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Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Google and Sony take dramatically different approaches to their smartphone cameras, and nothing showcases that more distinctly than pitting the Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Sony Xperia Pro-I. Where Google relies on artificial intelligence to produce the best possible images with a simple press of the button, Sony is more interested in delivering accurate results that leave room for subtle enhancements in post-production. Neither approach is necessarily better than the other; they’re simply different.
Even though they share “pro” monikers, Google and Sony are pitching the Pixel 6 Pro and Xperia Pro-I to entirely divergent segments of potential users. The Pixel 6 Pro is an affordable flagship meant to appeal to the masses. At the same time, the Xperia Pro-I is a pricey professional-grade smartphone/camera-replacement combo intended for serious creators.
Despite the unique paths set by these phones, they both still want to sell you on the idea of having a powerful photography partner in your pocket. Naturally, we saw fit to compare the end results.
Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Sony Xperia Pro-I: Camera specs
Related: Google Tensor vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Given the vast disparity between these approaches, is there any chance the photos will look similar at all?The samples
A lot is going on in this image. The surrounding buildings shaded everything you see, but there’s still plenty of light to pull details from the shadows. The exposures are evenly matched, and clarity is about the same. Noise is nearly nonexistent. Google’s picture has a slightly bluer tint, while the Sony leans more toward yellow. The result is a more pleasing sky in the background of the image taken by the Pixel 6 Pro, but that could boil down to personal preference.
This comparison sees nearly the same results as the preceding photo. Yet, some interesting things are going on with exposure here. The Xperia Pro-I generated a cleaner look of the Oculus (the white building in the foreground), but it managed to overexpose and underexpose some background elements at the same time. Look at the painted murals and the yellowish building above them. The murals are a bit too dark, while the building is a bit too bright. The Pixel 6 Pro balanced the exposure out better and delivered more detail.
See also: How to use manual mode on your smartphone camera
There’s no real debate about which of these samples is superior looking. The Pixel 6 Pro produced a far livelier image with richer, brighter colors. By way of comparison, the Xperia Pro-I’s image is darker with more muted colors. However, the Pro-I’s sample is more representative of what my eyes saw that day while taking photos in New York City. Whether you prefer the quick win from the Pixel or the attention-needing accuracy of the Pro-I depends on what you want from your smartphone’s camera.
These two are night and day. Google’s photo comes across as cool, and Sony’s is over-warm. The Pro-I lost its way in calculating the white balance here, and it’s obvious when you weigh the photos against one another. Moreover, there’s far better detail in the Google photo, particularly in the dark tree branches. I have to give this one to the Pixel.
More reading: The best triple camera phones available
Shooting red hues is always a great way to test cameras. In this sample, the Pixel overexposed the entire frame by just a bit, which washes out the flower’s bright red color to a small degree. It also washes out the background a bit. Furthermore, the photo from the Pixel isn’t as sharp as it could be, and there’s more noise than I care to see. The flower captured by the Pro-I is richer, and the background looks deeper and cleaner.
Here’s a shot I captured with the phones’ wide-angle cameras. Google’s image is sharper and delivers far more detail, particularly in the background. For example, you can clearly make out the support cables of the Brooklyn Bridge to the right of the underpass in the Pixel photo. These same details are obscured in the Sony sample. While the Sony photo underexposed the areas under the bridge just a bit, it managed to deliver much richer colors and even kept some blue hue in the sky rather than washing it out.
This was a fun shot, as there is plenty to put under the microscope. The photo from the Pixel looks a bit more balanced overall, thanks to the bluer sky, sharper focus, and starker detail in the shadows along the dock and tug boat. However, the photo from the Pro-I is a more accurate depiction of what I saw in real life and produces a nicer red along the boat’s waterline.
More reading: What is HDR photography?
The Pixel produced a crazy amount of contrast for this photo of a seagull and the Brooklyn Bridge. You can tell the software algorithms worked overtime to generate the range visible here. It makes the Pro-I’s sample look a little washed out in comparison. As much as I like the clarity and detail of the Pixel’s photo, there’s something pleasingly film-like about the Pro-I photo’s warmth that gives it a vintage overtone.
Related: 10 best photography apps for Android
Shooting directly at the sun is not easy for any camera. The Pixel did an incredible job delivering detail in the pylons in the foreground, which were heavily shaded. It also added lots of contrast to the water and kept the background details, such as the Statue of Liberty, in sharp focus. The Pro-I almost appears to have given up in comparison. While the warmer tone is more accurate to the real-world environment, there’s almost no detail at all in the pylons or the clouds, and the statue is not much more than an upright smudge.
Taking photos in Times Square is a rite of passage for tourists. Thanks to the constantly changing billboards, no two shots are ever quite the same. The Pixel photo here looks washed out. The pink overtone to the image is thanks to a brilliant ad for Coke that flashed to my left as I took the shot. What the Pixel image does do, however, is showcase some details in the background, such as the tall buildings and the not-quite-blackened evening sky. The Pro-I’s photo is more accurate in terms of color, but I wish there was more detail in the people who make up the foreground. Overall, the Pro-I’s shot wins for not being totally pink.
