Update: we've published a new in-depth Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 comparison. Check it out here.
When it comes to mobile technology, it just doesn't get any bigger than Apple and Samsung, which are – by far – the two most successful companies in the highly competitive mobile market today. As a direct consequence, each time a new iPhone or Galaxy S model is officially unveiled, one of the first things tech bloggers, much like regular consumers do, is compare the most recent versions in both lines.
Now that Samsung has just announced the Samsung Galaxy S4, we obviously couldn’t let a comparison against the Apple iPhone 5 slide under the radar.
Taking sides in this battle is a very easy thing to do, as these companies are not only direct competitors in a number of markets, but are also based on two different philosophies. Although this is an Android fan blog, this aims to be an objective comparison, as we will try to highlight the strong and weak points of each of these two high-end and very capable smartphones.
If you’re looking for a quick video comparison of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Apple iPhone 5, jump to the video below. On the other hand, if you’re interested in learning all the details, the following sections will divide the main battle into four equally important duels: display, design and build quality, internal hardware, and OS & software tweaks.
|Specifications||Samsung Galaxy S4||Apple iPhone 5|
|Dimensions||136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm, 130g||123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm, 112 g|
|Display||4.99-inch, Super AMOLED1920 x 1080 Full HD, 441ppi||4-inch IPS LCD640 x 1136 pixels, 326 ppi|
|CPU and GPU||International version
|Apple A6dual-core, 1300 MHzPowerVR SGX543MP3|
|Storage||16GB/32GB/64GB internalmicroSD, up to 64GB||16/32/64 GBNon-expandable|
|Cameras||13MP rear, LED flash, autofocus, burst mode, Shot with Sound, Dual record, Smart Erase||8MP rear, LED flash, autofocus, HDR, F2.41.2MP front, 720p, 30fps|
|Battery||2600mAh, removable||1440 mAh, non-removable8h talk time (3G)|
|Networks||GSM, UMTS, HSPA+/LTE||GSM, UMTS, CDMAHSPA+, LTE|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n acWi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA, NFCBluetooth 4.0 A2DPmicroUSB, MHL 2, infraredA-GPS||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/nWi-Fi hotspotBluetooth 4.0 A2DPLightning connectorA-GPS|
|Operating system||Android 4.2 TouchWiz UIAir View, Smart Scroll, Smart Pause,S Translate, Knox, S Drive||iOS 6.1|
The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 4.99 inch Super AMOLED display running at a pixel resolution of 1920 by 1080, thus featuring a Pixel Per Inch (PPI) density of 441. The best way to characterize the display on the Samsung Galaxy S4 is that it is the best AMOLED display that we have ever seen on a mobile device.
Although the inaccurate color reproduction of AMOLED panels is considered to be a major drawback by some, there are a lot of others who put more emphasis on this technology’s better contrast and brightness levels.In the Apple corner, the iPhone 5 uses a 4 inch IPS LCD panel running at a resolution of 1136 by 640 pixels, one that measures a 326 PPI density. The overall quality of the display on the iPhone 5 is about as high-end as it gets, and despite that it features a lower PPI density than the Samsung Galaxy S4, the iPhone 5 display is remarkably vibrant and accurate in representing natural colors.
Verdict: Both are great displays: if you’re looking for vibrant colors on a big display, opt for the Samsung Galaxy S4. On the other hand, if you prefer compact displays that you can easily operate with one hand, the iPhone 5 is one of the best choices out there.
Unfortunately for those who are growing sick and tired of Samsung’s ‘plasticky' builds, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is not very much different than the Samsung Galaxy S3 (or the Galaxy Note 2 for that matter) in terms of design and build quality, though it does feature a few minor upgrades to the exterior bezel, making it appear and feel more premium.
Design wise, we're talking about asymmetrically rounded corners and a metallic frame that fits with the plastic back, but I’ll let the pictures do more talking.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 measures 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm and weighs at a very svelte 130 grams, making it one of the lightest handsets we've played with to date.
