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Spec Battle: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs the competition

The Galaxy S5 may be Samsung's new flagship model, but how does the smartphone compare to its rival's own flagship handsets?
By
February 24, 2014
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner 1
MWC 2014 Coverage brought to you by: Bitdefender Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android.

Update:  New details have emerged that the Galaxy S5 will launch with the Snapdragon 801 SoC, not the Snapdragon 800 which appeared in devices at MWC. This should not affect the comparisons made below, as the Snapdragon 801 is based on the same Krait 400 CPU cores and Adreno 330 graphics chip at the 800, and we already took into account the increased clock speed. Accordingly, tables and references have been updated.

It has also come to light that a 2.1GHz Exynos octo-core version of the Galaxy S5 is also in the works Although available is likely to be limited, as was the case with the Exynos5 Galaxy S4.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 certainly looks like a great piece of hardware, but despite the fanfare of a new launch, we must not forget that other manufacturers already have some pretty great handsets on the market. Let’s take a look at just how well the Galaxy S5 compares with other flagship smartphones.

Nuts and Bolts

First, let’s deal with the major pieces of kit, the display and the processor that powers everything you’ll be doing on your new smartphone.

DisplayCPURAM
Samsung Galaxy S5
Display
5.1 inch Super AMOLED, FullHD (1920x1080), 432ppi
CPU
2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 or 2.1Ghz Octa-core Exynos (depending on market)
RAM
2GB
HTC One
Display
4.7 inch IPS LCD, FullHD (1920x1080), 469ppi
CPU
1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600
RAM
2GB
iPhone 5S
Display
4.0 inch IPS LCD, Retina (1136x640), 326ppi
CPU
1.3GHz dual-core Apple A7
RAM
1GB
LG G2
Display
5.2 inch IPS LCD, FullHD (1920x1080), 424ppi
CPU
2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800
RAM
2GB
Nexus 5
Display
4.95 inch IPS LCD, FullHD (1920x1080), 445ppi
CPU
2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800
RAM
2GB
Moto X
Display
4.7 inch AMOLED, HD (1280x720), 312ppi
CPU
1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro
RAM
2GB
Samsung Galaxy S4
Display
5.0 inch Super AMOLED, FullHD (1920x1080), 441ppi
CPU
1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600
RAM
2GB
Sony Xperia Z1
Display
5.0 inch TFT, FullHD (1920x1080), 441ppi
CPU
2.2Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 800
RAM
2GB
Sony Xperia Z2
Display
5.2 inch IPS LCD, FullHD (1920x1080), 424ppi
CPU
2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801
RAM
3GB

Display

Whilst many may have been anticipating the arrival of QHD displays and a big bump in resolution, the Samsung Galaxy S5 offers up the same FullHD display resolution that handsets have been using for the past year. The Galaxy S5 is one of the larger handsets on the market, at 5.1 inches, which means that the same 1920×1080 pixels aren’t going to go quite as far as the slightly smaller 5 inch Galaxy S4 or the 4.7 inch HTC One, but you probably won’t be able to notice. The display’s pixels per inch sit right in the middle of the field, so your choice of display will probably boil down to your preferences for AMOLED or LCD.

SoC

Under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy S5 will feature a quad-core 2.5Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, ever so slightly one-upping the previous generation of handsets which made use of the popular Snapdragon 800 clocked around 2.3GHz. The graphics chip is likely to have also received a slight boost in clock speed, but the exact numbers are currently unknown.

Apart from the clock speed increase, the hardware looks surprisingly similar to existing top-tier smartphones, the Snapdragon 801 keeps the name Krait 400 CPU cores and Adreno 330 GPU seen in the various Snapdragon 800 handsets. We’re unsure about the design and performance of Samsung’s 2.1GHz octo-core chip at this stage, although performance is likely to be similar to the Snapdragon 801. Samsung also hasn’t seen the same need as Sony to up the RAM count to above 2GB.

