Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5: 5 Things to Know

With the arrival of the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 just a few short weeks ago, there are now more than a few big name smartphone options on the table for consumers. One match up that consumers are likely looking closely is the one between Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s new Galaxy S4. And while there are certainly quite a few things to compare, there are some things that consumers absolutely need to know about the battle between these two devices.

In September of last year, after months and months of rumor and speculation, Apple finally debuted the iPhone 5, its latest and greatest smartphone that came with a number of upgrades including a new design, larger 4-inch Retina Display, improved 8MP camera and processor and finally, after long last, 4G LTE data speeds.

Read: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs. Galaxy S4: 5 Things to Know Pre-Launch.

The device replaced the iPhone 4S as Apple’s flagship smartphone, a device that continues to sell well even though it’s steadily approaching its second birthday. And while the iPhone 5 is one of the better smartphone options out there for consumers, companies like Samsung have put the pressure on with their recent smartphone releases.

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Last year, the Samsung Galaxy S3, which launched to compete with the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, sold millions of devices around the world, putting it on the same pedestal as the iPhone. So it was no surprise that Samsung’s current Galaxy S device arrived under the same type of microscope as Apple’s iconic iPhone.

In March, after months and months of rumor and speculation, Samsung debuted its Samsung Galaxy S4 to compete against not only the iPhone 5, but any other smartphone that Apple may have up its sleeve for 2013. The device, as expected, features some big time features including a massive 5-inch display, quad-core processor, 13MP camera, and a host of Samsung software features over its Android operating system.

With its arrival, the Galaxy S4 is now competing against 2012’s iPhone for the hearts and minds of consumers not only in the United States but around the world. And unsurprisingly, consumers have had quite a few questions about the match up between the two well-known devices.

Here, we take a look at what we think are the five most important things to know about the match up between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Apple iPhone 5.

New Versions Are on The Way

The iPhone 5 will be replaced this year. The Galaxy S4 will just expand.

The iPhone 5 will be replaced this year. The Galaxy S4 will just expand.

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One of the most important things that consumers should know about the battle between the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 is that new models are on the way. In the case of the iPhone 5, it’s likely going to be replaced in the coming months by another model. In the case of the Samsung Galaxy S4, it should be receiving two complementary models. Despite the additions, both will remain relevant smartphones.

Starting with the iPhone 5, rumors suggest that it will be replaced by the iPhone 5S at some point this year, a device that is said to have a similar design but improved specs including camera, processor, a quite possibly a fingerprint reader. Apple needs to offer something unique on this phone and we have no doubt that it will do that with either its software, hardware or both.

Rumors suggest it will be out by the end of September, not surprising since the iPhone 5 came out in late September. That means that the iPhone 5, as a flagship, only has a few months left. And that means that those who need the top of the line model will simply need to wait. However, again, this should be n incremental update from Apple. by design, which means consumers should feel comfortable getting the iPhone 5 as it will remain solid and won’t be blown out of the water by the iPhone 5S.

The arrival of the iPhone 5S will also ensure a price drop on the iPhone 5, likely down to $99 on-contract.

As for the Samsung Galaxy S4, it will likely be joined by a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and a Samsung Galaxy S4 Activ as soon as June or July. Neither device will outright replace the Galaxy S4 but they will offer some things that consumers cannot currently get out of the Galaxy S4.

The first, the Galaxy S4 Mini, will offer lesser specifications on a smaller device with the Galaxy S4’s design. Those looking for a smaller, cheaper version of the Galaxy S4 will likely be enticed by this device, especially since it’s supposed to have many of the same software features as the larger version. It will however, have lesser specifications so keep that in mind.

AT&T is rumored to be getting a version of the Galaxy S4 Mini which means it should be running on 4G LTE.

As for the Galaxy S4 Activ, it’s said to be a water and dust resistant Galaxy S4 with similar specs to the larger version. It’s unclear just how Galaxy S4 will tack these additions on but it could be through some type of coating, similar to what Sony did with the Xperia Z. This device will likely appeal to those that take their device into the wild, to the beach, or to the pool with great frequency.

AT&T is also rumored to be taking the Galaxy S4 Activ on board.

Design Trade-Offs

Maybe the first thing that consumers will notice about the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 is that they feature extremely different designs. While Apple opted for an industrial look, complete with aluminum, glass and metal, Samsung decided to attach one of its plastic designs to the Samsung Galaxy S4. Beyond the build materials, there are some differences to know about when it comes to their design, particularly when it comes to how users can interact with their phone.