The more square-shaped Apple iPhone 5 uses an aluminum unibody that just gives it a premium feel and aesthetic. If there’s one area where Apple usually shines it's in the design and build quality of its products, and the iPhone 5 makes no exception, here.
The Apple iPhone 5 measures 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm (4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 in) and weighs 112 g (3.95 oz). Overall, the iPhone 5 is one of the most compact and best looking smartphones out there.
Verdict: Both are premium devices, and while the internals of the Galaxy S4 are undoubtedly superior, 5 inch phones may be too big for some. The iPhone 5 arguably has better build quality, and proved impervious to the drop tests we subjected it to, not too long ago. It remains to be seen how resilient and strong the Galaxy S4 is, but Samsung does make durable devices. First impressions leave us with a mixed reaction, but the unibody construction of the iPhone 5 is undoubtedly superior.
The Apple iPhone 5 is based on the Apple A6 SoC, one that consists of a 1.2 GHz dual-core CPU and a PowerVR SGX 543MP3 GPU. Add 1GB of RAM and a first glance, the Apple iPhone 5 might not look like much of a power house. However, once you start bringing up benchmark results, it reigns obvious that these components have been carefully tweaked and optimized to play well with Apple’s iOS. Make no mistake about it, the Apple iPhone 5 is a very powerful smartphone.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will arrive in two versions: an LTE version that will use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC (the same internals as with the HTC One, consisting of a 1.7 GHz quad-core Krait CPU, Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM), and an international/3G version that will use Samsung’s new Exynos 5 Octa SoC (consisting out of a quad-core A15 processor and a quad-core A7 processor paired in the big.little configuration, a PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU and 2 GB of RAM).
The Galaxy S4 has substantially more powerful hardware, but iOS plays nice with less juice under the hood. According to the benchmarks we were able to produce, it's nearly two times as powerful as Apple's latest iPhone. And that's not to say that the iPhone 5 isn't a fast, premium device – because it is. It's just that iOS is, how should we say – a much simpler operating system.
As with all Apple products, the iPhone 5 has no microSD card slot for expandable storage, meaning you’ll have to make due with the amount of internal storage that Apple fitted in. The iPhone 5 is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is also available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions and, unlike the iPhone 5, can work with microSD card slots of up to 64GB in size.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 13MP primary camera and a 2MP secondary camera. The Apple iPhone 5 uses an 8 MP primary sensor and a 1.3 MP sensor for video calling. However, we’ll have to wait for more time with the Galaxy S4 before we properly judge the quality of the pictures taken with its higher resolution camera.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 2600 mAh battery, while the Apple iPhone 5 uses a 1440 mAh battery. However, battery life is expected to be similar between these two smartphones, mainly because the Galaxy S4 has much more power thirsty components.
Verdict: Although the Samsung Galaxy S4 might seem to be more powerful, you should bear in mind that iOS requires much less hardware resources as compared to Android, a much more demanding and complex mobile OS.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean out of the box.
In its traditional fashion, Samsung has overlaid a new and updated version of its TouchWiz UI on top of Android. Fortunately, unlike the custom UIs coming from other Android manufacturers, Samsung has indeed managed to noticeably improve the overall Android experience thanks to the Smart Functions…
The Apple iPhone 5 runs on iOS 6.1, the most recent version of Apple’s mobile OS. For a more detailed Android 4.1 vs iOS 6.1 comparison, check out our previous article and video here.
Verdict: If you’re into customization and enjoy having more freedom over your device, go for the Samsung Galaxy S4. If you want access to the most intuitive mobile OS out there, the Apple iPhone 5 is something you should be looking consider.
Choosing between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Apple iPhone 5 is a very tough thing to do, but here’s a way of summing it all up:
Do you want a customizable OS, a large display, a removable battery and a microSD card slot? Then get the Samsung Galaxy S4!
Do you want a compact smartphone that runs on a very fluent (albeit closed) OS? Get the Apple iPhone 5!
What do you guys think? Which one is better and why: the Apple iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S4? Let us know which way you swing in the comment section below!