Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Moto X: What We Know So Far

We think the Moto X is one of the best smartphones on the market, even now, months after its release. And while it’s old, it will still be available once the big names of 2014 start to arrive. The first of those big names will likely be the Samsung Galaxy S5 and here, we take a look at how the Galaxy S5 currently stacks up with one of the best Motorola phones ever made.

The past few years have been interesting years for Motorola. First, the company was sold off to Google for billions of dollars. Google replaced the previous Motorola leadership with leaders of its own as the company looked to rebuild from the ashes left behind by Sanjay Jha and his team.

While under Jha’s leadership, Motorola released some good phones, the original Droid RAZRs being two extremely solid devices, but there were also some uninspired releases that simply did not resonate with consumers. And those releases saw the company fall behind the likes of HTC and Samsung in the Android arms race.

With fresh leadership in place, Motorola released the final devices from its old pipeline and set its sights on new devices, devices that it hoped would reinvigorate the Motorola brand.

The first of these devices was the Moto X, a flagship smartphone that was released in August of last year and a device that brought Motorola back into the conversation.

Motorola’s Moto X remains one of the best smartphone options on the market. In fact, we consider it to be one of the top five smartphone options for the month of February. The device is still very much a solid option and with no successor in sight, it’s clear that it will be the Moto X that takes on the first big name smartphones of the year.

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All eyes are currently on the Samsung Galaxy S5, a device that has been rumored non-stop in the build up to its launch. As we get closer to the Galaxy S5′s launch, we feel that it’s appropriate to start taking a look at how the rumored Samsung Galaxy S5 stacks up against some of the current competition.

The reason we’re doing so is because there are those that are probably still looking at older devices like the Moto X due to its perks and price tag. There are also current Moto X owners that might be thinking about replacing their current device with the Galaxy S5 and we want to keep them as informed as possible.

That said, here is how the Galaxy S5 currently stacks up with the Moto X.

Release Date

Those thinking looking to weigh the Moto X against the Galaxy S5 and Moto X users thinking about ditching it for a new device, don’t have too much longer to wait because the Galaxy S5 launch date is almost certainly going to touching down on February 24th.

Samsung recently sent out invites for an Unpacked 5 Episode 1 launch event that is set to take place on February 24th in Barcelona, Spain at the Mobile World Congress 2014. The company also sent out an additional teaser that hints at what the event might entail. And while it doesn’t make a Galaxy S5 announcement clear, all signs are pointing to a launch that day:

  • The New York Times claims that the Galaxy S5 will launch alongside the Galaxy Gear 2 on February 24th.
  • Samsung always uses Unpacked Episodes for big name Galaxy devices, not small mid-range devices.
  • The number “5″ is everywhere and the reliable @evleaks recently confirmed the Galaxy S5′s name.
  • Samsung is hosting a media event in New York City that Gotta Be Mobile will be attending and we doubt the company would throw that many resources behind a launch for something other than a flagship.
  • Galaxy S5 rumors pointed to a late February launch.

It’s at that event that we should learn about the Galaxy S5 release date. Rumors currently point to a late April release, something that Gotta Be Mobile has also heard is a possibility. Samsung historically has released its flagship devices about a month after their announcement so right now, March and April look good for a Galaxy S5 release.

Design

While Motorola did not employ the same Kevlar material that it used on its previous Droid smartphones, it did not go with completely cheap materials either. Instead, the most basic Moto X design is based on a composite material that offers a soft touch premium feel that we think is better than the materials used on the Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3 and even the Droid Ultra. In fact, we’d dare to put the design on par with the HTC One and iPhone 5s. It’s that good.

Moto X

It’s not the thinnest or lightest smartphone on the market but it makes up for that with its quality and its customization. Yes, the Moto X design is customizable through Motorola’s Moto Maker that allows buyers to choose the color of their back plate, the front, the accents of the phone, and even add a signature. Motorola now offers sleek wood backs, an example of which can be seen in our hands-on video below.

At the moment, it’s not clear if Samsung’s Galaxy S5 design will be able to rival the Moto X’s. That’s because we still don’t have a clear idea of what will be coming.

Samsung does a marvelous job of keeping consumers, and the media, guessing ahead of launch. Samsung’s flagship designs, in particular, are typically kept under lock and key. If they leak, they typically don’t leak until a day before the actual launch event. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t heard rumors though.

