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iphone 5s v samsung galaxy s5

Head-to-heads don’t come much bigger than this.

Apple and Samsung are two of the mightiest players in the smartphone world, so pitting their flagships toe-to-toe is like seeing George Foreman take on Muhammad Ali.

And to raise the stakes a little higher, the two arch rivals are back in court again, disputing patent issues.

Apple announced the 5S way back in September, which makes it a little long in the tooth for a smartphone.

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 was unveiled in February, but doesn’t hit shop shelves until April 11th, so it’s very much the new kid on the block.

Both handsets feature pin-sharp screens, meaty processors, and fingerprint sensors. They even have very similar names.

But which one comes up trumps in our head to head? Ring the bell, round one is about to start.

First impressions

samsung galaxy s5 hands

With the S5, Samsung showed it listens to its critics.

The S4 was slammed for having too many software gimmicks, so Samsung went back to basics with the S5, focussing on more useful additions.

New camera features, new Download Booster technology, a waterproof case and battery-saving mode are all the order of the day.

But it still has a trick or two up its sleeve. Like the 5S, it has a fingerprint scanner for unlocking it.

There’s a heart rate sensor too, which works in conjunction with the S Health app. It’s compatible with Samsung’s new range of Gear smartwatches as well.

For us, the freshness and smartwatch compatibility give the S5 the edge over the 5S.

The 5S certainly turned heads when it was unveiled, thanks mostly to its new shades of colour.

iphone 5s official flat 3

For the first time, an Apple handset was available in black, grey, or the highly desirable gold finish, which promptly sold out.

Chief among the 5S’s new skills is the fingerprint scanner. This lets you unlock the handset by just touching a digit on the home button. It’s a technology more commonly used in laptops, but soon prompted a wave of imitators.

Other than this, some new camera features, and a new graphics processor, the 5S remains pretty much the same handset as the iPhone 5.

Samsung Galaxy S5: 9/10

Apple iPhone 5S: 8/10

Design

samsung galaxy s5 gold detail

The S5 looks very similar to the S4. But considering the S4 sold more than 40 million units, it’s clear Samsung is onto a winning formula.

The main change is the back. Instead of the rather flimsy, plasticky back plate of the S4, Samsung has opted for a perforated back that’s a lot more aesthetically pleasing.

Perhaps mindful of the iPhone, Samsung offers the S5 in a classy gold finish, too, as well as white, black, and blue.

The screen is also slightly bigger than on the S4 – 5.1 inches compared to 5.

Other than that, it’s business as usual, with the same rounded edges, and the same three buttons below the screen. As we say, that’s no bad thing.

The ‘S’ iteration of an iPhone is always a minor upgrade rather than a whole new handset, and the 5S is no different.

iphone 5s gold large

It looks almost identical to the iPhone 5, bar the new colours and a ring around the home button to indicate the Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

But as with the Samsung Galaxy S5, keeping the same winning design isn’t something to criticise.

With its premium materials and slim, sexy body, the iPhone 5S is the more luxurious of the two.

Its screen is much smaller than the S5’s, so videos and photos won’t look quite as stunning on it.

But if it’s a beautifully designed object you’re after, look no further than the 5S.

Samsung Galaxy S5: 8/10

Apple iPhone 5S: 10/10

Features

samsung galaxy s5 fitness

As we said, Samsung has gone back to basics with the S5.

It’s focussed on improving features people actually use, rather than throwing a load of software gimmicks at the wall and seeing which stick.

It’s added a faster auto focus, so you won’t miss a shot, as well as an HDR mode.

The selective focus feature, meanwhile, lets you blur the background to really bring out your subject.

Away from the camera, S Health and the heart rate sensor let you keep tabs on your ticker and lead a healthier lifestyle.

The S5 is compatible with Samsung’s new Gear range of smartwatches too.

Download Booster lets you harness LTE and Wi-Fi simultaneously to give you faster downloads.

The handset is waterproof, there’s a fingerprint scanner, and the ultra power-saving mode helps it last for longer.

touch id iphone 5s

The iPhone 5S has an improved graphics chip that lets you play more advanced games.

There’s the Touch ID fingerprint scanner – the first on a recent smartphone, remember – and an M7 coprocessor that promises to open up a whole new world of health and fitness apps.

But so far it’s all been a bit quiet on that front.

The 5S’s camera is still one of the best around, and has an excellent burst mode that snaps 10 shots a second.

Samsung Galaxy S5: 9/10

Apple iPhone 5S: 8/10

Software

android kitkat packet

The Galaxy S5 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat, which is the latest version of Google’s mobile OS.

We’ve seen it before on handsets like the Nexus 5, and it’s just come to the first version of the HTC One.

KitKat has some neat tricks. It adds local businesses to your phone book – start dialling the name of your local bike shop, say, and the number will come up without you having to search for it. Messages are collated in Hangouts, and the voice search has been improved.

The S5 has Samsung’s TouchWiz UI slathered over the top of KitKat.

While TouchWiz has been redesigned and looks better than before, it’s still not as intuitive as pure Android, so costs Samsung a couple of points.

KitKat is likely to be replaced by a new version of Android soon, and because of TouchWiz, the S5 won’t be one of the first to get the update.

iOS 7 close-up (banner)

iOS 7 comes as standard on the iPhone 5S.

It’s the most radical overhaul ever of Apple’s operating system.

Icons are more colourful, Control Centre lets you tweak the main functions by dragging up from the bottom of the screen, and it’s easier to know where you are in the OS.

For pure simplicity, and the fact you won’t be left waiting for an upgrade like with Android, the 5S wins by a nose.

Samsung Galaxy S5: 8/10

Apple iPhone 5S: 9/10

Ease of use

samsung galaxy s5 v iphone 5s front on

Which brings us onto ease of use. For the uninitiated, Apple’s devices are still the simplest to use.

Even before we get to the software, the hardware is a cut above the rest. The 5S has one button on the front, and you do the rest of your pressing on screen.

Even those of us who prefer Android can’t deny the simplicity of iOS 7. The colourful icons help demystify the technology, and really unlock the handset’s potential.

ios 7 homescreen

It might be the most used operating system in the world, but Android is still a complex beast compared to iOS.

You can buy the most expensive phone around and still not get the latest version.

And unless your handset runs pure Android, you won’t be at the front of the queue come update time.

Having said that, the S5’s bigger screen does give you a lot more space for web surfing.

It’s a full inch bigger than the 5S’s, so you might find it hard going back to a smaller device after using it.

Samsung Galaxy S5: 8/10

Apple iPhone 5S: 9/10

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy S5

  • 5.1-inch, 1,920x1,080-pixel, 432ppi screen
  • Samsung TouchWiz running on Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16/32GB storage
  • microSD card slot
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 -16-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front-facer
  • 2.5GHz quad-core processor

Apple iPhone 5S

  • 4-inch, 1,136x640-pixel, 326ppi screen
  • iOS 7
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16/32/64GB storage
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.2-megapixel front-facer
  • 1.3GHz dual-core processor

Samsung Galaxy S5 overall mark: 9/10

Apple iPhone 5S overall mark: 10/10

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