Then there are the concert photos. Everyone loves to take pictures when they’re at a show. Here, the Pixel delivers sharper focus, more detail in the dark regions (in this case, the guitar player), and more accurate colors throughout. Due to the changing background light, it may not be a strictly apples-to-apples comparison, but it still gives you an idea of the differences these cameras deliver. Again, there’s plenty to like in the Pro-I shot, but you might have to spend some time adjusting it.
The selfies above showcase the simple differences in how Google and Sony are processing their photos. Looking at my face, there’s plainly more detail in the images from the Pixel, in addition to a little more color. That’s not to say they are perfect. There’s lots of noise from the Pixel, which I don’t like. On the other hand, I come across as a little washed out in the images from the Sony, with less detail visible in my skin. The photos from Sony also have an old-time feel to them that makes them look as though they were taken decades ago. One isn’t necessarily better than the other; they’re just different.
Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Sony Xperia Pro-I: The verdict
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Pitting the Google Pixel 6 Pro vs the Sony Xperia Pro-I isn’t necessarily a fair comparison in some respects, and it isn’t strictly to declare a winner in this head-to-head. Google and Sony have taken entirely different approaches to creating these cameras and target wholly different user types. Moreover, the phones don’t play in the same economic space, given the vast price delta. Even so, it’s undoubtedly a fascinating exercise to highlight what Google and Sony are up to.Which smartphone camera takes the better pictures?
It’s worth taking a moment to laud the Pixel 6 Pro. Though Google and Sony are coming at the cameras from wildly different directions, the Pixel 6 Pro proves that expensive hardware doesn’t always get you the best results. Google’s algorithmic approach does a great job of delivering hassle-free results that regular people can put to use right away.
Both of these phones take terrific pictures. Some may prefer the ready-to-consume results from the point-and-shoot Google Pixel 6 Pro, while others may need the accuracy and warmth of the more complicated Sony Xperia Pro-I. Whichever device you end up with depends entirely on what you need the phone — and its camera — to do.
If you want to see the Pixel 6 Pro camera battling it out with other high-end devices, we have a comparison against the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Also, don’t forget to take a look at our list of the very best camera phones, as well as the best budget camera phones.
Keep in mind that all this excellent camera hardware can help, but it’s not what photography is all about. Skill and knowledge are what really take your photos from average to outstanding, and we have some content to help you polish your photographic prowess. Let’s start with a look at the most important photography terms. Also, take a look at our tips for taking your images to the next level.
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Let’s jump right into some key differences. Throughout our shootout, you’ll notice a much cooler white balance from the iPhone. While this sometimes looks more realistic, particularly in overcast conditions, it’s also often too extreme and ends up reducing the phone’s otherwise excellent color realism.
The iPhone also offers more extreme exposure, risking highlight clipping to make the subject stand out. While this is a fair trade-off for portraits and macro with a clear subject, it’s far less ideal for landscape shots. In addition, this produces a higher contrast look to Apple’s pictures that adds pop at the expense of crushed blacks and clipped highlights.
The Pixel 7 Pro is a little more muted but more realistic, by comparison, but it tends to push its white balance too warm. Slightly purple tints to the sky are all too common, unfortunately. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you like a bit more pop to your images. That said, the phones aren’t always miles apart in their presentation, with both offering similar exposure and color science in a number of our shots too.
Cropping in on detail from the main camera, we can spot a few more key differences.
While there’s a similar level of detail on offer, the two phones process it very differently. Apple takes a more natural, softer approach that aims for realism over making details pop, though we can still see telltale signs of a sharpening pass on straight lines in the snaps below. Even so, the toned-down processing leaves far less color and shadow detail on the table. Google’s algorithm is heavier on the sharpening pass, giving the appearance of more color detail and contrast at the expense of some more noticeable sharpening artifacts.
The bigger drawback of the Pixel approach is the occasional mushy texture artifact. We can see this more clearly in scenes with varied textures, like foliage in the shot above. Apple’s shot is again very soft by comparison but more realistic, even if it loses some of the finer details in the process. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of either approach; something in between would be ideal.
Apple prefers color pop, while Google makes its details pop.
The two brands clearly have very different takes on default image processing. Overall, I’ve found the Pixel 7 Pro to be more consistent in its delivery, but, when it gets it right, the iPhone 14 Pro Max can hand in more artistically pleasing results.
Camera shootout: Google Pixel 7 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S22 UltraPixel 7 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro Max camera: HDR and low light
Let’s try our hand at some tougher lighting conditions. Historically, Google has excelled at HDR processing while Apple’s handsets have struggled. Let’s see if things have changed this generation.
Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max does a decent but certainly not perfect job with difficult HDR scenarios. The handset balances highlight exposure well but struggles with shadow detail and color extraction. The first shot is pretty close, but the second example really showcases the strengths of Google’s multi-frame algorithm when it comes to shadow and color capture in downright tricky HDR situations. That said, some may find Google’s approach too strong, verging on a little unrealistic.
Apple has closed the gap in low light, but still struggles with extreme HDR.
In low light using night mode, things are a little different. The iPhone generally does a better job at brightly exposing its subject, although there’s an element of vignetting in the second image. I’d give the nudge to the Pixel 7 Pro here for white balance, but its colors are a tad more washed out.
