We already know that the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s will be some of the most popular and successful phones of the year. They’re likely to be the top two, in fact. But will the 2012 stalemate between the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 continue with this year’s models? Or is one of these phone makers about to drop the ball? Let’s take a look at what we know so far.
Also check out our iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S3 comparison >
iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S4 – Design
After the design shift that the iPhone 5 represented, the iPhone 5S is not going to rock the boat. It’ll have an aluminium rear, glass front and 4-inch screen. To date, only a couple of images of iPhone 5S components have been leaked online by French blog nowhereelse, though, and even those have been deleted. However, they supported this theory.
There have been rumours of a larger 4.8-inch iPhone that would have a design a little closer to the large Samsung Galaxy S4, but analysts seem to agree that this is either an “iPhone 6” set for a 2014, or an early concept that will never see the light of day.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a similar water-treading tale, although it’s likely to offer some aesthetic changes from its predecessor, where the iPhone 5S may look more-or-less exactly the same as the iPhone 5.
Once more, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will have a plastic battery cover. It’ll be thin, and people will complain that it feels a bit flimsy. But in practical terms, it will do the job of protecting the phone’s innards from impact just fine.
Leaked pictures show that the Samsung Galaxy S4 may be a little less curvy than the Samsung Galaxy S3. This is likely a move to enable the phone to reduce bezel space more successfully, reducing the amount the phone’s large 5-inch screen will add to the body size.
iPhone 5S – 0
Samsung Galaxy S4 - 0
iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S4 – Screen
Samsung is to continue the screen trajectory of the Galaxy series. This means more pixels and more screen inches for the Samsung Galaxy S4.
The phone is expected to have a 4.99-inch 1080p screen, using the AMOLED-type panel that has featured in the Galaxy series flagships since the range’s inception. Reports suggest it’ll have a flexible display, which should make it all the more rugged. However, it’s the increase in resolution and screen size that you’ll actually notice.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is far from the first 1080p 5-inch screen phone we’ve seen. At CES 2013 we saw the Huawei Ascend D2, Sony Xperia Z and ZTE Grand S, all of which offer FHD (full HD) screens.
With no expected screen size or resolution changes, it seems that the iPhone 5S is even less of a dramatic change, but we’d disagree. The iPhone 5S is expected to use a panel technology that’s completely new to Apple’s devices. It’ll use IGZO, a technology developed by Sharp.
The iPhone 5S’s IGZO panel should be cheaper to produce than the iPhone 5’s screen, but will provide significant power-saving benefits too. IGZO approaches screen refreshing in a dynamic manner, only refreshing when displaying moving images, not static ones. The iPhone 5 display refreshes constantly at 60Hz.
In theory, this should give the iPhone 5S much better power efficiency, resulting in better battery life. Sharp says that two full days of smartphone use – without scrimping – will soon be a reality.
iPhone 5S – 1
Samsung Galaxy S4 - 0
iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S4 – CPU
So far, the Samsung Galaxy S4 isn’t looking like much of a tech revelation. Thankfully, its processor is a little more interesting, tech-wise.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will have an Exynos 5 Octa SoC, which has eight cores, rather than the four seen in 2013 rivals like the Sony Xperia Z. However, only four of these cores are designed to be “all guns blazing” engines for high-performance applications. The other four are simpler, lower-clocked cores used for everyday tasks to preserve battery life.
The four top-end cores are Cortex-A15s clocked at 1.8GHz, the other four are Cortex-A9 cores running at 1.2GHz. Efficiency is the order of the day.
Smartphone petrol heads shouldn’t be disappointed that they’re not all the equivalent of gas-guzzling V8s, though. The Samsung Galaxy S4 will also have an extremely fast GPU, the Mali-T658. ARM says this will offer 10x the power of the current-gen Mali-400 chipset.
Will Apple make similar improvements in the iPhone 5S? As the A6 architecture is fairly new, the iPhone 5S is likely to use a chipset based on the A6X model of the iPad 4. Analysts have predicted that the current A6 generation will be around until 2014.
That means we’re looking at a dual-core GPU and quad-core GPU for the iPhone 5S. It may not sound like much next to the 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU of the Samsung Galaxy S4, but you can bet the iPhone 5S will have a greater wealth of top-end games. Hardware isn’t everything.
iPhone 5S – 0
Samsung Galaxy S4 - 1