Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5

Samsung and Apple's flagships go head-to-head – but can Apple’s aging iPhone stand up against the S4's galaxy of features?

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 – fight

The Galaxy S3 has been punching above its weight for a few months now, and now a new challenger has stepped up to the plate in the form of the Galaxy S4. On paper, you'd have to favour the Galaxy S4 over Apple's aging champ. It's bigger, brighter, faster and has a six-pack rippling with new tech. But the iPhone didn't get where it is today by giving up without a fight. Check out the spec-on-spec action below and get ready to see digital fists flying.

Read our Samsung Galaxy S4 hands-on review and Apple iPhone 5 review

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 – screen

Apple, famed for its Retina Display, has well and truly lost its grip on the screen crown. The Samsung Galaxy S4 boasts an inch more display real estate and nearly three times as many pixels on its 5-inch, 1920x1080 Full HD Super AMOLED screen. Pixel density rocks too, with 441ppi thoroughly trouncing the iPhone 5's 326ppi. On first inspection, the S4's screen is a winner, with colours seeming to pop even more than those of its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 – build

Let's get one thing straight, no one puts Apple in the corner for build quality. The Galaxy S4 is 7.9mm thick – a 0.3mm whisker thicker than the iPhone 5, and half a choccy bar heavier at 130g. The S4's plastic – sorry, polycarbonate – case, while sporting a few metal elements, can't match the iPhone 5's aluminium-and-glass gorgeousness, while its physical home button looks on the small side. Bluntly, the one area where the S3 was lacking was in its design and build – and the S4 doesn't do much to improve on it. The iPhone 5 wins out here.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 – power

How many cores? The Samsung 1.6GHz Exynos Octo-Core processor has no fewer than eight, which promise to make short work of the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS. The iPhone 5's A6 dual-core silicon will struggle to keep up in a level race, puffing along at 1.3GHz, although their graphics chips look to be similar. Samsung is also doubling down on RAM, packing 2GB into the S4 compared to the iPhone's lonely 1GB.  

But specs aren't everything. All that tech could just mean a very hot handset if the software isn't optimised to run on it.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 - camera

The 8MP snapper of the iPhone 5 never stood a chance against the Galaxy S4's 13MP monster – and that's before you take into account the S4's array of extra features. It even out-pixels the iPhone's 1.2MP webcam with a 2MP front-facer. Want the fun of seeing your own gormless mug in photos? No problem – Dual Shot fires the front and back cams simultaneously. Dual Video does the same for movies, or you can flip between the two cameras for smartphone interviews.

Shuttberbugs can drill down into techy white balance, ISO and image stabilisers, while teenage girls will thrill at being able to insert frames and other effects. Other features let you add sound clips to photos, animate parts of the picture or print your albums as Blurb books. Most 2013 feature? An anti-photo bomb mode to remove irriating background bodies in burst shots. 

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 – battery

The iPhone 5 has a small battery at 1440mAh – and that shows with little more than a day's use before needing a charge. The Galaxy S4's powerpack stores a mighty 2600mAh, although the blistering Octo-Core processor and that larger screen are likely to hammer it pretty hard. Another plus for the Sammy: the lithium ion battery is interchangeable, unlike Apple's factory-installed unit.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 – UI

No one would say that Samsung's TouchWiz skin matches Apple's UI for seamless scrolling and effortless ease of use, but if bells and whistles are your thing, the S4 is deafening. Every tiny action, from unlocking the phone to transitioning apps comes with a high-def graphical flourish.

To be fair, fingertip proximity detection - dubbed Air View - sounds like more than just a gimmick. It lets you virtually 'right click' over some apps (email, calendar, Flipboard) to preview info, and magnifies web pages, images and video. Air Gesture works further off, letting you flip tabs in the browser, accept calls (if you're driving, say) or skip songs.

Smart Pause and Smart Scroll could be either really awesome or annoying: the former automatically pauses video playback and web page scrolling if the eye-tracking S4 spots your attention wavering, while the latter lets you scroll through web pages by tilting the phone. Smart Pause sounds great if you get called away from watching a movie on a plane – but multi-taskers who split their time between phone and other matters could get fed up with the constant interruptions.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 – extras

You want more? How about the most overlooked feature on smartphones today: the S4 features a built-in IR blaster for finally replacing all your home entertainment remotes (cue nose-dive in Logitech Harmony stocks) with Samsung WatchOn. The S4 also has a brand new high-speed browser with anonymous browsing, offline reading and printing options.

The iPhone does feature the somewhat underused and underpowered Apple Passbook for coupons and boarding passes – but Samsung's NFC-powered Visa payWave delivers genuinely futuristic micro-payments with the wave of a phone. The S4 also has a few lifestyle features, with S Health taking advantage of temperature and moisture sensors to monitor your health, along with a pedometer and food tracking options – ideal for pairing with new scale and heart monitor accessories. 

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 – verdict

Samsung's firehose approach to new tech means the latest Galaxy comes with a stellar collection of new tech ranging from chip to screen to UI and beyond. In almost every category, the S4 outclasses the iPhone 5.

Of course, the danger is that the S4 ends up as an unusable, power-hogging mess. But right now, Stuff's only possible verdict is that Galaxy S4 has delivered a technical knockout to the iPhone 5. We have a new champion. Now, roll on the iPhone 5S…

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