Features

iPhone SE vs. Xperia Z5 Compact: pocket rocket showdown

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I’ve got 10 smartphones on my desk, but one stands out because of its size.

In a sea of phones that are 5 inches and larger, Apple’s 4-inch iPhone SE goes against trend. It’s a big-phone world out there, not just because larger screens are hip, but because a phone’s display is a window to a universe of productivity, entertainment, and possibility.

Still, there’s a certain charm to a smartphone that fits comfortably and securely in one’s hand. For Apple, it’s also about logic, or as one of their ads puts it, “A dazzling display of common sense.” 

For about half a decade since it was originally introduced, the iPhone sported a 3.5-inch display — tiny by today’s standards. Then in 2012, when Apple decided to bump up the iPhone 5’s screen to 4 inches, it justified the decision by saying 4 inches is as much as the human thumb could reach. 

Four years later, Apple is resurrecting the iPhone 5, giving it modern specs, and calling it the iPhone SE.

On the Android side of the fence, there’s the Xperia Z5 Compact from Sony. Many will praise Apple and its commitment to smaller phones, but it was actually Sony that first pushed for high-specced phones in smaller form factors.

When it first introduced the Z1 Compact in 2014, Sony said the phone was designed for those who want a “mini” phone that doesn’t compromise on flagship features. The Xperia Z5 Compact is everything the Z1 Compact was, only better.

About the same size as the iPhone SE but with a bit more heft and a larger display, the Xperia Z5 Compact is the most powerful small phone money can buy today. It’s rather pretty, too (for this story, we borrowed the pink variant to match our rose-gold iPhone SE, but it comes in other colors also).

If you’re unwilling to jump on the phablet bandwagon, both the iPhone SE and Xperia Z5 Compact are worthy upgrades. Here are a few reasons why.

SUPER PERFORMANCE

Who says small can’t be powerful? The performance of both of these phones is super. Neither slows down when you’re switching between tons of apps or playing a game that requires as much processing power as possible.

Don’t be fooled by their size, these phones are not the watered-down versions of their bigger brothers. In fact, they’re equally as powerful, and leaps and bounds ahead of anything else their size.

You also get high-end features like fingerprint scanners and 4K video recording. The Z5 Compact has 32GB of built-in storage; the iPhone SE starts at a measly 16GB, but you can always opt for the 64GB model. That’s what we’d recommend.

TOP-NOTCH CAMERAS

The iPhone SE has the same camera as the iPhone 6s, one of the most dependable cameras on the market now. iPhone cameras are known to capture accurate colors and balance light and shadows really well.

The SE is no exception, and if we’re comparing, it outperformed the Z5 Compact in our testing. Not that the Z5 Compact is a slouch by any stretch. It’s got almost twice the amount of megapixels as the iPhone; it focuses fast; and it takes pretty decent photos in different lighting.

Here are some photos taken with the iPhone SE’s rear camera.

Unlike the iPhone, it also offers manual mode for those wanting a bit more control over the way their photos look. The only thing I don’t like about the iPhone SE is that its front camera is stuck in the dark ages.

As a rule, I don’t count megapixels — and neither should you — but when an upper-midrange phone only has 1.2 megapixels for the selfie camera, you have every right to complain. Having said that, most of my selfies these days are sent via Snapchat, and my friends don’t seem to mind.

Below is a gallery of images taken using the Sony phone.

The Xperia Z5 Compact has a 5-megapixel front cam, which takes better, less grainy selfies, even in low light.

UNDERWATER GOODNESS

The Xperia Z5 Compact is water-resistant, not something that can be said of many smartphones of any size. Theoretically, you can submerge the phone in a pool for up to 30 minutes. We’ve done it many times before, though we don’t recommend you do it often.

Previously, Sony ran entire marketing campaigns on the fact that the phone makes for a great underwater camera, but these days, it’s left unsaid. It’s safer that way.

I recommend limiting water exposure to the occasional rinse when things get a bit sticky, which in this climate is often, or for when you’re caught in the rain without an umbrella.

The iPhone SE, unfortunately, while reportedly resilient to a light shower, isn’t rated for waterproofing. Expose it to the elements at your own risk.

OUTLASTING THE ENERGIZER BUNNY

Bigger smartphones have more space for larger batteries, but these smartphones are long-lasting anyway.

With heavy use, the iPhone SE can last a full day on a single charge, so you should have enough juice from when you wake up in the morning till right before you hit the sack.

The Xperia Z5 Compact lasts even longer — no kidding! You could get about 24 hours of heavy use on average, with possibly a little bit left over. And then there’s Ultra Stamina Mode, which extends battery life even further. With things like WiFi, data, and the screen turned off, the phone can last up to 2 days.

THE WAY FORWARD

I decided to write this piece knowing that Apple draws more attention than Sony. It had to be said that for a few years now, Sony was alone in advancing the cause of the small but powerful smartphone. But now, with Apple back in the mix, everyone is paying attention.

By betting on an older but much-loved form factor, Apple is laying the predicate not just for a small-phone revival, but for small phones that kick ass.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the industry responds soon. That would be a big win for lovers of small phones.

[irp posts=”925″ name=”Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Review”]

Unboxing

Hermès Apple Watch Series 8: Unboxing and Full Set-Up

What makes it different from the regular Apple Watch though?

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If you’ve been fond of GadgetMatch for quite a while now, you would know that Michael Josh is a big Apple Watch user.

