The iPhone 5s and the Samsung Galaxy S5 are going to be two of – if not the two – hottest smartphones of 2014. Or likely until Apple launches the iPhone 6 at least. There are going to be more than a few folks due upgrades, or just generally looking for a new phone that are going to be looking at choosing between these two. Especially leading up to April 11, the global availability of the Galaxy S5.
It's not a 100% fair fight just yet, since we've had 5 months to get to know the iPhone 5s and a grand total of a couple of hours at a trade show with the Galaxy S5. So, maybe consider this round 1. There'll be much, much more – like software – to dive into when we actually get a Galaxy S5 in hand. But even from a quick early look, there are some similarities, and some big differences.
In terms of design, both Apple and Samsung went for iterative bumps with their respective flagship devices. Apple is of course in its 's' year with the iPhone which usually means nothing much in the way of design changes. Samsung has retained the overall look and feel of its recent Galaxy devices such as the Note 3 and its predecessor the Galaxy S4, while making some subtle and welcome changes to how its made.
Apple still has Samsung licked when it comes to construction, though. The iPhone is a symphony of metal and glass – and yes, a hint of plastic – while the Galaxy S5 is still a festival of plastic. It has at least addressed the issue of the horrible, nasty glossy rear covers, though. The soft touch dimpled effect back of the Galaxy S5 is very nice to hold. But plastic is still plastic, and Apple isn't the only OEM using metal in its top of the line devices. A lot of folks did want to see the same from Samsung this time round.
Both have pretty fantastic looking displays. We know Apple's Retina Display looks the business, but Samsung has also done a pretty great job with the 5.1-inch 1080p panel on the Galaxy S5. This also means a pretty noticeable size difference between the two, but the Galaxy S5 has much slimmer bezels and a flatter home button to help keep the bulkiness to a minimum.
Then we get to the fingerprint scanners. Well, Samsung calls it the Finger Scanner. Similar feature, very different execution. The Galaxy S5 has a swipe style fingerprint scanner, which in my opinion is less comfortable to use than Touch ID. Both can register multiple fingerprints, but where I think the Galaxy S5 may edge ahead is third party integration. Samsung has partnered with PayPal to allow you to use your Fingerprint to authenticate payments. As with the iPhone 5s, Samsung claims that your fingerprint is securely stored on the device, and never sent anywhere else. Just how secure it is we'll surely find out when devices are in more hands.
Camera wise, we know the iPhone 5s has an extremely good shooter. Apple has yet to be drawn into the megapixels race, instead opting for a refined 8MP shooter and improved software. Samsung on the other hand has bumped the camera up to 16MP as well as improving its software. The promise of fast auto focus and rich tone, live view HDR has so far looked promising. We're looking forward to putting it to the test out in the real world, but there's a strong possibility Android may have just found its new camera king.
Oh, and did we mention the Galaxy S5 comes in gold? And no, it doesn't look like a band aid.
The software is another story entirely, and arguably accounts for the bigger share of overall user experience. It isn't right to base a comparison of the two on a short hands-on, and on devices which are still in the pre-production phase. When we get a Galaxy S5 in hand, we'll be much better placed to evaluate further. But for now, does what you see in the Galaxy S5 tempt you to jump ship? Leave you pining for that rumored larger display iPhone? Sound off in the comments below!
- Samsung Galaxy S5 hands-on and initial review
- Galaxy S5 or iPhone 5s: Which phone should you get?
- Samsung Galaxy S5 camera and gallery walkthrough video