The second image is a bit of an oddity for the Pixel. Its denoise algorithm completely smudges and removes all the detail from the snap. This happened on multiple takes. The iPhone 14 Pro Max captures far more detail, albeit with a heavy dose of sharpening and noise that’s not exactly pretty. Overall, both phones have you very well covered for low-light photography, but tricky lighting can throw up some issues, and the results definitely don’t look as polished as daylight snaps.
Google’s Pixel 7 Pro is more flexible in the dark, though, offering long exposure and astrophotography modes that let you snap images the iPhone simply can’t capture with anywhere near the same fidelity. See the level of detail in the astrophotography shot above. It’s a shame the Pixel’s color balance is often thrown off in these scenarios.
Going back to ultrawide versions of our initial snaps, we see the same general trends in image quality. The iPhone’s ultrawide lens offers a brighter exposure but darker shadows, a cooler white balance, and an additional color pump. The Pixel is flatter but ensures more balance to its dynamic range. Both results are pretty good and offer very similar levels of detail, any preferences will once again boil down to your love or hate of saturation.
In terms of field of view, there’s not a huge amount in it, just a few degrees. Both fit plenty into the frame. Let’s take a look at the frame edges to see which offers superior distortion characteristics.
You’ll often spot purple halos and smudged details at the edge of ultrawide lenses, but there are minimal signs here. While frame edges aren’t as detailed as the center, there’s minimal chromatic aberration and no glaring drop-off in quality. I’d give the nudge to the Pixel, very marginally, for lens correction and focus clarity, as there’s slightly less blurring at the very edges. With macro capabilities in tow, too, there’s very little to pick between these ultrawide cameras — aside from your preference for color processing.
With different optical zoom lenses onboard, we expect even bigger differences in zoom capabilities. Let’s dive right in, starting with the Pixel 7 Pro.
The iPhone is surprisingly competitive out to 5x, which is a testament to Apple’s own computational photography capabilities. Again, Apple opts for a much brighter exposure than Google. The handset also does a better job at ensuring consistent color and exposure as you move between the zoom levels, at least in this scenario. However, fine details succumb to the small sensor’s higher noise levels, so don’t plan on blowing these up for a large print.
Turning back to the intriguing nature of Google’s image fusion technology, which blends detail from the 1x and 5x sensors at intermittent zoom levels. The trade-off is that central subjects look brilliant, but details at the edges of the snap much less so, as these are upscaled from the primary sensor. Looking at the frame edges in the 3x cropped shot below, you’ll spot a noticeable drop-off in image quality.
The left side of the Pixel snap is clearly inferior to the detail level of the iPhone. However, the right side, which comprises data from the 5x zoom lens, is actually superior to the iPhone’s native 3x zoom, providing sharper details free from signs of denoise and sharpening. Pixel 7 Pro sub-5x zoom snaps are a mixed bag then, handing in solid details for the center subject but clearly inferior image quality at the edges of the pictures. You probably wouldn’t notice without really looking, but it’s worth highlighting the trade-offs with Google’s technology.Selfies and portraits
Both phones take decent but not brilliant portraits and selfies. The two offer solid bokeh blur. I prefer the iPhone’s application of light circles, but the Pixel does marginally better at fine hair detection.
Indoors, both phones struggle to pick the perfect skin tone due to the lack of natural light. The Pixel 7 Pro is slightly worse here, with a warm skin tone but a cool overall white balance. Both phones are also overly sharp with their skin textures, but the iPhone is noisier in this environment.
Physical Build and DesignSides
The Galaxy S3 has a polycarbonate blue-black back cover with brushed metal design while the Xperia V has a white pearl-like back. Both covers have one thing in common — they are removable. The batteries on both phones are also removable. This means that you can use third-party back covers and replace the batteries on both phones.
Sony deserves some credit for the Xperia V’s removable back, considering that this is a dust and water-resistant phone. When you remove the back cover, you’ll find rubber edging designed to prevent liquid or dust from reaching the battery, microSD card, and SIM compartments.
You’ll see the same elements on both phone’s backs, although they are arranged differently. The Galaxy S3 has the camera flash, rear camera, and the speaker grille aligned horizontally on the top portion of its back cover.
In contrast, all these elements are arranged vertically on the Xperia V. From top to bottom, you can find the rear camera and a small hole for the microphone, the LED flash, the Xperia logo in silver, the tiny hole for the water sensor that Sony uses to measure if the limit for safe operation has been exceeded, and the speaker grille.
