The Samsung Galaxy S4 is finally official and already replacing the Samsung Galaxy S3 as Samsung’s biggest player in the fight against the iPhone 5 for smartphone market share. We’ve covered the iPhone 5 vs. the Galaxy S4 ahead of the official launch to see how the rumored device stacked up, and now we can offer up a proper comparison of these flagship phones to help users decide which phone is the best smartphone for them.
The iPhone 5 debuted in September bringing a larger 4-inch display and 4G LTE, features which helped the iPhone catch up to the Android competition in the feature department. The iPhone 5 also ushered in a new aluminum design and iOS 6, an updated version of the popular iPhone software. These iPhone 5 features helped cement the current iPhone as a continual player in our best smartphones monthly roundup and gave Apple an edge over the Samsung Galaxy S3.
The iPhone 5 out-shined the Samsung Galaxy S3 soon after the release, but now Samsung is back with a big ad budget and a new Smartphone that boasts a bigger, better display and a host of great software features that Samsung believes will set the Galaxy S4 apart from the iPhone 5 and the upcoming iPhone 5S.
With 2013 in full swing Samsung unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S4 at an event in mid-March. The over the over the top launch event in Radio City Music Hall reviewed a smartphone with a 5-inch 1080P HD display in a design no bigger than the Galaxy S3. The Samsung Galaxy S4 boasts an array of sensors that deliver features not found in the iPhone 5 or Android competition.
The Video below shows a Samsung Galaxy S4 hands on, and summarizes the Galaxy S4 design and features in under two minutes.
As the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 go head to head on carriers and in retailers later this month, we take a look at what are sure to be two of the most popular devices of 2013.
Here we take a look at how the Samsung Galaxy S4 compares to the iPhone 5 in terms of hardware, release date, pricing, software features and more.
The iPhone 5 release date for most carriers is well behind us, thanks to a launch on Verizon, AT&T and Spring in September. Even though the iPhone 5 is now six months old, we are on the eve of another iPhone 5 release date. T-Mobile announced in March that the T-Mobile iPhone 5 is on the way, with a release on April 12th with the cheapest upfront price yet.
With any early launch supply constraints behind it, the iPhone 5 is easy to find at carriers and third party retailers, and is already seen a number of iPhone 5 deals that drop the price down as low as $127 with a two-year contract. With iPhone 5 demand caught up, Apple is able to offer free next day shipping for the iPhone 5 from the Apple Store.
Shortly after the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch event we started to hear rumors about the release, and we finally know the official Galaxy S4 release date is set for May 1st on T-Mobile. We expect an international Galaxy S4 release in the next two weeks.
AT&T announced Samsung Galaxy S4 pre-orders which start on April 16th. There is no official AT&T Galaxy S4 release date, but speculation puts it on or close to May 1st. The U.S. Cellular Galaxy S4 pre-orders start on April 16th, but there is no release yet.
The Spring and Verizon Galaxy S4 release date details remain up in the air. Sprint may surprise with an early Galaxy S4 release, or one close to May 1st based on promotions to clear out stock of the Samsung Galaxy S3. The Verizon Samsung Galaxy S4 release may not land until late May or June. It’s not clear why, but many Samsung smartphones launch later on Verizon than on competing carriers.
There are also claims that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will hit prepaid carrier Ting within two months of the release on major carriers.
The iPhone 5 boasts one of the most recognizable designs and one that remains attractive to shoppers half a year after its release. Apple skipped the glass back from previous versions of the iPhone to deliver a combination of anodized aluminium, glass and metal. The result is a well built phone that users consistently define as attractive.
The iPhone 5 gained a larger 4-inch display and 4G LTE, both of which can be battery hogs, but Apple was able to cut the size of the iPhone 5 down to 7.6mm thick and the weight down to 112 grams. These measurements make the iPhone 5 one of the thinnest and lightest smartphones available.
