iPhone 6 vs. Samsung Galaxy S4: What We Know Right Now

As we move deeper into 2014, we’re beginning to hear a lot more about Apple’s plans for the new year. Rumors suggest that Apple will be including a new iPhone in those plans, a device that’s being called iPhone 6. With demand increasing by the day, we want to take an updated look at how the rumored iPhone 6 currently matches up with the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung’s former flagship that is in the hands of millions of consumers and remains a solid option for buyers.

In March of last year, Samsung took the stage at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and debuted one of the most highly anticipated smartphones of all time. Thanks to the success of the Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 had some pretty big shoes to fill and high expectations to meet. And while it may not have pleased everyone, the Galaxy S4 was scooped up millions of times around the world.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 was initially matched up with the likes of the HTC One, iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Later in the year though, the device ran into stiffer opposition including the LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Apple’s brand new iPhone 5s. The Galaxy S4 remained a solid option for those looking for a brand new, high-end smartphone.

Even now, after the arrival of the new Samsung Galaxy S5, the Galaxy S4 remains a tempting smartphone thanks to upcoming software updates, powerful hardware and a price tag that has plummeted since its arrival back in April of last year.

Current Samsung Galaxy S4 owners and prospective Galaxy S4 buyers alike probably have their eye on this year’s crop of smartphones. One of the bigger names is Apple’s iPhone 6, a device that is rumored to be coming with a larger display to match the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4. While a larger screen is just one piece of the puzzle, it does have the potential to win over a ton of consumers.

The iPhone 6 release is probably still several months away but there are still enough credible rumors to warrant an early comparison to the Samsung Galaxy S4. This comparison aims to help set the expectations of current Galaxy S4 owners who might be thinking about making a change. It will also help prospective Galaxy S4 buyers put things into perspective.

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Release Date

The Samsung Galaxy S4 might be a year old but that doesn’t mean that it’s no longer on shelves. Not only is the Samsung Galaxy S4 still available through a number of retailers and carriers, carriers have begun slashing the Galaxy S4’s price in an effort to move their inventory. AT&T, for instance, recently dropped the price of its “like new” Galaxy S4.

We expect the Galaxy S4 to remain on shelves for the foreseeable future as a cheap alternative to the $199.99 Samsung Galaxy S5 that arrived earlier this month.

This comparison is aimed at one of two people. Those who are thinking about ditching the Galaxy S4 this year for something new and those who are weighing a potential Galaxy S4 purchase. Those who are thinking about buying the Samsung Galaxy S4 should go hands-on with the device before coming to a decision.

Unfortunately, shoppers who are looking to physically compare the Samsung Galaxy S4 to the iPhone 6 are likely going to have to wait a few months before being able to do so. iPhone 6 launch and release rumors virtually all point to an arrival this fall. As we’ve pointed out several times, the rumors make sense given that Apple’s past three iPhones launched in the fall. The company also tends to stick with a very particular release cycle.

Since the start of the new year, there have been a number of iPhone 6 release date rumors. The most recent credible rumor comes from the CEO of a company that partnered with Apple to sell the iPhone in Russia. Earlier this year, he claimed that the iPhone 6 release date would land in September, 2014 though he declined to offer a specific date.

As we’ve noted, this is the second Apple partner to point to the fall iPhone 6 release date and the most direct iPhone 6 release date claim because it comes from a company that has an instrumental role in helping Apple sell the iPhone.

iPhone 6 screen size comparison -  011

While iPhone 6 release rumors have pegged its arrival for the fall, they have not been specific. In other words, it’s not clear exactly how long Galaxy S4 owners and potential Galaxy S4 buyers will have to wait before they can make an informed decision.

The CEO’s information lines up with all of the recent iPhone 6 release date rumors. For those that are just tuning in, here is a quick recap of the latest reports on the iPhone 6′s upcoming release date:

  • iPhone 6 release date as early as September – Nikkei
  • iPhone 6 release date in August or September – Steve Milunovich UBS via Barrons
  • iPhone 6 release in the fall – Andy Hargreaves at Pacific Crest via Business Insider
  • iPhone 6 scheduled for third quarter 2014 – ZDNet Korea

In previous years, Apple announced its new iPhone at WWDC. However, the company announced that it looks forward to sharing its “latest advances in iOS and OS X” at this years conference. That doesn’t rule out an iPhone 6 announcement but it does fall in line with what Apple said about the last three WWDC’s, all three of which focused on software rather than hardware.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S4 display delivered a significant improvement over the display found on the Samsung Galaxy S3. However, back in 2012, DisplayMate called the iPhone 5s display “the best smartphone display we have tested to date.” The publication’s claim carried over to the iPhone 5s which sports the same 4-inch Retina Display with 640 x 1136 pixel resolution at 326 pixels-per-inch.

While DisplayMate, the industry voice on mobile display quality, did not think the Galaxy S4 display surpassed Apple’s displays, it thinks that the new Samsung Galaxy S5 display is better than Apple’s Retina Display. The publication says “the Galaxy S5 is the best performing smartphone display that we have ever tested.” In other words, this year’s display technology has finally caught up to the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5s.

