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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5

Andrew Williams

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5

Samsung Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5 - which should you get?

The Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 are the most successful phones Samsung and Apple have produced. They have sold tens of millions of handsets across the world.

If you’re at the end of you contract, there’s a good chance you’ll be looking at buying one of these phones. But which is right for you? Let’s take a closer look as we compare design, features, speakers and software.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S

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A year on... problems and issues

The iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 have been around for quite a while now. So are there any serious problems or issues that need to be considered?

There's ultimately nothing too major. One of thew main recurring problems is with battery drain issues in the iPhone 5. iOS 7 has caused these to resurface - making the battery run down faster than usual.

To solve these, check out our iOS 7 battery tips feature.

Although there have been concerns raised about the build quality of the Galaxy S4, and the extent to which it is susceptible to water damage, there's little to worry about on the Samsung front.

Update October 2013 - The Next Generation

As of September 20, the iPhone 5 has been discontinued. This was the date on which Apple launched the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.

Normally, Apple keeps its old models to act as a lower-cost option, but the iPhone 5 has been scrapped entirely - to be replaced by the iPhone 5C. Of course, you'll still be able to buy it - just not directly from Apple.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 remains a 'current' phone, and will do so until the Galaxy S5 is released. The phone is expected to land early next year.

Want to know more about the new iPhone? Read our Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5S comparison.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 - Video Comparison

Don't fancy poring over a load of text? We've produced a little video that compares the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 side-by-side. Give it a watch.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 – Price and deals

Samsung Galaxy S4 – 16GB only, From £32 a month

iPhone 5 – 16GB: from £33 a month

There are hundreds of contract deals available for the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5, and they change from month to month. However, at present the phones sell at very similar prices.

Over at Carphone Warehouse, both the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 are available for free on contracts of £33 a month and up. Any lower than that and you'll have to pay an up-front fee for the phone. That the iPhone 5 has been discountinued hasn't caused the price to drop.

Go SIM-free and the Galaxy S4 is significantly cheaper these days. You can get the phone for just over £400 if you shop hard enough, while the iPhone 5 is closer to £500.

Galaxy S4 win

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 - Design

Samsung Galaxy S4 – 7.7mm thick, plastic rear

iPhone 5 – 7.6mm thick, aluminium rear

Unlike comparing the Samsung Galaxy S4 with its Android rivals, where body shapes and sizes are similar at this high-end level, the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 are completely different.

It may sound trivial, but one of the most important design differences is that the Galaxy S4 is over 1cm wider than the iPhone 5. This makes it much trickier to grasp reliably than the iPhone, which is intended to fit comfortably into the hand of just about anyone.

Samsung Galaxy S4 versus 7

When changing the design from the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5, Apple elongated the screen rather than making it any wider for precisely this reason.

Although the Galaxy S4 is much larger than the iPhone 5, it’s not actually any thicker – well it’s 0.1mm thicker, but even in the slimness-obsessed phone world that’s not worth crowing about.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a curvier body than the iPhone, which feels harder and more severe thanks to its aluminium shell and immaculate bevelled edges. Conversely, there’s no metal on the Galaxy S4’s exterior.

Samsung Galaxy S4 15

Its front is top-notch Gorilla Glass, but the rest is plastic. The phone uses a removable plastic battery cover that is frequently criticised for being flimsy or cheap-feeling.

There are a few upsides to a removable cover, though. It lets Samsung bung-in a microSD memory card slot easily and means you can replace the rear part if it gets damaged or scratched.

Replacing the housing of an iPhone 5 with an unofficial repairer online will cost you £150. A replacement battery cover for the S4 can be had for a few quid from eBay.

iPhone 5 win

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 – Durability

We’re generally pretty nice to the phones we review at TrustedReviews. Don’t get us wrong, we’re as critical as anything – but we don’t tend to destroy the things.

Not everyone is quite so nice. Android Authority staged a drop test, pitting the Galaxy S4 against the iPhone 5 to see which is tougher.

The Galaxy S4 was the phone to crack first, its screen smashing after a few drops. The iPhone 5 remained relatively in-tact, but it’s worth noting that its body will attract dings if you drop it – as it is made of aluminium. Give it a watch below.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 – Internal Speaker

Samsung Galaxy S4 – Mono, rear-mounted

iPhone 5 – Mono, rear-mounted

Unlike the HTC One, neither the Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5 put all that much focus on their internal speakers. Both have rear-mounted drivers that point away from you.

