot that they’d put the word “Premium” in the name.

Size differences between the Galaxy S8 and Xperia XZ Premium

Samsung Galaxy S8 Sony Xperia XZ Premium
148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm 156 x 77 x 7.9 mm
152 g 195 g
Takes up 83.6% of the front screen Takes up 68.4% of the front screen

It could all be justified with battery life, couldn’t it? Unfortunately, no. The difference between the two devices is just 230mAh more for Sony’s smartphone, but remember that the display is 4K. The hardware on Samsung’s device consumes a lot of energy as well. Although Performance mode does offer four different power settings and it offers anywhere from 6 to 12 hours of battery life, while the XZ Premium lasts about 7 (according to the battery benchmark on PC Mark).

Both manufacturers offer two energy saving modes and rapid charging. Unfortunately for Sony, only the Galaxy S8 has wireless charging.

Battery differences between the Galaxy S8 and Xperia XZ Premium

Samsung Galaxy S8 Sony Xperia XZ Premium
3000mAh 3230mAh
Power saving mode, Performance mode Power saving mode
Fast charging Fast charging, but the user must buy a charger separately

Finally, let us discuss the camera. Sony invested a lot into the camera specs and features on the XZ Premium, whereas Samsung pretty much copied the good aspects from its last generation and made some small tweaks to the software to improve image capture. In the end, the camera on the Galaxy S8 is one of the best on the market. This was confirmed in our camera blind test, where the Galaxy S8 finished right behind the Google Pixel. The same can’t be said for the XZ Premium though, which found itself nearer the bottom on the list.

AndroidPIT Sony xperia XZ Premium vs Samsung galaxy s8 0641

The camera on the Galaxy S8 finished ahead of the Xperia XZ Premium in our blind test. / © NextPit

The camera on the XZ Premium has an optical image stabilizer and a Bionz image processor in addition to an Exmor RS 3-layer stacked sensor with 19MP and large pixels. These components let you use super slow motion, which generates videos at 960 fps, 32x slower than normal.

This feature is really cool, but in your day-to-day life, you’ll need a camera that's consistent, with image quality in low-light settings and quick on the trigger. That’s why I’d go with the camera on the Galaxy S8. Take a look below to compare the test galleries of each model:

Camera differences between the Galaxy S8 and Xperia XZ Premium

Samsung Galaxy S8 Sony Xperia XZ Premium
12MP 19MP
8MP 13MP

Without a doubt, both models are good. It just so happens that in my opinion, the Galaxy S8 is better. With hardware performance similar to that of the XZ Premium, the Galaxy S8 stands out on most things. It won’t be considered old next year, and it has solid software options like system backup, different biometric and security options, and software that works well with the hardware to give you more battery life.

Today, before finishing this comparison, I asked the editors at AndroidPIT which of the devices they’d buy if they’d just seen them for the first time. Of the 15 people in the room whom I asked, only one person chose the XZ Premium.

What do you guys think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


The current best Samsung phones to buy

  Editor's choice S23 with a bigger display 2023 flagship 2023 foldable flagship 2022 fodlable flagship 2023 compact foldable 2022 compact foldable Affordable flagship The popular mid-ranger
Image Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Product Image Samsung Galaxy S23+ Product Image Samsung Galaxy S23 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Product Image Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Product Image Samsung Galaxy A54 Product Image
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23+
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Not yet tested
Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
Review: Samsung Galaxy A54
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Go to comment (38)
Camila Rinaldi

Camila Rinaldi
Head of Editorial

With over 10 years of reviewing smartphones and wearables, I recently became addicted to smart home gadgets. Even though I dove into the Apple ecosystem two years back, Android remains as one of my passions. Previously editor-in-chief of AndroidPIT and Canaltech in Brazil, I now write for the US market. I love my records and I believe that the best way to get to know a place is through its food.

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  • 2
    Stephen Feb 27, 2019 Link to comment

    This is why "tech expert" is such a laughable term. You spend every day living in your own little bubble, getting sent your free phones, you do your little straw poll to confirm "oh yes, I'm definitely right about this, yes" - you even spend an entire article banging on about how antiquated the Sony is....then you ask ACTUAL phone users, and discover your 'expertise' is pretty much worthless.

  • marlowe marzan 1
    marlowe marzan Oct 20, 2018 Link to comment

    I will choose Sony Xperia XZ premium because you can hold it securely without fearing of accidental drop. S8 is just good if you are not holding the phone like a mini TV. You need a mobile phone holder like a small tripod.

  • Alastair Wright 1
    Alastair Wright Aug 23, 2018 Link to comment

    Sony allows you to hide the app drawer and use the swipe up gesture; you have a choice, something increasingly rare in the Android world...

