iPhone 5s v Galaxy S5 smartphone comparison review

If you are thinking about upgrading your iPhone, but want to know what the opposition offers, one handset you should certainly consider is the Galaxy S5 from Samsung. This hugely anticipated Android phone has just been announced, although it won't be available until 11 April. It will be Samsung's flagship smartphone for the upcoming year.

Ever since the Galaxy S3 was the first non-iPhone to gain large-scale public interest, Samsung has been the obvious opposition to Apple at the top of the smartphone tree. The new Galaxy S5 will likely cause a lot of noise and Samsung makes many of the parts found in other high-end phones including Apple's iPhones, and so it is worthy of your consideration.

Samsung has now announced the Galaxy S5 so we have some facts on the new Galaxy S5 phone. We will also update this story as soon as we get our hands on the new smartphone from Samsung (we have a team of reporters at the briefing right now!). In the mean time we've based our comparison on what Samsung revealed in its keynote announcing the new phone at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. We have of course tested the iPhone 5s over a lengthy period. (For the full low-down on that handset read: iPhone 5s review: The only smartphone worth getting excited about.)

[Read about how Apple's iPhone compares to the other phones launched at Mobile World Congress]

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Price and availability

The iPhone 5S is readily available right now with prices starting at £549 if you buy one off-contract from Apple. The Galaxy S5 will be available from 11 April, according to Samsung, pricing to be confirmed. 

We expect the Galaxy S5 to range from around £550 to £650. (See iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C comparison review for more on the differences between Apple's two phones.)

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Build quality and dimensions

As expected Samsung has launched a number of versions of the Galaxy S5, but they are all plastic - there were rumours that there would be a metal version, more akin to the iPhone. Instead, it comes in the following colours: blue, black, white and 'copper gold'. These coloured backs feature a perforated pattern which Samsung states create "a modern glam look" (though we're not so keen on them), they are are removable.

The Galaxy S5 is IP67 dust and water resistant, according to Samsung. It isn’t waterproof, however, and you definately can’t use it as an underwater camera.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 weighs 145g and is 8.1mm thick - this means it is slightly heavier and thicker than the Galaxy S4 (which weighed 130g and was 7.9mm thick). The S5 was always going to be bigger and heavier than the iPhone - it has a larger screen, after all. And Samsung's Galaxy phones tend to be bigger anyway - big slabs that are striking to look at and offer great screen real estate, but can be physically harder to use and store. Which you prefer will be a question of personal taste.

The iPhone 5s is a similar size, shape, design and weight as the iPhone 5 – although it's now available in silver, gold and space grey. It is the slim high-end smartphone: the one you can operate with one hand. The iPhone 5s weighs a far lighter 112g and is 7.6mm thick.

There's a point to be made about the build quality and construction of both devices. We prefer the aluminium build quality quality of the iPhone over the Galaxy S5. Out of the box it is much nicer to look at. But don't expect to use your iPhone without a protective case, at least not if you want it to retain that beautiful look and feel. We expect that the Galaxy S5 will be much more robust than the iPhone 5s, particularly thanks to the water and dust resistance. (You may also want to read: iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S comparison review: What's new in the iPhone 5S.)

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Fingerprint scanner and other sensors

Like the iPhone 5s the Samsung Galaxy S5 now offers a Finger Scanner. Samsung says this will provide a secure, biometric screen locking feature and a seamless and safe mobile payment experience.

There’s a new Private Mode which works with the fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy to prevent unauthorised access to files. 

Apple added a fingerprint scanner - known as Touch ID - to the iPhone 5s when it launched in September 2013.

There is also an LED below the rear camera on the Galaxy S5. It isn’t a flash or torch. It’s actually a heart rate sensor that records your pulse on demand when you place your finger over it.

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5: WiFi and 4G

The Galaxy S5 will offer full LTE coverage and Wi-Fi Mimo (802.11ac) in what Samsung claims is a world first combo. The Galaxy S5 also features Download Booster, a Wi-Fi technology that Samsung says will boost data speed by bonding Wi-Fi and LTE simultaneously.

