Samsung smartphones vs. iPhone

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. iPhone 5S: Which smartphone should you buy?

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Samsung is the only Android OEM that can stand on its own against the Apple juggernaut, and the Korean company has finally taken the wraps off its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5 . This device comes with improved hardware and an array of interesting sensors, but Samsung has also cleaned up its software and focused its attention on fewer features. Let’s break it down and see how the Galaxy S5 compares to Apple’s iPhone 5S .

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. iPhone 5S: Design

The Galaxy series of devices are always getting bigger, but the increase in size is less substantial this time. The Galaxy S5 has a 5.1-inch screen with slim bezels that keep it from being too ungainly — 72.5mm across. The back is made of plastic with a dimple pattern that reminds many of a Band-Aid. It might not be the most elegant look, but it provides some much needed grip.

Apple’s devices have always been more slim than Samsung’s, and the difference is only becoming more stark as Android handsets continue to scale up. The iPhone 5S has a 4-inch screen and is only 58.6mm across. It’s much easier to use one-handed, but the tradeoff is screen real estate. The iPhone has an aluminum composite frame that feels very solid and keeps the phone from being too hefty.

GS5 Back

Another aspect to consider is Samsung’s new water and dust resistant design. Last year there was a separate product for this feature (the GS4 Active), but now the Galaxy S5 can be dunked and splashed with no consequences. The removable back panel has a rubber gasket that seals the sensitive components, and there’s a cover on the USB 3.0 port to keep water out. The Galaxy S5 is rated IP67, which should keep it dry for up to 30 minutes in a few feet of water, but Samsung encouraged potential buyers at its announcement not to push it that far. Still, compare that to the iPhone 5S with its warranty-voiding water sensors that can be triggered by the most miniscule amount of moisture.

Both devices include a fingerprint reader under the home button, but Apple has a more futuristic sort of implementation than Samsung. Samsung included a familiar swipe reader in its home button, so users have to drag straight down across the button to be recognized. The iPhone’s Touch ID system can learn and recognize your fingerprint when you lay a finger flat on the button, which is much more convenient when you’re pressing it. Watch the video below to see how clumsy the Samsung implementation can be.

Touch ID

Samsung ups the ante by including a heart rate sensor on the back of the phone. It plugs into the S Health app and it might actually get a lot of use — your finger is only a few centimeters from the reader, after all.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. iPhone 5S: Cameras

The iPhone 5S packs an 8MP rear-facing camera that routinely produces some of the best images available on a smartphone. It’s not just the stellar back-side illuminated sensor that makes that happen, it’s the two-stage flash that keeps objects from looking blown out or too dark when ambient light is low.

Samsung bumped the Galaxy S5 up to a 16MP sensor from 13 in its last flagship. One of the issues with a 16MP image sensor is that it can take a long time to acquire the image. Samsung has partially rectified that by using an advanced technique called phase-detect autofocus. This lets the Galaxy S5 focus on its target in 0.3 seconds, which should close the speed gap considerably.

Samsung has also added the option to capture 4K video with the Galaxy S5. At that point you’re just left worrying about the amount of storage space being eaten up on the GS5’s limited internal storage — it doesn’t help that Samsung leaves you with less than 8GB to work with on the 16GB model.

The 2013 Android flagships like the HTC One and Galaxy S4 were vast improvements over past Android devices, but Apple was still the clear winner in overall image quality. This year, Samsung might have the right combination of features to win this matchup. Early impressions suggest that Samsung’s camera is very good indeed, but we need more time with it before declaring an absolute winner.


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