Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Apple iPhone 5s

The eternal battle between Apple and Samsung rages on as we compare both companies’ flagship phones point-by-point

Their names may be quite similar, but the Apple iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5 are very different smartphones indeed. If you’re thinking of buying one of these two flagships, don’t pull the trigger without first consulting our point-by-point comparison (which you’ll find by scrolling down the page, by the way).

READ MORE: Apple iPhone 5s review

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Design and build

The days of Apple’s iPhones being streets ahead of everything else out there in terms of build quality are over – but not on account of Samsung. While the HTC One (M8) is arguably better put together than the iPhone 5s, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a plastic phone with a removeable back. True, it’s the best-made plastic phone with a removeable back that Samsung’s engineers have produced to date, but it’s still a long way behind the 5s (and most other flagship smartphones) when it comes to solidity. Crank up the volume on the S5’s speakers, for instance, and the casing will begin to vibrate.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Apple iPhone 5s

All that jazz about the S5 being waterproof? Well, it's true that you don’t have to worry about sending the S5 into a watery grave when you’re at the beach. But when you’re about to charge the Android smartphone via its microUSB cable? The cover that protects the microUSB port from water will be a real pain to remove. Every. Single. Time.

And while we're talking ergonomics, don’t forget: the iPhone 5s’ Lightning connector plugs in both ways. But on the looks front alone, it's clear to anyone with a set of functioning eyes and a sense of taste that the iPhone is a better prospect. Samsung may be making great strides in design every generation of smartphone it makes, but Apple has already crossed the finish line.

Winner: Apple iPhone 5s

Screen

Do we need to say who’s the clear winner here? No really, do we have to say it, if we tell you the S5 has a 5.1in display packed with 1920 x 1080 pixels? Oh, by the way, the iPhone 5s sports a 4in screen with 1136 x 640 pixels. Still not convinced who the winner is? Consider the S5’s pixel density, raking in 432 pixels per inch while the iPhone 5s doesn’t even come close at 326 pixels per inch.

Now if we’re not spelling this out clearly enough, the S5 uses a Super AMOLED display. You know, the type that treats your eyes to the most fantastic viewing experience even if you hold the phone at a distance. Try doing that on the iPhone 5s. Chances are, you’ll be squinting and bringing the phone closer to your eyes. Or maybe your eyes need an upgrade.

We know that screen size isn't everything, but on the numbers alone, the winner is obvious. The iPhone 5s has a good screen. The Galaxy S5 has a fantastic one.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5

Camera

If we're playing the numbers game, this is a round Samsung would seem to have firmly in the bag: the S5 boasts a 16MP rear camera capable of capturing 4K video, while the iPhone 5s has an 8MP sensor and 1080p video capabilities.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Apple iPhone 5s

Of course, there's more to things than that, and the iPhone takes wonderful shots in almost all conditions (its dual-LED flash helps provide better skin tones at night and indoors) while the Galaxy S5 is more suited to outdoor photography. In good light, the S5 delivers amazing shots time and time again with little need for fiddling or adjusting settings. The iPhone is a better performer in the gloom, but overall we think the S5's outdoor detail and punch – not to mention its abilities with 4K video capture – give it a slight edge here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5

Performance

The Galaxy S5 sports Qualcomm’s latest 2.5GHz quad-core Krait processor – a Snapdragon 801, to be precise – and marries it to 2GB of RAM for impressive all-round performance. Having chucked all manner of apps and games at it, we've found it performs near-flawlessly with everything. There's the occasional stutter when navigating Samsung's own UI, but nothing we'd call problematic.

Apple, meanwhile, touts the virtues of the 64-bit A7 processor in the iPhone 5s. But do you really need a 64-bit processor? In the long run, yes. But right now, the main purpose of Apple's 64-bit processor is to power the iPhone's Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Even without a 64-bit processor, having four cores running at 2.5GHz on the S5 is going to make the iPhone 5s’ dual-core A7 look like a chump.

Theoretically, anyway: it's difficult to compare two phones that run different operating systems, but we can't say that the (dual-core, sub-1GB of RAM) 5s performs noticeably poorer than the Samsung S5. We'll have to call this round a tie, but Apple's 64-bit talents may give it an edge in the future.

Winner: Draw

More after the break...

Features

Features? The S5 has loads. Wireless charging, check (with an optional case). Siri, we mean, S Voice? Still there. How about Samsung's famous air gestures that lets you cycle through images without even touching the screen? All included.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Apple iPhone 5s - Features 2

That fingerprint scanner? True on all accounts. Like the iPhone 5s, the sensor is located on the home button, allowing you to secure the S5 with a swipe of your thumb. It does more, too - Samsung’s integrating PayPal payment with the scanner.

That heart rate monitor located beside the camera? No more excuse to be a slob, especially when the S5 keeps reminding you to get off your lazy backside.

The iPhone 5s, on the other hand, is fairly light on these kinds of bells and whistle. The Touch ID scanner feels slicker than the S5's equivalent, it's true, and there's the M7 motion coprocessor that can track activity even when the phone is "asleep" – but aside from that there's little to differentiate it from the iPhone 5 it replaces.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5

Battery life

2800mAh versus 1560mAh. If only it was this simple to determine the winner based on numbers. While the S5’s battery is nearly twice as large as the iPhone 5s, don’t rule out the fact that the Android smartphone is a hungry hungry hippo with its larger screen, more pixels, and all those power-consuming features that run in the background.

However, Samsung has packed in a power-saving mode that, by shutting off non-essential functions and transforming the colour screen to a greyscale one – will last for a full day on standby mode, even when you only have 10 per cent of your power left. Any phone that lasts for more than a day, in our books, is a winner. And that's even before you consider the S5's removeable battery, which means you can buy a second one and swap them out to give you even more on-the-go usage.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5

UI

It’s the classic Android versus iOS match-up. The S5 has none of the limitations that the iPhone 5s imposes on its users. You can freely transfer files between the S5 and your desktop or laptop. It has loads of apps on the Google Play Store, and at times, exclusive apps only available on Samsung devices. Everything that’s great about the Android interface gets bumped up with more customised features to give you easier access.

But it can get overwhelming. Samsung has traditionally packed its phones with bloatware that complicates the user experience. Its calendar app, for example, is a far cry from the simple UI on the stock Android interface. Samsung's customised apps, meant to integrate the features of the phone, add too much to the table (that said, we've found TouchWiz on the S5 to be its best iteration yet, and Samsung has streamlined things to a welcome degree – it's still not as clean as stock Android or iOS, but it's getting there).

On the other hand, for iDevices, even when it comes to wireless file transfers, you’ll need to use AirDrop. Apps are curated before they even make it into the App Store. Say all you want about the Apple’s restrictive measures on iOS, it works if you’d rather be told what you can or can’t do with iOS.

It's a matter of personal choice which you prefer, but for most day-to-day users, the certainty that the curated App Store offers will likely make the difference between Android and Apple.

Winner: Apple iPhone 5s

Verdict

The iPhone 5s is a wonderful smartphone – and still the best choice for anyone who can't bring themselves to part with iOS – but when looked at side-by-side with the Samsung Galaxy S5, the latter wins out. A bigger, clearer, brighter screen; longer battery life; a larger crop of features that you won't find on any other handset – the S5 has many advantages over Apple's flagship, and thus we're happy to say it's overall the better of the two phones. But with Apple due to unveil the 5s' successor before the year is out, don't be surprised if the pendulum swings back in Cupertino's favour soon.

READ MORE: Top 10 best smartphones in the world