The iPhone 5s offers 802.11n WiFi and full 4G coverage. 

In this case it seems the Galaxy has the upper hand, although obviously 802.11ac is only useful if you have an 802.11ac router, and 4G only relevant to those with 4G coverage...

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Display

iPhone 5s heroThe rumours about the Samsung S5 pointed to a 5.2in screen with a whopping 2560 × 1440 resolution. However, the screen is actually 5.1in. It is a 5.1in Super AMOLED display - full HD screen (1920x1080) - not the rumoured 2k resolution. That means it has a slightly lower pixel density of 430ppi compared to 441ppi on the Samsung Galaxy S4. 

Apple's iPhone 5s still has a 4in display, in a 10:9 aspect ration. You get a resolution of 640 x 1136 pixels, which makes for a pixel density of 326 ppi. It is a more-than decent screen - one that until 18 months ago would have beaten out all comers. However, compared to the larger, Full HD displays of the iPhone 5s's rivals, the screen is starting to feel cramped.

According to the rumours and leaked information, the Galaxy S5 was expected to sport a 5.25in AMOLED display with a resultion of 2560 × 1440. That's a staggering 559ppi. And typically AMOLED displays on Samsung phones are more rich and colourful than those of any rival.

One thing to note: not everyone appreciates the full-blown colour of the Galaxy phones. They can make photos, for instace, look over coloured. And although a bigger display with greater resolution is categorically better than the iPhone 5S, it is unlikely your eyes will tell the difference between 316ppi and 559ppi. And bigger, means a bigger phone to carry and use. On which...

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Battery power

The Samsung S5 gains a clever way to get more out of a battery. The Ultra Power Saving Mode turns the display to black and white, and shuts down all unnecessary features to minimize the battery consumption. Samsung claims that this mode kicks in when your iPhone has 10% battery left, and can give users an extra 24hours in this mode.

Samsung claims the battery offers 390 hours standby, or 21 hours talk time.

Apple claims the iPhone battery offers talk time of up to 10 hours on 3G, and Up to 250 hours standby.

We will test both batteries in controlled conditions as soon as possible.

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Processor and performance

iPhone 5S front and back

What is the processor in the Galaxy S5? We expected either an Exynos 6 or Snapdragon 805 processor, depending on territory and whether your Galaxy S5 is an LTE handset. We do know that it features a 2.5GHz Quad core application processor.

We also expected a whopping 3GB RAM but it appears from Samsung's spec sheet that it is 2GB.

We will run Geekbench tests on the new Samsung Galaxy S5 as soon as we can.

The iPhone 5s, on the other hand, has a 64-bit A7 processor running at 1.2- to 1.3GHz. It's a dual-core Cyclone processor paired with 1GB of DDR3 RAM. We've never found the iPhone to have any major performance issues but Apple says it's twice as fast as the previous model in both CPU and graphics performance.

The A7 definitely makes iOS 7 buttery smooth. There's nary a judder or stutter when swiping between home screens, or exiting an app and watching your icons fly into place. Apps launch and web pages load faster than ever: the iPhone 5S is simply a joy to use.

The A7 also has a motion co-processor – the M7 – which will come into its own when the developers of activity tracking apps update their software to use the new chip. It should mean the 5S can replace the likes of a Fitbit Flex or Withings Pulse.

Our benchmarks show just how much quicker the new A7 chip makes the 5S. In SunSpider 1.0, the 5S completed the test in just 417ms. The iPhone 5 (running iOS 7), meanwhile, took 721ms, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 922ms.

Similar gains were found in Geekbench 3, with the iPhone 5 scoring 721 points, and the 5S managing 1,076. Running GLBenchmark 2.7 (Egypt HD), the iPhone 5S managed 53fps, compared to the iPhone 5's 41fps. However, a bigger difference can be seen using the T-Rex HD test, where the 5S scored 37fps versus the 5's 14fps. That's more than twice the performance.

