Home > Phone Comparisons > iPhone 5s vs. Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. iPhone 5s
Posted April 22, 2014 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
Yes, it's fanboy fodder, but it's simply unavoidable. After all these are the top two smartphones on the market and many of you will be trying to decide between the Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5s. Both start at $199 with contract and are available on all major as well as some smaller carriers. So how do you decide?
Some things never seem to change, at least not until Apple breaks down and builds a bigger iPhone. The iPhone 5s is perfect for those who don't have the luxury of wearing baggy jeans, cargo pants or suit jackets with ample pockets. The iPhone fits in most pockets just fine. It's also ideal for those with smaller hands and is manageable compared to today's 5" and bigger Android flagships.
Materials and Design
You know who wins on the materials front, it's been the same story for several generations of iPhones and Galaxy smartphones. Apple does one heck of a chic design with an aluminum casing accented with glass and a "Leica inspired" design. Though this is the best looking Galaxy yet, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is still a plastic phone with obvious faux leather and chrome. That doesn't mean it looks cheap--it doesn't. But it doesn't have the same "ooh-ahh" look as the iPhone 5s.
In the Galaxy's favor, Samsung's use of thin but strong plastics allows for luxuries like a removable battery. A luxury, you say? Yes, in part thanks to the iPhone "getting away with it" and also because consumers love skinny phones, the removable battery is now a rare treat. We applaud Samsung for sticking with their practical and utilitarian design, even if it means plastic is a part of the deal.
Tie: iPhone 5s for classy materials and Samsung Galaxy S5 for a very practical and comfortable design with amenities like a removable battery and microSD card slot.
Living large, if you can still say that about a 5" smartphone, means a big display. I don't think anyone would prefer the iPhone 5s' 4", 1136 x 640 display over the 5.1", 1920 x 1080 Super AMOLED Samsung display. Not because the GS5's display quality is better, but because it's so much larger and higher resolution. That means a much more immersive video watching experience, seeing detail more easily in photos and games where the characters don't look like ants.
In terms of quality, the iPhone brings color accuracy and naturalness along with bright whites. Samsung offers deep blacks, better than life colors and they've increased brightness to match the iPhone's 500 nits (though you'll have to enable auto-brightness to reach 500 nits).
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5
We're talking CPU and graphics speeds here, and both phones are very responsive. Gone are the laggy Android Samsung TouchWiz blues, the GS5 can match the iPhone for response when navigating the UI, loading web pages and launching apps. Don't be concerned with the number or cores or 32 vs. 64 bit: the iPhone 5s' dual core 64 bit CPU scores just as high as the Samsung Galaxy S5's quad core 32 bit CPU on benchmarks. Really. Despite their very different clocks speeds.
Surprisingly, this is a close one, though the Galaxy S5's rear shooter has twice resolution of the iPhone 5s rear camera. Both take photos and video with pleasing colors, good contrast and relatively little noise by camera phone standards. The iPhone 5s keeps it simple with few settings and controls beyond aspect ratio, HDR and flash control. The GS5 has myriad special effects, a panoply of manual controls, HDR and more. Those who want a lot of creative control over the shooting experience (as opposed to adding effects and tweaks after shooting) will prefer the Samsung. This is a matter of personal preference, neither is better--it's simply two different approaches.
Despite the iPhone 5s' really strong showing, the GS5's 16 megapixel camera captures more detail, and that's important if you want to share larger images, do cropping without loss and so on. The GS5 can also shoot 4K UHD video! Now, it's not going to compete with a dedicated 4K camera, but it does capture even more detail and that makes for a sharper looking video even when viewing on a 1920 x 1080 monitor or TV.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5
||3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited
|Samsung Galaxy S5
iOS vs. Android
You know the story; iOS is regimented, accessible to tech newbies and lacks customization. In return you get pretty good stability, consistency and security, and you don't have to muck about with your phone or read the manual (what manual?). The Samsung Galaxy S5 is more customizable with home screen widgets, alternative launchers on Google Play and even alternative web browsers (all iOS web browsers must use the Safari engine, negating much of the benefit of a 3rd party browser). Samsung's TouchWiz is more complex than stock Android--in fact it's one of the most feature rich, and one might argue overwrought treatment of the Android UI. Samsung includes multiple apps to handle the same task (2 video players, 2 photo viewers) that present you with a question rather than your desired movie or photo viewing experience: which app do you want to use. If you hate it when your computer asks you a question when you tell it to do something, you won't like this.
Winner: there is no winner here. This is a matter of personal preference.
Which phone do I pick as my personal favorite? It isn't easy; I carry an iPhone 5s and an Android phone at all times--my job makes me lucky that way. But if I really had to carry only one, I'd go with the Galaxy S5 for the larger and higher resolution display, better camera and expandable storage.
As always, there's plenty more to compare, so watch our smackdown video below!