In early January, a Samsung executive told Bloomberg:

When we moved to S4 from S3, it’s partly true that consumers couldn’t really feel much difference between the two products from the physical perspective, so the market reaction wasn’t as big.

For the S5, we will go back to the basics. Mostly, it’s about the display and the feel of the cover.

So it would appear that the cover, the back cover, will be changed with the Galaxy S5. Exactly what those change entail is unclear.

Galaxy S5 rumors suggest that Samsung will be releasing two Galaxy S5 models, something that was backed up by a recent benchmark leak. SamMobile believes that the premium model will come in metal while the budget model will come in plastic. South Korean brokerage firm KDB Daewoo Securities also thinks that the Galaxy S5 will come in metal.

Respected KGI Securities Ming-Chi Kuo thinks that while there will be two models, they will both come in plastic. This was recently echoed by a report from Android Geeks. The site claims that at least one Galaxy S5 variant will be made of plastic. Their source claims that the material will be reminiscent of the “rubberized back lid BlackBerry used for the Z10 last year.”

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A recent report from The Korea Herald suggests that the device will not come with a physical home button like previous Galaxy smartphones and will instead rely on on-screen buttons and sensors embedded beneath the display. Rumors point to a fingerprint reader residing underneath the display. The Moto X does not come equipped with this type of security feature. Leaked schematics from earlier this week suggest a thicker smartphone with a physical home button, putting the design further into flux.

While it does appear as though there will be two Galaxy S5 models, but it’s just not clear how the dimensions and build materials will compare with the Moto X’s design.

Display

The Moto X’s display is a large 4.7-inches but Motorola did not opt for the technology that companies like HTC and Samsung used last year. Instead of a 1080p display, Motorola’s flagship utilizes a 720p display. While that may sound like a letdown on paper, in real life, it’s not so bad.

We found the non-Pentile display to be vibrant and bright and content to look as good as it does on a device like the iPhone 5s. So while it might not support 1080p, it’s still going to deliver a fantastic experience to users.

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At the very least, the Galaxy S5 will have a full HD 1080p capable display. The Galaxy S4 had one and there is no chance Samsung backtracks. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t big questions that remain. In fact, the Galaxy S5′s display is one of the device’s enduring mysteries.

SamMobile and Kuo believe Samsung will put a 5.2-inch QHD (2560 x 1440 resolution) display on board the premium version of the Galaxy S5. The report from The New York Times suggests that the feature will skip the device altogether. Benchmarks and User Agent Profiles discovered for alleged American variants of the Galaxy S5 point to full HD and not QHD. We’ve also seen purported Samsung Galaxy S5 benchmarks emerge with a QHD display.

A high-resolution 2560 x 1440 resolution display could be a flagship feature.

A high-resolution 2560 x 1440 resolution display could be a flagship feature.

Android Geeks claims that the plastic version of the Galaxy S5 will sport a 1080p display, something that mirrors Kuo’s predictions. The Korea Herald believes that the device will offer a bezel-free display, meaning, true edge-to-edge.

So while nothing is set in stone, the Galaxy S5 should have a display that is, at the very least, on par with the Moto X’s. If Samsung does go with a QHD display, it could be that the display offers crisper looking content than the Moto X display can offer.

Battery, Camera, Processor, Storage

The Moto X won’t wow consumers with big named specifications but the specifications that it does have get the job done. Its 2,200 mAh battery may not be the biggest battery found inside of a flagship smartphone but in our use, we found that the Moto X’s battery delivered all day battery life, even with heavy use. For those that need it, Motorola includes a Battery Saver option that limits mobile data and updates while the battery is low.

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Motorola promoted the Moto X ‘s 10MP camera and for good reason. It shoots fantastic photos and high quality video. A video sample can be seen below.

The device does not feature a high-powered processor but instead, uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro dual-core processor with 2GB of RAM. While that might sound disappointing, we found that it maintained a high level of performance, even when playing games. And finally, the device comes with 16GB or 32GB of storage though it does not support expandable storage.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 may feature more storage, a better processor and more RAM.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 may feature more storage, a better processor and more RAM.

So how will the Galaxy S5 stack up spec wise? It’s hard to say. While rumors suggest that the Galaxy S5 will be a powerful smartphone, they haven’t decided on how powerful it will be.

