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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Galaxy S4

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February 25, 2014

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4

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It's hard to imagine the Samsung Galaxy S5 not being one of the most popular smartphones of 2014. So maybe the real question is whether it's actually any good? Or, more specifically, whether it's worth the upgrade from last year's Galaxy S4? Let's compare the two phones' features and specs and see if we can lend a hand.

Size

The GS5 is about four percent longer and wider than the GS4

The Galaxy S5 is four percent longer and wider than the Galaxy S4. The GS5 is also about three percent thicker than its predecessor.

Weight

The GS5 is actually a bit heavier than its predecessor

High-end mobile devices often get lighter and thinner than the model they're replacing, but the Galaxy S5 does neither. Not only is it thicker, it's also 12 percent heavier than the GS4.

Build

The GS5 sticks with plastic, but now it's of the dimpled, pleather ilk

A few months ago we heard some murmurs that the Galaxy S5 would dump plastic for a more premium metallic build. So much for that. The GS5 continues Samsung's recent love affair with pleather — only this time with some dimples thrown in for good measure. It's the closest a phone has ever gotten to my grandmother's living room upholstery, circa 1979.

Display

The GS5 gives you around four percent more screen real estate

Another rumor bites the dust, as talk of a 2K or even 4K Galaxy S5 display is also shot down. The GS5 has the same 1080p resolution as last year's flagship, only spread out over four percent more real estate. That means the newer model has a slightly lower pixel density, though 432 pixels per inch is probably still more than you'd ever need.

Fingerprint scanner

The Galaxy S5 has a fingerprint scanner on board

One of the GS5's big additions is a fingerprint scanner that lives under the bottom of the screen, near the home button. Similar to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s, it lets you use your unique-as-a-snowflake print to unlock your phone. Samsung is trying to one-up Apple, though, by also integrating PayPal payments with the scanner. Unlike the iPhone's sensor, you'll need to swipe your finger across the screen and home button, rather than just resting it there.

Heart rate monitor

The GS5 has a heart-rate monitor living just below its rear camera

The GS5 also introduces a heart rate monitor that ties into TouchWiz's S Health app. The sensor lives just below the phone's rear camera.

Water resistance

The GS5 has IP67 water and dust resistance on board

Samsung has thrown some water and dust resistance into the GS5, rated at IP67. That's the same rating that last year's Galaxy S4 Active, Samsung's outdoorsy version of its 2013 flagship, brought to the table.

Processor

The GS5 has some of the fastest mobile silicon around, with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801

The LTE version of the GS5 sports Qualcomm's just-announced Snapdragon 801, a slightly faster variant of the beastly Snapdragon 800. Like with the Galaxy S4, some non-LTE markets will see an octa-core Exynos processor in its place.

RAM

Samsung stuck with 2 GB of RAM for the new model

One of the few specs that stayed the same this year is the GS5's 2 GB of RAM.

Storage

The GS5 skips the 64 GB internal storage option

The GS5 actually lost a storage option (64 GB) that the GS4 had. Its microSD card slot is still in tow, though, and storage hoarders can snag one of SanDisk's new 128 GB SDs to help make up for the skimpier internal space.

Battery

The GS5's battery holds a bit more juice

The GS5 also holds a bit more juice. It's too early to jump to conclusions about its battery life, but this certainly isn't a bad sign. For what it's worth, Samsung says it will give you 10 hours of web use or 11 hours of video-watching.

Both handsets have removable batteries, so you could always carry a spare if you're going to have an unusually long day away from power outlets.

Ultra Power Saving Mode

One of the GS5's most intriguing new features is its Ultra Power Saving Mode, which lets y...

The GS5 also has an interesting new "Ultra Power Saving Mode." When turned on, this mode turns the display black & white and shuts down unnecessary background processes when your battery hits a critical level. Samsung says that using the phone in Ultra Power Saving Mode will give you 24 hours of uptime on just a 10 percent charge. If it lives up to that promise, then this could be an incredibly handy feature to have in a pinch.

Cameras

The GS5 gets a megapixel boost, in addition to 4K video recording

The GS5's rear camera gets a resolution boost, up to 16-megapixels. It also records 4K video and has a new feature that lets you simulate a high-aperture lens by blurring a subject's background.

Infrared

Both devices have infrared capabilities, so you can use them as TV remote controls

Both phones have IR blasters, in case you're into using your phone as a remote control for your TV.

Samsung Gear compatible

Both handsets are compatible with Samsung's new Gear wearable devices

Digging Samsung's new Galaxy Gear 2 and Galaxy Gear 2 Neo smartwatches, or the Gear Fit workout-tracking band? Then have no fear, as they'll all play nicely with both the GS5 and GS4.

Software

Kudos to Samsung for launching all of its recent flagships with the latest version of Andr...

Kudos to Samsung for launching all of its recent major flagships with the (at the time) latest version of Android. The GS5 continues that trend with KitKat. If you own a GS4, then the Android 4.4.2 update should be rolling out soon, if not already.

Release date

What do you know, release dates are a year apart

The GS5 launches in April, a year after the GS4 touched down. Samsung points to April 11 as the big roll-out date, but you'll want to check with your local carrier to see if they'll be pushing it out on the big day.

Worth the upgrade?

Of course we don't yet know how all of this translates into real-world use, so we can't say for sure whether the GS5 will be worth it. And speaking of "worth it," we don't even know how much the dang thing will cost (though the same price points that the GS4 launched with would be a safe bet).

What we do know is that Samsung appears to have pulled back the reins and avoided feature creep. The GS4 launched with such an overwhelming list of features (most of which looked much better in commercials than in day-to-day use) that we find this newfound restraint refreshing. More importantly, the few features that Sammy did focus on — fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor, power saving mode — look like they could actually be worth paying attention to.

With that said, the GS5 does look like a relatively minor upgrade over the GS4. If none of the new phone's unique features tickle your fancy, then there's probably little reason to throw down for the newer model. The Galaxy S4 still has a terrific screen, zippy performance, and is thinner and lighter than the GS5. It's getting harder and harder to innovate with high-end smartphones, so brace yourself for more of this kind of incremental upgrade in the foreseeable future.

Most of all, remember that we're just barely scratching the surface here. Much more to come as we approach the Galaxy S5's April launch.

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About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
3 Comments

Not worth the Upgrade in my opinion but hey to me that's the opinion that counts for me .And that leaves everyone else to form their own opinions. No doubt being a Samsung fan it is prob a great phone but so is my Galaxy S4 4.4.2 keeps me happy.

The Original Mr Gadget
26th February, 2014 @ 11:15 am PST

I have an S4 and the IP67 rating is the only significant improvment in my eyes. I wish Samsung would ditch the split physical/capactive buttons in favor of either on screen buttons or all physical buttons.

dubester
27th February, 2014 @ 11:53 pm PST

Ever since my Verizon GS4 upgraded to Kit Kat, I'm actually more please with the phone. Plenty of bug fixes, smoother performance, I feel like I have a gs5 without the fingerprint scanner and heart beat monitor. My battery life has even increased. Kudos to Samsung.

Jonathan Gonzales
28th April, 2014 @ 08:11 am PDT
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