The iPhone 5’s speaker grilles are found on its bottom edge, put most out of view, next to the Lightning port. Cleverly, there are two grilles to help you avoid muffling the speaker with your hand.

The Galaxy S4’s speaker output has even less ceremony to it – there’s a grille cut into the bottom-left of the plastic battery cover.

But which sounds better? The iPhone 5 speaker goes that bit louder, but the Galaxy S4 copes much better at higher volumes, where the iPhone 5 starts to sound a little strained nearing top volume.

Both phones output mono sound, though, so aren’t all that great to listen to movies with.

Galaxy S4 win

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 - Connectivity

Samsung Galaxy S4 – Bluetooth 4.0, 4G, NFC, MHL, GPS

iPhone 5 – Bluetooth 4.0, 4G, GPS

The iPhone 5 famously leaves out a few connectivity features, while the Galaxy S4 leaves out virtually nothing at all. However, if you’re not a real hardcore user you may not notice the bits left out of the iPhone 5.

Both phones have the basics – GPS, Bluetooth (with Bluetooth 4.0), Wi-Fi, 3G and even 4G.

So what’s missing from the iPhone 5? There are two biggies – NFC and MHL.

NFC is Near-Field Communication and is a wireless standard that is used in a number of different ways. The most exciting is to pay for things on the high street – although this has hardly taken off. A few coffee shops let you buy stuff using NFC, but it’ll unlikely to gain mainstream acceptance until it’s adopted by the iPhone 5S (as it rumoured).

NFC is also used to connect phones and tablets with audio docks, such as the Samsung GA-F61. These are becoming pretty common, but if your audio system is more than a year old you can be pretty much certain it won’t have NFC.

MHL is a tech that’s crammed into the microUSB slot of the Samsung Galaxy S4. With the right adapter, it lets the phone output HD video and surround sound to a TV using an HDMI cable.

However, the adapter doesn’t come in the box, and costs around £20.

Galaxy S4 win

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 - Screen

Samsung Galaxy S4 – 1080p, 4.99-inch Super AMOLED

iPhone 5 – 640 x 1136 pixel, 4-inch IPS

The Galaxy S4 and iPhone stick to the screen technologies used by their predecessors. The iPhone 5 uses IPS, the Galaxy S4 AMOLED.

Both are huge improvements on the screens of their predecessors. Where the Galaxy S3 display was a bit dim and seemed a lot less sharp than it should have been, given its resolution, thanks to its PenTile screen type, the Galaxy S4 display is super-bright and super-sharp.

Samsung Galaxy S4 versus 3

We had no real complaints about the iPhone 4S display when it was the ‘current’ iPhone, but the iPhone 5 screen makes it look a little dull, with much-improved contrast and more vivid colours.

They’re more significant generational steps-up than we were expecting – but how do they fare head-to-head? That comparison is a lot trickier.

The iPhone 5 has more natural-looking colours, while the Galaxy S4 has better contrast in low-light conditions. Although the Galaxy S4 has uses a much higher resolution, and has higher pixel density, there’s not a great difference in sharpness, though.

As both these screens are bonafide winners, the most important difference is in size, not screen quality.

The 4.99-inch display of the Galaxy is much better than the 4-incher of the iPhone 5 for playing games or watching films. We’re not totally on-board with ever-expanding mobile screens, but switching between the two, the iPhone 5 does feel flat-out small.

What you need to do it weigh-up the entertainment benefits of the Samsung’s large screen next to the negative practical issues of such a large phone.

Galaxy S4 win

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 - Storage

Samsung Galaxy S4 – 16GB baseline, microSD slot

iPhone 5 – 16GB baseline, 32GB and 64GB models available, non-expandable

If you’re a big video or TV episode consumer, storage matters. The iPhone 5 comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB varieties, while the Galaxy S4 is only widely available as a 16GB model in the UK.

There’s a reason why the 32GB and 64GB Galaxy S4 editions on sale elsewhere don’t get much traction in the UK, though – the microSD memory card slot.

This lets you expand the memory by an additional 32GB for less than £20. To upgrade from the 16GB iPhone 5 to the 64GB version, you’re looking at spending an extra £170.

What is worth noting, though, is that the Galaxy S4 won’t let you install apps to the memory card – it’s best to leave microSD card storage for photos, videos or music.