  • plamen georgiev 1
    plamen georgiev Jan 20, 2018 Link to comment

    Sony makes high quality and durable phones. Samsung makes glossy displays, nothing more.

  • sorin tircol 2
    sorin tircol Nov 11, 2017 Link to comment

    I chose xzp. For me was the best option because I put first in line audio quality and sony attention to detail. I own this phone for 5 months and I haven't anything to complain, now it runs android 8.
    I don't understand why it is so overlooked by the tech professionals. Probably sony don't pay them like samy or apple. I hope sony keep the good work.

    plamen georgiev

  • NetSagor 1
    NetSagor Sep 15, 2017 Link to comment

    I am using Samsung S8, This is the best phone in my life. I am too much happy.

  • 4
    Manuel Tórrez Sep 11, 2017 Link to comment

    The design of the Galaxy S8 is very good, but I prefer XZ Premium's. Also, you must be kidding about the camera, XZ's is the best in the market right now, S8's is good, but xzp is far better

    plamen georgiev

    • plamen georgiev 1
      plamen georgiev Jan 20, 2018 Link to comment

      Samsung uses sensor from Sony...

      • 1
        Rx7 Jan 26, 2018 Link to comment

        But Sony makes the worst picture...... poor implementation
        Learn from Samsung

    • 1
      Rx7 Jan 26, 2018 Link to comment

      Sony phone camera are just bad. You can’t change it, the bitter truth.

  • Jrd_Jordan 2
    Jrd_Jordan Aug 25, 2017 Link to comment

    Hi all,
    i'm using z3 compact itz good but service is not good from sony, i have display problem scene i bought the phone. this is a 3rd time i'm submitting my phone and service center call me after 45 days with overall estimate of rs 9,950Rs.. and price of same model on amazon is 12,000 rs.. i love sony product but its not for long time its about 2 or 3 years after that its not useful. sony don't have a resell value. we are not invest 50k or 60k+ every 2 year in smartphone.... sony must be introduce replacement policy. in xz-premium must be secure fingerprint under gorilla glass, after scratch on it its not working properly, and one another thing witch is sony always use plastic body... its not good...

  • Victor S 2
    Victor S Aug 8, 2017 Link to comment

    My Samsung 7'' tablet from circa 2011 still stuck on android 2.3. Any updates are at my own risk... Never ever Samsung again!

    S8 android 7.0 (it will probably lag further as time moves on, stuck in the past!) XZ android 7.1.1

    plamen georgiev

  • Ferenc Ferenc 2
    Ferenc Ferenc Aug 7, 2017 Link to comment

    Sorry, but the XZ Premium has one of the best cameras I've ever had. Especially in video modus it's amazing sharp and has very fast autofocus and amazing depth of field. I don't know how you tested the camera... Also the battery it's enough for two days without stamina and the 4k display doesn't take effect on battery life. I also made a photo of a car driving at 180 km/h and even the spinning wheels where exactly taken with all details, so that you thought they standing still.

    plamen georgiev

  • Malstron 4
    Malstron Aug 3, 2017 Link to comment

    I use a Xperia from years, the XZ premium has a long battery time, but the camera quality is low

    • Ferenc Ferenc 2
      Ferenc Ferenc Aug 8, 2017 Link to comment

      Maybe you don't know how to use

      • Jrd_Jordan 2
        Jrd_Jordan Aug 25, 2017 Link to comment

        You are right bro

      • 1
        Rx7 Jan 26, 2018 Link to comment

        Bro, I think you haven’t used anything other than Sony. Even cheap Chinese phones have better cameras than Xperia phones

  • Enricø Cau 2
    Enricø Cau Jul 22, 2017 Link to comment

    To be honest, while i have long been a Note user, I am thinking to buy an XZ Premium. I am not too sold on the new screen ratio and Samsung policy in terms of updates is terrible. And having seen both displays next to each other I must say is the first time a Sony device left me so positively impressed.

    plamen georgiev

    • 21
      Peter Harwood Jul 29, 2017 Link to comment

      Ive had the xzpremium for a few weeks now after upgrading from Z5 initially thought it wasn't worth it but now it is and is definitely worth it, don't think there's a better phone at this time! ok its a plain design but who cares.

      plamen georgiev

  • 21
    Peter Harwood Jul 14, 2017 Link to comment

    Not a sony fanboy xzpremium is overpriced but so is the s8 ive had a xzpremium for two weeks and i know someone who has a s8 plus and the xzpremium is by far the fastest and people and reviews keep saying the s8 has a better camera i can definitely say it isn't the sony camera beats it in all but extremely low light conditions and gives a lot better colour rendition so to me its a better than the s8 maybe not as good a looker but as with all phones you need a case for protection so it doesn't really matter about the look as its covered.

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