iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5? Samsung and Apple’s last generation flagship phones are still great phones to own, but which one offers the best value for money?
Apple vs Samsung. iOS vs Android. Heavyweight vs heavyweight. If you’re on the prowl for a new smartphone and don’t have the cash to upgrade to the Galaxy S6 or the iPhone 6S, then chances are your eyes have caught either the iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy S5.
Does the S5 still match up to Apple’s latest smartphone? We’ve lived with both for a while now to give you our verdict.
VIDEO: Watch our Samsung Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 6 comparison
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Design
Samsung Galaxy S5 – 8.1mm thick, soft plastic back, water-resistant
iPhone 6 – 6.9mm thick, anodised aluminium back
Samsung and Apple have opted for very different designs when it comes to the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5. Where the iPhone is a smooth seamless union of metal and glass the Galaxy S5 is an uneasy merger of soft touch plastic and hard plastic edges painted to look like metal. From a purely design aesthetic there’s no contest – the iPhone 6 looks miles slicker than the S5.
Related: iPhone 6S vs Samsung Galaxy S6
Ergonomically the iPhone 6 trumps the Galaxy S5 too. It’s 2mm thinner and 5mm narrower which makes it a good deal easier to handle. The aluminium back isn’t as grippy as the S5’s removable dimpled rear, though. The curved edges sit well in your hand, but removing it from your pocket always feels like it’s one slip away from becoming a very expensive paperweight.
That rear has had a mixed reception (comparisons to a plaster are never welcome), but it is an improvement on the cheap, slimy plastic of the Galaxy S4. Something that isn’t is the plastic ridge that rises a little above the screen of the Samsung Galaxy S5. In one sense this is good as it offers some protection to the screen. However, it makes the phone uncomfortable to hold for long periods.
Related: iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S6
One thing that the Samsung Galaxy S5’s design allows for is water-resistance. If you’re keen on using your phone in the bath or near water this may be a killer feature for you. Its IP67 certified, which means you can dip it up to 1m of water for 30 minutes.
Samsung has managed to fit the 5.1-inch screen into a tidy size. At 142mm tall by 72.5 wide it’s a bit of a stretch to reach the top of the screen if you’ve not got big hands. The iPhone 6 is a lot easier to use one-handed but still comes with a bigger screen than the iPhone 5S before it.
We’ve used the S5 on and off since it’s release in 2014 and it’s lasted the time well. The back doesn’t easily scratch or pick up marks, the rim has suffered a little bit of wear and tear but nothing that’d cause terrible amounts of annoyance and the screen can last a meeting with a pair of keys and the pocket of some skinny jeans.
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The iPhone 6 on the other hand is far more delicate. We think twice about putting it down and even the slightest scratch is very visible. Apple’s latest iPhone is beautiful, but it takes a lot of care to keep it that way.
Winner: iPhone 6 unless water resistance is particularly important to you
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Screen
First of all both the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 have fantastic screens. But these phones take a very different approaches to display technology. The one you prefer will depend on what you value most.
The Galaxy S5 uses a 5.1-inch AMOLED display with a pin sharp full-HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 and 432 pixels per inch (PPI). Samsung’s AMOLED screens have the benefit of being able to display perfect blacks and have infinite contrast ratios. What does this mean to you? It means that dark scenes in movies look perfect and you won’t notice any light bleeding out and making black scenes greyish.
SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S5 tips and tricks
AMOLED displays don’t quite provide the best levels of colour accuracy. Colours on the S5 look over saturated and a little fake. It’s a lot better than previous Galaxy phones however and the vivid colours can be toned down by setting the S5 to cinema mode.
The iPhone 6 uses an IPS LCD screen instead. These screens excel at brightness, viewing angles and colour accuracy and the iPhone 6 has one of the best of the bunch. It’s resolution of 1334 x 750 and 326PPI is a lot less than the S5 but this is still a very sharp display – you’ll need to get uncomfortably close to both screens to notice the difference in sharpness. Colour accuracy is better on the iPhone 6 than it is on the S5 but it can come close to the Samsung when it comes to dark scenes. The iPhone 6 has a great contrast ratio for and LCD screen but the S5 is streets ahead.
