Hands-on: iPhone 5 vs. Galaxy S4

Live from the Samsung Unpacked event on Thursday, I snuck a few minutes at the demo tables and Phil Nickinson of Android Central was kind enough to film me doing a super quick iPhone 5 vs. Galaxy S4 hands on.

I posted some extensive thoughts on the Galaxy S4 the other day, so read that now if you have already. To better round-out both offerings, here's Phil's complete Galaxy S4 hands-on as well.

2013 is going to be an exciting year.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Hands-on: iPhone 5 vs. Galaxy S4


Most of the online reviews that have come out say basically the same thing. They are calling the GS4 "evolutionary" but not "revolutionary". The GS4 is basically the GS3 with bigger specs, but nothing innovative.

i was think similarly but back a bit further, that is same as the 4s was, the 5 was, but yep, same as, sadly, the 5S will be too.

that said i actually think aside from some small things like adding that infared (cool) there isn't a ton more you can do to hardware other than keep bumping the specs. Notices laptops don't exactly see hugely innovative hardware anymore. I think they simply need to make and improve the software offerings to stand out. Stuff like garageband were great selling points.

Atleast they're being honest and calling it evolutionary unlike Apple. All their products are revolutionary according to them.

Don't take it so seriously. It's marketing. They are trying to sell a product. that's what advertising does. They aren't testify in front of congress. When a car says it's the most advanced, or the revolutionary, blah blah blah it's advertising. You should expect braggadocio and bluster. Nike says Just Do It. Are you really mad that merely putting on a pair of Jordan's doesn't make you jump like his Airness. Adidas says "impossible is nothing." I mean are you really mad at them cause some things ACTUALLY are impossible.

To be fair, it's not like the iPhone has changed a lot in style over the years. Let's call a spade both ways.

There's not much new to be done with phones. We've seen that with the iPhone now as well.

Samsung put a 5-inch, 1080p screen and great radios and sensors into the same package. That's not boring. That's frakken amazing engineering.

I knock them for their plastic, not their overall package. It's a good update.

honestly, consumers don't consider "great engineering." I think your points are fair in the first sentence. there isn't a ton more you can do other than upgrading specs. And plaudits to engineers but honestly, when the average person walks into a phone store, some mom and pop, some kid sister, etc, etc. they don't give a rat's backside about engineering feats. They care about the feeling they get with the end product. Better radio and sensors? Great. But don't expect plaudits from anyone but engineers and technophiles. You've mentioned it yourself how Jobs rarely spoke of the technical specs. He never mentioned things like how much ram a phone had. I think that's a good strategy because though i agree it's a positive to have better sensors and radios, that it's amazing engineering, I don't think most people care any more than they care that a Camry now get's 5 more horsepower cause it had "port fuel injection." Cause the average Camry buyer only minimally cares about that. (FYI i have no idea what port fuel injection is or if a Camry has it. Which is sort of my point.

You would know right away when you turn it on, the SGS4 is a beast, fast as lightening, fast, fast, fast. the SGS4 just hit 26,000 on the recent benchmark test with unfinished software. The phone has the best camera of any smartphone, as I said once you used it you will know the difference.

You knock them for their plastic, the entire front of every phone is glass, you are knocking a great device because they choose to use top of the line plastic, which it isn't it is some poly something. My sisters Iphone 5 made of metal is a complete mess, scratched and nicked all up, all those great materials you are praising the iphone for using didn't hold up at all. The only really plastic is on the back, this is why they can use wireless charging, the radios do not have issues, metal phones are notorious for radio signal issues. You are knocking a phone that holds up better than the iphone 5. My SGS3 looks the same as it did as when I bought it, not a scratch on it and I don't use a cover. I guess you have to find fault in it somewhere but being made of plastic is a plus. Just drop them both and you will find out.

With the utmost respect, I disagree that there's "not much new to be done with phones" - it's just that we [ok, the handset designers*] haven't yet thought what that 'new' is...

*Which in itself assumes that mobile telephony will remain embedded within a handheld transceiver.

The internals of the s4 are really exciting. I don't know if I'd be able to pry myself from my iPhone 5 especially owning a galaxy tab 2

I just hate how the phone is just so big. Can't wait till I get an iPhone well hopefully I do get one in the future. Apple all the way!

in that i totally agree. I'm fine with a 4 inch. and i've even seen a 4.3 that i could handle totally because they crammed it in the same size case as the 4 inch screen phone sitting next to it on the display.

