Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. iPhone 5: What Buyers Need to Know

The iPhone 5 may no longer be sold through the Apple Store but it’s still in the hands of a number of consumers, many of whom will be coming off contract later this year. While many probably have their eyes on the iPhone 6, wise iPhone 5 owners will compare the device to as many flagships as they can, including the Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung’s brand new Galaxy S.

It has been a little over month since Samsung took the stage at Mobile World Congress 2014 and announced the all new Samsung Galaxy S5, the Galaxy S4′s successor and the Galaxy Note 3′s new partner in crime. The device isn’t the metal, QHD Galaxy S smartphone that many were expecting but it is a great looking device that is chock full of powerful features.

Its hardware, its software and the fact that it will be released on a number of U.S. carriers means that it can’t be ignored by those in the hunt for a new smartphone. Later this year, Galaxy S3 users will be coming off contract and a little further down the road, it will be iPhone 5 owners who find themselves in the hunt for a brand new smartphone.

Already, we’re been hearing the questions from friends, family and readers who own the iPhone 5. While many of the questions are about the rumored iPhone 6, others have been asking about the advantages of the Samsung Galaxy S5.

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The iPhone 5 is an old device and one that we’ve spent a great deal of time with. We’ve also been fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with the new Galaxy S5. While Galaxy S5 release is still a few weeks away, there is a lot we can share about how Apple’s iPhone 5 and Galaxy S5 compare. This will not only benefit current iPhone 5 users but also those that might consider it to be an option due to its price tag.

There are many features that only exist on one of these devices, so buyers will need to make an informed decision about what they want, based on the features they need most in a smartphone. That said, let’s take a look at what upgraders, and prospective buyers, need to know about these two smartphones.

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Release Date, Price & Carriers

In the United States, the Samsung Galaxy S5 release date is confirmed for April 11th. This is a global release date and the device will also be hitting 150 nations around the world, including the U.S. Apple’s iPhone 5 is no longer available at the Apple Store but it is available through retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. Apple’s next iPhone is rumored to be the iPhone 6, a device that could emerge later on in the fall.

Buyers who are at all interested in the Galaxy S5, and many should be, would be wise to wait for the Galaxy S5 to show up on store shelves in order to try out both devices before buying. While most stores still don’t have the Galaxy S5 in stock and won’t until mid-April, there is a way to check out the Galaxy S5 right now.

There are about 100 Best Buy stores in the U.S. that have the Galaxy S5 out on display. Those that can’t wait for April 11th can check this list to see if the local Best Buy has it available. The list is at the bottom of the page. Best Buy should have the iPhone 5 on display as well though you will want to call ahead and confirm that detail.

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While the Samsung Galaxy S5 release date in the U.S. is confirmed for April 11th, that date is only for some carriers. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular are all taking pre-orders ahead of that date and several carriers say that they’ll start shipping orders a few days before April 11th. That means that some will get the Galaxy S5 early.

There are several carriers that have confirmed the Galaxy S5 but have yet to offer official release details. The Verizon Galaxy S5 release date, for instance, remains unknown. Verizon tells us that it’s focused on the new HTC One launch at the moment though we’ve heard that the Verizon Galaxy S5 will arrive in April.

Release dates for MetroPCS, Ting, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile also remain unclear though we’ve seen Best Buy put the MetroPCS Galaxy S5 up for pre-order ahead of its release. MetroPCS has said that it would arrive in April but it has not specified a date. Boost and Virgin both said they plan to release the phone in Q2.

Galaxy S5 Display

As for the Galaxy S5 price, carriers are charging $199.99 for the Galaxy S5 16GB model and $650 and $660 for the Galaxy S5 off-contract. We still haven’t seen carriers confirm a 32GB Galaxy S5 but if one does arrive, it will likely be priced at $250.

Best Buy is currently selling the iPhone 16GB for $50 on-contract which means that it won’t be as painful to your bank account. Best Buy also sells the 32GB iPhone 5 for $99 and the 64GB iPhone 5 for $199.99. That’s extremely cheap. Amazon sells the iPhone 5 off-contract for $575.

