Despite being just four months in, 2014 is already turning out to be a great year for smartphones, with manufacturers releasing some of their most innovative handsets in years. Two of the most interesting are the Sony Xperia Z2 and Samsung Galaxy S5.
Both have cutting-edge technologies and software, including Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 801 processor and Google's Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system. Featuring a number of custom services from their respective creators – as we noted in our standalone reviews – the Sony Xperia Z2 and Samsung Galaxy S5 are two of the finest smartphones ever created.
But with both the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2 carrying £500-plus price tags to match their high-end specifications, Samsung and Sony's smartphones will have to contend with Apple's current iPhone 5S flagship at top-end of the market.
According to the recent statistics from Kantar Worldpanel, this has been beyond previous Android handsets, so are the new contenders up to the job?
Design and build
The Galaxy S5, Xperia Z2 and iPhone 5S all feature radically different designs. The iPhone 5S is by far the smallest and lightest.
With its metallic chassis with flat sides and curved corners, the iPhone 5S measures 124x59x7.6mm and weighs 112g. The slightly pebble-like Galaxy S5 is the next lightest, measuring 142x73x8.1mm and weighing 145g.
Finally, the Sony Xperia Z2 is the largest and heaviest of the three, at 147x73x8.2mm and 163g.
Interestingly, despite being the smallest smartphone, the iPhone 5S is not the most comfortable to hold. This is mainly because of handset's slightly sharp corners and smooth, almost slippery metal finish. The combination of design factors can make the iPhone 5S feel slightly awkward to hold, compared with the Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5, which both feature rounded edges.
Between the Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5, we found the Samsung handset is far more comfortable to hold. This is because as well as having a curving ergonomic design, the Galaxy S5's removable backplate has a rubberised, perforated finish that makes it easier to grip than the Xperia Z2, which features a front and back face made from Gorilla Glass.
The Apple iPhone 5S also comes out worst when it comes to build quality. We found it more prone to picking up scratches, blemishes and cracks than the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2, but it's also the only one of the three without an IP certification. The Galaxy S5 is IP67 certified while the Xperia Z2 is built to IP58 and IP55 certification standards, making them both dust and water resistant.
We found that both the latter phones lived up to their certifications and survived submersion in a kitchen sink full of water and being dithed into a sand box hassle free. But the Xperia Z2 seems slightly tougher than the Galaxy S5, which proved more prone to chipping and picking up scratches than the Z2, with its metal sides and glass front.
Winner: Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5
Next: Display, operating system and software