The new design proved more durable than the glass back of the iPhone 4S, and despite some wear and tear near the chamfered edges, the iPhone 5 holds up well to daily use, even without a case.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 continues Samsung’s obsession with plastic, but makes use of a new polycarbonate material that feels stronger than the Galaxy S3. The new material and the overall build of the Samsung Galaxy S4 feels more solid and while it is plastic the phone does not feel cheap.
Samsung delivers a removable back, which allows access to a SIM card slot, removable battery and a Micro SD card slot. The iPhone 5 does not allow users to add memory or swap batteries. Samsung covers the front of the Samsun Galaxy S4 with Gorilla Glass 3, which offers better protection from scratches and drops.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is 7.9mm thick and weighs 130 grams, a reduction in both from the Galaxy S3. While the iPhone 5 is smaller , thinner and lighter — the Galaxy S4 is decidedly a smartphone, not a Galaxy Note 2 sized phablet.
The iPhone 5 boasts a Lightning connector and a plethora of accessories from Apple and third parties. There are decidedly too many iPhone 5 cases and accessories to count, but Samsung is hoping to counter this with first party support and help from key manufacturers.
Samsung announced several Galaxy S4 cases at the launch event and a line of Galaxy S4 accessories for health as well as a wireless charging kit and more.
Samsung devices like the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 boast support for accessories like the Fitbit and other items that other Android phones can’t, and this support will likely expand with the Galaxy S4.
The iPhone 5 marks the first iPhone with a larger display, but the iPhone 5’s 4-inch display is dwarfed by the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 5-inch Super AMOLED display.
Many users prefer a smaller 4-inch display of the iPhone 5 as it offers enough room for viewing webpages, playing games and watching short videos without making one-handed operation of the phone difficult.
While Apple did increase the size, the company did not do much in the resolution department. The iPhone 5 features a Retina Display, which users thoroughly enjoy and a new 16 x 9 aspect ratio that cuts the black bars off HD video content. The iPhone 5 display offers a 1136 x 640 resolution, below HD, but still sharp for text, photos and videos.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a 5-inch 1080P HD display. That’s the same resolution as most 55-inch HDTVs, packed into a 5-inch space. With this large display users can watch HD content with no black bars and can even run multiple apps on the screen at once to multi-task.
Images, text and videos look great on the Galaxy S4 display, thanks in part to the 441 pixel per inch pixel density that comes with such a high resolution display.
In addition to the nice-looking display, Samsung includes technology that allows users to hover their finger over the display to control the phone. This Air View feature offers previews of text messages, emails and photos, as well as a way to peak ahead in videos. Sensors also make it possible to scroll without touching the screen, as shown in the video below.
Users can also wave a hand over the display to answer a call, scroll up or down a web page and more.
The iPhone 5 may not feature the best camera available, but it is lauded as one of the best smartphone cameras on the market. The 8MP rear facing camera delivers great looking photos and videos, and sets the bar high for competing smartphones.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a 13MP rear facing camera that so far delivers impressive looking photos. A series of iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 photos and videos allow users to compare the quality of each camera for themselves.
Samsung focuses on a better camera app, which makes the iPhone camera app look out of date. Samsung delivers features and modes commonly found on point and shoot cameras and a new one called Dual Shot.
With the Dual Shot mode, users can take a photo or video with the rear facing camera and stay in the picture using the front facing 2MP camera, as shown in the video below.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 arrives in several configurations, though aside from a processor change and support for LTE bands, most specs are the same. The iPhone 5 specs and Galaxy S4 specs are below, even though they don’t tell the full story about the phone or the phone’s features.
Here are the Galaxy S4 specs.
- 5-inch Full-HD 1080p Super AMOLED HD Display
- 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core Processor/Exynos 5 Octa Processor
- 16/32/64GB of Storage
- 13MP Camera
- 2,600 mAh (Removable)
- 2 GB RAM
And, here are the iPhone 5 specs.
