Samsung Galaxy S5 full review

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5 comparison review

It's hard to believe we're already on the fifth generation of Galaxy smartphone but the Galaxy S5 is here and now on sale. In light of that, here's our Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5 comparison review.

Whether you've got a Galaxy S4 (or previous Galaxy) and pondering whether to upgrade or a non-Galaxy owner trying to decide between the two, our comparison review will help you make that decision.

We've broken the review down into different areas so you can see the differences which are most important to you.

See also: Samsung Galaxy S5 hands-on review: No leap for Samsung in smartphone innovation.

Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5: Price

There's no official price for the Galaxy S5 but UK phone retailer, Clove, has priced the smartphone at £550. We're talking SIM-free here and the sum is a little lower than we expected but could change by the time the S5 is available to buy on 11 April.

Now the Galaxy S4 has been around for a while, nearly a year by the time the S5 launches, its price is much lower. A search on the web at the time of writing reveals that the Galaxy S4 can be obtained for just over £300 and this is likely to drop further once the Galaxy S5 arrives.

That's quite a big difference so should you upgrade from the S4 to the Galaxy S5? Read on to see what the new flagship Galaxy has to offer. Read: Galaxy S5 price and where to buy in the UK.

Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5: Design

From the front, the Galaxy S5 looks almost identical to the Galaxy S4 and in a sense could be any Samsung smartphone – it looks very similar to the Galaxy Note 3 too. Flip it over and it does look pretty different though with a soft touch 'perforated' cover. This comes in black and white but also in 'Electric Blue' and 'Copper Gold'.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 design and build

An easily missed design tweak is that the left-hand touch sensitive button is multi-tasking rather than menu.

The Galaxy S5 has a slightly larger screen than the Galaxy S4 and this, combined with other new features, means the smartphone is bigger, thicker and heavier than its predecessor. It's not a large amount but it's not the way we would want it to go.

At 8.1mm the Galaxy S5 is only 0.2mm thicker but 15g heavier at 145g is a more noticeable change. You might not like the fact that it's also around 3- and 6mm wider and taller than previously.

This size and weight gain is more acceptable since the Galaxy S5 is dust- and water-resistant to an IP67 certification – similar to Sony's top-end Xperia devices. This means there's a cover over the microUSB port but not the headphone jack. It's surprising that the rear cover is removable so you'll want to make doubly sure it's clipped in properly before heading out in the rain.

Read our: Galaxy S5 vs All New HTC One 2014 comparison review: Samsung Galaxy 5 underwhelms... what has HTC got?

Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5: Fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor

Two key features of the Galaxy S5 are the fingerprint scanner and hear rate monitor – neither of which are found on the Galaxy S4.

Situated below the camera on the back of the phone, the heart rate monitor does exactly what is says on the tin so will appeal to the more sporty types out there. Meanwhile, the fingerprint scanner can be used to unlock the GS5, launch a 'private mode' or authorise mobile payments via PayPal.

Like the iPhone 5s, the scanner is built into the home button but requires a swipe movement rather than just touching it statically.

Samsung Galaxy S5 heart rate monitor

Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5: Display

As we mentioned in the design section, the Galaxy S5 has a larger display than the S4. However, it's only 5.1in compared to 5in so only a tiny bit bigger. Despite rumours of a super high-res display, Samsung has stuck with Full HD 1080p for the GS5. This means pixel density has dropped slightly, but not enough to be noticeable.

Super AMOLED technology is also another element which stays the same but Samsung has introduced what it calls Adaptive Display. This means the display automatically adjusts the colour gamut, white tone and contrast depending on the lighting conditions you're in.

Samsung Galaxy S4 display

Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5: Processor and GPU

In the UK, we got the Galaxy S4 with a 1.9GHz quad-core processor, not the Octa-core Exynos 5 chip. Despite rumours of an iPhone 5s rivalling 64-bit chip, the Galaxy S5 has a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor which is also found in the new Sony Xperia Z2.

This means things have moved from Krait 300 cores to Krait 400 cores and the GPU has been upgraded from an Adreno 320 o the Adreno 330. We haven't had a proper chance to test the performance but things seemed nice and nippy during our hands-on time at Samsung's Unpacked launch event in Barcelona.

