Earlier this year, Samsung launched the Galaxy S4, which some considered to be a minor update over the Galaxy S3. But Apple's new iPhone 5s might be an even more iterative update, apart from one or two marquee features. Which comes out on top? It's too early to say for sure, but we can start by comparing the specs and features of the companies' two latest flagships, the iPhone 5s and Galaxy S4.
The iPhone has fallen way behind Android phones in overall size (and screen size, which we'll get to in a moment). Today's iPhone 5s update didn't do anything to change that, as it's exactly the same size as 2012's iPhone 5.
That has the Galaxy S4 measuring in at ten percent taller, and 19 percent wider. The iPhone 5s is about four percent thinner.
The iPhone 5s' weight stays the same as its predecessor as well. It's 14 percent lighter than the Galaxy S4, though the GS4's much larger size actually has it winning in terms of relative weight (weight-to-surface-area ratio).
Apple did announce one plastic phone today, but it wasn't the iPhone 5s. It sticks with the anodized aluminum from the iPhone 5. It is, however, available in some different colors, including gold (pictured above), along with "space gray" and silver.
Here's yet another area that stayed exactly the same from last year's iPhone. Just like last year's showdown, the iPhone gives you just 63 percent as much screen area as the GS4 does.
The iPhone only packs in 35 percent as many pixels as the Galaxy S4 does, but it's hard to come down too hard on that 326 pixel per inch Retina Display. When looking at these two phones, we're really comparing "plenty sharp" to "ridiculously sharp."
The iPhone 5s' screen uses IPS technology, while the GS4's is a Super AMOLED.
Apple hasn't told us much about the technical specs of that A7 chip, but it has the same two cores and 1.3 GHz clock speed as its predecessor. It also brings the 64-bit architecture that Apple told us all about. It's the first smartphone to jump into the realm of 64-bit computing, but we don't really know what that means for performance just yet.
The iPhone 5s also retains the same 1 GB of RAM found in the iPhone 5.
Internal storage options are equal, but the GS4 also packs a microSD card slot. The GS4 also likely hogs more of its internal storage with its somewhat bloated TouchWiz UI.
Megapixels probably don't mean a lot here. Apple spent a good chunk of today's event talking about the upgrades to the iPhone 5s' camera, but none of them had to do with pixel count. It does have larger pixels (similar to the HTC One), along with a dual LED "True Tone" flash, and a burst mode that automatically picks the sharpest shot.
Here's another confusing category, as Apple hasn't told us the capacity of the iPhone 5s' battery. We're left with an estimate, which probably won't mean much for now. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the 5s, to get the full low-down on battery life.
As the killer feature of the iPhone 5s, it's worth shining the spotlight on the phone's Touch ID biometric sensor. Press one of your fingers on the home button, and unlock your phone. The key is that nobody who doesn't have your fingerprints will be able to get in. Payments aren't supported (at least not yet), but you can authorize iTunes purchases with your fingertip. If it works as advertised, this will likely be the best combination we've seen of smartphone security and convenience.
As you'd expect, both phones pack the radios to ride speedy 4G LTE networks, as long as your carrier allows it. There is also a more limited HSPA+ version of the GS4, mostly sold in markets that don't have LTE anyway.
Near-field communication may not be a must-have feature for most smartphone shoppers, but if you're into things like bumping phones to transfer data, or using one of those rare NFC mobile payment services, then the GS4 has your ticket punched.
The iPhone 5s ships with the new-look iOS 7, while the GS4 still runs Android 4.2, layered with Samsung's TouchWiz UI. The chasm between the two platforms has never been larger, as Samsung keeps squeezing in as many new features as it can, while Apple continues to focus on simplicity, highlighting a handful of new features every year.
Apart from the UI overhaul, our favorite new feature in iOS 7 just might be Control Center, a pane of quick settings toggles that you activate by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Of course Android loyalists will be quick to point out that their platform has had various versions of the same idea for years.
From where we stand now, though, we see some pretty stark contrast between the two phones. The GS4 has a bigger and sharper screen, but the iPhone might be a more comfortable size for smaller hands. The GS4 has an exhausting laundry list of features, but the iPhone 5s has one, that fingerprint sensor, that might trump them all.
But where we stand now is still only close enough to rap off some basic specs and features. It's a good start, but this story is just beginning. Stay tuned to Gizmag for much more on this front.
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