Take the iPhone 5s, drop the iPhone, and flip the “5″ and the “s.” Where am I going with this? The result would be S5, which just so happens to be the designator of Samsung’s latest Galaxy device. Announced today at Mobile World Congress, the name might be eerily similar, but there is a world of difference between the iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5.
Design & Build
The iPhone 5s did not feature any major external design changes from the iPhone 5 that preceded it, choosing instead to give one of the greatest examples of smartphone design known to man a little extra time to breathe before revamping aesthetics. The Samsung Galaxy S5, however, does go with a tweaked design compared to the 2013’s Galaxy S4.
The Galaxy S4 in some ways was disappointing for itself sticking too close to the design of the Galaxy S3, so it’s likely Samsung felt some pressure to give the flagship handset a new look for the latest generation. Still, some classic Galaxy design cues remain, most glaringly a build that is overwhelmingly plastic.
In the past, the plastic materials used by Samsung have cheapened the overall feel of what is touted as a premium handset. The iPhone 5s, on the other hand, continues to make use of aircraft-grade aluminum, polished metal accents, and glass to create a striking balance between durable construction and stylish appeal.
Comparing the iPhone 5s to the Samsung Galaxy S5 is as if comparing apples to oranges (pun noted, but not intended). The iPhone 5s makes use of Apple’s redesigned iOS 7 interface, featuring an emphasis on simplistic design cues and intuitive functionality. The Samsung Galaxy S5, on the other hand, utilizes Android 4.4 KitKat.
The latest build of Google’s mobile operating system has its perks on its own, but Samsung has again chosen to dress it up with their own TouchWiz UI layer. In its latest instance, Samsung, too, has chosen to go with a simplified, clean appearance, but the system gains functionality unique to the GS5.
The Galaxy S5 offers a special download boost mode that utilizes WiFi and LTE simultaneously as well as a battery saver mode.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 comes out on top if inches are any measurement of quality. Its display measure 5.1 inches while the iPhone 5s comes in at a mere 4 inches.
As sizing is ultimately a matter of preference, perhaps a better point of comparison is resolution. The Galaxy S5 features a Full HD display at a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The iPhone 5s, on the other hand, utilizes a Retina display resolution of 1136 x 640 and a pixel density of 326 ppi.
Samsung’s display again utilizes Super AMOLED technology, which has its fans and detractors alike. S-AMOLED provides a bright, saturated color profile that add vibrancy but is not always true-to-life. In previous comparison, we have found the iPhone’s Retina display produces an image that is more neutral and representative of the real world.
Processing & Hardware
The iPhone 5s was the first handset to introduce 64-bit processing to mobile devices with its A7 CPU. While the exact specs were not revealed by Apple, independent testing revealed the chip to be a dual-core setup with a max clock speed of 1.4GHz.
With the Galaxy S5, Samsung goes with a quad-core CPU clocked at 2.5GHz. While rumors suggested they would unveil their own 64-bit Exynos Infinity platform to rival Apple’s A7 chip, such a CPU did not materialize.
Like the iPhone 5s, Samsung’s new Galaxy handsets features a fingerprint sensor that can be used to lock and unlock the handset. While Apple’s Touch ID sensor accomplishes the same and can be used to authorize purchases in the App Store, Samsung’s will be capable of authorizing payments with PayPal. Apple is expected to expand the mobile payment aspect of Touch ID in future software and hardware updates.
Elsewhere, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5s both feature LTE support and WiFi, though the Galaxy sports MIMO capabilities, much like the latest iPads, offering faster LAN speeds and reliable connectivity.
The iPhone 5s features an 8MP with an oversized image sensor and f/2.2 aperture. The Samsung Galaxy S5 features a 16MP camera.
As has become the norm, the iPhone 5s sets a benchmark for image quality as it pertains to mobile devices. The Galaxy S5 certainly has the credentials to give it a run for its money, however.
In terms of creative shooting modes, the Galaxy S5 easily bests the iPhone 5s. For the iPhone, users get HDR mode, burst shot, and slo-mo video. Samsung users will get these modes plus an expanded feature set that includes advanced auto focus, selective focus, and a special Shot and More mode that enables such features as Drama Shot, Best Photo, Best Face, and Eraser.
Both the iPhone and Galaxy S5 provide a selection of image filters and effects as well as the ability to edit, crop, and adjust photos.
The iPhone 5s, though not officially confirmed by Apple, contains a 1560mAh battery capable of 10 hours worth of talk, LTE, or WiFi use. The Samsung Galaxy S5 gets a 2800mAh battery and touts 21 hours of talk time. The gap here is quite wide, but ultimately the shorter batter life of the iPhone 5s isn’t a huge drawback.
Both devices will get through a day of use before needing a charge (the S5 possible two days), but power users of either device will need to charge more frequently. The S5’s power-intensive display and processor also mean that using the phone for video and gaming will greatly reduce battery life.
Still, by number alone, the Galaxy S5 has the clear upper hand here. Mileage will vary on a case-by-case basis.
Pricing & Availability
The iPhone 5s is available now for all major US carriers at a starting price of $199.99 (two-year contract pricing) for a 16GB model ($649.99 without a contract). Specific pricing for the Samsung Galaxy S5 has not yet been announced, but it is expected all major US carriers will carry the handset beginning in April.