OnePlus One vs Samsung Galaxy S5 first look

April 23, 2014
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OnePlus has had no qualms with taking on the giants of the smartphone of the world, and has long-promised a better experience than any other high-end smartphone around. Well, the self-proclaimed “2014 Flagship Killer” is finally here, and with very high expectations behind it, it’ll be very interesting to see how the company’s first device fares against one of the best 2014 flagships currently available from Samsung.

Here’s a quick look at the OnePlus One vs Samsung Galaxy S5!

Design

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The OnePlus One features a minimalistic look and a premium feel, with almost no embellishments, and features a slightly raised display on the front surrounded by a chrome frame, and a clean, smooth, hard plastic back.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 offers a premium feel as well, with its soft touch plastic back plate with a textured design. Of course, the dimpled design of the back has been met with a fair share of mixed reception, with many considering it a step back from the faux leather plastic back of the Galaxy Note 3.

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The front of the OnePlus One is all-black with no logos or physical buttons to draw the attention away from the display. You do get capacitive buttons, but you also have the option to switch over to on-screen keys if you so desire. On the other hand, the Galaxy S5 comes with Samsung’s signature button layout on the front, with a physical home button being flanked by two capacitive keys, with the major difference being the replacement of the menu key with a recent apps key.

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In terms of dimensions, the OnePlus One is definitely the larger of the two devices, courtesy of its bigger 5.5-inch  display, compared to the 5.1-inch one of the Galaxy S5. As a result, the handling experience is certainly easier with the Samsung Galaxy S5, which remains quite similar to what we got with the Galaxy S4 before it, and while the OnePlus One is slightly narrower than other devices that fall in the phablet category, one-handed use will still prove to be quite difficult.

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As a result, the overall handling nod would be given to the Samsung Galaxy S5, but we are dealing with a very attractive device with theOnePlus One, which will further be enhanced when the swappable back covers are made available sometime after launch.

Display

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Both phones feature 1080p displays, at 5.5-inches for the OnePlus One and 5.1-inches for the Galaxy S5, with the difference in size resulting in a pixel density of 401 ppi and 432 ppi respectively.

As for the technologies underlying the screens of the two contenders, we have a beautiful LTPS (Low Temperature Polysilicone) LCD display on the OnePlus One, which also comes with TOL (Touch On Lens) tech that eliminates the distance between the touch sensors and the display panel, and is said to be significantly more shatterproof than other OGS (One Glass Solution) screens. You also get great viewing angles with its 178 degree vision.

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The Galaxy S5, on the other hand, features a Super AMOLED display that provides vivid colors that pop, great contrasts and high brightness.

At a first glance, we’re looking pretty much at the best that either of these screen architectures can offer. Super AMOLED continues to create highly saturated, colorful experiences while the JDI IPS screen on the OnPlus One is certainly a great performer in its own right.

Performance and Hardware

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Both devices come with the best processing package available, with the quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 330 GPU. The OnePlus, however, does offer an extra gig of RAM versus the 2GB found in the GS5. In either case, performance is smooth and fast, and both devices should easily handle anything you can throw at them.

The Galaxy S5 does feature expandable storage, an option that isn’t available with the OnePlus One, but OnePlus attempts to make up for it by offering a version with 64 GB of built-in storage.

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Samsung always packs its flagship releases with everything it can, and so, apart from the standard fare, the Galaxy S5 comes with a heart rate monitor at the back, and a fingerprint scanner that is integrated into the physical home button at the front. It has to be mentioned that the Galaxy S5 also comes with an IP67 rating for protection against dust and water, which means that apart from being almost entirely protected from dust, the phone can also be immersed in up to 1 meter of water for as long as 30 minutes, without affecting functionality.

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 features a smaller 2,800 mAh battery, compared to the 3,100 mAh unit of the OnePlus One, so while the battery of the latter is large enough to comfortably provide a full day of use, the power saving features and modes baked into the Galaxy S5, including an ultra power saving mode that strips the software experience to the a grey scale bare bones, helps you get a lot done with it as well. Even with the expectation of better battery life with the OnePlus One, the Galaxy S5 gets a slight advantage in the area, by virtue of the battery being removable, giving you the option to carry around a spare.