The Galaxy S4 uses a 5-inch 1080p display.

The Galaxy S4 uses a 5-inch 1080p display.

Apple doesn’t look it’s going to take this one on the chin though. iPhone 6 rumors almost universally suggest that the next iPhone will come with a larger display that will compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in terms of size, and beat out the displays found on the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5 when it comes to quality. It’s not clear how it will match up with the Galaxy S5’s 1080p Super AMOLED Plus display.

Reports suggest that Apple could introduce two new iPhones at two new sizes. iPhone 6 display rumors point to one model that supposedly will come with a display that’s between 4.5-inches and 4.8-inches. A majority of rumors specifically point to a 4.7-inch display. That model is rumored to have a higher 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution which would put it on par with many of the top Android smartphones, including the Galaxy S4.

Rumors also point to a larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 that would compete against Samsung’s Galaxy Note. However, this larger iPhone model may not arrive in 2014.

A 5.5-inch iPhone 6 release faces challenges that could force a delay between a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch model.

A 5.5-inch iPhone 6 release faces challenges that could force a delay between a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch model.

A report from Reuters claims that while Apple is planning a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 release for this fall, the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 may be delayed. In fact, rumors are starting to point to two possible release dates. EMSOne, Reuters, Ming-Chi Kuo, Steve Milunovich from UBS, and a new report from The Commercial Times all point to a delayed release for the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6. The Commercial Times suggests that the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 may have been pushed into 2015.

There are also a number of reports that point to Apple utilizing sapphire for the iPhone 6 display. A Sapphire display would mean a more scratch-resistant display. If true, we could wind up seeing a iPhone 6 that not only comes with a bigger sized, higher-resolution screen but a display with improved battery efficiency and image quality.

Design

If the iPhone 6 comes with a larger display, its overall footprint will likely be more in line with the Samsung Galaxy S4. The iPhone 5s is much smaller than the Galaxy S4 due to its 4-inch display.

iPhone 6 design rumors remain inconclusive despite several alleged iPhone 6 photo leaks. A recent Macotakara report shared two possible sets of iPhone 6 dimensions for both the 4.7-inch model and 5+inch model.

The Galaxy S4 uses a glossy polycarbonate plastic.

The Galaxy S4 uses a glossy polycarbonate plastic.

While it might come with a larger overall size, the device may be thinner than the 7.9mm Galaxy S4 while still offering room for components and a larger battery. The rumored iPhone 6 dimensions are listed below, compared to Samsung’s Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5 and several of Apple’s aging iPhones.

  • iPhone 5s – 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm
  • iPhone 6 (4.7) -140 x 70 x 7 mm
  • iPhone 6 (5.7) – 160 x 80 x 7 mm
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 – 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 – 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm

Sonny Dickson claims that the iPhone 6 may be as thin as 5.5mm, down from a 7.6mm thick iPhone 5s. This smaller size could come in part from new display technology that reduces the thickness needed for display backlighting, as shared in a report on LEDInside of TrendForce.

A new iPhone 6 concept based on rumors.

A new iPhone 6 concept based on rumors.

Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, in a note shared by MacRumors, says that he believes that the iPhone 6 will come with a power button on right and narrower bezels. The thinner bezels could potentially lead to an edge-to-edge display, something that we’ve seen pop up in rumors as of late. Kuo accurately predicted many of the iPhone 5s’ features and is considered a trusted source.

iPhone 6 concepts vs. iPhone 5s on the far right.

iPhone 6 concepts vs. iPhone 5s on the far right.

It’s still not clear what kind of build materials Apple will use for the iPhone 6. The Samsung Galaxy S4 utilizes a glossy, polycarbonate plastic that doesn’t look or feel as premium as the metal iPhone 5s and iPhone 5.

Camera

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 camera is a solid shooter. It can take good photos, videos and performs reasonable well in low-light and noisy environments. While it may not come with 4K video recording, it does come with a solid camera application that offers users a ton of different options, many of which are not found in Apple’s stock camera app.

Smartphone camera technology continues to get better and it wasn’t surprising to see Samsung offer an upgraded camera on its brand new Samsung Galaxy S5. Like Samsung, Apple offers a yearly upgrade to the rear camera on the iPhone so it’s not surprising to see iPhone 6 camera rumors point to exactly that.

While Apple may not join the race to push more megapixels in 2014, the iPhone 6 camera should be improved over the iPhone 5s’. AppleInsider reports that Apple is planning to focus on “image-enhancing components” based on discussions with people familiar with the matter. So while the iPhone 6 may not have a 16MP camera sensor like the Samsung Galaxy S5, its camera could still be on par, or better, than Samsung’s shooter.

A new rumor suggests Apple could offer optical image stabilization in the iPhone 6 to improve photos.

A new rumor suggests Apple could offer optical image stabilization in the iPhone 6 to improve photos.

