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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5 – Which phone should you buy?

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At the outset I want to make it clear that a comparison between the newly unveiled Samsung Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 is very hard to do.  After all, these devices are very dissimilar it’s like you’re comparing apples and oranges.  One is an Android device and the other runs iOS so it’s practically a comparison between two platforms as much as it is a comparison of the devices’ hardware specs.  In any case, there are people who prefer these two devices and choosing which one to get is a real issue for them.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5: Hardware

First off, let’s compare the hardware specs of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5.  Let’s see which one wins the hardware war at this point.

Samsung Galaxy S4iPhone 5
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core; Exynos 5 1.6GHz Octa-Core1 GHz Apple A6 Dual-Core
GPUAdreno 320PowerVR SGX543MP3
RAM2GB1GB
Screen Size5 inches4 inches
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080 pixels1136 x 640 pixels
Screen TypeSuper AMOLED HDRetina
Screen Pixels Per Inch441 ppi326
Camera Resolution13 MP Rear; 2 MP Front-Facing8 MP Rear; 1.2 MP Front-Facing
Video Camera Resolution1080p Rear; 1080p Front-Facing1080p Rear; 720p Front-Facing
802.11x/Band(s)802.11 b/g/n/ac802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth Version44
LTEYesYes
GPSYesYes
NFCYesNo
microSD SlotYesNo
Battery 2600mAh1440mAh
Dimensions5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches4.9 x 2.3 x 0.3 inches
Weight4.59 oz4 oz
Operating System as TestedAndroid 4.2.2iOS
Total Integrated Storage16, 32, or 64 GB16, 32, or 64 GB

 

The specs list clearly shows which smartphone is the better one, at least in terms of hardware.  With the Galaxy S4, Samsung has clearly moved ahead of Apple, and the iPhone 5 is in fact only fit to be compared with the Galaxy S3, not the Galaxy S4.  In any case, to point out the Galaxy S4’s superiority, here are the areas where Samsung’s phone wins when compared to the iPhone 5.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S4 sports a 5-inch full HD screen that’s simply better in terms of resolution and pixel density.  It has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels with a 441ppi pixel density while the iPhone 5’s display only has 1136 x 640 pixels for a 326ppi pixel density.  Apple came up with the Retina name to identify its high density display but that has been trumped by many new phones and in this comparison, it is the inferior one.  The display types are also different, with a lot of people saying that the Super AMOLED display of Samsung being better in terms of color rendition and contrast ratio.  Others prefer the Retina display of the iPhone, though.

galaxy-s4-vs-iphone-5

Processor and RAM

This is another area where the Samsung Galaxy S4 clearly wins.  The Galaxy S4 will ship using two types of processors depending on the market.  One is the 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core processor and the other is the 1.6GHz Exynos 5 Octa-Core processor.  Either one of these easily trumps the 1GHz dual-core Apple A6 processor on the iPhone 5.  In fact, benchmark tests show that the Galaxy S4 is twice as fast as the iPhone 5.

The 2GB of RAM on the Galaxy S4 is also better than the 1GB of RAM on the iPhone 5.  In terms of performance, therefore, the Galaxy S4 wins.

Camera

If we are to look at megapixel count alone, the Galaxy S4 easily wins over the iPhone 5.  It has a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera, while the iPhone 5 sports an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1.2-megapixel front camera.  One may argue that megapixel count does not dictate the quality of photos taken, and it’s true.  It really boils down to the quality of the processor used.  I’ve personally tried the camera of a demo unit Galaxy S4 and the shots look good.  I am amazed at the camera of the iPhone 5 as well and its low-light capabilities so it’s really a tough choice for me.  But if megapixel count is what you need to know, the Galaxy S4 should be the clear winner.

Battery and Connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is once again the winner here.  It has a 2600mAh battery that’s just way bigger than the 1440mAh battery on the iPhone 5.  I’m not happy with the battery life of my iPhone 5, especially when LTE is turned on.  The Galaxy S4 should perform better, but note however, that the bigger full HD display consumes more power so the difference may not be that considerable.

In terms of connectivity and storage, the Galaxy S4 wins again since it has NFC and a microSD slot for memory expansion.

Design

Now this part really depends on the personal preference of the user.  I like the look of the iPhone 5 over the Galaxy S4, but it is also prone to scuffing and gets scratched and dented easily.   The Galaxy S4 has a plastic finish, which is good since it does not scratch easily, but it also doesn’t feel as good as the iPhone 5.  This one is a tie but personally, I like the design of the iPhone 5 more.  The iPhone 5 is also a tad lighter than the Galaxy S4 and is also smaller.  That should be an advantage to some.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5: Software

This is a tricky comparison.  Android and iOS are both good operating systems and one has an advantage over the other.  Android has more features, and is getting better and better with each new version. Apple’s iOS, on the other hand is smoother and more cohesive.   This is once again a matter of personal preference.  In terms of the number of apps available, however, Apple’s iOS has more apps a to Android, but the gap seems to be getting closer.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has software enhancements that put it ahead of the iPhone 5.  Samsung has introduced the Smart Scroll, Smart Pause and Air Gestures, to name a few, that are not available on the iPhone 5.  Some of these features may be gimmicky but they are still features that the iPhone 5 has no answer for at this point.

Conclusion

In this comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S4 wins.  In terms of hardware, it’s clearly the better smartphone.  When it comes to software, it is hard to pick a clear winner since Android and iOS are worlds apart in terms of features.  But in terms of available features and functionalities, the Samsung Galaxy S4 clearly has more to offer.

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