Going forward, you're going to be better off with the Galaxy S5's newer hardware but the Galaxy S4 is certainly no slouch.  

Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5: Storage

Not that they are easy to find, the Galaxy S4 came in up to 64GB of storage while the Galaxy S5 will arrive in just 16- of 32GB options. Despite its waterproof design, the Galaxy S5 rear cover is still removable to access that valuable microSD card slot for adding up to 128GB more storage – not just 64GB.

Samsung Galaxy S4

Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5: Wireless technology

Not much has changed in terms of wireless technology. The Galaxy S5 has a similar spec line-up here with dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, NFC, an infrared transmitter and A-GPS.

However, the GS5 does move things on a bit in terms of microUSB which is now version 3.0 and 4G LTE support is faster Cat 4 rather than Cat 3. The new phone also has a 'download booster' which combines both 4G and Wi-Fi connections for quicker downloads.

The Galaxy S5 does support wireless charging but it's not built-in like the Nexus 5. Instead, you'll need to buy a special case and, of course, a wireless charger.

Samsung Galaxy S5 display

Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5: Cameras

The Galaxy S4 had, and still has, one of the best cameras on a smartphone but the Galaxy S5's could be a good reason to upgrade or opt for it over the GS4. Things have moved from 13Mp to 16Mp but that is by no means the end of the story here.

Not only is the sensor larger at 1/2.6'in but the pixels are bigger too, 1.12µm. A bundle of other features should improve the performance as well, including speedy 0.3 second phase detection auto focus. A Lytro-style feature called 'selective focus' mode allows you to choose from three different focal points after you've taken a photo – near, far and pan. This feature is a bit gimmicky so a key video feature is more important.

On the video front, the Galaxy S5 steps things up to 4k matching the Galaxy Note 3 and can record slow motion footage at up to 120fps. At the front is the same 2Mp camera capable of 1080p video.

The Galaxy S5's camera focuses quickly and shoots video in next-gen 4K but overall isn't leagues above the Galaxy S4 which still has a top quality shooter.

Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5: Software

The Galaxy S5, as you'd expect, comes with Android 4.4 KitKat out-of-the-box. Don't be expecting a plain interface though as it has the latest version of Samsung's TouchWiz overlay. Going by the main homescreen there is little difference but elsewhere bigger changes can be found.

Samsung's Magazine feature, similar to HTC's BlinkFeed is a swipe away from the main screen and things have been, in general, tidied up and simplified. There are also round icons inside the notification bar and settings menu.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Android KitKat TouchWiz

There are also new features including a Kid's mode for restricted access and a private mode for keeping sensitive content safe from prying eyes.

We assume the Galaxy S4 will get updated to this software but Samsung hasn't commented on this yet.

Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S5: Battery

Going by the specs and features, the Galaxy S5 should offer better battery life than the GS4. The battery itself has got larger by 200mAh to 2800mAh and Samsung has installed an Ultra Power Saving mode.

And indeed it does, where the Galaxy S4 typically lasted us a day unless we left it well alone, the Galaxy S5 is a two day device and can go even further when you use that ultra power saving mode.

This will shut down all non-essential functions leaving you with just calls and messaging and switch the screen into a black and white mode to ensure as little energy is used as possible. Samsung says that 10 percent of battery could last up to 24 hours, but we got even more managing an entire weekend with around this much charge.


Samsung Galaxy S5: Specs

  • Display: 5.1 inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 432 ppi
  • Processor: 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
  • GPU: Adreno 330
  • OS: Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) with TouchWiz
  • Camera: Main (Rear): 16 Mega pixel phase detection autofocus with LED flash, up to 4K video
  • Sub (Front): 2 Mega pixel camera, Full HD recording @30fps
  • Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (MIMO), GPS/GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 (LE), Infrared (Remote Control), 4G LTE (Cat 4)
  • Memory: 16/32GB internal, microSD slot (up to 128GB), 2GB RAM
  • Dimension: 73 x 142 x 8.1 mm, 145g
  • Battery: 2,800 mAh removable