Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S head to head review

Samsung and Apple have been fighting for supremacy of the top-end smartphone market for several years now. Traditionally it has been Apple's iPhone that has won the two companies' yearly battle.

While the exact reason for this is debatable, Apple's improved security features and iOS' malware-free status will undoubtedly be one factor motivating many businesses to opt for an iPhone over a Galaxy.

Aware of this, Samsung has worked hard to ensure its latest Galaxy S5 comes loaded with a variety of security features designed to make it the most business-friendly smartphone available. This adds up to make Samsung's 2014 battle against Apple's current iPhone 5S flagship one of the most interesting to date.

Design and build
In the past we've always awarded Apple handsets the design round when comparing them with Samsung's Galaxy handsets. This is because past Samsung flagships, like the Galaxy S4, have always felt fairly flimsy compared to Apple iPhones, featuring bendable and cheap feeling polycarbonate backplates.

This year however, Samsung has changed its design practices and has built its flagship to be IP67 certified. This means on paper the Galaxy S5 is tougher than the iPhone 5S, being dust and water resistant. A consequence of this is that the Galaxy S5 has a slightly rubberised and perforated, as opposed to smooth and shiny, detachable polycarbonate backplate, and a metal bar which acts as a plug to protect its microUSB port.

Testing the two smartphones we found the Galaxy S5's certification rang true and the smartphone is significantly more robust than the iPhone 5S, which features an all but identical design to its predecessor the iPhone 5.
Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S head to head review three-quarter
The one negative consequence of the Samsung Galaxy S5's IP67 certification is that it makes the handset slightly heavier and chunkier than the iPhone 5S, with it measuring in at 142x73x8.1mm and weighing 145g. By comparison the iPhone measures in at 124x59x7.6mm and weighs 112g. However the iPhone is notorious for being easily damaged, with many Apple handsets suffering from scratches or shattered screens.
This means that for those who prefer smaller, lightweight handsets the Galaxy S5 will feel a little unwieldy.

However for those already embedded in the Android ecosystem, where large handsets are the norm, the Galaxy S5 will feel comfortable in hand.

Winner: The Galaxy S5.


Back in the day Apple's Retina display technology was the best available and offered smartphone users imaging quality previously unheard of in the mobile space. A few years on and the technology, while still good, isn't the best available and a select number of handsets have arrived in the market with better displays.
On paper the Galaxy S5 is one of these handsets, with its 5.1in 1920x1080, 432ppi Super Amoled display, beating the iPhone 5S' 4in 640x1136, 326ppi IPS LCD Retina display.

Despite the specs, traditionally we've found the benefits of IPS versus Amoled screen technology has made picking between the smartphones like the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5S fairly difficult.

Amoled technology as seen on the Galaxy S5 is designed to help displays produce deeper and richer blacks. The technology does this by electrically charging each individual pixel to generate colours. The flip side of this is that the screen has a shorter shelf life and can produce more heat than IPS displays, as preferred by Apple.

IPS displays are in general better at displaying colours and whites than their Amoled equivalents, because the technology works by organising liquid crystals on a fixed plate that's charged at a consistent rate.

Comparing the two smartphones screens, we found, while the iPhone 5S display is brighter, the Galaxy S5's screen does offer superior performance. The Galaxy S5 has superior contrast levels to the iPhone 5S and has radically better viewing angles. Using the two smartphones outdoors we also found the Galaxy S5 remained usable in bright lighting conditions that rendered the iPhone 5S all but unusable.

Winner: The Galaxy S5

Operating system and software

The iPhone 5S runs on the latest version of Apple's iOS 7 while the Galaxy S5 uses Google's latest Android 4.4 KitKat overlaid with Samsung's Touchwiz interface. In the past we've found picking between iOS and Android fairly difficult as the answer to which is better is largely determined by which ecosystem you're embedded in.

Both Google and Apple offer a variety of business and productivity services and are in general evenly matched in the mobile space when it comes to enterprise appeal at an application level - though recent work by Google to increase the security of its enterprise offering means this may soon change.

However, for us Samsung's decision to add its Touchwiz skin to Android swings the round in Apple's favour.
We've never been fans of custom skins on Android. This is because most skins, like Touchwiz, only make superfluous changes to the user interface and flood handsets with a number of unwanted custom widgets and applications.
Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S head to head reviewfront
This is an issue as not only does it further fragment the Android ecosystem and make using the handsets feel slightly unintuitive to people used to vanilla versions of Google's OS, it also impedes their ability to receive future software updates. This is because manufacturers have to tweak the skin's custom code to work with the updated Android code - a practice that can delay handsets receiving upgrades for several months.

While we have to applaud Samsung for the great work it has done reducing the number of needless applications and widgets on Touchwiz, the sad fact is the Galaxy S5's software does still include a number of needless UI changes and unwanted applications, like Samsung's custom app store. As a result, like past Galaxy handsets, the S5 will undoubtedly be slow to receive updates to future Android versions, a fact that will be an issue for many business customers.

Winner: The iPhone 5S.


Android's security has always been a key concern hindering the OS' ability to dominate the business market. Numerous security vendors are currently warning Android is hackers mobile target of choice.

Finnish security firm F-Secure currently lists 97 percent of all mobile malware as being designed to target Android users. By comparison Apple's iOS platform to date has remained blissfully malware free, with there yet to be a single confirmed outbreak on the platform.

While Apple never comments on its security practices, the firm has been quietly looking to leverage its mobile security position, rolling out a custom TouchID fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S and a staggering 24 security fixes in its latest iOS 7.1 software update.

Aware of Apple's plans, Samsung has done some stellar work securing Android and making it fit for business use and has added its own fingerprint scanner and custom Knox 2.0 security service to the Galaxy S5.

In this endeavour Samsung has won some key victories against Apple, one of the biggest of which is on the hardware front with its new fingerprint scanner. Both the Apple iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5 can be set up to unlock when their user has confirmed their identity using the scanner.

Testing the two we found the Samsung Galaxy S5's scanner is far more accurate than Apple's TouchID. With regular use we found the TouchID scanner is far less reliable and generally will take three or four attempts before recognising us, or failing completely and bypassing the fingerprint scan for passcode entry. By comparison the Galaxy S5's scanner always authenticates our identity on the first attempt.

 Next: Security continued, performance and camera
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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

I really like to read reviews and see what's new about technology, on D-BLOG I share with you articles/reviews that I find interesting. I also write some reviews in romanian...

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