The Xperia V’s back also curves slightly towards the center, which makes the phone feel like it is hugging my hand. The Galaxy S3’s back, in contrast, is flat and smooth.Screen and Display
4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED
720×1280 HD resolution
Corning Gorilla Glass 2
4.3-inch TFT LCD
720×1280 HD resolution
Scratch-resistant glassProcessing Power Benchmarks
We did some standard benchmark tests on both phones and got these results:
The benchmark tests yielded varying results, although the Galaxy S3 bested the Sony phone in most tests. This means that even if the Xperia V has dual-core processing power, it can still outperform the quad-core phone in some areas.Battery Life
From a full charge, the Galaxy S3’s battery went down to 61% while the Xperia V’s went down to 48%. You can clearly determine which phone would black out if I went with the test for 2 more hours.Connectivity
LTE 850 MHz (B5)
LTE 1800 MHz (B3)
LTE 2100 MHz (B1)
LTE 2600 MHz (B7)
Syncing screen to an HDTV
Standard Micro USB port for transferring files
5 white balance presets
Selection of photo effects
Different ISO values
In addition to those essential features, each Camera app has unique features to make it better than the other. On the Galaxy S3, for example, you’ll find these:
Burst Shot — captures multiple pictures with one tap of the Shutter button
Best Photo — selects the perfect photo from a series of Burst Shot images
Best Face — lets you select a set of pre-captured images
Share Shot — shoot images and share them instantly via Wi-Fi Direct
Voice enabled controls — control the camera using your voice
Meanwhile, the Xperia V has the following camera features:
Quick launch — set a predefined action when launching the camera from the lockscreen
Focus mode — select a method on how to focus when taking pictures
Smile Shutter — smile to activate shutter; choose between small, average, or big smiles
ClearAudio+ — instantly enhances your music
Surround sound (VPT) — uses surround sound types for listening via headphones
Clear stereo — reduces crosstalk between headphone channels to reproduce original stereo sounds
Clear Phase — adjusts sound quality of internal speaker
xLOUD — increases sound intensity from loudspeaker
Dynamic normaliser — uniforms volume levels between songs or videos
Visualizer — displays a visual visualizer on the screen
The sound quality of both phones’ loudspeakers is good. The Xperia V’s sound output, however, is louder compared to the Galaxy S3’s, but distortion was also more evident. I recommend using headphones for listening to music on both phones.
On the homescreens of both phones, you can group your favorite contacts, place widgets, or decorate the screen with the background of your choice. Homescreen layout is similar on both phones: status bar at the top edge of the screen and App Dock bar below.
The App Dock contains 4 app shortcuts and one button for the App Drawer. The location of the App Drawer button, however, differs on both phones: it’s in the middle of the Xperia V’s App Dock while the Galaxy S3 has it on the rightmost side.
The Xperia V gives you only 5 homescreen pages to play with, but the Galaxy S3 gives you two more (for a total of 7). You also get a cool flipping animation when you navigate through the Galaxy S3’s homescreens.Multitasking
Recent Apps menu — long tap Home button to open menu; swipe left/right to remove apps or tap to switch between apps; contains toggle buttons for task manager, Google Now, and delete all recent apps
Multi Window — open two apps simultaneously by splitting the screen; long tap Back key to open Multi Window bar
Pop-up Play — plays and overlays video on a floating mini video player
Page buddy — a special home screen page appears when connecting earphones, while docked, or when the phone is set to roaming
Recent Apps menu — tap Recent App virtual button to open menu; swipe left/right to remove apps or tap to switch between apps
Small Apps — overlays a small app or widgets on the screen; calculator, timer, note, and voice recorder small apps installed by default
Smart Connect — instantly performs predefined actions when connecting earphones or charging the phone
The Notification Shade is a common heritage on every Android phone, but it can vary in design and in how notifications are managed.
The Galaxy S3 has taken on the style of the Jelly Bean Notification Shade with some TouchWiz UI modifications. This notification menu has toggle buttons for most accessed Settings options. You can change the order and choices of toggle buttons on the Settings menu. A brightness slider is also present here. Notifications are grouped according to app. You can expand a notification to view more details by swiping the notification downwards with two fingers; swipe upwards to collapse. Some notifications are actionable, allowing you to perform actions right on the menu. To remove notifications, either swipe left or right or tap the Clear button to remove all notifications.
Things are much simpler on the Xperia V. The Notification Shade has toggle buttons for sounds, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, mobile data connection, and a shortcut for the Settings menu. You cannot change or add toggle buttons. Notifications are also grouped according to app, but you cannot expand or collapse notifications. Notifications are also not actionable. Gestures for dismissing notifications are similar to those for the Galaxy S3.Personalization
Two homescreen modes
Changing the font style
4 screen modes
Changing or rearranging toggle buttons on the Notification Shade
Customizing keyboard layout and adding additional keys
Enhancing photos and videos with Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2
Changing keyboard layout and skinsKeyboard
Face and Voice unlock
remote controls via SamsungDivePricing and Availability
The Samsung Galaxy S3 comes in 16-, 32-, and 64-gigabyte models variants in select countries for about US$550, US$680, and US$800 respectively. Meanwhile, the Xperia V is available through some mobile carriers at an estimated price range of about US$500 to US$600.Video Review
(with contributions from Elmer Montejo and Carl Parker)
Apple and Sony have both designed and built brilliant tablets here, and it’s a tough decision between the two. The Xperia Z4 Tablet has some obvious bonus points thanks to its waterproof nature, its better screen, its lighter weight, its battery life and its good front-facing camera, but we’re not as keen on the overall design of the tablet, and if £499 does turn out to be the starting price it’s a bit on the expensive side.
Sony didn’t launch a new smartphone at MWC 2023 in Barcelona this year, but it did unveil a new iPad Air 2 rival in the form of the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet. Here, we put the two flagship tablets head-to-head to find out how they compare in our iPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet comparison article. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2023.