Kuo believes that it will have an 2,850 mAh battery, PhoneArena believes the device will have a fast-charging 2,900 lithium ion battery that is capable of holding 20% more charge than other batteries its size. KDB’s research note points to a much larger 3,200 mAh battery.

The processing power that the Galaxy S5 delivers could be an area where there is quite a bit of separation between it and the Moto X. Rumors are still undecided on the exact processor or processors inside the Galaxy S5 though they suggest two of four possible chips. A Exynos 5 Octa processor, a Snapdragon 800 or a new Exynos 6 or a Snapdragon 805 from Qualcomm. All of those offer better performance than the chip found in the Moto X. The device is also rumored to have 2GB or 3GB of RAM to help shore up performance in areas like gaming and multitasking.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will bring a 16MP camera to the party according to multiple sources.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will bring a 16MP camera to the party according to multiple sources.

Rumors have almost unanimously pointed to 16MP camera sensors inside both versions of the Galaxy S5. However, recent leaks pointed to a possible 13MP sensor inside the Sprint Galaxy S5. Rumors across the board have suggested a 16MP camera sensor, an upgrade from the 13MP sensor inside the Galaxy S5, so that’s what consumers should believe at this point.

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 camera was on par with the Moto X’s so it should be interesting to see if Samsung is able to put a gap between the Galaxy S5′s camera experience and the Moto X’s.

The Galaxy S5 is thought to have 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options and there is also a rumor that suggests a 128GB model.

Software

One of the most enticing things about the Moto X is its software. We find the Moto X’s software to be the best that Android has to offer, thanks in part, to the device’s Active Display.

In our review, we noted that Active Display is the best notification system anywhere. It still is. And that’s just only part of what the Moto X has to offer. The software is smart, intuitive, and offers a selection of features that users will use frequently. Those looking for more on the software will want to check out our Moto X review and our deep dive into the Moto X’s hidden software features.

While the Samsung Galaxy S5 will likely use the same Android 4.4.2 KitKat update found on the Moto X, the look, feel and functionality will all be drastically different.

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 software should offer a new look to TouchWiz, Samsung’s UI. Leaks show a flatter overall design that could borrow from the card layout popularized in Google Now.

In addition to a new look across the phone, it appears that Samsung will update at least some of its core apps to deliver a flatter, modern look. SamMobile shared several screenshots that show a new version of S Voice and other apps that could debut on the Galaxy S5.

There should also be a focus on the eye-tracking and gesture controls that debuted in the Galaxy Note and recently shifted to the Galaxy S series with the Galaxy S4. Rumors specifically point to Samsung improving Air Gesture and Air View functionality.

Carriers

While many of Motorola’s devices of the past were stuck on select carriers, the Droid lineup being a prime example, the Moto X debuted across the board on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. The white and black models are also available on U.S. Cellular, the United States’ fifth largest carrier, and Republic Wireless.

Rumors and leaks point to the Samsung Galaxy S5 matching the Moto X’s carrier coverage with launches on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon at the very least. The device will also likely head to a number of regional and pre-paid carriers in the United States, mirroring the launches of the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s.

Price

One of the beautiful things about the Moto X is that it’s extremely cheap. We’ve found it for as low as $30 on-contract though that comes without the Moto Maker customization. Those who want to customize their design will need to shell out a little more than that though not much more. The price still hovers around the $99 on-contract mark, something that helps to make it an extremely attractive option.

Off-contract the device is pretty expensive with Amazon charging, at least at the moment, $480. That’s nowhere close to the Nexus 5′s price point but it is cheaper than the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s off-contract.

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We still aren’t sure how much the Samsung Galaxy S5 will cost though with rumors of a premium and plastic model, we could see two different price points. For the moment, Samsung seems like it might be following in Apple’s footsteps with a launch similar to the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. If that’s the case, we could see $99 and $199.99 price points.

At best, we would expect the Galaxy S5 to command a price tag that is similar to the current Moto X price. At the worst, we could see it being $100 more on-contract. That’s just speculation of course.

Comments

  1. Steve says

    I replaced my galaxy s3 a week ago with a black walnut Moto X and I am extremely happy with the X. The ergonomics are perfect, battery life is much better, and I like all of the software features. I’ll see what the S5 is like but it will have to offer some sort practical features for me to get phone envy.

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