Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner 1

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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.

Samsung Galaxy S55.1 inch Super AMOLED, FullHD (1920x1080), 432ppi2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 or 2.1Ghz Octa-core Exynos (depending on market)2GB
HTC One4.7 inch IPS LCD, FullHD (1920x1080), 469ppi1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 6002GB
iPhone 5S4.0 inch IPS LCD, Retina (1136x640), 326ppi1.3GHz dual-core Apple A71GB
LG G25.2 inch IPS LCD, FullHD (1920x1080), 424ppi2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 8002GB
Nexus 54.95 inch IPS LCD, FullHD (1920x1080), 445ppi2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 8002GB
Moto X4.7 inch AMOLED, HD (1280x720), 312ppi1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro2GB
Samsung Galaxy S45.0 inch Super AMOLED, FullHD (1920x1080), 441ppi1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon 6002GB
Sony Xperia Z15.0 inch TFT, FullHD (1920x1080), 441ppi2.2Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 8002GB
Sony Xperia Z25.2 inch IPS LCD, FullHD (1920x1080), 424ppi2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 8013GB


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.


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 S516/32GB + MicroSD16 Megapixels rear, 2.1MP front2800 mAhYesYes
HTC One32/64GB4 Ultrapixels, 2.1 MP front2300 mAhNoNo
iPhone 5S16/32/64GB8 Megapixels rear, 1.2 MP front1560 mAhNoYes
LG G232/64GB 13 Megapixels back, 2.1 MP front3000 mAhNoNo
Nexus 532/64GB 8 Megapixels back, 1.3 MP front2300 mAhNoNo
Moto X32/64GB 10 Megapixels rear, 2 MP front2200 mAhNoNo
Samsung Galaxy S416/32/64GB + MicroSD13 Megapixels rear, 3MP front2600 mAhNoNo
Sony Xperia Z116GB + MicroSD20.7 Megapixels rear, 2MP front3000 mAhYesNo
Sony Xperia Z216GB + MicroSD20.7 Megapixels rear, 2MP front3200 mAhYesNo

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 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.


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.


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.

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer covering SoCs, displays, cameras, and everything in between. In his spare moments you'll find him building audio gadgets.