Samsung S4 vs iPhone 5

It’s been a few weeks and so it seems the dust has settled–if only a tad–on the great Android takeover of 2013. The business of regime change is a sobering one for Cupertino’s Apple. Yet Andorid is just a tough nut to crack, and getting tougher with every update. We’re back up with another comparison. This time the digital catfight will place Samsung’s Galaxy S4 in the squared circle against Apple’s tried and true iPhone 5. Each was surreptitiously bested by the HTC One, as both the GS4 and the iPhone 5 were myopically competing against each other–more or less. Apple only had its previous versions to compete against and Samsung was so busy watching Apple, that neither saw the 80lbs gorilla in the room.

Forcing Apple and Samsung to go lick their wounds is no easy task. But here we are. So while the HTC One goes off to enjoy its dual consecutive victories, the defeated will do the man-dance for 2nd place. It’s the Samsung Galaxy S4 Vs. the Apple iPhone 5. FIGHT!

Size

iPHone 5 vs Samsung s4 size

The iPhone 5 introduces a new size variant–taller than previous iPhone iterations and enough to incorporate an additional row of apps. The width now rests at 2.37in. It’s still one of the slimmest high end smartphones on the market. It makes it exceedingly easy to hold in a single hand–most notable for smaller handed folks. It’s definitely slimmer than the Galaxy S4 with its 2.74in waistline. But herein lies the rub… The GS4, while thicker in the hips, is impressively light and thin. It’s not quite as light as the iPhone 5′s 112 grams. But at 130 grams its still pretty lightweight. But at the end of the day the iPhone is the smaller easier to handle winer.

Winner: iPhone 5

Appearance

Appearance pic

This is clearly a subjective matter. I still like the styling of the iPhone 5 in either white or black. The display reaches virtually edge-to-edge, while it plays host to essentially the same amount of physical buttons as the GS4 (iPhone 5 has an additional mute toggle). The use of metals, when creatively implemented, always trumps plastics. Moreover white plastic is a known “no-no” in the tech industry. The white does lend itself to a more spartan look on the GS4. We are working with the Sprint model, which only ships in the White Frost color option. But there is a much more stylish Black variant seen in the wild. It looks far more attractive. However iPhone’s good looks don’t discriminate.

Winner: iPhone 5

Display

Display pic

The display size for the iPhone 5 reaches 4-inches tall and it’s max resolution is a meager 1135 x 640 and puts forth 326 ppi. Samsung spits much further with 5-inch Super AMOLED display that does 1080p like a marvel. Static images, video web browsing and the UI appears more attractive on the GS4. Additionally, iOS app developers are still a bit a slow on the uptake for redesigning apps around the new taller screen size. It’s hard to reach the top of that display one-handed.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Operating Software

Operating System pic

As I mentioned in HTC One Vs. iPhone 5 Comparison, you’re either a loyalist for one OS or the other. Apple still has more apps available than Android, still has the closed development environment so security is, well, more secure and brings peace of mind to the less tech savvy. The Galaxy S4 is now up to Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 with their custom skin blanketing the OS. For a more detailed synopsis of the re-skin check out our initial GS4 impressions and the comparison piece against the HTC One. Each company has kept their play close to the vest and familiar. The iPhone definitely has the cleaner UI and a more gradual learning curve. Since iPhone 5 kickoff, Google Maps has returned, and thank the Wood Nymphs for that! Apple did spit out small nugget of gold in its Passbook. It’s a solid idea that still hasn’t taken full flight yet. But I’m hopeful. iPhone 5 also has the Siri virtual companion. But the GS4 uses Google Now (available on Android and iOS) for virtually the same effect and it’s getting more powerful with each version revision. It introduces a myriad of new ways voice can be incorporated with custom speech-created reminders (TV Shows, Video games, Music, public transit, books more). You can send voice emails or request spoken updates on your Google content.  For innovation Apple seems to rely heavily and intelligently on their vast well of apps. Yet right out the gate, the Galaxy S4 swings more hard-hitting new than a MLG MVP and takes more risks than the iPhone 5. The UI holds deeper customizing for more individual flare, which also suits a wider variety usage styles and scenarios, than iOS.

While the iPhone 5′s features are more widely known, the GS4 attacks with new kung fu like Air View. Though still too gimmicky to be functionally reliable, it’s smart tech. But in the end, it requires you hold your finger too close to the display for it to be practical. It remains faster to check the app contents as you usually would. Air View does work better for my tastes, when used on web pages to magnify and highlight a given section. Conversely, the multi-window app tray is fantastic. Plus it can be customized or left to be autonomous as it begins to learn your most frequented apps.  Other cool custom Samsung OS/UI trimmings of note are Air Gesture where you can cycle through gallery photos and various document by swiping your flat hand above the face of the device. It actually works well and helps keep the display smudge-free.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Processor