Galaxy S4 win

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 - CPU and GPU

Samsung Galaxy S4 – Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 1.9GHz CPU, 2GB RAM,

iPhone 5 – Apple A6 dual-core 1.2GHz, 1GB RAM, PowerVR SGX 543 GPU

Before the phone launched, it was believed that the Galaxy S4 would be the first eight-core phone. However, that version is not on sale in the UK. We can only get our hands on the more ordinary-sounding quad-core edition, which has a Snapdragon 600 1.9GHz processor.

It may not sound as impressive as the ‘octo-core’ edition, but both trump the positively passé dual-core processor of the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5 processor is not to be underestimated, though. Its cores use the advanced Cortex-A15 architecture, and performance is solid – even when compared to more powerful-sounding quad-core rivals. The Galaxy S4 is still the clear winner, though.

Here’s how some of their benchmark scores compare:

iPhone specs

Sunspider (lower is better)

iPhone 5: 915ms

Galaxy S4: 855ms

AnTuTu Galaxy S4

AnTuTu

iPhone 5: 18,000

Galaxy S4: 21,000

Geekbench Galaxy S4

Geekbench shows the iPhone 5 is arguably closer in performance to the S3 than the S4

Geekbench

iPhone 5: 1650

Galaxy S4: 3163

Samsung’s phone is more powerful across the board, whether judging javascript performance or more general productivity/gaming prowess.

This is not surprising, though. The iPhone 5 is a more direct competitor to the Galaxy S3 than the Galaxy S4. We’ll see Apple catch up with this year’s iPhone 5S, but for now the Galaxy S4 is the power king.

Galaxy S4 win

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 - Software

Samsung Galaxy S4 – Android 4.2 with TouchWiz

iPhone 5 – iOS 7

That the difference in raw power won’t matter all that much to people becomes clear when you get hands-on with the phones’ software. The systems they use, and the way those systems operate, is completely different. Samsung Galaxy S4 5

The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a customised version of Android Jelly Bean. The custom interface that Samsung lays on top is called TouchWiz, and it looks and feels just like the one seen in the Galaxy S3 – it will seem familiar to Galaxy veterans.

TouchWiz is full of extra features. However, we did find that they tend to slow Android down a little, with a little more lag evident in transitions and app loading than we’d expect with a vanilla Android phone with a CPU this fast – or with an iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5 uses iOS 7, which was released alongside the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. It's a totaly visual reworking of the iOS system. And it was long overdue - iOS had previously looked more-or-less the same as it did when it launched in 2007.

iOS 7 brings much slicker screen transitions, a more modern, clean look and new icons. We like it. iOS 7 also has a bunch of new features, such as the ability to turn things like Wi-Fi on and off quickly using the swipe-up Control Center menu.

For more on the extra features found in the Galaxy S4, read our top TouchWiz features article.

iPhone 5 win

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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 - Camera

Samsung Galaxy S3 -13-megapixel sensor, LED flash

iPhone 5 – 8-megapixel sensor LED flash

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has more megapixels than the iPhone 5, with a 13-megapixel sensor in place of an 8-megapixel one. But is it better?

The difference is not as great as you might expect. When looking at pixel level, the Galaxy S4’s pictures have a little more detail, and a little less noise in good lighting. However, the actual quality of the photos when viewed at normal sizes is roughly comparable.

Let’s take a closer look at a few photos taken with the cameras.

Galaxy S4 versus 3

iPhone 5 London scene

Galaxy S4 versus 2

Galaxy S4 London scene

Galaxy S4 versus 6

Pixel level comparion

This shot comparison gives the clearest indication of the sort of detail difference you can expect from the cameras in reasonable light. The Samsung Galaxy S4 renders some fine details far more successfully.

Check out the foreground building in the pixel level comparison. In the Galaxy S4 shot, the architectural lines between floors are clear, where they are reduced to mush by the iPhone 5. Similarly, there's far greater detail in the lines of the Gherkin, and the scaffolding in the shot.

Galaxy S4 versus 7

iPhone 5 close-up test

Galaxy S4 versus

Galaxy S4 close-up test

Galaxy S4 versus 1

Pixel level comparison

In this second test, we tried to get up close and personal with the subject, to see how capable the phones are at macro-style photography. To start, the Galaxy S4 was much happier to focus close-up - the iPhone 5 had to be held back a little further to focus correctly.

Both phones manage a limited shallow depth of field effect, which is where the background appears blurred, bringing the subject into tighter focus. Of the two, the iPhone 5 makes a better job of bringing out the subject in question, the purple flower.

Zooming in to pixel level we see that while the iPhone 5's image is noisier, the Galaxy S4 doesn't render significantly more detail in the stamen, which was our exact point of focus.