Finally the Galaxy S5’s screen is 0.4-inch larger than the iPhone’s. That may not sound like much but you do get a bigger area on which to watch movies, play games or browse the net.
This is a tight one, but as we value accuracy over artificial enhancements the iPhone 6 pips the S5 to the post. Many might disagree, but the difference in resolution is just not at all noticeable and Sammy’s trademark oversaturation makes us feel like we’re staring into an alternative, albeit colourful, universe.
Winner: Accuracy trumps all else so it’s the iPhone 6 for us
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Software
iPhone 6: iOS 9
Samsung Galaxy S5: Android 5.0 Lollipop with TouchWiz UI
While iOS 7 was a massive change to how Apple’s mobile operating system looked and functioned, the move to the latest version, iOS 8 and now iOS 9, is more of a step forward than a jump. The Samsung Galaxy S5 on the other hand has now received the Lollipop flavoured update to Android 5.0 and while it’s not quite as beautiful as the version we’ve seen on Nexus devices, but it’s still possibly the biggest Android update since Ice Cream Sandwich.
So, let’s kick things off with the S5. First things first, even if you have got that tasty Android Lollipop update, you’ll still have Samsung’s overly colourful and childish custom TouchWiz layer covering the design Google intended. We’re not the biggest fans of TouchWiz, mainly because it tries to do to much and ends up just bogging down the device, but the latest update does bring some nifty new additions. The Lollipop style Overview (the old multitasking) menu and redesigned notification tray both make the jump across, with Sammy has even added a useful ‘Close All’ apps button to the former. You’ll also get all your notifications on the lock-screen, which to us is very reminiscent of the way iOS handles things.
In-fact, Android blows iOS right out of the water when it comes to notifications. They’re just much easier to process and act on in Google’s OS, instead of the fiddly method used in iOS. A few of the native Samsung apps have also seen a facelift in Android 5.0, but we say don’t even touch them. Google offers the majority of its homegrown apps right in the Play Store and these (messages, Hangouts, camera, email) are much better performers than Samsung’s alternatives.
Related: Android 5.0 Lollipop tips and tricks
Customisation is a big selling point on Android and virtually, aside from rearranging the icons and changing the wallpaper, non-existent on iOS. This is still one of our biggest bug bears on Apple devices, and even with the addition of widgets based in the Notification Tray in iOS 8 it’s still not enough. We love switching out the icons, altering the launcher and playing around various lock-screen replacements on the S5 and it somewhat dims our annoyance of TouchWiz, as much of it can be covered up by third-part additions.
So, while Android and the Galaxy S5 take the prize for notification management and customisation, iOS still has plenty of things going for it. For one, iOS 8 greatly improved the sharing options available, letting you edit photos with Afterlight, for example, directly from the native Photos app. You can also add articles directly to your Pocket queue from the browser, a godsend if we do say so.
iOS 9 is, on the whole, a much smoother and simpler experience than Lollipop on the S5, which suffers from a few issues. We encountered slow down when opening up apps, scrolling webpages and flicking through the preposterously large Settings apps. We could put these quirks down to the new operating system, but it’s a pain nevertheless. On the iPhone 6 we saw barely any dropped frames or poor performance, even when we opened up a load of apps and continuously scrolled from home screen to home screen. It’s a pleasure using iOS on Apple’s latest flagship.
Related: iOS 9 tips and tricks
While iOS used to dominate Android when it came to apps, the gap has tightened somewhat recently. But, we still believe if you want the latest, greatest and best designed apps, iOS is the way to go. The App Store is still a much easier way to find the best downloads than Google Play, with always improving curation.
It’s tough to decide a winner here, because both phones have great and wildly different operating systems. Some of you will appreciate the fantastic notification and customisation options Android has to offer, but others will prefer the toned down ease of use and beautiful app selection that comes with iOS.
We’d probably plump for Lollipop if it wasn’t for the outdated TouchWiz overlay, so iOS just picks up the win here.