Samsung’s penchant for putting everything in their devices does give the handset a slight edge over the more simplistic feature set of the OnePlus One, but if the two main aspects of removable battery and expandable storage aren’t as important to you, the core experience is pretty comparable between these two phones.

Camera

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The 13MP Sony Exmor RS sensor of the OnePlus is combined with a 6 parts lens with a f/2.0 aperture, dual LED flash, and a great software package that should provide a wonderful smartphone camera experience. On the front, you get a 5MP camera with a wide lens that enables an 80 degrees field of view, which should be great if taking selfies is your thing.

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 of course, comes with a really good 16 MP ISOCELL camera, that we’ve covered extensively in the full review and in a camera shootout feature focus. You get good images with great detail, and while some software features like Selective Focus can be hit and miss at times, when it does work, it definitely adds a touch of class to your smartphone photography.

The OnePlus One camera will be put through its paces once we get our hands on a review unit, so stay tuned for a comparison between the two smartphone camera experiences.

Software

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The OnePlus One runs CyanogenMod 11S, a special release built specifically for the One to take advantage of all its hardware and features, and is based on Android 4.4 Kitkat. You get a clean, minimalistic stock-like experience, but with various customization options available easily from the device’s theme engine and store.

Useful software features such as Voice command lets you wake the device without touching it, or you can launch your favorite apps by drawing pre-set gestures on a sleeping screen. As mentioned before, you can even choose between on screen and capacitive navigation buttons to suit your preference, further supporting the notion that CM can really be catered to your liking.

Samsung Galaxy S5 TouchWiz 1

With the Samsung Galaxy S5, you get the familiar TouchWiz UI, with some elements that have been updated, and, of course, a number of new features as well. Big changes include the new circle motif that is found in the notification toggles and the settings menu, and the addition of MyMagazine, a second screen that works as a news and social media aggregator.

While Touchwiz ultimately packs so much in order to ‘enhance’ your Android experience, CyanogenMod takes a slightly different approach in that allows you the freedom of customizing the already well received shell that is the stock Android experience.

Specs Comparison

 
OnePlus One
Samsung Galaxy S5
Display5.5-inch LTPS IPS with TOL display, 1080p (1920 x 1080), 401 ppi. 5.1-inch Super AMOLED, 1080p (1920 x 1080), 432 ppi
Processor2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801
Adreno 330
2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801
Adreno 330
RAM3 GB2 GB
Storage16/64 GB, no expansion16/32 GB, expandable
Camera13 MP rear LED flash, Sony Exmor RS sensor, 6p lens, f 2.0, 4K, HDR
5MP front, f 2.0, 80 degrees field of view
16 MP ISOCELL sensor, LED flash
2.1 MP front
Battery3,100 mAh2,800 mAh
ConnectivityGPS, GLONASS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, NFCGPS, GLONASS, microUSB 3.0, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
NetworksGSM/WCDMA/FDD-LTE/TD-LTE3G, LTE Cat. 3 2X2 MIMO
SoftwareCyanogenMod 11S based on Android 4.4 KitkatAndroid 4.4 Kitkat
Dimensions152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm
162 grams
142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm,
145 grams

Gallery

Conclusions at a glance

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While the head on comparison between the two results in both having advantages and disadvantages over the other, price is one area where things get pretty nuts. While the Samsung Galaxy S5 is available for $199 with two year contracts from most major carriers, an unlocked version well set you back upwards of $650.

On the other hand, the OnePlus One brings you a great Android experience, starting at the incredible price of $299. Considering everything that the OnePlus One offers, that is a fantastic price, and while whether or not it is truly a flagship killer remains to be seen, its very low price point is probably the company’s biggest trump card in its battle against the king of the Android world.

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Related: Buyers guide – best Galaxy S5 cases & covers

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