Here we come to the crux of the problem - in difficult photographic situations, the Galaxy S4 won't fare much better than the lower-resolution iPhone 5 because the camera sensor sizes are roughly the same.

One of the main reasons why a DSLR camera can take much better photos than a phone is because it uses a larger sensor. The sensor is the part that takes in light, and a larger sensor lets it reap more light in the same exposure duration. More light equals more accurate and detailed pictures.

Software is also an important part of any phone camera.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has many more modes, filters and effects than the iPhone 5, which has only HDR and panorama. If you want to have fun with your camera, the Galaxy S4 is where it's at - although plenty of iPhone apps that do similar things are available.

To see whether the built-in processing is of much use, we checked out these cameras' HDR modes.

Galaxy S4 versus 5

iPhone 5 HDR demo

Galaxy S4 versus 4

iPhone 5 HDR demo

From a quick glance, the iPhone 5's shot appears more lively, with greater contrast, and image 'pop'. However, judging the HDR function alone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is more successful.

Check out the trimmed bush to the right of the shot, and the greenery at the rear. More foliage detail is brought out of the shadows in the Galaxy S4's photo. The exposure of the sky is a little more even in the Samsung shot too, even if all it does is to emphasise quite how drab a day we're recreating here.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the camera winner, but not by quite as great a margin as we'd have liked. Let's hope the iPhone 5S does more than catch up with the Galaxy S4.

Galaxy S4 win

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Verdict

Several aspects show up that the iPhone 5 is a phone of last year, while the Galaxy S4 is absolutely a phone that belongs in 2013. It’s much more powerful, its camera has a full five extra megapixels at its disposal and it doesn’t even cost any more. In truth, the extras mean little in practise because there are far greater differences at work here than pure specs.

Forgetting the elements that make this comparison a case of 'apples and oranges', the Galaxy S4 is clearly mode advanced in most respects.

Next read our Galaxy S4 vs HTC One comparison

Samsung Galaxy S4 DealsiPhone 5 Deals

sam

March 15, 2013, 2:00 am

i like iphone better then s4

Cool iPhone

March 15, 2013, 9:07 am

S4 is way too big, like a smaller tablet. Stupid design!!

Shannon Johns

March 15, 2013, 10:02 pm

Phone looks great, but one thing that will piss me off as a consumer, as I know will happen, is that Android will come out with a new OS (fruit cake, candy cane, etc.) and it will take forever, if not ever, for the update to hit my phone. That's why I'll stick with the iPhone.

stefnagel

March 16, 2013, 10:59 pm

No price? No battery stats? Nothing to buy yet? Absolutely. Sign me up.

full metal norris

March 18, 2013, 7:13 am

I will give iphone/apple its dues and I do like their software to an extent, but this post is for those that revere the iphone as the all mighty and talk down other phones they know nothing about. The iphone used to be a frankenstien up til now, which it still partially is. (hardware provided by numerous other companies including samsung and nokia and many others til recently). Now Apple will attempt to produce its own hardware and will fail as it did in the past. Apple is alive today only because of Microsoft. Microsoft dominated the PC industry and was forced by the feds to, as Obumer did with the Dodge and Chevy, bail out Apple. I'm a Linux user so I can have the best of both worlds. Suck it you nimrods.

Keith

March 18, 2013, 12:27 pm

That's what I used to believe too. But Apple of late have really let me down, new features are often left out of slightly older phones. Eg,. My iphone4 could have easily done panoramic/Siri etc, but the updates left this out. So then I'm left thinking what's so great about iOS updates. The only thing I've noticed is my IP4 just now feels sluggish to what it did when I first bought it.

sameer somu

April 16, 2013, 11:48 am

s4 is the same size as the s3. its no bigger than the average smartphone these days (iphone is behind). its screen just got bigger...

