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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Moto X


March 15, 2014

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Motorola Moto X

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Motorola Moto X

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With Samsung's Galaxy S5 launching just a few weeks from now, maybe you're wondering how it sizes up next to some of the biggest phones of 2013. Let's plop it down by one of our favorites, the Moto X, to see how their features and specs compare.


The GS5 is 10 percent longer and 12 percent wider

The Moto X was never a huge phone to start with, so it's no surprise that it's noticeably smaller than the Galaxy S5. The GS5 is ten percent longer and 12 percent wider. The Moto X is, however, 28 percent thicker.


The Moto X is ten percent lighter

The GS5 is heavier than last year's Galaxy S4, and it's also about 12 percent heavier than the Moto X.


The GS5 has a dimpled pleather build, while the Moto X is sold in plastic and plastic with...

Samsung is going with a dimpled faux leather finish for the Galaxy S5. The standard Moto X has a plastic build, but you can also pay an extra US$25 to customize it with a wood or bamboo back.


Four color options for the GS5, 620 for the Moto X

There are four color options for the GS5. As for the Moto X? Well, we're looking at 620 color combinations. That's the number you get when you add up all of the phone's different back/front/trim options on the Moto Maker website.


The Moto X gives you 85 percent as much screen real estate as the GS5

The Galaxy S5's screen is noticeably bigger and sharper. The 720p Moto X only gives you 85 percent as much screen area as the 1080p GS5. Both are sharp, but my eyes always notice the difference with 1080p phones.

Active Display

Motorola's Active Display puts your most important information just a glance away

One of the Moto X's most unique features is called Active Display. Whenever your screen is turned off, it pulses your notifications on the otherwise black screen. If you want to see a little more, just hold your finger on the notification icon. It's a thoughtful little touch, and part of the reason why the Moto X transcends its otherwise last-generation specs.

Samsung comes kinda close to Active Display with a feature called Smart Alerts. If new notifications have come in since the last time you picked up your phone, it will vibrate when you pick it up. Not really the same thing, but the intention is in the same ballpark.

Hand-free voice control

Both phones let you access voice control without even touching the phone – though the voic...

Want to talk to Google without even touching your phone? The Moto X can help. Say "OK Google Now" to wake your phone up, ready to answer your questions. The GS5 has a similar feature, only it's tied to Samsung's S Voice, which has a much narrower feature set.

Heart rate sensor

The GS5 also has a heart rate sensor

Samsung is ramping up its S Health app with the GS5's heart rate sensor. Just hold your finger on the sensor (it lives below the phone's rear camera) to quickly check your pulse.

Fingerprint scanner

The Galaxy S5 has a fingerprint scanner in tow

Taking a page from Apple's book, Samsung threw a fingerprint scanner into the Galaxy S5. Swipe down from the bottom of the screen to the home button to unlock your device. Sammy also partnered with PayPal to let you authorize transactions with your unique print.

Cameras (megapixels)

The GS5's camera wins on pixel count

The GS5's camera has much higher resolution. If nothing else, that should help some when you're zooming or cropping photos where the subjects are farther away.

Camera activation gesture

The Moto X's camera is a piece of cake to activate: just twist your wrist back and forth a...

You can activate the camera on the GS5 (and most other phones) by sliding from a camera icon on the lock screen. But the Moto X takes this a step further. Twist your wrist back and forth a couple times and the camera will activate – whether the phone is awake or asleep.

4K video recording

The GS5 records 4K video

The GS5 records 4K video; no such luck for the Moto X.

Slow-motion video recording

Both phones have slow-motion video recording capabilities

Both handsets let you record video in slow-motion.

Selective focus

The Galaxy S5 has a fingerprint scanner in tow

Another interesting GS5 camera feature is called Selective Focus. It lets you simulate a wide-aperture lens by focusing on a subject and blurring its background.


The GS5's battery holds more juice, but it's also powering a much sharper display

The Galaxy S5's battery holds more juice, but it's also powering a display with 125 percent more pixels. Consider this one an incomplete until we put the GS5 through the paces.


The GS5's Snapdragon 801 is a smidge faster than the Snapdragon 800

When it comes to performance, most high-end smartphones are past the point of concern, so we wouldn't put too much weight in the GS5's advantage here. With that said, its Snapdragon 801 should make it one of the fastest phones you can buy.

Like with other recent Samsung devices, GS5 buyers in areas that don't have LTE will get a version with an octa-core Exynos processor instead of the Snapdragon.


2 GB of RAM in both phones

2 GB of RAM in each handset.


Same internal storage options, though the GS5 also has a microSD card slot

Both Samsung and Motorola let you choose from 16 GB and 32 GB flavors. The GS5, though, has a microSD card slot to augment the internal storage.


Both phones run KitKat, but the GS5 has Samsung's TouchWiz skin on top

Both phones run Android 4.4 KitKat, but the GS5 has a thick layer of Samsung TouchWiz living on top. In other words, though it's the same core OS, there's a different user interface with lots of different features baked in.

The Moto X runs, more or less, stock Android, with only a few differences (like Active Display, hands-free voice control, and a Moto-flavored camera app).


The Moto X has been around for about seven months, while the GS5 launches in April

The Moto X is aging pretty well, but it's already been around for around seven months. The GS5 launches on April 11, though your region could potentially see it launch a little later.

Starting price (off-contract)

We still don't know how much the GS5 will cost, but it's hard to beat the Moto X's US$400 ...

We still don't know how much the GS5 will ring up for, and it will probably vary a bit from carrier to carrier and region to region. Just don't expect it to drop anywhere near as low as the Moto X's $400 off-contract starting price. It isn't a high-end spec monster, but the price combined with its unique features make it one of the best smartphone values around.

For more on the Moto X, you can check out our initial review from back in August, and our look back from earlier this year. If you want to see how the GS5 stacks up next to other Android phones, you can hit up our comparisons of Samsung's phone to the Nexus 5, Galaxy Note 3, and last year's flagship, the Galaxy S4.

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About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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