Processor pic

I should note, this version of Android is also very responsive and peppy. A fact of which is helped quite efficiently by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor. It’s the same processor used in the HTC One, albeit clocked higher to 1.9Ghz. While Apple is still pushing its homegrown A6 (Swift) processor designed after the ARM Cortex A9. I again tip my hat to Apple for the ground it’s laid with its own tech. But it still can’t keep pace with the Galaxy S4, which is just a few eyelashes short of the finish line when pitted against the HTC One.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Storage

Storage

The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in all the same size variants as the iPhone 5 16gb, 32gb and 64gb. However the iPhone 5 yet again, does not support MicroSD slots. The Galaxy S4 does. This is an area that Samsung easily wins against both the iPhone 5 and the HTC One.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S4

Wireless Connectivity

WiFi pic

There is not much contest here either. The iPhone 5 falls flat in much the same manner it did against the HTC One. There is more going on in the GS4–more radios and cutting edge features for remote use. The iPhone does not do the following that the GS4 does with its one-eye closed: NFC, Qi wireless charging and more UTMS frequencies. Both however do Bluetooth 4.0, 4G LTE and media streaming.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Camera

Camera pic

The iPhone 5 still wields one of the most impressive cameras on a smartphone. It uses a 8mp rear facing camera similar to the previous iPhone 4s although with enhanced HDR. The photos are great, but beyond that GS4 has Cupertino beat again. Apple is even late to the game with panoramic photos, something Android has been doing quite well for some time now. iPhone 5 is not a strong enough departure from past iterations to offer much fight.

The GS4, however uses an amazing 13mp camera on the rear and a 2mp front-facing camera. It does some impressive things not many phones can. The Dual-Camera can snap two photos  simultaneously by the front and rear lenses, then place the smaller rear camera image within the larger front-camera shot. You can edit and add special effect. There is also a feature called Drama Shot which captures a collection of consecutive shots to play with. Eraser Shot is great for removing whole bodies from a shot and there is a poor-man’s version of  HTC Zoe-like feature, but the resulting photo mash-ups look more like cool and fun greeting cards than professional short films.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Battery Life

Battery Life

Stamina! We all want more of it in one capacity or another. For each phone’s batt-life we have the GS4 using a massive 2600 mAh removable battery. The iPhone 5 is packing a paltry 1432 mAh battery. Yet the numbers are surprising. Each phone is highly competent across 4G LTE, moderate to long phone calls and Wifi usage. GPS still seems to drain the batt-life with vampiric results and in spite of its lengthy inert abilities for standby time. The newbie from Samsung does 17hour talk time, 350hr 3G standby time, 300hr 4G standby and 11hrs of video playback. iPhone does 8hr talk time and 290 standby.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Carrier

Carriers

Samsung has won this one with two bars of service tied behind its back. You can get the GS4 from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Cricket and C Spire. The iPhone is available from Sprint, Verizon, AT&T–and more recently from T-Mobile and Boost Mobile.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Price

Price

Everyone carries is still asking top dollar for the coveted and highly sought after Samsung Galaxy S4. That’s $150 for the 16gb at the lowest. AT&T is the highest offering the GS4 at $200 for 16gb and $250 for the 32gb. The iPhone, while offered at fewer carriers, can be had for less coin. I’ve seen pre-owned for as low as $49 and new at 16gb for $99.

Winner: iPhone 5

Overall Winner

Samsung Galaxy S4 VS. iPhone 5
Winner Why
Size iPhone 5 The iPhone 5 is slimmer making it easier to hold in a single hand. The GS4 is also overly slippery.
Appearance iPhone 5 Those plastics might be the death of the GS4 if it didn’t do so many things right. The iPhone 5, like the HTC One, is well built around metal and elegance.
Display Galaxy S4 The GS4 does 1080p on it Super AMOLED display. Photos and the general UI presentation pops like the iPhone wishes it could.
Operating System Galaxy S4 Apple has kept things too safe here and continues to lose ground to the flexibility and user-friendliness of Android. More customization options lend themselves to more styles of use than iPhone. Siri vs Google Now…I say Google Now
Processor Galaxy S4 The A6 custom processor is getting a bit long in the tooth already. Or is it in the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 600-whipper snapper is just too potent?
Storage Galaxy S4 Each is offered in the same size varieties but the GS4 supports expansion via its MicroSD slot in the back face.
Wireless Connectivity Galaxy S4 Here things are close but the GS4 has Qi wireless charging support, NFC and more UTMS frequencies.
Camera Galaxy S4 A 13mp camera trumps Apple’s 8mp. Plus the many cool faetures heaped on the GS4 will leave the amateur photographer with plenty to do.
Battery Life Galaxy S4 Samsung does 17 hour talk time, 350hrs 3G standby time, 300hr 4G standby and 11hrs of video playback. iPhone does 8hr talk time and 290 standby.
Carriers Galaxy S4 Samsung is availalbe from more carriers.
Price Galaxy S4 The iPhone 5 is older and made it’s rounds already with pre-owned versions up for the buying. It’s cheaper.



Shawn Sanders

 
Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for GameRevolution.com. More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.