Winner: iPhone 6 and iOS
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Camera
The biggest point we hope you’ll pick up from this section is that specs don’t always tell the whole story, along with the fact that both these phones posses killer snappers that are, on the whole, a pleasure to use. Even though the S5 has been out for almost a year, it still stands up well in the camera department. Easily outmuscling Android rivals like HTC’s One M8 and Moto’s X.
The 16-megapixel snapper takes highly-detailed shots, with a particular skill for capturing faces and movement without turning the whole photo into a blurry mess.
Landscapes shots also look great, with colours looking pretty realistic and accurate, though sometimes they do look like they’ve been run through an editing app and had the sharpness turned all the way up. This can often leave you with sharp, but unrealistic looking results. We also had some trouble with oversaturation, where colours would often pop too much, though this was also down to Samsung’s AMOLED tech it uses in the display.
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Daylight photo samples
iPhone 6 daylight sample
Samsung Galaxy S5 daylight sample
Even though the iPhone 6 has half as many megapixels as the Galaxy S5, it too captures beautiful photos. It might not have quite the detail when you blow the image up and zoom all the way in, but for the use cases we need, the 8-megapixel sensor is just the right amount.
Snaps from the iPhone 6 look much more natural than those from the S5, with colours coming across much more accurately and everything looks that bit more realistic. Put a portrait shot taken from each phone next to each other and you’ll see what we mean.
While you’d expect both cameras to perform well in perfect lighting conditions, it’s when the sun sets or the rain starts to tumble down that the real victor emerges. The large pixels on the iPhone 6’s sensor help it to capture great low-light snaps. It’s only really beaten by the iPhone 6 Plus, which totes real Optical Image Stabilisation to improve nighttime shots. The two-tone flash on the iPhone 6 is also better than its rival, but we still think flash use on a phone should be kept to a minimum.
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Low-light photography
iPhone 6 low-light sample
Samsung Galaxy S5 low-light sample
There are two other parts that make us prefer the iPhone 6 camera, the speed and the simplicity. During our testing we found the iPhone’s camera to open up and get you into picture taking mode far quicker than the Galaxy S5, a vital feature for a camera that you’ll mainly use for capturing reactionary moments. The camera app on the S5 is also an over-complicated mess, packed with too many useless gimmicks (shot and sound, anyone? No) and options that we just don’t need. Maybe the iOS app is on the simple side, but we never feel the need to have deep customisation options when it automatically captures great shots consistently.
Video capture is smooth and detailed on both, but the S5 is capable of recording at UHD resolution while the iPhone 6 is still at 1080p. Both will serve you well for shooting video, while the S5’s best modes are still reserved for recording at 1080p Full HD.
Winner: iPhone 6
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Internal Speaker
Speakers on a phone are important for conference calling and if you want to watch something without headphones. Neither of these phones pack more impressive front-facing stereo speakers than the HTC One M8 and they are both fairly middling.
The iPhone 6 is the louder of the two but audio does start to get distorted at the highest levels, which also occurs on the S5. The iPhone 6 has a little more low end but the Galaxy offer a bit more clarity. You won’t want to use the speakers to listen to music on either of these phones much and the iPhone performs a smidge better than the S5 when it comes to listening to TV or films.
The iPhone has the speaker at the bottom of the phone whereas the S5 has it at the back. Neither is optimal – front facing is better – but the S5 speaker faces entirely the wrong way and is a bit easier to cover with your hand as you hold it.
Winner: Neither…..Both are good, but could be better
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy S5 – Bluetooth 4.0, 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, NFC, Infrared, microUSB v3.0 (MHL 2.1), USB on the go, USB host
iPhone 6 – Bluetooth 4.0, 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, NFC (Apple Pay only), Lightning connector USB 2.0, Airdrop, Continuity
Samsung packs everything but the kitchen sink in their flagship phones and the Galaxy S5 is no different. As well as the usual gamut of Bluetooth, 4G and Wi-Fi the S5 comes with NFC and an Infrared sensor so that you can use it as a remote control for your TV and the rest of your home entertainment kit.