Performance wise, we’re looking at an ever so slight improvement over existing top of the line handsets, like the G2 and Nexus 5, and an even larger performance boost over last generation’s Galaxy S4. There’s no move to 64-bit processing here, Apple’s currently the only company offering up a 64-bit chip, but there’s no need to make the jump yet anyway. Overall, Samsung’s latest hardware effort really just plays catch up to other premium Android smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs all

Consumer features

Storage OptionsCameraBatteryWaterproof?Fingerprint Scanner?
Samsung Galaxy S5
Storage Options
16/32GB + MicroSD
Camera
16 Megapixels rear, 2.1MP front
Battery
2800 mAh
Waterproof?
Yes
Fingerprint Scanner?
Yes
HTC One
Storage Options
32/64GB
Camera
4 Ultrapixels, 2.1 MP front
Battery
2300 mAh
Waterproof?
No
Fingerprint Scanner?
No
iPhone 5S
Storage Options
16/32/64GB
Camera
8 Megapixels rear, 1.2 MP front
Battery
1560 mAh
Waterproof?
No
Fingerprint Scanner?
Yes
LG G2
Storage Options
32/64GB
Camera
13 Megapixels back, 2.1 MP front
Battery
3000 mAh
Waterproof?
No
Fingerprint Scanner?
No
Nexus 5
Storage Options
32/64GB
Camera
8 Megapixels back, 1.3 MP front
Battery
2300 mAh
Waterproof?
No
Fingerprint Scanner?
No
Moto X
Storage Options
32/64GB
Camera
10 Megapixels rear, 2 MP front
Battery
2200 mAh
Waterproof?
No
Fingerprint Scanner?
No
Samsung Galaxy S4
Storage Options
16/32/64GB + MicroSD
Camera
13 Megapixels rear, 3MP front
Battery
2600 mAh
Waterproof?
No
Fingerprint Scanner?
No
Sony Xperia Z1
Storage Options
16GB + MicroSD
Camera
20.7 Megapixels rear, 2MP front
Battery
3000 mAh
Waterproof?
Yes
Fingerprint Scanner?
No
Sony Xperia Z2
Storage Options
16GB + MicroSD
Camera
20.7 Megapixels rear, 2MP front
Battery
3200 mAh
Waterproof?
Yes
Fingerprint Scanner?
No

Although the Galaxy S5 packs some high-end performance hardware, practical features are equally important when considering a phone purchase. Samsung has taken note of Sony’s success and has decided to leap straight in with waterproofing on its main flagship model, rather than releasing another spin off product like the Galaxy S4 Active. The fingerprint scanner also makes its first appearance on Android with the Galaxy S5, bringing Samsung up to date with Apple. But perhaps everyone won’t make use of these options, let’s compare some more critical features.

Samsung Galaxy S5 usb flap fingerprint aa 3
Samsung Galaxy S5 – waterproof and dust resistant. The USB connector is protected by a small flap.

Storage

Storage options are very much in keeping with existing handsets on the market, although the Galaxy S5 will only come in 16GB and 32GB variations. Most other handsets can be found in 64GB versions in some regions. However, Samsung continues to set itself apart from the crowd by offering extra storage courtesy of a MicroSD card slot, which is sure to appease those who require lots of storage space for music and video.

Camera

Samsung has again upped its game in the camera department, squeezing in 3 more Megapixels than the Galaxy S4. Only Sony has managed to fit in more than Samsung’s 16 Megapixels into a smartphone image sensor. Speaking of Sony, 4K video capture is a big new feature for both of the company’s new flagship devices, with the Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5 both managing to capture 4K video at 30fps, although Samsung’s efforts are limited to just 5 minutes of recording.

Galaxy S5 vs all camera

Of course it’s not just Megapixels that count towards image quality. Image sensors, like Sony’s Exmor, are equally as important. Samsung’s new smartphone camera showcases the company’s new ISOCELL technology, which should result in clearer, more colourful images than ever before. If you’d like a breakdown of ISOCELL, how it works, and what improvements it brings to traditional BSI sensors, check out this detailed post.

Battery

Finally, a good battery is essential when we’re dealing with large display devices. The Galaxy S5 is pretty much at the top of this category too, albeit just beaten out by Sony’s new flagship Xperia Z2. Samsung also continues to be one of the few manufacturers to offer a replaceable battery with its smartphones, something that’s definitely worth considering if you’re planning to keep your handset for a long time.

Overall, the Galaxy S5 sits exactly where you’d expect it to, right at the top of almost every hardware category, but perhaps it’s not as far ahead of the pack as many may have expected. Although the device won’t be the first to ship with a QHD display, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a stellar smartphone for those looking to get their hands on the latest and greatest pieces of mobile hardware.