But comfort and portability are big things for me. A massive reason i got an iphone was to not have a pocket overloaded with devices. I already stopped carrying a digital camera and was living carrying a different phone maker's bad smart phone and an ipod. So it was a dream to have just one devices. For me i'll take a portability of a 4 inch size phone over a bigger screen cause i don't care much about a big screen. I'm satisfied with 4 inches. And if they could squeeze a 4.3 in screen into the same size phone that's about my upper limit.

"actually?" Actually who the hell would know either. Where is this study taken of blonde drunk female phone use. And you say it which such absolution. The reality is people use tons of phones. I'm not a fan of platform zealots. honestly, all platforms have strengths and weaknesses and most are used by many people, yes even blonde drunkards.

The S4 looks exactly the same as the S3. Also, it only brings some new, neat software improvements that are nice but need to be implemented better. This is probably why I will go with the iPhone 5S when it comes out.

Even if I did want to switch to an S4, I'm so embedded in the Apple infrastructure that it just seems like it'd be a giant pita to do so. Hoping Apple steps up with the next iPhone, as the 5 wasn't nearly enough for me to upgrade from my 4S. Otherwise, I might need to reconsider.

Bigger is better. Let's go Apple, the iphone display is the smallest of the market. Not saying you have to go 5 inches, but something bigger (wider, not taller) is where you need to be.

I like how the smartphone market is shaping up. If you like the iOS system and prefer a somewhat smaller 3.5-4" screen, there's a phone for that. If you want a bigger screen (and though lots of folks on iMore can't possibly fathom it, not everyone is content with a 4" screen), there are several outstanding Android choices in that regards as well. Can't go wrong either way, just depends on what flavor you like between two very good choices.

What people fail to realize is that Samsung is beginning to streamline their Galaxy S line similar to how iPhone does. The more streamlined this is, the more partners they can acquire. I think this is a smart move to gain more momentum. Personally, I believe innovation has hit a wall until new battery technology comes out to double if not triple current technology. Until that happens we can only see minute hardware upgrades year over year until something drastic happens with batteries.

They just bumped the size of the battery to 2600MHz, the SGS4 is a smaller footprint then the SGS3. The quad core processor has also been ramped up for better battery life. Easy day and a half on a full charge.

Wow, seeing them side by side, the size difference is astonishing.
I still prefer the iPhone looks, but i could give a use to that big screen.

Is it the phone or the OS that is laggy when he swipes the screen? That would drive me crazy to swipe and then have to wait for the screen to move after I've taken my hand away.

I thought the same thing - that would drive me nuts. Will be interesting to see the released version, as Rene mentioned.

Just same way as apple did.
The most impressive thing is that in the same form factor, they put a bigger battery but thinner, put a bigger screen but lighter.
I personally like the ergonomic design of GS4 that has been upgraded from gs3. GS3 also feels cheap but GS4 looks a bit more premium than GS3.
Good job Samsung ! Competition is always good for consumers

It resembles the S3 but I guess there is only so much you can do with design. I do like the fact that they are adding a ton of features ( although some are gimmicky ). Hopefully Apple will respond in strong force adding new features and a better overall experience with the 2014 iteration of the IPhone. And please let's end the iCloud outages

Hmm, feature packed indeed, wrapped in plastic, same thing most easily discardable things are wrapped in. In a few month we'll see the next Galaxy S phone. And it doesn't stand a chance of stealing me away from iPhone, the color on the GS4 isn't very good. Bright and vivid doesn't mean good. Trust me, I worked in a photo lab that specialized in color for 4 years. Still fun to read about the latest android and Samsung features though.

Wow, puting an iOS device side by side with an Android device just make us realise how old and dated iOS looks. I bet many Android sales come from the fact that it simply looks much, much better than iOS.

I really cannot see myself using an Android device and not wanting to bang my head against the wall. The lag even in it's 'newest' version and the way-too-much nonsense going on is too much. I like clean sophistication, that is iOS. Boring or not, it just works and no headaches and will only improve and I don't care if it's when Apple says. Please me Apple.

Like I've said before, the only thing Apple has to do is perfect what they have at hand, and competition will not be a factor. Also, If Sprint would finish the 4G in my region and get up to "speed"

I'm still not convinced by articles like this that compare two phones that were launched in different years. It should be Galaxy S3 vs iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5S/6?

The iPhone 5 is great but there are capabilities that the galaxy has that the iPhone should get ASAP!!! I would love to unlock my phone with facial recognition!! Come on now apple