Like the Galaxy S5, the iPhone 5 is available for a number of carriers including all of the major ones in the United States. The device is compatible with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon and is also found on a number of regional and pre-paid carriers including C Spire and Cricket, two carriers that aren’t currently offering the Galaxy S5.

Design & Durability

The iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S5 designs don’t share much in common. While the iPhone 5 features an industrial design made out of anodized aluminum, metal and glass, the Galaxy S5 is made out of plastic.

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 design is improved over the glossy plastic design found on the Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S5 utilizes a perforated plastic back that comes in white, black, gold, and blue. Its plastic matte finish feels more premium than the Samsung Galaxy S4′s design and it’s extremely comfortable to hold.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Design

The Galaxy S5′s is designed to be water-resistant and dust-resistant. Its IP67 certification allows users to carry the phone around without worrying that bathtub, shower or puddle will break the phone. The design also includes a seal to prevent water getting in the USB port and a seal on the back to keep water out. The iPhone 5 does not come with this kind of protection and the only way users are going to get it is with a case.

The iPhone 5′s anondized aluminum design is also susceptible to nicks and scratches, something that we detailed many months ago when the iPhone 5 first came out. Some of the general wear and tear is unavoidable.

Apple’s iPhone is thinner and lighter than the Galaxy S5. And while it’s taller and wider than the iPhone 5, it’s not uncomfortable to hold with one hand or slip into a jean pocket. Here is how those dimensions stack up.

  • Galaxy S5 Dimensions – 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm
  • iPhone 5 Dimensions – 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm

Samsung includes a fingerprint reader in the Galaxy S5′s home button and that allows users to secure the phone with a fingerprint and also lock files behind a fingerprint password.

The iPhone 5 design looks great but is susceptible to damage.

The iPhone 5 design looks great but is susceptible to damage.

Apple’s iPhone 5s comes with its own fingerprint reader called Touch ID but the iPhone 5 does not come with the technology embedded inside of its home button. Its home button is strictly used for navigation.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S5 display is much larger than the iPhone 5′s display. Samsung’s flagship comes with 5.1-inch full HD display that offers a ton of real estate for gaming, movies, and web browsing. The iPhone 5′s Retina display is only 4-inches in size and it does not come with support for full HD 1080p content.

The Galaxy S5 display is bright, accurate and power efficient.

The Galaxy S5 display is bright, accurate and power efficient.

DisplayMate says that the Galaxy S5′s display is better than Apple’s Retina Display on the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. Back in 2012, the publication said that the iPhone 5′s display, and thus the iPhone 5s’, was the best in the business. However, thanks to incredibly accurate colors and new brightness levels, it says that the Galaxy S5 display now holds the crown.

In addition to the 1080p support, the Galaxy S5 display comes with three standout features that aren’t found on the iPhone 5:

  • Ultra Power Saver – Turn the screen black and white and limit running apps to make the battery last longer.
  • Super Bright Mode – The screen can enhance contrast and deliver a very bright display to make reading the phone outdoors easier.
  • Super Dim Mode – A mode that turns brightness down dramatically for a display that is easier on your eyes at night.

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S5 camera is one of its highly touted features and the overall experience offers users some things that don’t come with the iPhone 5.

Samsung’s new flagship comes with a 16MP camera sensor while the iPhone 5 comes with an 8MP iSight camera sensor. There are benefits to sensor sizes and megapixel counts but the Galaxy S5′s major advantage comes from other enhancements that Samsung has tacked on.

The Galaxy S5 features an upgraded camera with new modes and a faster focus.

The Galaxy S5 features an upgraded camera with new modes and a faster focus.

Maybe the biggest improvement that Samsung made to the Galaxy S’ camera is its faster auto-focus system. Samsung switched to a hybrid focus system that it says can focus as fast as 0.3 seconds. The iPhone 5 camera is good but it cannot perform that fast and will need some extra time to put the subject of a photo into focus.