- 4-inch Retina Display with 1136 x 640 Resolution
- Apple A6 Processor
- 16GB/32GB/64GB models (No microSD Card Slot)
- 8MP rear camera/HD Front-Facing Camera
- 1440mAh Battery (Non-Removable)
- 1GB of RAM
One of the first things to note is the quad-core processor in the Samsung Galaxy S4. Both the Snapdragon and Exynos models are quad-core processors. The iPhone 5 features a dual-core Apple A6 processor. This difference could help deliver better performance on the Samsung Galaxy S4, but we are waiting for a longer hands on to declare this spec an obvious advantage.
Second, the iPhone 5 is capable of good battery life even with 4G LTE and a 4-inch screen, but there is no removable battery. Samsung offers a removable back that lets users carry a spare battery, buy an extended Galaxy S4 battery and switch in a wireless charging back, things not possible on the iPhone 5.
Third, Samsung and Apple both offer 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models. The iPhone 5 is available in each of these capacities on all major U.S. carriers for $199, $299 and $399 with a two-year contract. Users cannot add more storage later, without buying a new iPhone. The Samsung Galaxy S4 supports a Micro SD card that lest users double or triple storage for $20 to $30 with a Micro SD card. The 32GB Samsung Galaxy S4 is also priced at $250, $50 cheaper than the iPhone 5 32GB model.
The iPhone 5 runs iOS 6, the latest version of Apple’s mobile software, and should see an upgrade to iOS 7 later this year. The most recent version of iOS 6 is iOS 6.1.3, which delivers a collection of enhanced Siri features and bug fixes. The video below highlights some of the best iOS 6 features.
Apple is able to deliver swift iOS updates to all carriers at the same time, something Samsung is not likely able to do with the Galaxy S4. We expect a major overhaul of the iOS 7 software, and the iPhone 5 will be first in line to get it.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 ships with Android 4.2 and a Samsung TouchWiz Nature UX overlay that adds features and offers a different look than vanilla Android found on the Nexus 4. The Samsung Galaxy S4 software features are impressive, and we show off several of them in the video below.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will get an Android 5.0 update according to the latest rumors, but it will not likely get the update as fast as the Nexus 4 and other devices. Samsung must prepare the update and submit for carrier approval on each carrier before a roll out takes place.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features eye-tracking, which combines with other sensors to deliver touch free scrolling and an option to pause videos when the user looks away. The Samsung Galaxy S4 also brings the Note 2’s Multi-View feature to let users work in two apps at once on the 5-inch display.
We also expect to se the Samsung Galaxy S4 on U.S. Cellular and on pre-paid carrier Ting. There are many more prepaid iPhone 5 carrier options, but the Galaxy S4 may catch up in the near future.
Users should keep in mind that 4G LTE speeds and coverage vary between carriers and locations. The speed test below shows Verizon 4G LTE vs. AT&T 4G LTE.
While there are 4G LTE options on each of the major carriers, AT&T and Verizon offer the largest coverage.
The iPhone 5 price starts at $199 even six months after release, and we don’t expect the Galaxy S4 will change that pricing. There are iPhone 5 deals that occasionally drop the price, but it is normally a $200 smartphone.
Apple prices the 32GB iPhone 5 at $299 and the 64GB iPhone 5 at $399 with a contract. The off contract iPhone 5 retails for $649 to $849 with no contract obligations.
The T-Mobile iPhone 5 starts at $99 for the 16GB, but requires $20 monthly smartphone payments.
AT&T announced the Samsung Galaxy S4 pricing at $250, but later clarified that the 16GB Samsung Galaxy S4 price starts at $199. The 32GB Samsung Galaxy S4 retails for $250, both prices are with a two year contract. We don’t yet know a price for the 64GB Samsung Galaxy S4.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 off contract pricing is expected around $650 though no official confirmation is available at this time.
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