Ratko_Solaja

April 16, 2013, 1:23 pm

I'm not an apple fanboy, but when it comes to this, I would rather see iPhone in my pocket than the Samsung S4. Why? First of all, S4 is way to big for me. Yeah, it has great screen and everything, but... hitting the back button with my smallish right hand can be pain in the ass. Software - Android. Yeah, no. I don't like android very much, I tried it, but I don't like it. Nor do I prefer Ubuntu over Windows 7/8 or OS X ML.
So If you ask me, I would go with iPhone 5. Performance is good, I don't need that much RAM as S4 has, since I don't play games on it. Nevertheless, Samsung did something truly amazing with S4.
P.S. Only Apple product that I have is iPhone 5. I have custom made PC with os ml and windows 8 on it. So, not a fanboy.

styles bitchley

April 17, 2013, 3:15 am

Makes absolutely no sense,,, If the Galaxy S4 is already Superior to iPhone, who cares how long the next OS update will take. I gurantee you it will be before an Apple phone with a meanigful size screen

styles bitchley

April 17, 2013, 3:17 am

In your feeble opinion. I've owned every iPhone and now the Galaxy S3 and it takes about 2 days to get used to the size and once you do, there is NO turning back to Apple

styles bitchley

April 17, 2013, 3:18 am

AMEN!

Karim Sumar

April 18, 2013, 12:20 pm

Samsung S4 wins hands down on storage, trueHD display, better camera, up-gradeable memory, replaceable battery, S-Health etc.. Come on IPhone you lost this battle!

Tim Kern

April 20, 2013, 7:23 am

I have to admit, the are a couple of categories that I really look at that seeming do not get enough emphasis in reviews; gps quality and the contact list (such as the old scrolling company names on the BB curve phones for business contacts) . For a guy that travels on the road a bit, I rely on these phones to be my electronic hub for music, directions while driving, phone calls to clients, etc. This seamless integration is what I truely look for in a phone to consolidate multiple devices into one. As soon as you lose faith in one of those components you need to carry around (and spend more money on, if you don't already have one) another device. That all-in-one aspect is what verifies that price tag for me and if it fails to do so I'll just go grab some 10 year old nokia for my phone calls and keep the glove box full of the other crap for when I need it.

Mattytothemax

April 20, 2013, 3:31 pm

Tom: "Hey Matt, what phone you using?"

Matt: "I have the new Samsung S4, what phone you using?"

Tom: " I've got an iPhone."

Tom's answer to the question always sounds and feels better than Matt's answer. It's kind of like, no matter what phone you have, I have an iPhone. FULLSTOP.

Ashish Mahajan

April 23, 2013, 11:39 am

iphone 3 or 4 or 5??????????????

rexxmc

April 29, 2013, 9:43 am

Samsung S4 indeed is a good phone but iPhone 5 is a great and superior phone

techboy

April 30, 2013, 3:08 pm

the creator of iphone is dead and so is the iphone in the future.. stop buying rip off phones like iphone...and besides the S4 has a mini version..

Ben-Aron Abrams

May 3, 2013, 8:08 am

That would take away some of the appointed feeling of it :)

Ben-Aron Abrams

May 3, 2013, 8:18 am

It depends how you use your phone. I have a SE Xperia Arc with a 4" screen and usually use it horizontally with both hands. In addition, Android is a much more customizable than Apples OS.

Ratko_Solaja

May 3, 2013, 10:14 am

True! But I don't use it horizontally. Only when I watch something...
I use smatphone mainly for wi-fi =)

Ambransh

May 6, 2013, 12:56 pm

a PHONE at its best is iPhone 5, Use an apple and u will find its a precious gem, a gift, a jewel, a boon, and will feel techno-blessed ..... aw about that Samsung s4 ... ya it is just another hi-tech broad gadget which is confused with a phone by its maker, just because it features calling and text. I got my hand full with the damn thing, had to use the other to operate. Now imagine when you are out in a market, grabbing on some bags in one hand and an ice cream cone in another, and your phone rings.... i bet you would want to answer that call on an i phone 5 out of your pocket... i mean it... now why would you want a phone more than a phone? jeez...... buy a laptop...

Nick Avicolli

May 7, 2013, 12:05 am

And how so? with an old apple duel core processor or because of it's old 8 mega pixel camera? or maybe because they have been using the same UI since the original iphone?

Nick Avicolli

May 7, 2013, 12:08 am

* the back button is on the bottom right so i think you mean something like the top left part of the screen as to that it would be harder to touch but the way the s4 is built its made to have a larger screen but while still making it able to accomidate small fingers

Vineet

May 7, 2013, 10:52 pm

iPhone bubble is burst ... The day you use S4 you will think what did you do in your past life that God made you use and iPhone instead of S4.. iPhone days are gone .. not just iPhone .. all apple products actually

rarf rider

May 9, 2013, 5:03 pm

When you came from your old texting phone or flip phone, the iphones seemed huge. going from an iphone to an android is the same thing, it seems bigger then you get used to it. after owning android for many years, the iphone is wayyyyy to small to use.

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