From having to experience several Watch Series up until the Watch Ultra, to having various bands, he now has the most expensive Apple Watch in the Series 8 lineup in his hands.

In this video, he unboxes the most expensive Apple Watch ever — the Hermès Apple Watch Series 8.

To give you the full experience, he’ll also dive into the nitty-gritty of what makes it different and more special than the regular Watch Series 8.

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Camera Shootouts

vivo V25 vs V23 5G: Camera Shootout

Are there even significant improvements?

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vivo V25

It hasn’t even been a year but vivo has already revealed the successor to the V23 5G that was launched earlier this 2022. But is it actually worth upgrading to the new vivo V25? Or should you save yourself some money and buy the older V23 5G instead?

vivo V25

Don’t let that new camera bump with bigger circular cutouts on the vivo V25 fool you. On paper, the cameras are close to one another but the V25 has the advantage of having a slightly wider aperture and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) that the V23 5G doesn’t have.

vivo V25 vivo V23 5G
Wide 64MP f/1.79
PDAF, OIS + EIS
64MP f/1.89
PDAF, EIS
Ultra-WIde 8MP 120º f/2.2
Macro 2MP f/2.4
Selfie 50MP f/2.0 wide

 

50MP f/2.0 wide
8MP f/2.28 ultra-wide
+ Dual-tone Spotlight

The sad news though is that, vivo has decided to remove the extra ultra-wide selfie camera and dual flash system on the new V25.

vivo V23 with the Dual-tone Spotlight Flash feature

But how do these phones perform side-by-side knowing the new V25 also has a slightly less-powerful MediaTek Dimensity 900 chipset over V23 5G’s Dimensity 920? Are there enough convincing differences or is the older model actually better? Feed yourself some photo sample comparisons below.

Daylight

In any given circumstance, a valuable Android midranger should take at least a decent photo with natural light around — thus me taking lesser photos to compare.
Still, your judgment matters.

#1A (Ultra-wide)

vivo V25

#1B (Wide)

vivo V25

#2

#3A (Wide)

#3B (Zoom)

Food

Taking food shots (mostly with indoor lighting) is a better way to test which phone camera is capable of producing the better image output with the right amount of highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness, temperature, as well as Dynamic Range.

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

#11

*Left photo was taken multiple times with the focus tapped on the baked roll. Lens coating was also cleaned several times but still resulted to the same output.

#12

Night Mode

Low-light photos can either make or break the capabilities of a smartphone’s camera.
While it’s a mixed bag of outputs, it still depends on the user if Night Mode photos are important in a midranger or not.

#13A (Wide)

#13B (Ultra-wide)

#14

#15

#16

#17

#18

vivo V25

#19

vivo V25

#20

vivo V25

BONUS: Low-Light Selfie

For users who love taking selfies even in the dark, both phones can take fill-in flash (using the display) to brighten up your faces.

Without Flash

vivo V25

However, the ultra-wide selfie and Dual-tone Spotlight feature were removed completely from the vivo V25. You just have to guess and pick which is which.

With Flash (Aura Fill, Dual-Tone Dual Spotlight Flash)

vivo V25

Results

No more confusions, the results are consistent all throughout the board:

Photo A — vivo V23 5G

Photo B — vivo V25

Conclusion

vivo V25

While it’s barely a big camera quality improvement, the vivo V25 has rendered some of the scenes quite well such as in Photos 1A, 11, and 12 which the V23 5G failed to display at least an acceptable output. Other times, the vivo V23 5G delivered better results like in Photos 1B, 2, 3A, 4, and 13A. Those images delivered overall better photos with a sufficient amount of HDR (High Dynamic Range) and AWB (Auto White Balance).

Overall, the V25 produced better images with decent amount of highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness. The newer model also has some slight edge on focusing and making shots brighter and more stable at night.

vivo V25

While only two selfies were provided, the V23 5G obviously has the edge — especially with its extra selfie lens and dual-flash feature.

vivo V25

If you’re coming from the V23 5G, you don’t need to upgrade to the vivo V25. Period. But, if you’re looking for a phone to replace your old vivo smartphone (or pretty much any old budget phone or midranger for that matter), buying the V25 won’t hurt.

vivo V25

Unless you’re looking for a used unit, a brand new vivo V23 5G is being sold at PhP 27,999. Whereas, a brand new V25 retails at a cheaper PhP 23,999 price tag.

vivo V25

Imho, choosing the V23 5G over the V25 is advantageous for some reasons: a more premium-looking design with metallic sides, slightly faster chipset, and the extra selfie camera.

vivo V25

But realizing how more capable the cameras of the V25 are, you can also choose it for its bigger battery and brighter display. Also, the OIS feature is very handy if you love taking photos in action or at night or just record stable-free videos without worrying about warping and jitters. At the end of the day, you should know what you value the most in buying a new smartphone.

SEE ALSO:

vivo V25 is a Night Portrait Master

Taking photos to the next level with the vivo V23 5G

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Camera Shootouts

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs 13 Pro Max vs S22 Ultra: Camera Shootout

A Very Different Camera Test

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The iPhone 14 Pro Max finally has an upgraded camera system — highlighted by its 48MP main camera sensor.

But does it really take better photos vs the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra?

Find out in our photo-walk style camera shootout with the pro-photographer and Apple’s #ShotoniPhone Macro Challenge Global Winner Tom Reeves.

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