Sony Xperia Z5 vs iPhone 6s: Which is the better phone?

The iPhone 6s and Sony Xperia Z5 are two of the best phones to come out of last year, but which one should you opt for?

Sony Xperia Z5 vs iPhone 6s: Which is the better phone?

Here we break down each phone into individual sections – display, camera, battery and price –  and then pitch the two phones against each other to get a clear view of which one is actually the best in each department.

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Design

Sony and Apple’s flagship smartphones are great examples of well thought out design at work. Sony has been working from it’s famous OmniBalance design bible since the Xperia Z launched back in 2013. Likewise, Apple has been tweaking the design of its iPhone since it launched way back in 2007.

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Design

The result of this is that, unlike the rest of the market, the Sony Xperia Z5 and iPhone 6s look refreshingly independent of one another. The Sony retains its uncompromisingly neat black frame, though it now features a built-in fingerprint sensor mounted on its sideways facing power button. This has been designed to fit where your thumb naturally sits when you hold the device in your right hand – or index finger for your left hand.

The Z5’s glass back does come with its own issues, as our reviews editor, Jonathan Bray found out. Jonathan managed to smash it after dropping it onto some gravel hours after taking it out of its box for the first time. That said, the edges are slightly raised, which helps to prevent the Xperia Z5 from sliding off every surface you put it on. While Sony’s effort is all angles, the iPhone 6s is curves from top to bottom.

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Design 2

While the iPhone S6 looks near identical to it’s predecessor, it’s still as achingly pretty as it was when we first saw its design in its older sibling back in 2014. One difference of note is the iPhone’s aluminium frame is built from a stronger alloy now – 7000 series aluminium to be precise. The screen glass has also been strengthened.

We didn’t try and throw it or the Xperia Z5 against a wall (and we don’t recommend you do either), but the aluminium frame makes the iPhone 6s a sturdier device, especially considering the fragile back on the Xperia Z5. On the other hand, the Z5 is dust- and water-resistant (IP65 and IP68 respectively) so, while you can’t exactly take it on underwater adventures, it does stand a better chance against accidental trips down the toilet.

Overall, we’d give the iPhone 6s a point here. Sony’s handset mixes things up with power, camera and volume buttons on the side, but other than that it looks like generically handsome rectangle. The iPhone 6s might not be a major departure from the iPhone 6, but it’s still a real looker.  

Winner: iPhone 6s

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Display

Screen quality used to be an area where these two manufacturer’s dominated. However, Sony’s Bravia engine and Apple’s Retina screen have since lost ground to Samsung’s AMOLED displays. That sounds dramatic, but it’s not really. Both displays on offer here are pin sharp and eye-wateringly bright. In terms of numbers, the Sony Xperia Z5 offers a 1,080 x 1,920-resolution IPS display, topped with unbranded tempered glass. In comparison, the iPhone 6s offers a 750 x 1,334-resolution display.

The iPhone 6s reaches a maximum brightness of 572cd/m2 and delivers an eye-popping contrast ratio of 1,599:1. The Z5 manages a maximum of 684cd/m2 (with adaptive brightness disabled), delivering a contrast ratio of 1,078:1. The Xperia Z5 has a higher brightness, but the contrast ratio is what will really make the display pop, and there’s a sizeable difference here between the iPhone 6s and Sony’s handset. Bottom line: the iPhone 6s gets a point.

Winner: iPhone 6s

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Features

The feather in the iPhone 6s’ hat is 3D Touch, which lets you bring up different options depending on how hard you press the screen. The Sony Xperia Z5 might not have a Capital Letter Feature like 3D Touch, but it does have a microSD slot and a side-placed fingerprint scanner. There’s 32GB of storage available in the Sony Xperia Z5, and, with the microSD slot for expansion, this draws the Z5 level with the LG G4 in terms of overall flexibility, even if the battery isn’t user-replaceable.

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Features

Winner: Draw

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Performance

Gut out the iPhone 6s and you’ll find an Apple A9 chip with integrated M9 motion co-processor. Apple claim the A9 is twice as fast as the A8 in the iPhone 6, and our benchmarks showed that the processor is certainly fast. So fast, in fact, that it managed an impressive 55fps on the GFXBench onscreen Manhattan test. As for the Geekbench tests, it got an impressive single core score of 2532 and a multi score of 4417.

The Sony Xperia is kitted out with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 chipset complete with an Adreno 430 graphics chip. This is without a doubt a top-end setup, and performed accordingly in our benchmarks, if not quite up to scratch with the iPhone 6s. It managed 27fps in the GFXBench onscreen Manhattan test, and Geekbench scores of 1236 for single core and 3943 for multi core.

Looking at the numbers, the iPhone 6s carries the result away here. In real world terms, both phones are speedy and more than capable of keeping pace for everyday tasks. If you’re a keen handheld gamer, however, the iPhone 6s will be able to play even the most demanding of titles without getting hot in your palm.    

Winner: iPhone 6s  

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Camera

Amongst the new additions to the iPhone 6s are a 12-megapixel camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, which is a major upgrade from the paltry 1.2-megapixel selfie shooter on the iPhone 6. The front camera also comes with a clever screen-based flash that flickers on once in bright white to provide full illumination, then again in a lower intensity yellowish colour in an attempt to balance out the skin tone.

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Camera

The iPhone 6s has Live Photos, which captures 1.5 seconds of motion footage before and after you touch the shutter button to make Vine-esque shorts. While the iPhone may include a few fun features, the Sony Xperia Z5 blows Apple’s camera efforts away with a new  23-megapixel Exmor RS rear camera module. This is where the Xperia Z5 really comes into its own, incorporating SteadyShot optical image stabilisation (OIS) and hybrid autofocus by adding phase-detect pixels to the image sensor.

You can check out the specific details about each phone’s cameras in our respective reviews (iPhone 6s and Xperia Z5) but, talking in broad strokes, we’re giving this category over to the Sony Xperia Z5.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z5

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Battery

The iPhone 6s comes with a 1,715mAh battery, while the Xperia Z5 comes with a 2,900mAh battery. The iPhone offers a comfortable day’s worth of use, and this can be stretched to a day-and-a-half if you limit your interaction to occasional email checks and browsing. In our experience, the Xperia Z5 can last around the two-day mark. You can hash out the specifics in our reviews, but we’re giving battery to the Sony Xperia Z5.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z5

iPhone 6s vs Sony Xperia Z5: Price and verdict

In terms of price, both phones are firmly wedged in the premium ballpark. The Sony Xperia Z5 comes at £521, while the iPhone is a small step up at £539. Considering that the iPhone 6s will have a sizably better resale value, those extra few quid are certainly worth considering.

Overall, you’re going to get an excellent device regardless of whether you opt for Apple or Sony’s offering. If you’re looking for the best camera and battery, the Xperia Z5 is definitely where you want to focus your attention. Overall, however, the iPhone 6s slips a few inches in front for its stylish design, excellent contrast ratio and headline-grabbing features such as 3D Touch.

Overall winner: iPhone 6s

For another clash of the titans, check out our comparison of the iPhone 6s and the Samsung Galaxy S6.

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