The LG G3 might be looming on the horizon but that doesn’t change the fact that as of right now, the LG G2 is one of the best smartphones on the planet. That distinction means that consumers are almost certainly weighing LG’s current flagship against the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5 that is set to arrive later on this month.
Last year, Samsung beat LG to the punch. The company debuted its Galaxy S4 in March and put it on shelves in April to battle the likes of the iPhone 5 and HTC One. Months later, LG announced its Galaxy S4 competitor, the LG G2, a device that landed on carriers across the globe and presented the Galaxy S4 with another serious challenger.
LG’s G2 was, in our opinion, the company’s best effort in years and thanks to high-performance hardware and intelligent software design, the device has been able to stand toe-to-toe with the best devices on the planet for many months. In our eyes, the LG G2 is still one of the best smartphones on the market, many months after it was first released.
So, it hasn’t been surprising to hear the questions from friends, family and readers. They, along with many others, are weighing the LG G2 as their next smartphone. And one of the devices that they keep coming back to is the Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung’s brand new flagship that launched in February and will hit shelves in just a few short days.
We’ve spent a great deal of time with LG G2 and we’ve also been able to spend some time with the new Galaxy S5. While Galaxy S5 release is still a few days away, there is a lot we can share about how the LG G2 and Galaxy S5 compare. Here, we want to key in on the most important things that buyers need to know.
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. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what upgraders, and prospective buyers, need to know about these two smartphones.
Release Date, Price & Carriers
Back at Mobile World Congress in February, Samsung confirmed the Galaxy S5 release date for April 11th. That date encompasses 150 countries around the world, including the United States. The LG G2 has been on shelves since late last year and will likely remain there for several more months as LG works to deliver its new LG G3.
Those who are at all interested in the LG G2 or Samsung Galaxy S5 would be smart to wait for the Galaxy S5 to show up on shelves in order to try it out. Most carriers only allow one swap and a 14 day return window, so there is no reason to be hasty about a decision.
At the moment, there is a way for a select few to check out the new Samsung Galaxy S5. 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.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 release date in the U.S. is confirmed for April 11th, at least for some carriers. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular are all taking pre-orders ahead of that date and several say that they’ll start shipping orders a few days before April 11th. This is a typical reward for those that order early.
Multiple carriers have yet to announce specific Galaxy S5 release details. Verizon’s Galaxy S5 release date remains unknown though from the looks of things, we could get details as soon as tomorrow. We’re expecting Verizon to deliver the Galaxy S5 around the same time that its rivals do, it’s just not confirmed.
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. Signs point to a release on MetroPCS on April 11th but that remains unconfirmed. Boost and Virgin both said they plan to release the phone in Q2.
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.
The LG G2 is cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S5. AT&T currently offers it for free on-contract while Verizon has it on sale for $99.99 with a new two year agreement. Amazon currently sells the LG G2 for $50 on-contract. Off-contract, buyers will be looking at pricing in the vicinity of $500, cheaper than the Galaxy S5.
When it comes to carriers, the LG G2 is limited. While the Galaxy S5 is going to be available on a wide swath of American carriers, the LG G2 is only available on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Design & Durability
The LG G2 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 are both made out of plastic but they feature radically different designs.
LG’s flagship smartphone offers users a distinct design. The company has shifted from the traditional smartphone design and moved the power and volume buttons, which are typically found on the side edges of a phone, over to the center back. We never got comfortable with the design change and it’s going to be a matter of personal preference.
The overall design is primarily made up of a glossy plastic back that attracts fingerprints. The design is on par with last year’s plastic Samsung Galaxy S4. Unlike the Galaxy S4, the LG G2 does not come with a microSD card slot for expanded storage nor does it come with a removable back cover.
Samsung’s Galaxy S5 design is much different. Not only does it feature a microSD card slot that can take up to 128GB microSD cards, it features a removable back that provides easy access to its battery. This is great for those that want to install an extended battery and get some more juice out of their daily driver.