In depth: Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet hands-on reviewiPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Price & availability
First things first, let’s take a look at how much these tablets will cost you, and how you can go about buying one.
We were surprised by the high price of the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet. We had predicted a £399 price tag, but Sony has now revealed that it’ll cost £499 when it becomes available to buy in June.
The iPad Air 2 is already available to buy, after being unveiled in October 2014. It starts at £399 for the 16GB WiFi-only model, or £499 for the 16GB WiFi+ Cellular model. Below is the full set of prices:
So far, £499 is the price Sony has revealed for the WiFi-only model with 32GB of space and it comes with a keyboard, so it’s possible that you’ll be able to pick up the Xperia Z4 Tablet at a lower price without the keyboard. The 4G version is £579 with the keyboard.
You’ll also like: Best tablets 2023iPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Design & build
The iPad Air 2 and Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet are quite different to look at. The iPad Air 2 is smaller with a 9.7in screen, while the Xperia Z4 Tablet has a 10.1in display. The latter is a square, blocky-looking device compared with the iPad Air’s softer, more rounded design.
The new Xperia Z4 Tablet is even thinner than its predecessor, the Xperia Z2 Tablet, at 6.1mm compared with 6.4mm. The same goes for the iPad Air 2, which matches the 6.1mm of the new Sony tablet, reduced from the 7.5mm of the original iPad Air. So both of these tablets are exceptionally thin.
They’re light, too. The WiFi model of the Xperia Z4 Tablet is 392g, while the 4G LTE model is 396g. That’s actually a fair bit lighter than the iPad Air 2, which is an already light 437-444g depending on the model. Both are a delight to hold, but it’s particularly impressive that Sony has managed to make the Xperia Z4 Tablet so light, especially considering its display is bigger than the iPad Air 2’s.
The Sony tablet also trumps Apple’s when it comes to durability. It’s waterproof up to the highest rating available: IP68. The headphone port and microUSB ports don’t even need covers to make the device waterproof, so feel free to use the Xperia Z4 Tablet in the bath or by the poolside without a worry.
You won’t want to do that with the iPad Air 2, which certainly isn’t waterproof.
The iPad Air 2 is undoubtedly more stylish, though, with a brushed aluminium, unibody chassis, available in Gold, Silver and Slate Grey.
There are pros and cons to both of these tablet’s designs, so it could come down to a choice between practicality and style.iPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Hardware
Taking a closer look at the screen on the Xperia Z4 Tablet, you’ll find a 10.1in display with a 2560×1600 resolution, which equates to an impressive 299ppi. That beats the iPad Air 2’s 264ppi, 9.7in display.
Inside the Sony tablet is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, which is both octa-core and 64-bit. It’s paired with 3GB RAM, 32GB of storage and a microSD card slot for adding up to 128GB more.
The iPad Air 2, on the other hand, boasts Apple’s own 64-bit A8X processor and M8X co-processor, paired with 1GB of RAM and a choice between 16GB, 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. It lacks the microSD card slot found on the Xperia Z4 Tablet, though, so you’ll need to decide how much storage you think you’ll need when you buy it.
We’ll bring you more detailed information about how these two tablets compare in terms of speed and graphics performance as soon as we get the Xperia Z4 Tablet back to our labs for benchmarking.
Connectivity-wise, you’ll find 11ac WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 and MHL 3.0, as well as an optional 4G LTE model for the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet.
The iPad Air 2, meanwhile, also sports 11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, optional 4G connectivity is available too. But there’s no NFC in the iPad Air 2.
Sony’s new tablet has High-Res audio, too, with front-facing stereo speakers, digital noise cancelling support, automatic headphone compensation and a new LDAC codec which supposedly transmits data three times more efficiently than Bluetooth.
The iPad Air’s additional feature that the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet lacks is the TouchID fingerprint sensor, housed beneath the Home button. You can use it to unlock the tablet, unlock certain apps and also use Apple Pay online.
We’ve not yet been able to test this claim, but Sony suggests that you can expect a whopping 17 hours of video playback from the Xperia Z4 Tablet’s 6000mAh battery.
That’s compared with Apple’s 10 hours for the iPad Air 2, so is particularly impressive.iPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Cameras
On the rear of the Xperia is an 8.1Mp camera, which uses Sony’s Exmor RS sensor. The front-facing camera is a 5.1Mp camera with a wide angle lens, which will allow you to get more people in the frame.
On the iPad Air 2, you’ll find an 8Mp iSight camera on the rear, which we’ve found to be quite impressive even though we think using a tablet as a camera is a major no-no. The front-facing camera is 1.2Mp but does the trick for FaceTime calls, for example.iPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Software
Not everything is as black and white when it comes to software, as it’s often more about opinions than it is about facts. You probably already know whether you prefer Android or iOS, and there are arguments for and against both operating systems.
The iPad Air 2, of course, runs Apple’s iOS 8. You’ll get Apple’s apps and services including FaceTime, iMessage, iCloud, Continuity between your other Apple devices including Macs, access to the enormous iOS App Store, iBookstore, Newsstand and more.
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is instead running Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google’s latest version of its operating system. Sony has added its own interface, though it’s not much different from stock Android aside from the pre-loaded Sony apps such as Walkman, Album, PlayStation and Lifelog.