Another other feature that stands out is the Galaxy S5′s ability to pick a point of focus after taking the shot. This allows uses to blur a background or foreground right on the phone. It also can show HDR previews live on the phone and record 4K video. The iPhone 5 is stuck with 1080p video recording.

The iPhone 5′s camera application is much improved with iOS 7 but we still feel like Samsung’s camera application is the best in the business thanks to its ridiculous feature set.

Software & Features

These two smartphones run two entirely different pieces of software. The iPhone 5 runs iOS 7.1, Apple’s brand new update to iOS 7, while the Galaxy S5 will utilize Android 4.4.2 KitKat from Google. The version of Android really isn’t all that important on Samsung devices due to the company’s TouchWiz user interface.

Samsung devices are dominated by the company’s TouchWiz UI and the TouchWiz that’s coming with the Galaxy S5 is improved over the last versions.

The Galaxy S5 features a pulse meter that can take a user's pulse.

The Galaxy S5 features a pulse meter that can take a user’s pulse.

The Samsung Galaxy S5′s new software is focused on several key areas including health and fitness. The software includes new S Health 3.0 functionality which, when combined with the pulse reader on the back of the Galaxy S5, allows users to record their heart rate and track it in the app. iPhone 5 owners can also track their pulse using third-party apps and accessories but the overall experience isn’t as rich as it is on the Galaxy S5. iOS 8 should deliver health related features but iOS 8 is months away at least.

We should point out that, in addition to the new features, the Galaxy S5 also comes with a flatter design and a number of small tweaks to the overall look of the operating system. Those looking for more details can find them in the video below which highlights many of the changes that Samsung has made to its TouchWiz user interface.

Apple’s iPhone 5 comes with the latest version of iOS which means that it comes with a different feature set and a different overall look. iOS 7 is vastly different than Apple’s previous iOS updates. Those unfamiliar with iOS 7 can familiarize themselves by watching the video below.

We should point out that Samsung Galaxy S smartphones typically get two years of software support while iPhones typically get three years of software support. The iPhone 5 is approaching its second birthday which means that it probably will get iOS 8 and iOS 9 before calling it quits. Thanks to its age, the Galaxy S5 is likely on par with the iPhone 5 when it comes to longevity.

Comments

  1. Johansenburg says

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  2. Ryan says

    I find it odd that this is comparing an older iPhone to the newest Samsung Galaxy. I get it this is for people upgrading from iPhone 5, but this should at least compare the 5s and the S5 because if I have a the iPhone 5 and am looking to upgrade I would be looking at all of the latest models.

    PS: Someone might want to edit a little better. “Already, we’re been hearing the questions from friends…”, the “we’re” should be we’ve or the sentence should be restructured.

    PPS: The comment by Johansenburg is clearly spam.

  3. Guy says

    Great article. I did the same thing when shopping for a new car. I had a 2005 Infiniti and when I compard my current car to a 2014 Acura the Acura blew the Infiniti away. Can you believe the Infiniti didn’t even have bluetooth. Of course I’m going to chose the model with bluetooth. Why didnt I look at the new Infiniti, because the 2015 Infiniti specs haven’t been released yet ofcourse.

  4. Stef says

    Macaloped: ” the most comparable iPhone to the Galaxy 5S, the currently available iPhone 5s, is not even mentioned until the 22nd paragraph which, unbelievably, is only about mid-way through this gigantic crime against common sense.”

  5. Bruce says

    Yes, this review does make sense and I fully agree with what has been said in this review. I have used Samsung phones (iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2) and I find Samsung’s Galaxy phones to be far superior to Apple’s iPhone. The iPhone is prone to the aluminum getting chipped. I personally know that but that’s a truthful fact that seems to never be mentioned in other reviews. I also love the Samsung camera and the display on my Galaxy Note 2. I like it better than the iPhone 5.

    • Woochifer says

      What part of comparing a newly released model against a 2012 model that hasn’t been available since September makes sense to you?

      I guess it can only make sense using your logic of drawing conclusions about the Galaxy S5 based on your impressions of a Note 2.

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