Head-to-Head: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Apple iPhone 5S

Phone Wars Heat Up

The unveiling of Samsung's Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, might have had less hoopla than prior launches, but its latest smartphone is not short on innovation. And while we haven't had one yet in hand, we applaud this device for innovations that are sure to lead competitors to copy them. Aside from a model number similar to that of chief rival iPhone, Samsung’s S5 and 5s are at once more alike and more dissimilar. Here's a rundown.

Dust-Free And Waterproof

Among the newest Galaxy features (and not present in iPhone 5s) is its IP67 "ingress protection" rating. The first number applies to dust (6 is the highest) and the second to water (9 is tops). An of IP67 means that the S5 is completely impervious to dust and can be sprayed with water from any direction for three minutes without incurring damage. But there's more to Samsung's story than durability. It stands alone with USB 3, an infrared emitter and NFC. It's also got new networking and self-awareness chops. Read on.

Processor, Memory

The A7 keeps Apple king of the hill for its 64-bit processor, operating system and apps. Galaxy S5 contains Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 801 SoC, also unveiled in Barcelona. That's a 32-bit quad-core processor running at 2.5GHz with 2 GB of RAM, double that of the iPhone. The iPhone comes with 16, 32 or 64 of storage; Galaxy offers only 16- or 32-GB models, but its microSD card slot can add as much as 128 GB more. The slot also allows for file I/O, something no Apple mobile can do.

Graphics Processor

The A7 incorporates a Series6 GPU from Imagination Technologies that according to Apple delivers up to 56 times better graphics performance than the original iPhone. The Snapdragon 801 employs an Adreno 330 GPU, which Qualcomm claims to deliver a 50 percent performance increase over its Adreno 320 predecessor in the Galaxy S4. It supports OpenGL 3.0, DirectX and other modern graphics APIs, as well as FlexRender, an emerging distributed rendering architecture standard used for displaying highly complex and realistic ray trace images on commodity hardware.

Download Booster

Galaxy employs 802.11ac, the specification approved in January that will accommodate Wi-Fi speeds approaching 1 Gbps once it proliferates throughout the infrastructure. In the meantime, Samsung engineers have developed a way to bond Wi-Fi communications with signals on its 4G radio, which is now a Cat 4 device with an available bandwidth of 150 Mbps. When bonded with Galaxy's dual-band Wi-Fi radios, bursty apps have access to Samsung's "Download Booster" with a theoretical pipe of 450 Mbps. Both devices include Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and LTE on AT&T and Sprint. Apple adds T-Mobile and Verizon.

The Screen

Dear Samsung: The S4's 5-inch screen was large enough. Please stop growing your glass; we almost can't hold it in one hand. The S5 puts out the same 1,920 x 1,080 as its predecessor, but the larger 5.1-inch LCD drops it from 441 ppi to 432, which is still almost 100 more pixels per inch than iPhone. The 4-inch iPhone's Retina display has a pixel density of 326 ppi and puts out a resolution of 1,136 x 640, just right for showing videos at a 16:9 aspect ratio. Incidentally, the Snapdragon supports Ultra HD video for capture and playback.

Main Camera

In iPhone 5s, Apple replaced its standard 8-megapixel main camera with an 8-megapixel camera with 1.5 micron pixels. "Bigger pixels make a better picture," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, at the launch. It's still backed up by a great lens and good software. The S5 doubles Apple's megapixel could with 16. Samsung too provides great software, which includes picture-in-picture effects and time-lapse photography between one-quarter and one-eighth normal speed. Both offer burst modes and digital image stabilization. Apple adds a second LED flash for lighting variations.


Galaxy S5 lists a heart-rate sensor among its array of self-awareness probes, which also includes humidity, barometric pressure, proximity, gesture and a magnetic hall sensor for accessories. In common with Apple are accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and ambient light circuits. But for processing sensor data, Apple stands alone with its dedicated M7 motion processor and CoreMotion API. And with the addition of a fingerprint scanner in its home button, Samsung catches up to Apple for unlocking the screen. But Samsung leapfrogs Apple with the added ability to conduct secure commerce and privatize a section of device storage.


The S5 is Samsung's biggest smartphone yet, rivaling the company's Galaxy Note 3. At 5.6 inches long by 2.9 inches wide, it's just one-third of an inch shorter and one-quarter-inch narrower. But next to the diminutive iPhone 5s, Galaxy looks like a surfboard. Apple's device is just 4.9 inches long and 2.3 inches wide and fits and is operated comfortably in one hand. Thickness is a wash; Samsung’s S5 spreads the pocket by 0.32 inches and the iPhone 5s by 0.30. Galaxy weighs roughly 25 percent more than iPhone: 5.11 ounces vs. 3.95.

The Bottom Line

The iPhone 5s runs iOS 7, of course, Apple's super-fast 64-bit mobile operating system, plus 64-bit versions of all apps, libraries and drivers. Meanwhile, the S5 runs the mature and refined Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat plus Samsung's excellent TouchWiz UI overlay. Both offer trillions of apps, amazing power efficiency and super-long battery life. The iPhone 5s has been available since September starting at around $200 with a contract from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon. The Galaxy S5 will begin shipping in April for AT&T and Sprint networks; pricing has not been disclosed.