There’s also PS4 Remote Play, which lets you play PlayStation 4 games on the device from the console over the same WiFi network.Specs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Specs
Android 5.0 Lollipop
10.1in IPS Triluminos screen, 2560×1600, 300ppi, 500cd/m2
Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 64-bit
32GB internal storage, microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
8.1Mp rear camera with Exmor RS
5.1Mp wide angle front camera
Nano-SIM (LTE model)
6000 mAh battery
392g (Wi-Fi), 396g (LTE)
The Google Pixel 7 Pro shows how good Android software can be, and does so at a lower price than its competitors.
Standing out amongst today’s army of Android smartphones is hard. But in a world of high-powered devices focusing on long lists of impressive hardware stats and figures, Google is going a slightly different direction.
More like the mammoth Apple, Google’s new Pixel 7 Pro leans into the world of software, implementing clever new tricks to improve your photos, call experiences, battery life and a number of other phone-related tasks you didn’t know could be better.
But does this bet pay off? We spent a week with the new Google Pixel 7 Pro to find out.Stylish design at a surprising price
Costing £849, the Google Pixel 7 Pro is more affordable than its flagship competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max. However, it is also a big jump up in cost compared to the cheaper £599 Google Pixel 7.
The phone is made using 100 per cent recycled aluminium, so it feels great in your hand, but does have some serious weight to it. Not only that, but the camera bump pulls the weight abnormally to the top of the device.
But while the design is a minimalist aesthetic that we can get onboard with, a case is a good idea; luckily Google includes one in the box. The same can be said for most modern smartphones, but that massive camera bump makes the phone feel precarious and exposed when placed on a surface.
This combined with the fact that the smartphone is wider than your average device and the Google Pixel 7 Pro does feel somewhat unwieldy in your hand. In other words, this is not going to be a device for those with small hands, with the smaller Google Pixel 7 being a better fit.
This is very much design over usability. Yes, it looks and feels great, but I was living in constant fear of dropping the phone, smashing that beautiful design.Camera excellence
Google is known for its camera abilities, in fact, it has been the company’s big selling point since the very first Pixel smartphone. Luckily, the camera is once again the device’s leading feature.
This is another area where Google’s focus on software over hardware pays off. The phone features a 50MP main camera, 48MP 5x zoom and a 12MP ultra-wide lens. These are similar features to most flagship smartphones.
The best compliment I can give the Google camera is that it is a Jack of all trades. Samsung can zoom for miles, Apple can take stunning up close photos and draw in colour accuracy, Google can do it all, offering a camera for all situations.
Where Google really thrives is with its added features. The brand has made a big deal of its ‘real tone’ feature where the device can analyse skin tones to achieve more accuracy. There is even a feature that will keep track of faces that appear a lot in your photos, making sure those people are more in focus in groups.
The Pixel’s photo-editing software is also interesting. There is an ability to remove blur from photos, whether it’s a new photo or one you took years ago on another device that was never worth using.
However, the feature I got the most use out of is the magic eraser. This allows you to cut things out of an image. You can completely cut out your friend trying to photobomb you, strangers ruining your perfect shot or a random item that doesn’t fit the photo. In most cases this works great, with the occasional moment of making a complete mess.The spec sheet
For the Google Pixel 7 Pro, Google implanted a new chipset, the Tensor G2. While this means a more powerful smartphone, capable of dealing with more intensive tasks, it also means better machine learning capabilities.
It improves the phone’s ability to take photos, how it can handle speech recognition, its understanding of you as a user and generally makes the phone more capable of doing what the Google Pixel does best – impressive software.
The other factor the new chip informs is battery life. Google has struggled with battery life in the past, but with the 5000mAh battery, it is rivalling Apple and Samsung’s largest devices. I frequently got through a full day of medium to heavy usage with some charge left.
The display is also a nice experience on this device. It features a 6.7-inch OLED display which is consistently bright and colourful. The screen can refresh at up to 120Hz which simply means your scrolls, jumps and swipes around the phone will stay looking smooth without any jittery lag.Verdict
Google has been struggling to find its feet with smartphones for a while, never quite managing to get it all right. The Google Pixel 7 Pro feels like the first time the brand has nailed the whole package, producing a well-rounded flagship phone.
Of course, it is not perfect. The charging is slow, and it lacks some of the high-end specs Samsung, Apple and OnePlus have achieved, but these factors really don’t matter.
The Google Pixel 7 Pro is snappy and responsive, has a capable battery, the camera is one of the best you’ll get in a smartphone, and it is full to the brim with clever software. It feels like the best of both Apple and Samsung… albeit, with a few small sacrifices.Alternatives iPhone 14 Pro
The iPhone 14 Pro is going to be the closest competitor Apple has to Google’s Pixel 7 Pro. It is immensely powerful, has a great battery life and display and most importantly, is the perfect rival for the Google Pixel 7 Pro in terms of camera ability.
The noticeable downside is the higher price, taking you over the £1,000 mark.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the definition of over-powered. Samsung has crammed everything into this design, including a stylus pen fitted inside the phone, a 100x zoom camera and a burly battery and processor to power it through the day.
All of this does come at a cost similar to that of the iPhone above, but you won’t get much more power in a phone than this.