It also takes advantage of the fast speeds that USB 3.0 offers so you can get data from it to your computer, and vice versa, a lot quicker than you can on the iPhone 6. If you intend on connecting your phone to your TV via a cable then the Galaxy S5 has MHL which lets you do just that. Unlike the iPhone 6 you can also use the S5 as a portable storage device – you can store documents music and movies and transfer these to any computer using the USB cable.
By comparison iPhones have kept connectivity way leaner but the iPhone 6 comes with a more comprehensive list of 4G/LTE networks compared to the Galaxy S5. iOS 8 also adds some great connectivity features – as long as you’ve bought into the Apple ecosystem that is.
Airdrop has been around since iOS 7 and lets you easily share content with friends and family members using iOS devices like the iPad Air http://www.trustedreviews.com/ipad-air-review or on newer Macs using OS X Yosemite. This does work in principle, but it can be a little unreliable, AirDropping from iPhone to iPhone though was much better.
Continuity is a clever feature that lets you use your iPad or MacBook (running OS X Yosemite) to make or take calls as long as they are on the same Wi-Fi network. It means you don’t have to dash to the other room to pick up your charging iPhone 6 when you’re lounging in the living room with your iPad. Our major gripe though with this feature is how our entire Apple ecosystem rings when we get a phone call, turning the office into a call centre.
NFC is limited though and only works with Apple Pay, Apple’s new method of touch payments, which means that you won’t be able to pair your iPhone with speakers just by tapping them together, a feature we use religiously on NFC toting Android devices.
The iPhone 6 has more connectivity options than any iPhone before it but it still doesn’t match the Galaxy S5, but when Apple Pay arrives in the UK though this could change.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5
Related: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Fingerprint scanners
Apple introduced Touch ID with the iPhone 5S and it was a revelation. Keeping your phone secure has never been easier. And it’s even better in the iPhone 6. The extra processing power of the A8 system on a chip means that your phone unlocks in record time and iOS 8 unleashed the TouchID API on to the developer community, so we now have apps, like 1Password, that open with the touch of your thumb.
The extra processing power of the A8 system on a chip means that your phone unlocks in record time.
Samsung added a fingerprint scanner to the S5 but it doesn’t work anywhere near as well as Apple’s implementation. Rather than resting your finger on the scanner you are forced to wipe it over the button which is tricky when using it one handed. It’s also a lot more sensitive to the direction of your finger or thumb so you’ll often need multiple attempts to unlock.
Out of 10 attempts, we were only accepted into the Galaxy S5 on three of those, while the iPhone unlocked perfectly every time. If the S6 is going to come with a similar method for unlocking, we hope it’s much improved, or else we’ll just end up turning it straight off.
Winner: iPhone 6 by a landslide
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Storage
The Galaxy S5 only has 16GB on-board storage (there is a 32GB mode in some territories) but packs a microSD card slot below its back cover. You can add a 128GB microSD card which you can buy for around £80/$100. That’s half the price the extra storage on a 128GB iPhone 6 costs.
The heavy TouchWiz skin does eat through space though, meaning the 16GB model comes out of the box with only about 9GB that can actually use. Download some games, an app or two and sync a few of your Spotify playlists and you’ll soon be running on empty. The same goes for the 16GB iPhone 6 version, which without the microSD expansion is really only suited to people who live their entire lives in the cloud, or use only the very basic functions of the phone.
Our advice is to plump for the 64GB iPhone (which replaced the 32GB version), it’s worth the extra investment and it won’t force you to have to delete those epic holiday photos before you install a new game.
As we mentioned earlier a microSD is a must buy if you’re going for the Galaxy S5, but you have much more choice with this. If you’re a media hoarder without deep pockets, the S5 is the pick in this category.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Performance
On paper the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a lot more powerful than the iPhone 6. The specs suggest that it’s twice as powerful but when we look at real performance the iPhone 6 is on par and even comes out on top in a few benchmarks.