The iPhone 5 employs one of the most striking smartphone designs on the market. It’s slim, lightweight, and extremely nice to hold, all of which are big features. However, the trade off is that there isn’t much that users can do with the design. The back plate of the phone is non-removable and there simply isn’t anywhere to expand memory.

The iPhone 5S release is rumored for the summer with a design and shape similar to the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5 design is both good and bad.

This means that users are stuck with the internal storage that they buy, which is typically around 3GB less than advertised, which means the 16GB is actually a 13GB phone. iPhone buyers that can’t or don’t want to shell out the cash for the larger models will become dependent on iCloud or other cloud storage options.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 on the other hand features a removable back which means that the battery can easily be replaced or extended with an extended battery. That means more battery life is easier to come by. It also means that users will be able to use a back plate in order to charge the Galaxy S4 withoiut wires. Samsung’s wireless charging kit will be out later this year. The iPhone 5 does not have access to this.

The Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3 are made of plastic. This is both good and bad.

The Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3 are made of plastic. This is both good and bad.

It also features a microSD card slot which means that owners can expand their storage space beyond the 16GB or 32GB on board storage.

There is a trade-off though. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is made of plastic and quite simply, it’s not as stunning or as nice to hold as the iPhone 5. Samsung improved the design of the Galaxy S4 from the Galaxy S3, but it still doesn’t feel like a $200 device.

One is Cheaper Than the Other

If the iPhone 5S is a minimal upgrade, can it compete with the Samsung Galaxy S4?

The Galaxy S4 is cheaper than the iPhone 5.

Simply put, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is cheaper than Apple’s iPhone. The iPhone 5 arrived with a $199.99 price tag on the 16GB model and while we’ve seen a few deals, the price remains at or near there at every place that the phone is available. We should also point out that the 32GB model is a hefty $299.99.

We don’t expect those prices to fall until we get closer to the release of the iPhone 5S later this year. Through Apple, we don’t expect the iPhone 5 price to fall until after the iPhone 5S goes on sale.

Those looking for something cheaper needn’t look further than the Samsung Galaxy S4 which has already seen its price slashed at a number of places only weeks after its arrival. Across the board, there are discounts on the devices through its various carriers.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 16GB through carriers is $199.99 or $250. At places like Amazon and Walmart, it can be found for much less. Even better, those prices will continue to drop, unlike the iPhone 5’s.

AT&T is currently the only carrier offering a 32GB Galaxy S4 which it does for $250. We expect some discounts on that variant to arrive in the next few weeks.

Longevity

One of the most things, if not the most important thing, for consumers to know about before buying a phone is whether or not the device is going to hold up through the duration of a two year contract. For both of these phones, the answer is a resounding yes, even with the iPhone 5S on the way sometime later this year.

Apple does a fantastic job updating its iPhones with the latest software. For instance, the iPhone 3GS, which is over three years old, is currently sitting on iOS 6.1.3, the most recent iOS update available to phones not called the iPhone. This means that a phone like the iPhone 5 will be supported for years to come, not only with new features, but with bug fix updates as well.

When iOS 7 comes out later this year, the iPhone 5 will definitely be on board. Same goes for iOS 8. Buyers do not need to worry about getting left behind with the iPhone.

Android is a little more tricky but Samsung has emerged with some Apple-like qualities when it comes to software updates. What we mean is that the company has realized that the way to keep customers happy and on board with Galaxy device is by keeping older phones fresh.

For instance, the company swiftly updated its aging Samsung Galaxy S2 with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. That update arrived only a little bit after the AT&T HTC One X, a flagship from 2012, got updated to Android 4.1.

Samsung also updates its older phones with software of its own, meaning software from newer devices comes to older devices. In the case of the Galaxy S4, it will likely get many of the features of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

Carrier Options Are Equal

iPhone-5S-vs-Galaxy-S4

The Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 both have plentiful carrier options.

Those looking for a plethora of carrier options should know that the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 are the best when it comes to the amount of carrier options on the table.

While many devices are limited to a few carriers – the HTC One is a prime example – the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 are available on a massive amount of carriers, both big and small.

In the case of the iPhone 5, it’s available on the largest four carriers in the U.S. including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon but it also is around on smaller carriers which means that users have quite a few options. Some of those smaller options are regional and not talked about, but they are certainly there.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is available on those four as well as U.S. Cellular. U.S. Cellular says that it will get the iPhone this year though it hasn’t said if it will offer the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 5S. The Galaxy S4 will also become available on smaller carriers like Cricket and C Spire which both also host the iPhone 5.