Google Pixel 7
Like everything about the Google Pixel 7 Pro, except for the price? The smaller Pixel 7 will be the obvious choice. It brings the price shooting down to just £599 but keeps all of the most important specs.
The phone does get smaller, as does the battery. Plus, you do lose out on a camera lens and a few key functions, but for the huge drop in price that is a worthy sacrifice.
Decent Wi-Fi 6 speeds
Four Ethernet ports
Supports mesh networkCons
Blocky and bulky design
Similar performance to last year’s Linksys MR7350Our Verdict
Small, but packed with potential, the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 is a competent Wi-Fi 6 router that’s well priced (in the UK at least), and can be expanded into a mesh Wi-Fi system later. But that approach isn’t necessarily the cheapest way to get mesh Wi-Fi.
It’s an AX5400 device, meaning it ought to give you faster 5GHz Wi-Fi speeds than other Wi-Fi 6 routers for a similar price. Indeed, the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 is essentially an upgrade of last year’s Linksys MR7350 router, which is an AX1800 device.
Like the MR7350, the Hydra Pro 6 is a router that can form part of a mesh Wi-Fi system. It can work as a standalone router, or you can pair it with mesh Wi-Fi satellites from Linksys’s Velop range.
This means if you want whole-home coverage in the future, but your budget can’t currently extend to cover a multi-device mesh Wi-Fi system such as the Linksys Atlas Pro 6 (which ranges from £320-£430 / $349-$449 for 2-pack and 3-pack bundle respectively), then the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 might be the ideal stand-in for the time being.
Alternatively, if your coverage needs are a bit more modest, you’re living in a flat (apartment), or somewhere with thin walls, and you merely want a decent Wi-Fi 6 router for around £200 / $300, then the Hydra Pro 6 should cater for your needs.Design and build
The Linksys Hydra Pro 6 looks a lot like the router from last year it’s effectively replacing, the Linksys MR7350.
It features the same basic blocky design, the same staggered rectangular mesh covering on the top, and vents on the bottom and sides in the same places. The only immediately noticeable difference is that the Linksys ‘L’ logo is stamped onto the external antenna. The antennas can be rotated and tilted 180 and 90 degrees respectively.
Turning the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 around, you’ll see five gigabit Ethernet ports, one WAN (helpfully labeled ‘Internet’) and four LAN (helpfully labeled ‘Ethernet’) .
It’s likely that you’ll be setting this device up in your living room, or somewhere close to your modem (this router doesn’t contain one) and master socket, and it’s therefore also likely that you’ll have games consoles, TV set-top boxes, smart TVs and maybe a soundbar, all of which could benefit from wired Ethernet connections, so four ports should come in handy.
The only other physical connection on here is a Type-A USB 3.0 port, which you can use to connect a hard drive which can then be accessed through the Hydra Pro 6’s admin portal.
Despite being made of fantastic plastic, the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 doesn’t feel cheap: it feels reasonably sturdy.Setup & features
Linksys has done a good job of making the Hydra Pro 6 easy for newcomers to set up from scratch. The Linksys mobile apps (iOS, Android) do a good job of guiding you through the process, covering the basics of router placement – ‘Place out in the open’, ‘Avoid hiding inside of behind furniture’ – to making sure your modem’s turned off before you power the router on and connect it to the modem. Once the connection’s established and you have internet access, the app will ask you whereabouts in the home it’s placed (e.g. living room, kitchen), which basically paves the way for you to add Linksys Velop mesh satellites in the future.
Setting up the Hydra Pro 6 took less than ten minutes, although the longest part was waiting for internet access to be available – so your mileage may vary here, depending on your provider and service.
Once everything’s set up, the Linksys mobile apps also let you dive into the Hydra Pro 6’s settings and check on the devices currently connected.
You can choose to prioritise up to three devices on your network, which is helpful if you’ve got lots of devices all straining for bandwidth at the same time. You can also rename devices as they appear on the dashboard, and apply parental controls, which can restrict certain devices from accessing specific domains, and apply homework hours. You can quickly and easily create Guest Wi-Fi networks for times when you have people over and you don’t want to hand out your regular password.
The Linksys Hydra Pro 6 broadcasts one SSID by default, but if you want to separate the bands and have the router broadcast two names, one for 2.4GHz and one for 5GHz, you can, but you need to open up the desktop control panel for this, as you can’t do it in the mobile app. You can also enabled WPA3 encryption instead of WPA2 (or a mixture of the two) if you have any devices which support the newer encryption standard.Performance
Overall performance of the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 is good. If you’re working in the same room as the router, you’ll be able to enjoy some fast wireless speeds, especially if you’re using a recent phone or laptop that supports Wi-Fi 6. If you’re living and working in a large home, and want coverage in every room, you will want to invest in some Velop satellites, however.
The Hydra Pro 6 is a slightly upgraded version of last year’s Linksys MR7350. While the routers look very similar, the main difference is that Wi-Fi speeds in the higher 5GHz band should be faster (thanks to the Hydra Pro 6 being an AX5400 device), although the top speeds on the 2.4GHz band should be the same.
Interestingly, in my speed tests the results I got were either on par with what I observed with the MR3750, or in some cases, slower. As you’d expect, they were considerably faster than Virgin Media‘s Super Hub 3.