Both phones score almost exactly the same on Geekbench 3 (around 2800) which tests CPU performance and they’re also very similar in 3D Mark’s Ice Storm unlimited test although the iPhone 6 comes out with a much higher graphics score meaning it can perform better on glossy 3D games.
In real world terms, though, the iPhone 6 is slicker. It responds more quickly than the S5 and just feels faster during normal use. Some of this has nothing to do with processing power but a lot to do with software. The S5 uses Android but has modified it heavily with its own TouchWiz interface layer. This extra software layer adds a little time to actions being completed which you will notice in day to day use.
Winner: iPhone 6 but it’s close
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Battery Life
The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a bigger battery and it shows. You’ll get a day and a half of moderate use out of it compared to a day and a bit on the iPhone 6. If you unplug each from a charge at around 7am, you should have enough juice to last throughout the day, even with multiple email accounts pulling down a constant stream of data and the odd web browsing session. Start playing high-powered games though, and this drops. We ate through 20% of the iPhone’s battery and 18% of the Galaxy S5’s by playing about 30-minutes of Asphalt 8, so be warned.
In our standard video test the iPhone 6 lasts just under 10 hours, a full hour less than the S5. But, the real key to a good battery though, is how quickly they charge.
We’ve all been in that situation haven’t we – wake up in the morning, already late for the bus and realise we forgot to charge our phone the night before. So, we ran down the battery on both phones and gave them each a 30-minute charge to see how much power each would recoup. Both devices actually performed really well, we got to about 25% battery on each phone and that was enough for us to get to work and plug in again for a full charge up. You’ll need about two hours to fully go from 0-100%.
The thing that clinches it for the S5 though is the wide range of power saving features that can be enabled. These ensure that your phone lasts that little bit longer when you need it to most, even going to the lengths of ditching colour and going all black and white to make 10% last a day or so. You can also completely replace the battery with a spare, a Samsung addition we always appreciate.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Price
We’ve already mentioned the iPhone 6 is expensive but how expensive? The 16GB iPhone 6 costs £539/$649 contract-free, the 64GB £619/$749 and 128GB a wallet-busting £699/$849.
By comparison the Galaxy S5 can now be bought from a reputable seller for around £430/$570. Add a 128GB microSD card to that and the price goes to £510/$670 saving you £190/$280 for compared to the top spec iPhone 6. That’s a big amount of cash, but you do have to remember that the S5 is almost a year old, so prices are always going to be bit lower.
The thing is, when we lay down however much money for an iPhone, we know what we’re getting. The classy finish, premium materials and overall precision are so much higher on the iPhone 6 than on the plastic clad, faux metal rimmed Samsung Galaxy S5 that the extra cash, almost, seems worth it. All this could of change if the rumours of a metal covered S6 are true, and after the release of the Alpha and Note 4 we know that Samsung can actually design a well-built smartphone.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5 by a mile
Next read: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus
iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Verdict
It’s pretty clear to see that both these phones are impressive, packed full of useful features and posses a battery that’ll last you the day, a camera that’ll give you sharable pictures and a screen that makes watching YouTube a joy. So, it really falls to the other areas to prise them apart.
Android 5.0 Lollipop is a fantastic, albeit slightly buggy, update and if Samsung had decided to tone down TouchWiz, it would give it a real chance of beating iOS. Sadly, little annoyances and increased slow-down hamper the performance and are definitely noticeable in real world use. But, if you’re used to the way Android handles notifications and lets you play around with how the device looks and feels, stepping into Apple’s walled garden probably isn’t your idea of an upgrade.
The same can be said though if you’re a lover of Apple’s design skills and material choices, as picking up the S5 and iPhone 6 together show a real gulf in industrial construction. Metal beats plastic, even faux plastic, every time for us, even if we have to take a little extra bit of care.
If we had to choose, we would say – wait. Boring, we know. But, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is due in little less than a month and hopefully it’ll correct many are gripes we’ve mentioned above. If you just have to have a new phone now though, go for the iPhone 6, you won’t be disappointed.
If you have any questions about the two phones you think we haven’t covered then let us know in the comments below.