If you’re trying to decide between the iPhone 6 and Android, chances are you’ve at least taken a look at the Samsung’s Galaxy S5. Both phones are among the most popular devices out there today, and for good reason.
The iPhone 6 is Apple’s slimmest, yet one of its largest phones to date. (The iPhone 6 Plus is even more massive, but it will compete with Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Note 4 phablet). For the first time in two years, Apple upgraded the screen resolution and gave its smartphone a completely new design.
The Galaxy S5 is also one of Samsung’s best phones yet. It’s the first phone to come with a fingerprint sensor, and Samsung has done an excellent job at cleaning up its TouchWiz user interface while still offering all of the special features you’d find with the Galaxy S4.
So, how do they compare? Here’s a look at some of the key differences between both phones.
How They Look And Feel
One of the first things you’ll notice about the phones’ physical attributes is the difference in size. Although the iPhone 6 is a lot larger than the iPhone 5s, it’s not quite as big as the Galaxy S5. The iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch screen, while the Galaxy S5 comes with a 5.1-inch display.
Design can be subjective, since it depends on the user’s taste in most situations. That being said, there are some general conclusions to be made based on how comfortable the phones feel and how easy they are to use.
Let’s start with the iPhone 6. Apple’s new smartphone features a unibody metal design that’s been slimmed down since the last version. It now has the same curved edges you’d find on the iPad Air, making the phone seem much more sleek than the last version. The entire back of the phone has a brushed metal look, while its predecessor featured glossy plastic strips on the top and bottom of the phone.
It’s also worth noting both phones have fingerprint sensors embedded in their home buttons. These can be used to unlock the phone and authenticate purchases. On the S5, you can use it to verify purchases through PayPal, and you can use the iPhone 6’s fingerprint scanner to authenticate iTunes purchases. Soon, you’ll be able to use the iPhone 6 fingerprint sensor to authenticate payments through Apple Pay, which will let you buy stuff in stores by tapping the phone against a special reader.
There’s no doubt about it — the iPhone 6 is a beautiful phone. It’s super thin at 0.27 inches slim, while the Galaxy S5 measures about 0.31 inches thick.
I wouldn’t call the Galaxy S5 clunky, but it’s not as thin as Apple’s newest flagship. The Galaxy S5 is an improvement over the Galaxy S4, and its hard dimpled back makes it easy to grip. That being said, the iPhone 6 just feels more premium in terms of build quality. The S5’s new textured plastic back makes it less susceptible to fingerprint smudges than its predecessor, but it’s not the most attractive.
Some people might prefer the S5’s design (as I said, its subjective based on the user’s taste). But if you want one of the thinnest and lightest phones around that feels like a premium product, the iPhone 6 is your best bet.
There’s also a difference in the screen resolution between phones: the iPhone 6 has a 1334 x 750 resolution screen packing 326 pixels per inch, while the Galaxy S5 has a 1920 x 1080 screen with 432 pixels per inch.
On paper, the Galaxy S5’s screen should be noticeably better than the iPhone 6’s. But in real-world testing, there didn’t seem to be too much of a difference. Both phones rendered images and video extremely sharply and crisply.
There are some discrepancies in the way each phone’s screen renders colour, however. When watching the trailer for “Gone Girl” on both phones, whites looked brighter on the iPhone, while they seemed to have an ever so slight tint of yellow on the Galaxy S5.
That being said, colours appear bolder on the Galaxy S5 than the iPhone since it uses an AMOLED display instead of an LCD. The iPhone’s colours may be truer to life, but bright colours will pop a little more vibrantly when you view them on Samsung’s screen. (Note: the screens on both phones were set to the maximum brightness).
How The Cameras Stack Up
Both the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 have top-notch cameras, but there are some areas where one may succeed over the other. In my comparison, I noticed that the iPhone was able to capture better photos in low light. But when it came to general image quality in good lighting, both phones were able to capture clear and colourful images.
Here are some test shots I took with both phones. (Note: both cameras were set to Auto and photos were taken at the same place at the same time.)
This is a photo taken of Business Insider’s Melia Robinson with the iPhone 6. The corner we’re standing in is actually very dark, but you wouldn’t be able to tell based on this photo.
And here’s that same photo taken with the Galaxy S5. It’s a bit dimmer and grainier than the photo taken with the Galaxy S5.
Regardless of whether you opt for the iPhone 6 or Galaxy S5, you should be able to get through a full day of work without a problem. Battery life also varies depending on how you use your phone, how many notifications you get, which apps you use, and a bunch of other variables.
I got a solid eight to nine hours of battery life out of the Galaxy S5 after moderate to heavy usage. Business Insider’s Steve Kovach reported about the same results in his review. The iPhone 6 lasted for about the same amount of time for me, but Business Insider’s Dave Smith says he usually gets about 10 hours out of his iPhone 6. So it’s really about how you use it and how your settings are configured.
The bottom line is that battery life doesn’t seem to be too different between the two.
Samsung does have two key advantages over the iPhone when it comes to battery life. The Galaxy S5 has a removeable battery, so you can swap it out with a fresh one if you’re running low on juice. It also has a special “Ultra Power Saving Mode” that makes the screen black and white and only lets you use a handful of basic apps. This mode lets you squeeze a few extra hours out of your battery if you’re in a jam.
App selection is one of the most important things to consider when buying a smartphone. Luckily, both Google’s Play Store for Android apps and Apple’s App Store each have over 1 million to choose from.
However, Android apps tend to be a little less polished than iOS apps. Developers seem to pay more attention to iOS, giving apps for iPhone the best features and design elements and first. In many cases, it feels like developers still see Android as an afterthought.
New apps and games tend to launch on iPhone first. If you like using the latest and greatest developers have to offer, you should stick with iPhone. You could be waiting months for the coolest hit app to hit the Galaxy S5.
The user interface is probably the biggest difference between the two phones. It all comes down to your personal preference — do you like Android or iOS?
Android allows for much more customisation, and Samsung has done a great job of making its software a little less clunky and more palatable for users with the Galaxy S5. But it’s still a little too cluttered for my taste.
With Android, you can add widgets to your home screen, making each home screen look entirely different from the next. iOS is much more basic — you unlock the screen and you’re immediately presented with your apps and folders. Some might call this boring (and I completely understand why), but the iPhone’s interface is simple and slick enough for anyone to be able to pick it up and use it.
Samsung’s user interface is a little more complicated, and has a lot more moving parts than iOS. That being said, you get a little more functionality out of Samsung’s software. You can open more than one app at a time and you also get access to more shortcuts by swiping down from the top of the screen than you do with the iPhone.
If you’re in the market for a new phone, the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 are excellent choices. Both phones are more than suited to take care of your everyday needs, but there are certain areas where one may succeed over the other.
If design really matters to you, go for the iPhone 6. It’s the most attractive smartphone out there (although the HTC One comes close), and it’s extremely thin and light. The aluminium design makes it feel like a really premium product. The iPhone 6 also takes better photos in low light conditions, which may be important depending on how often you use your camera for indoor photography.
The Galaxy S5 is better suited for hardcore multitaskers, and it also includes a heart rate monitor for those who need to closely monitor their health. It also has a larger screen, which is important to consider. If you use your phone for reading or watching TV shows often, you may benefit from the bigger display. If not, the iPhone 6’s sleeker design may be easier to squeeze in your pocket or use with one hand.