Another rumor suggests that the iPhone 6 will arrive with Optical Image Stabilization, which the Samsung Galaxy S4 doesn’t have. In fact, only a few flagship smartphones boast OIS, the Nexus 5 and LG G2 being two of them.

This rumor is based off supply chain chatter, and if true, would allow users to take better looking photos and videos and enhance low light photography by using a special gyroscope and technology.

Specs

The iPhone 6 is probably going to come with more than just a new display, a new design and a new camera. We’ll likely see Apple perform its yearly hardware maintenance (just like Samsung) and offer some improvements over the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5. In fact, rumors are already pointing to a number of potential iPhone 6 feature upgrades.

iPhone 5s vs. iPhone 6 concept vs. iPhone 6 concept.

iPhone 5s vs. iPhone 6 concept vs. iPhone 6 concept.

Here, we take a look at how the iPhone 6′s rumored specifications compare to the specifications that are on board Samsung’s Galaxy S4. The point is not to make the Galaxy S4 look bad, it’s to highlight potential differences.

iPhone 6

  • Apple A8 64-bit processor
  • iOS 8
  • 4.5-4.8-inch and 5 -5.5-inch Sapphire displays
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB / 32GB/ 64GB / 128GB storage options
  • 3.2MP HD front-facing camera
  • 8-10MP rear-facing camera
  • 1,800 mAh battery
  • 802.11ac WiFi
  • Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor

Samsung Galaxy S4

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Processor
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • 5-inch 1080p display
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB / 32GB storage options (U.S.)
  • 2MP front-facing camera
  • 13MP rear-facing camera
  • 2,600 mAh battery
  • 802.11ac WiFi WiFi
  • Regular Home Button

Software

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 6 will run two completely different operating systems. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 currently runs Android 4.4 KitKat, Google’s latest version of Android, though it’s likely going to get several more Android updates in the future. Samsung typically offers 24 months of software support to its flagship smartphones which means that any Android updates announced in 2014 should arrive for it down the road.

Android, of course, is much different than the iOS software that Apple puts on its iPhones and iPads. It offers a different feature set and it looks nothing like the Android and TouchWiz UI that complement each other on Samsung’s former flagship.

While we know what the Android 4.4 KitKat update looks like on the Galaxy S4, it can be seen in the video below, we still aren’t exactly sure how iOS will look on the iPhone 6.

Rumors suggest that the iPhone 6 will debut with Apple’s new iOS 8 software on board. This does not come as a surprise given Apple’s propensity to include the latest iOS software on the latest iPhone hardware.

iOS 8 is expected to debut at WWDC 2014 alongside a new version of OS X and the software is thought to have a number of big time features on board.

Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac recently shared many details about the new version of Apple’s iPhone and iPad software. Health and fitness are a major focus and a collection of iOS 8 mock ups show what a Healthbook feature could look like.  Other iOS 8 rumors flowing from Gurman and his sources include plans for a better Apple Maps, a standalone iTunes Radio app and more.

There is also talk of a much improved Siri. Techcrunch recently reported that Apple bought Novauris last year for an undisclosed sum. Yoon Kim, and other voice recognition experts from the company are currently working with Apple and there is a good chance that iOS 8 will boast their fingerprints.

Apple is also rumored to be including Shazam support inside iOS 8, a feature that would let iPhone and iPad users use Siri to detect the song that is playing. There is also talk of VoLTE support.

One thing that current and prospective Galaxy S4 owners need to keep in mind is that Apple tends to offer three years of software support as opposed to the two or less offered by Samsung. What this means is that while the Galaxy S4 will be entering a gray area later on this year due to its age, the iPhone 6 should get three major iOS updates in the future.

Price

One of the most attractive Samsung Galaxy S4 features is its price tag. While it started at $199.99 on-contract, the price is no where near that after a year of service. Instead, the Galaxy S4 attracts consumers with price tags that are as low as a penny. Yes, Amazon is selling one of the best smartphones on the market for a penny on-contract.

Apple’s new iPhones have historically landed for $199.99 on-contract, or $200 more expensive than what Samsung is charging for the Samsung Galaxy S4. This year’s iPhone 6 though, according to some analysts, could break the mold.

Way back in November, Chris Caso of Susquehanna Financial Group made a bold prediction. He claimed that the price of the iPhone 6 could jump up as much as $100 from the price of the iPhone 5s. He also added that “the potential for the iPhone 6 price point to move higher,” and that “we think Apple could get away with a $50 to $100 premium for a larger screen size iPhone 6.”

The iPhone 6 price is a hot topic, with analysts predicting different decisions by Apple.

The iPhone 6 price is a hot topic, with analysts predicting different decisions by Apple.

His sentiments were recently backed up by well known Jefferies analyst Peter Misek who says that he believes that there is a potential for a $100 price jump. A $100 price jump would put the iPhone 6 at $299.99 on-contract, or, same as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

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Price jump or not, it’s pretty clear that the iPhone 6 will cost more than an Android smartphone that is approaching its second birthday. Finding a bargain on the Galaxy S4 will not be a difficult task.

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