Is the Samsung Galaxy S5 that much better than the Galaxy S4? It’s a question we heard a lot in the past several days as smartphone owners weigh buying the new Galaxy S5 or picking up the older Galaxy S4.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is a new version of the Galaxy S4, as the name implies. Samsung updates the Galaxy S line of smartphones on a yearly basis, similar to how Apple releases a new iPhone every year. The Galaxy S5 features several big changes and a number of small changes that could make it a better fit for many users.
Samsung and the top U.S. carriers will continue to sell the Galaxy S4 for at least another year alongside the Galaxy S5. The Galaxy S4 Android 4.4.2 update is in the process of rolling out to AT&T and Sprint and should come to other carriers in the near future. This update will bring the same base version of Android to the Galaxy S4 as is on the Galaxy S5, but it does not bring many of the new enhanced software features.
We previously looked at five major differences between the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5, but now we take a deeper look at what buyers need to know about the Galaxy S4 vs. Galaxy S5, complete with video.
Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5 Video
This four-minute video shows the hardware difference between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5. The new Galaxy S5 is a bigger device that includes a collection of features that are not coming to the Galaxy S4 through any software updates. Watch this video for the quick rundown of what’s new on the Samsung Galaxy S5 and then read on for a closer look at these two devices.
Release Date, Carriers & Price
The Samsung Galaxy S5 release date is set of April 11th in 150 countries. There are no specific U.S. Galaxy S5 release dates announced yet, but all of the major U.S. carriers will offer the Galaxy S5 soon. Samsung gave Gotta Be Mobile a nod when asked if the U.S. release date will arrive on April 11th, but said it was not yet confirmed. Expect to see carriers announce the Galaxy S5 pre-orders and release date in the near future.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is already available on major U.S. carriers and on smaller carriers and pre-paid carriers. For users that need a different carrier or who cannot wait for April 11th, this is an option. Unless a user plans to pay for an off-contract device pre-paid plans are out, and we don’t expect a Straight Talk Galaxy S5 in April.
Carriers sell the Galaxy S4 for as low as $50 on a two-year contract and in the past deals pushed the price as low as a penny during special events. There is no official Galaxy S5 price, but several contests reveal carriers expect a price between $620 and $650, which translates into a $199 on contract starting price. We could easily see offers from Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy that drop the price of the Galaxy S5 ahead of release.
Design & Durability
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is thicker and heavier than the Galaxy S4 thanks to a new water-resistant feature and a larger display. The Galaxy S56 also uses a new dimpled plastic back that feels nicer than the glossy plastic on the back of the Galaxy S4. Samsung still uses a plastic design with a removable back for access to a Micro SD card and battery, just like in the Galaxy S4.
- Galaxy S5 Dimensions – 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm, 145 grams
- Galaxy S4 Dimensions – 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130 grams
The larger Galaxy S5 includes seals to allow the device to survive in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. This is not waterproof, but it is more than the Galaxy S4 offers and should help the phone survive accidents of daily life, at least those that involve water.
The bezel is slightly thicker on the Galaxy S5, likely due to the water-resistant feature as well. This may seem like a small feature, but by making this new Galaxy thicker Samsung removes the need to put a case on the device just to protect it from puddles, or use in a hot tub or shower.
Samsung includes a new home button on the Galaxy S5. This ere-designed button includes a fingerprint scanner that can unlock the device and protect files behind a Private Mode. There is no fingerprint sensor in the Galaxy S4 and it cannot be added like some features.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 display is slightly larger, but it is not a dramatic increase that would push the device into Note territory. Instead of a rumored 5.25-inch display the Galaxy S5 arrives with a 5.1-inch display. The Galaxy S4 offers a 5-inch display, which is just slightly smaller.
Both of these phones use a 1920 x 1080 resolution display. This is the same resolution as most HDTVs. While Samsung includes adaptive software on the Galaxy S4 that can adjust the display for a better overall look the Galaxy S5 includes three special features that are not on the Galaxy S4 at this time.
- Ultra Power Saver – Turns the Galaxy S5 display black and white and limits features for longer battery life.
- Better Outdoor Readability – There is a super bright mode with contrast changes that make reading the display easier in bright light.
- Super Dim Mode – When it comes time to use the Galaxy S5 in bed, this mode drops the brightness way down so you don’t bother others or your eyes.
It’s possible that we will see the power saver mode come to the Galaxy S4 in a future software update, but it is not clear if the other features are available by a software or firmware upgrade.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 13MP camera with many modes to help users take better looking photos based on the scene and situation. This camera performs well, but the Galaxy S 5 offers several key improvements that may tempt users to upgrade early or skip buying the Galaxy S4.
The Galaxy S5 camera features a 16MP sensor, but that’s not the biggest feature. In addition to a new sensor there is a companion chip to help process images better, which plays a role in three new features.
- Faster Auto Focus – Samsung uses a hybrid auto focus system that can focus on a subject as fast as 0.3 seconds
- Selective Focus – Pick where to focus to create blur in the front or back of a photo to draw attention to a specific subject or part of the photo.
- Improved HDR – The Galaxy S5 camera features a new HDR mode that can show users what the photo will look like before the shutter press and supports HDR video.
We are still waiting for Galaxy S5 sample photos to see how these new features look in a finished product. The Galaxy S5 can also record in 4k, like the Galaxy Note 3.
Features & Specs
The Samsung Galaxy S5 includes several other features that aren’t built in to the Galaxy S4. The first is a pulse reader that sits right below the Galaxy S5 camera. This connects to S Health 3.0 to track a user’s pulse through the day and during workouts. There are several Android apps that can use the Galaxy S4 camera to take a user’s pulse, so this is something users can easily duplicate.
There are other Galaxy S5 features not found on the Galaxy S4 like faster 802.11ac WiFi and a download booster that can pair WiFi and LTE for a faster download. The Galaxy S5 also features USB 3.0 for faster data transfers.
There are a number of features that are available on both of these devices including, multitasking, mobile payments, a removable back, Gear Fit connectivity, an IR port
Galaxy S5 Specs
- Snapdragon 800 Processor
- Android 4.4.2 KitKat
- 5.1-inch display
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB / 32GB storage options
- 2MP front-facing camera
- 16MP rear-facing camera
- 2,800 mAh battery
- 802.11 ac WiFi
- Fingerprint reader, pulse tracker
Galaxy S4 Specs
- Snapdragon 600 Processor
- Android 4.4.2 KitKat
- 5-inch display
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB / 32GB storage options
- 2MP front-facing camera
- 13MP rear-facing camera
- 2,600 mAh battery
- 802.11 a, b, g, n WiFi
When comparing the specs of the Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5 there are small, but appreciable upgrades. The whole story only comes to life when shoppers look at the features these specs enable.
Samsung focused on gestures and eye tracking technology when it announced the Galaxy S4. These features are still on the Galaxy S4, but this year Samsung redesigned TouchWiz to offer a flatter design and focused on health tracking, the camera and other features.
The video above shows the Samsung Galaxy S5 software in action. This is a good overview of the camera software and other new features like Kids mode and Private Mode.
The Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5 both support mobile payments through Google Wallet with Tap And Pay. This is an Android 4.4.2 feature that is only available once the update arrives on the Galaxy S4 for specific carriers.
This article may contain affiliate links. Click here for more details.