iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5 comparison review

Here at Macworld UK we are avowed fans of the iPhone. You can keep your filthy Samsung. But from time to time we like to reassure ourselves that - yes - Samsung makes good smartphones, but the latest iPhone is every bit as good if not better. So in this article we are comparing the new flagship iPhone 6 with the Galaxy S5 from Samsung. The interesting thing is that both smartphones are great. We're going to stick with the iPhone, but the Galaxy is a great phone too.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Android fans are welcome, but try to keep it above the waist. (See also: iPhone 6 review.)

Read next: iPhone 6s Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 7

iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5 comparison: price and availability

The iPhone 6 is available in the UK, at least nominally. At the time of writing there are supply issues, but likely these will pass in a few weeks. The iPhone 6 starts at £539 inc VAT for the 16GB model. You will likely need more space than that, and the 64GB will set you back £619, £699 gets you a 128GB iPhone 6.

The iPhone 6 offers greater onboard storage options of 16GB, 64GB or 128GB. But it allows for no expandable storage.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 was a massive £599 when it launched but that quickly lowered now it's been around for a few months. Unlike the pretty fixed price of the iPhone 6 you can pick up a Galaxy S5 for just over £400 from retailers such as Amazon, if you are prepared to get only 16GB onboard storage. A 32GB model is already available. But it is worth pointing out that with the Galaxy S5 you also get a storage expansion slot that allows you to add up to 128GB.

SRP for SRP the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 6 are well matched. Greater availability means that you can pick up the S5 for less than the iPhone. That is understandable as the iPhone is much newer, and I'd wager that anyone shopping at this end of the market is unlikely to be hard pressed for their last £30. But I may be wrong. See also: iPhone 6 vs LG G3 smartphone comparison.

iPhone 6

iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5 comparison: build and design

At 138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm the iPhone 6 is certainly not a small phone, but it is uncommonly thin.

The iPhone 6 is a very different device from the iPhones of the past four years. The new phones have rounded edges - not just the metal, but the edges of the glass front are curved. This and the overall thinness make it a very comfortable fit in the hand. The iPhone 6's 129 g is very light for a larger-screen smartphone: much as you would expect from Apple. The iPhone 6 lacks any dust- or waterproof credentials. The Galaxy S5 is IP67 dust- and water resistant, according to Samsung. It isn’t waterproof, however, and you definitely can’t use it as an underwater camera.

Samsung has launched a number of versions of the Galaxy S5, but they are all plastic. 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 Samsung Galaxy S5 weighs 145g and is 8.1mm thick - this means it is slightly heavier and thicker than the iPhone 6. The S5 was always going to be bigger and heavier than the iPhone, but now their screens are more evenly matched this is less excusable.

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. So, basically, if you don't mind using a case the iPhone is built better. But cases do add bulk. (Related articles you might like: iPhone 6 review | iPhone 6 release date | iPhone 6 Plus release date | iPhone reviews.)

Samsung Galaxy S5 review

iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5 comparison: display

The Galaxy S5's display is 5.1in and enjoys the now standard Full HD display, with a 432 ppi pixel density. It looks brilliant on a number of levels. It's Super AMOLED as you would expect from Samsung so colours are vivid and pop out at you and contrast is good, too. As you might presume, the Galaxy S5 offers excellent viewing angles.

The Galaxy S5's display performs better than most outdoors and we found we rarely need to up the brightness to gain visibility. Maximum brightness is good and about level with what we're using to seeing but it's worth noting that the display goes exceptionally dark which could be handy for saving battery or situations like reading in the dark. A handy brightness slider resides in the notification bar but it can be switched off if you prefer. It's a great screen.

In the case of the iPhone 6 we have 4.7in display. It is an LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen with 16M colours. You get, as you would expect, shatter proof glass with an oleophobic coating. Into this display is packed 750 x 1334 pixels, making for a pixel density of 326ppi. This is very much an iPhone screen: sharp and colourful, with realistic colour reproduction and good viewing angles.

Honestly, we can't suggest that the iPhone's display is better than is the Samsung's. We don't buy Apple's made-up Retina science, and to this untrained eye the S5's display looks sharper. On a personal note I don't like the almost over-coloured, hyper brightness of OLED. Photos on the S5 look great but unnatural to me. But that aside it is a bigger and better display than is the iPhone 6's. See also: iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 comparison.

iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5 comparison: specs and performance

The iPhone 6 comes with an Apple A8 processor - a dual-core chip running at 1.4 GHz. And it has only 1GB RAM. By contrast the Galaxy S5 is mega-specced with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor which is quad-core and clocked a little higher at 2.5GHz, and just the 2GB of RAM. So if bigger numbers is what you look for in specifications, Samsung is where it is at.

But let's be serious now: in every meaningful sense these phones perform in much the same way. They are both superfast smartphones. We can look at benchmarks if you want but (a) synthetic benchmarks are intended only as a rough guide to performance and (b) Samsung has been accused of cheating in them anyway. But just for fun...

In Geekbench 3 the Samsung Galaxy S5 scored 926 points in the single-core test, and 2869 points in the multi-core test. The iPhone 6 pulled in a single-core average of 1569, with a mult-core score of 2794. So that is a one all draw.

In SunSpider we recorded 824ms for the Galaxy S5 and impossibly good average of 351ms for the iPhone 6. Shorter is better there.

And in GFXBench's T-Rex graphics test the Galaxy S5 managed 28fps, and the iPhone 6 49.1fps. So we could claim that the iPhone 6 is measurably faster than the Galaxy S5. But the truth is it isn't. They are both splendidly fast portable computers. See also: iPhone 6 Plus vs Galaxy Note 4 comparison review.

Samsung Galaxy S5 screen

iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5 comparison: camera

The main, rear-mounted camera is an 8Mp snapper that captures 3264 x 2448 pixel images. It has a 1/3in sensor, and offers face-detection, autofocus, and a dual-LED flash. Video is captured at 1080p and 720p, at 60fps and an amazing 240fps slo-mo.

The Galaxy S5 can record video in 4K quality at 30fps and does 1080p at 60fps with digital image stabilisation and phase detection autofocus. It has a 16 Mp but the pixel size is smaller at 1.12 µm compared to the iPhone's 1.5 µm. Both have a dual-tone LED flash, too, so we'd say the 4K is the standout difference here.

If you're a selfie fan then the Galaxy S5 has a decent 2Mp camera which can shoot video at 1080p. The iPhone 6 has a lower 1.2Mp resolution Facetime HD camera which is limited to 720p video. See also: Just another opinion about Apple's new iPhones.

iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5 comparison: software

Android vs iOS is a conundrum. Android isn't like it used to be: if you are new to the smartphone game there's no obvious winner. These are the two most popular and best mobile operating systems around so it's about picking which one is right for you.

In essence, if you are a long-term iOS user you are probably best off sticking with what you know. You have after all almost certainly spent a lot of cash on apps that you'll have to spend again in Android. But it is worth considering that your iTunes music files will work in Android, and Android offers the opportunity of shopping around for music, movies, books and TV shows.

OUR VERDICT

There can be no doubt about it, the Galaxy S5 is an impressive smartphone, built to last and a top performer. Personally we will stick with our more understated iPhone with its prettier build and more accurate display. But no longer will we hold our nose whenever a Samsung-toting friend comes around.

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