But here's the important point: the iPhone is just as quick as it needs to be. So has been every high-end Samsung since the Galaxy S2. There is no value in fighting it out over synthetic benchmarks, not least because some handset manufacturers are believed to write software that games benchmarks. The critical point is that the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S will both be stable, and plenty fast enough to handle multiple processes at the same time, without feeling laggy.

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Storage

The iPhone 5S is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities but doesn't have a microSD card slot for expansion.

The Galaxy S5 offers 32GB and 64GB models, with an SD Card slot capable of offering a further 64GB of storage.

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Cameras

We obviously haven't yet tested the Galaxy S5's camera, we have confirmation that the primary camera has a 16Mp sensor, a 0.3 second autofocus - descibed by Samsung as 'the fastest autofocus' and LED flash.

Other new features include advanced 'real-time' High Dynamic Range (HDR) that means you don’t have to keep the camera steady for ages while you wait for it to take several photos and combine them into a single High Dynamic Range shot.

There's also a Selective Focus feature that allows users to focus on a specific area of an object while simultaneously blurring out the background for a depth of field effect.

The phone also offers an enhanced menu and user interface that Samsung ways will allow consumers to effortlessly take, edit and share photos.

Up front we believe it still has a 3.2Mp camera. You'll be able to capture video at 1080p and 60 frames per second.

Expected camera features include simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image-stabilization, and HDR.

The iPhone 5S has two cameras, a front-facing FaceTime camera and a rear-facing camera known as an iSight camera. The specifications work out as follows.

The iPhone 5S iSight camera has what Apple describes as a 'better 8Mp sensor', than either the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 5C. It lists the sensor as 8 megapixels with 1.5µ pixels. It has ƒ/2.2 aperture and a True Tone flash which has two LEDs, one of which is amber. The FaceTime Camera takes 1.2Mp photos at a resolution of 1280x960, and offers 720p HD video recording.

Importantly, the 5S no longer uses an upscaled 4Mp mode in very low light as the iPhone 5 does, and photos taken in dark conditions have much less noise. In good light, you won't see a huge difference between images from the two iPhones, but at night, the 5S does a better job.

iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Software

iPhone 5s display iOS 7Software is an area where there a huge difference. Android vs iOS is a big debate and with iOS 7 comes a major overaul of Apple's mobile operating system.

On the plus side, iOS 7 now comes with a much needed quick settings feature called Control Center. There are also other tweaks and improvements such as better multi-tasking and lock screen access to the notification centre.

Apple has the strong App Store store on its side but iOS has a distinct lack of customisability which is Android's major strong point.

The Galaxy S5 comes with Android 4.4 KitKat. This is Google's most mature and easy-to-use mobile OS, albeit overlaid with Samsung's TouchWiz interface. The surprise is that this time Samsung didn't overload the phone with too many S-branded features, perhaps because of Samsung's agreement with Google that it would not customize Android so much - but also because the S4 was criticised for the duplicaiton of features, with Samsung's own apps and settings mirroring Google's and confusing users.

If you've used a Samsung phone before you'll know what to expect. The bottom line is a good and intuitive experience that may just lack Apple's ultimate polish, but offers you the option to purchase music and other media from multiple sources. Android may be less secure than iOS, too. (You can find more on this in my companion piece: iPhone 5s vs Nexus 5 smartphone comparison review.)

iPhone 5S

OUR VERDICT

If you are an iPhone user who is happy with iOS 7 it is unlikely much about the Galaxy S5 will persuade you to make the jump to Android. The Galaxy S5 will be fast, well built, full featured. It will have a big bright and bold screen, and good cameras, and it will offer good storage and connectivity options. But all of the above is true of the iPhone 5S. The days are over when Apple was far ahead of other smartphone makers, but it remains at the top of the tree when it comes to making high-class phones.

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