Samsung recently announced the tougher and more durable version of the flagship Galaxy S4 handset, which is touted as the Galaxy S4 Active. The S4 Active is the newest addition to the Galaxy series and comes with protective design elements including an IP67 rating that offers both dust-proof and water-proof (up to one metre of water for 30 minutes) capabilities.

The S4 Active is touted to be a major market rival to the Sony Xperia Z series including the recently unveiled Xperia Z Ultra, which offers IP55 and IP58 rating for its water-proof (up to one metre of water for 30 minutes) and dust-resistant capabilities. The arrival of Xperia Z Ultra signals Sony's growing stature in the phablet (hybrid of phone and tablet) market with the debut of its first 6.4in device. IBTimes UK brings a detailed feature comparison of the two flagship smartphones Xperia Z Ultra and Galaxy S4 Active, to help the readers decide which one to buy.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
Sony Xperia Z Ultra Vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Active (Photo: techtostyle)

Xperia Z Ultra vs Galaxy S4 Active: Display

The Xperia Z Ultra is said to be the world's first smartphone to incorporate a Full HD TRILUMINOS display for mobile powered by Sony's latest X-Reality for mobile picture engine. The handset features a 6.4in large screen driven by Sony's intelligent super resolution display technology which analyses individual image and replicates lacking pixels to optimise quality for the sharpest videos. The image depth, colour composition and outline patterns are adjusted for every scene and paving the way for dynamic and detailed snapshots taken in varying environments. Its full HD display is rated to deliver an optimised visual experience with at least 60% more viewable screen space than most other smartphones.

The Xperia Z Ultra features a native resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels at a pixel density of 344 pixels-per-inch (ppi). The display incorporates multitouch functionality with support up to 10 fingers, and the screen is reinforced with shatter-proof and scratch-resistant glass for protection against accidental damage.

The Galaxy S4 Active, in contrast, ships with a smaller 5in full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels resolution) TFT display, at a pixel density of 441ppi. The traditional LCD display on the S4 Active is brighter and offers more distinctive colours than its Super AMOLED counterpart, as the GSMArena notes.

The S4 Active features a polycarbonate body with a metallic finish, and its ports are well protected with plastic flaps to prevent damage from dust and water.

Xperia Z Ultra vs Galaxy S4 Active: Dimensions

The Xperia Z Ultra is taller, broader and thinner than its Samsung counterpart. In contrast, the S4 Active is 59g lighter than the Ultra at 153g, owing to its sleeker dimensions in terms of height and width.

As Sony claims, the Xperia Z Ultra is extremely slim at just 6.5mm thickness. However, its bigger dimensions make it relatively heavier at 212g. Crafted with tempered glass in an innovative solid metal frame on the front and back, the Sony handset looks stunning with the same OmniBalance design as the Xperia Z smartphone and the Xperia Z tablet.

The overall dimensions of the two handsets are given below:

Xperia Z Ultra: 179.4 x 92.2 x 6.5 mm

Galaxy S4 Active: 139.7 x 71.3 x 9.1 mm

Xperia Z Ultra vs Galaxy S4 Active: Operating System

Both the handsets ship with the latest version of Jelly Bean, Android 4.2, out of the box.

The Android v4.2 includes a host of new features including photo sphere (take snaps in every direction and share them on Google+), Gesture Typing (enables users to glide fingers over the letters they want to type and supports predictive text input), enhanced Google Now, Google Search, Daydream, Android Beam and new improved notifications interface. In addition, Android 4.2 brings support for multi-user switching on tablets (no need to login and out) and enables wireless display that allows users to share movies, YouTube videos from their device on a HDTV.

The S4 Active also features a host of Samsung native apps borrowed from the flagship Galaxy S4 such as Air Gestures (it turns the S4 into mini-kinect), Smart Display, Smart Stay, Smart Rotate, Smart Scroll and Smart Pause.

Xperia Z Ultra vs Galaxy S4 Active: Processor and RAM

The Xperia Z Ultra is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset based quad-core Krait 400 processor (clocked at 2.2 GHz), which Sony claims to be the world's fastest smartphone processor. In comparison, the S4 Active features the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset based quad-core Krait 300 processor, which is clocked at 1.9 GHz.

Graphics processing is handled by Adreno 330 GPU on the Xperia Z Ultra, while the Galaxy S4 Active is powered by Adreno 320 graphics unit.

Both the smartphones ship with 2GB of RAM.

Xperia Z Ultra vs Galaxy S4 Active: Camera

Both the handsets feature an eight megapixel rear camera and two megapixel front-facing camera with support for full HD (1080p) video recording at 30 fps, autofocus and LED flash. Other common camera features include geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilisation and High Dynamic Range (HDR - ability to take clear snapshots and videos even in low-light conditions). In addition, both the smartphones offer the ability to record full HD videos underwater.

The Xperia Z Ultra is powered by Exmor RS for mobile image sensor technology, which is rated to deliver excellent camera image clarity with reduced noise levels even in low-light conditions. The Xperia Z Ultra includes various integrated camera modes and features such as Continuous burst mode, Object tracking, Picture Effect, Quick Launch, Scene recognition, Self-timer, Send to web, Smile shutter, Superior Auto, Sweep Panorama and Touch capture.

The other integrated camera modes and features for Galaxy S4 active include Panorama mode, Best Photo and Best Face, Beauty shot, Drama mode and Sound & shot.

Xperia Z Ultra vs Galaxy S4 Active: Connectivity

On the connectivity front, both Xperia Z Ultra and Galaxy S4 Active offer Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth v 4.0 with A2DP, microUSB v2.0, Near Field Communication (NFC) and support for 4G LTE networks.

In addition, the Galaxy S4 Active supports infrared communication with infrared enabled devices.

Xperia Z Ultra vs Galaxy S4 Active: Storage

Both the Galaxy S4 Active and Xperia Z Ultra are available in single 16GB storage variant with support for microSD storage expansion up to 64GB.

Xperia Z Ultra vs Galaxy S4 Active: Battery

The Xperia Z Ultra is powered by a relatively bigger 3050mAh battery that is expected to deliver a standby time of 790 hours on 2G and 820 hours on 3G. In other words, the handset is claimed to offer 14 hours of talk-time on 2G or 16 hours on 3G, 120 hours of music playback or video playback for 7.5 hours.

The S4 Active, on the other hand, ships with a weaker 2600mAh battery. Recent battery tests conducted by GSMArena suggest that the Galaxy S4 Active is capable of delivering 3G talktime up to 16 hours and 40 minutes, web-browsing up to 7 hours and 35 minutes and video playback up to 7 hours and 3 minutes with a total endurance rating of 57 hours.

Xperia Z Ultra vs Galaxy S4 Active: Price and Availability

The Xperia Z Ultra is now up for pre-order on Clove UK at an estimated price tag of £599.99 (including VAT) with a tentative shipping date set for September.

In other words, the Galaxy S4 Active is about £114 cheaper than the Sony handset on Clove UK at £486 (inclusive of VAT). The Galaxy phone will be available in three variants namely Urban Grey, Dive Blue and Orange Flare.

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