One interesting observation was that the Hydra Pro 6 was better was at connecting to my (old) Huawei Mate 10 Pro, a Wi-Fi 5 device, in more areas around the home, suggesting better coverage than the MR3750.
For example, in the upstairs office (located roughly 15 metres away and one floor up from the router) and in the garden (stood 20 metres away, with two walls and two shut doors between the client and the router), the Mate 10 Pro struggled to connect to the Linksys MR3750. But there were no such problems connecting to the Hydra Pro 6 on the same device in those locations.
I also found that the Hydra Pro 6 automatically shunted the Mate 10 Pro to Channel 11 (a 2.4GHz channel) when performing speed tests upstairs or out in the garden, whereas the other two phones – Realme X50 and Pixel 6 – were kept on Channel 44 (a 5GHz channel). This is an example of the Hydra Pro 6’s band steering in action, choosing the best radio frequencies on a per-device basis.
Rather than use separate SSIDs and force the Hydra Pro 6 to use 2.4GHz or 5GHz, we used the default settings, as most buyers will, and ran speed tests in four locations and allowed the router and phones to decide which frequency to use. Here are the results:
Wi-Fi 5 test (Huawei Mate 10 Pro)Virgin Media Super Hub 3Linksys Hydra Pro 61m693Mbps836Mbps5m with a wall312Mbps437MbpsUpstairs, near the rear of the house21Mbps40MbpsGardenn/a26Mbps
Wi-Fi 6 test (Realme X50)Virgin Media Super Hub 3Linksys Hydra Pro 61m634Mbps870Mbps5m with a wall276Mbps399MbpsUpstairs, near the rear of the house18Mbps38MbpsGarden1Mbps12Mbps
Oddly, the speeds recorded on the Realme X50 (a Wi-Fi 6 phone) were not as good (except at 1m), and while the Google Pixel 6 (see below) recorded faster speeds, they were barely any different to what I recorded on the MR3750 last year.
The only exception was when stood 1m from the router. On occasion, it would move from channel 44 to 100 and use 160MHz to boost speed to 1161Mbps. The 920Mbps figure is the average from all tests. Note that you cannot enable or force the Hydra Pro 6 to use 160MHz all the time.
Wi-Fi 6 test (Pixel 6)Virgin Media Super Hub 3Linksys Hydra Pro 61m674Mbps920Mbps (1161Mbps max)5m with a wall392Mbps695MbpsUpstairs, near the rear of the house28Mbps25MbpsGarden6Mbps44Mbps
Regardless of speeds actually achieved, the Hydra Pro 6’s range is surprisingly good considering it’s a solo device. It was able to deliver 5GHz coverage in areas of my home where I often struggle to get a useable connection on either radio band.
While it’s not really capable of delivering useable whole-home coverage in my two-up, two-down terraces home in South London, it’s not intended to, so it’s not really fair to mark it down for that. And, naturally, in larger homes, you’ll want to consider mesh Wi-Fi to get a fast connection throughout.
If you wanted to use the Hydra’s mesh capabilities, you will need to invest in a separate Linksys Velop node, perhaps something like the Velop MX5300 or Velop MX4200.
It then becomes about whether you value the ability to manage your home network through Linksys’ app which is probably better than your older ISP-supplied router.
The Velop, though, isn’t the only mesh Wi-Fi system. Something like the Amazon Eero 6, or the Netgear Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 system might be better suited to your needs, although these devices don’t give you much in the way of Ethernet ports.
There are cheaper options if you don’t need such fast speeds. And, arguably, if you have relatively slow broadband (under 100Mbps, say) then a pricey Wi-Fi 6 mesh system is probably overkill. For recommendations, see our separate roundup of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems.Price & availability
The Linksys Hydra Pro 6 is available to buy now, for around £180 in the UK. Oddly, it’s much more expensive – $300 – in the United States.
Linksys has a web page for the Hydra Pro 6 on its UK site, but you can’t but it from the company directly.
Instead, you can purchase Hydra Pro 6 from Broadband Buyer for £197, eBuyer (out of stock), Ballicom for £194, or Amazon UK for £125. Obviously, Amazon is the obvious place to buy one, then.
You can buy a Hydra Pro 6 directly from Linksys in the US, where it’s normally priced at US$299.99, but was – when we reviewed the router in May 2023 – on sale for $249.99.
Best Buy also sells the Hydra Pro 6 for $299.99, but Amazon is again the place to look, with the router costing under $180 when we checked..
As far as we know, it is not available in Australia.Verdict
The Linksys Hydra Pro 6 offers good performance, has a lot of useful features and represents good value for money.
The option to expand your home network’s coverage using Linksys Velop mesh Wi-Fi units might appeal to some, especially those that can’t afford the upfront cost of such a system right now.
However, there are plenty of affordable mesh systems that can replace your existing router’s Wi-Fi for not much more money than the Hydra Pro 6, and they are a better choice if your priority is huge Wi-Fi coverage but not outright speed.Specs
802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) 2×4 dual-band
MU-MIMO & OFDMA
4 x gigabit Ethernet LAN ports
Remote control and management with the Linksys app (iOS, Android)
WPA 2/3 hybrid
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