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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs S4: What’s New, What’s Important

Galaxy S5 vs S4

The dust hasn’t settled since Samsung unveiled its next flagship Android smartphone, the Galaxy S5 at MWC currently on-going in Barcelona, and it is for a good reason too.  The Samsung Galaxy smartphones are often considered the face of Android and the manufacturer and the introduction of the new wholly improved Galaxy S5 is bound to raise questions, what does it offer that the current flagship, the Galaxy S4, has?  The S4 entered the market just last year and still tops some lists of the most powerful and best Android smartphones around the world.  If you are wondering whether the upgrade to the S4 is worth it, you just might make your decision after this Galaxy S5 vs S4 overview.

Forget the hype and the anticipation, the Galaxy S5 promises a truly revolutionary smartphone experience when it finally comes to the market as the device is different from its predecessors – and the competition – by far.  We will focus on the core specs, performance, display, design and build and software features in comparing these two devices in this post.

Core Specs

Samsung Galaxy S5

If you would rather not go into detailed comparisons and just want an overview of the specs comparison, an overview of the core hardware and software specifications reveal the big differences between the two devices.  For one, the S5 comes with a more powerful 2.5 GHz quad-core processor while the US version of the S4 has a 1.9 GHz quad-core.  The S5 has a 5.1 inch screen but with the same True HD definition of 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution like the S4’s 4.99 inch screen.  The latter however has a better 16 megapixels rear camera but retains a 2 megapixels front, it is slightly thicker at 8.1mm than the S4’s 7.9mm and weighs 15 grams more at 145 grams compared to the S4’s 130 grams in the official spec sheets.  The two devices however have Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, the latest Android version, but the S5 has more software features than the S4.

Performance

The processor that the US version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 came with, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core clocked at 1.9 GHz is still one of the most powerful in the market, but the new Snapdragon 801 that the S5 comes with is superior in more ways than just the 200MHz clock speed difference.  The S5’s processor also has an Adreno 330 GPU.

I read many posts where users were speculating that with a better processor, the S5 would come with more RAM, say 3 or 4 GB, but Samsung decided the 2 GB is still sufficient for its latest flagship.  The Galaxy Note 3 had 3 GB of RAM, hence the reason so many were optimistic about the increase in the S5 RAM.  The S5 offers a choice of 16 and 32 GB internal storage capacities, with the former being the base model, but there is a MicroSD card slot that can expand memory by as much as 128 GB.  The Galaxy S4 supports a maximum of 64 GB microSD card memory expansion.

The Galaxy S5 also boasts of a larger battery capacity of 2800 mAh, 200 mAh more than the S4’s.  It is hard to tell if the difference is significant, but considering that the screens are slightly different in sizes, the 200 mAh battery juice sure is significant.  Samsung claims that the S5’s battery can last up to 12 hours on video playback – but this is often in ideal usage conditions so take that with a grain of salt.

Display

S5

As mentioned in the specs overview, the Galaxy S5 has a screen larger than that of the S4 by about 0.2 inches, but it retains the resolution.  This means that the S4 has a more dense display than the S5’s 441ppi (pixels per inch) density.  There were widespread speculations that the S5 would have an edge-to-edge screen but this did materialize.  Instead, we have the 1920 x 1080 pixels Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display with 16M colors, multi-touch support and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection.  There is hope, though, that another version of the Galaxy S5 with Sharp’s WQHD 2K (1,440 x 2560 pixels) display may be in the works, I personally hope so.  You can read about this here http://thedroidguy.com/2014/02/samsung-galaxy-s5-confirmed-5-2-560ppi-wqhd-super-amoled-display/.

Design and Build

Galaxy S5Although the most important things to look for in a high end smartphone like the S5 are the hardware specifications and software features, when comparing the S4 and the S5 design and build are the most essential because both are basically very powerful devices.  Samsung has long stuck to plastic even when other companies like HTC fashion their devices out of metal and Sony trying glass.  The S4 has always been criticized for its cheap-looking plastic build but there was major improvement in the design and build of the S5, although I don’t think it is as good as the Faux-covered Galaxy Note 3.

Perhaps the best design and build features that the S5 has over the S4 is its waterproof and dustproof qualities.  All models of the S5 boast an IP67 certification, so unless you have the water and dust resistant version of the S4, this can be a deal maker.  The design of the Galaxy S devices change gradually, albeit slightly.  I was a little disappointed that Samsung made such a great phablet, increasing the screen size without changing the size of the device, but failed to do the same for the S5.  The Galaxy S4 measures 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm and weighs 130g according to the official specs sheet and the S5 measures 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm and weighs 145g.  Do the math.