We should point out that the LG G2 features a massive 3,000 mAh battery and it delivers some of the best battery life among flagship smartphones. Most users won’t need an extended battery. The Galaxy S5 uses a large 2,800 mAh battery and early tests point to extremely solid overall battery life.
The Galaxy S5 uses a perforated plastic back that comes in white, black, gold, and blue. The Galaxy S5′s back also utilizes a matte finish which means that it will not only bring a premium look, it will bring added durability as well. It’s a lot nicer than last years Galaxy S4’s design.
Samsung’s new Galaxy 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 LG G2 design does not come with this type of protection and can only acquire it via a case.
The LG G2 is only slightly lighter than the Galaxy S5 and comes with a thicker frame. Both devices fit snugly inside of a jean pocket and both are easy to use with one hand.
- Galaxy S5 Dimensions – 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm
- LG G2 Dimensions – 138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm
Samsung also now includes a fingerprint reader in the Galaxy S5′s home button and that allows users to secure the phone with a fingerprint and lock files behind a fingerprint password. The LG G2 does not come with this type of protection and does not rely on a physical home button for navigation. Instead, users must take advantage of on-screen keys.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G2 offer similar displays. The Galaxy S5’s display measures 5.1-inches diagonally while the LG G2’s display measures 5.2-inches. Both smartphones come with full HD 1080p resolution which means that both will offer fantastic looking games, movies, and web content.
While both are solid, we should point out that DisplayMate thinks that the Galaxy S5 display is so good, it tops Apple’s Retina Display on the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5. The Retina Display is considered by many to be the best display on the market. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 display delivers incredibly accurate colors and new brightness levels that make it arguably the best in its class.
In addition, the Samsung Galaxy S5 display comes with three perks that should be of interest to potential buyers:
- 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.
By comparison, the LG G2 display is remarkably bright, offers fantastic contrast and rich colors. It may not be the best display according to DisplayMate but it’s still a fantastic display nonetheless. It’s going to be hard to go wrong here.
The 13MP camera on the LG G2 is fantastic. It shoots fantastic looking photos, video and comes with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), a feature that minimizes the shakiness that often accompanies video footage. OIS is an extremely desirable feature but it’s only found on a select few devices including the LG G2.
Samsung’s Galaxy S5 comes with a 16MP 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 new camera comes with a faster auto-focus system. Samsung switched to a hybrid focus system that it says can focus as fast as 0.3 seconds. The Nexus 4′s camera can’t focus that fast and it’s really not even close. The LG G2’s auto-focus is good but it’s simply not as fast as the Samsung Galaxy S5’s.
Other features include the ability to pick a point of focus after taking the shot. This allows uses to blur a background or foreground right on the phone. The Samsung Galaxy S5 can also show HDR previews live on the phone. The Galaxy S5 also shoots video in 4K resolution, the LG G2 can’t without a mod installed.
Samsung’s Galaxy S5 also comes with Samsung’s fantastic camera application and one that has received several upgrades thanks to the company’s new version of TouchWiz. LG G2’s camera application also comes with a number of useful features as well but the user interface isn’t as clean as Samsung’s.
Software & Features
Finally, buyers need to know about the differences in software. While both devices run Android 4.4.2 KitKat, courtesy of Google, they run completely different versions.
The Samsung Galaxy S5′s new software is focused on a number of 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. LG G2 owners can track their pulse using third-party apps and accessories but they won’t get the same kind of overall experience that comes with the Galaxy S5.
In addition to the new features, the Galaxy S5′s 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 interface.
Unsurprisingly, the LG G2 comes with a number of exciting software features as well. Its features and its look can be seen in the detailed hands-on video below.
Software is always going to be a personal choice and we recommend buyers go hands-on with the software before buying in an effort to decide which they like better.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Google recommends companies offer 18 months of software support before casting devices aside. Samsung typically goes beyond this and offers updates for two years. LG is a little more inconsistent with its software updates and simply isn’t as reliable as Samsung.
The company is making strides, it recently pushed out the LG G2’s Android 4.4 KitKat update alongside the Galaxy S4’s but until it shows a consistent pattern, it’s hard to trust.