Camera

samsung-galaxy-s5

If you thought the number of pixels in a picture is the only important element to check when buying a camera smartphone, think again.  The Galaxy S5’s camera is one of its strongest selling points today.  It has a 16 megapixels sensor, up from the S4’s 13 megapixels for the base model and the core characteristics is that it can take a 5312 x 2988 pixels image and record a 4K video at 30fps.  Some of the camera features include autofocus, LED flash, Dual Shot, geo-tagging, simultaneous image and HD video recording, touch focus, image stabilization, face and smile detection and HDR among others.  Video recording too has video stabilization and dual-video recording capability and the front 2.1 megapixels camera supports dual video call, just like the S4.

With the Galaxy S5, it takes about 3/10 of a second to auto focus, and it introduces new features like real-time HDR, more automatic shooting modes, studio mode to edit photos and videos and selective focus capability.  What’s more, the S5 also allows you to change the focus of an image even after taking it.

Software and Other Features

Samsung is currently rolling out Android 4.4 KitKat for galaxy S4s, but it says that the S5 will come with this latest version out-of-the-box.  Samsung has made many changes to its software though, including designing a nicer looking TouchWiz user interface.  The changes may not be so noticeable but if you want to know, there are changes in the quick settings toggles and an addition of the Samsung Magazine interface on the far left of the screen.  The device also comes with upgraded Samsung apps such as S Health, activity trackers and a few others that I will highlight below.  There is a chance though that all these updates and improvements will be rolled out to current Galaxy S4 devices in the near future.

Samsung’s many applications are more of bloatware that sound so exciting when you read about them, but not so exciting when you try them.  A good example of these applications Samsung calls ‘tools’ are Air View, Smart Scroll and Air Gesture – try them when you can, I may be wrong.

Fingerprint scanner

S5 Fingerprint

Samsung collaborated with PayPal to announce a new payment alternative that makes use of the Galaxy S5’s fingerprint sensor.  The company debuted the fingerprint technology in style, adding more functionality and meaning to the fingerprint sensor than Apple did when it introduced it in the S5 last September and certainly better than HTC when it launched the HTC One X Max with a fingerprint sensor.  The new feature allows phone owners to easily and conveniently shop and pay via PayPal simply by swiping a finger.  This sure is a sign that the future is in paperless and cardless money.

Heart rate sensor

The Samsung Galaxy S5 comes with a heat rate sensor that the S4 doesn’t have.  The South Korean manufacturer is very proud of being the first to equip this sensor in a smartphone and uses this to market the Galaxy Gear wearable smartwatch that is just a companion of another Galaxy device.  The heart rate sensor works with the S-health application to help one track, plan and execute workouts and activities.

Kid-friendly mode

Windows users will identify with kid-friendly mode because windows phones often have it.  This is a great feature that lets the user choose applications, games and phone features that are appropriate for kids, when they handle the phone, they will only have access to them.  If you share your phone, or have people around you who like to pick and mess around, you will find this feature handy.

Power saving mode

 

Perhaps the greatest limitation of technology today is power – especially portable power.  With all these great features, the Galaxy S5 is supposed to be a massive power drainer but a feature to kill all non-essential tasks and changing the screen to black and white to save power when there is little left can be a life saver.

Fast downloads

If you buy the 32 GB version of the S5 and add a 128 GB memory card, someone might think you will never use up such memory.  However, the S5 offers ultra-fast downloads that combines the bandwidth of Wi-Fi and LTE to speed up downloads.  This feature is perfect for situations where neither or one of the connections trips or is insufficient for your needs.

Security

The Galaxy S5 certainly offers greater security to the user, thanks to the fingerprint sensor which is primarily designed to unlock the phone, the kid-friendly mode to protect data and apps from people you know and of course the standard security features every Android phone comes with these days – passwords, pattern unlock, PIN and face unlock.

Other sensors that the S5 has are compass, gesture, temperature, proximity, humidity, Accelerometer, gyro and barometer.

So, what do you think?  This is a shallow comparison, but it should give you a general idea on the Galaxy S5 and help you choose – the new and expensive S5 or the older but soon-to-be-cheap Galaxy S4?  Let us know what you think.