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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy S4: Should you upgrade?


If you’ve been debating on upgrading to the Samsung Galaxy S5, there are definitely a few things you need to know. Is it worth upgrading to Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone? If you currently own a Galaxy S4, you may be better off waiting for the Galaxy S6. In the video above, we compare the features and specifications between the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4. In the video above, we’ve laid out all of the facts to help you make an informed decision.

First off, let’s take a look at the specifications. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is powered by a quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, Adreno 330 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 2,800 mAh battery. Along with that, it has a beautiful 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (432 PPI). It’s also important to note that the Galaxy S5 is a bit taller than its predecessor due to the slightly larger display, but we’re not complaining. The display is bright and absolutely beautiful (though a bit over-saturated). It also ships running Android 4.4 KitKat with Samsung’s TouchWiz skin.

Taking a look at the Galaxy S4, you’ll find a quad-core 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 processor, Adreno 320 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 2,600 mAh battery. On the front of the device you’ll find a 5-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (441 PPI).


Just based on specifications, the performance gap between these two devices should be a big difference, but overall, the Galaxy S5 still has issues with lag in certain areas of TouchWiz much like its predecessor. While it’s nothing to complain about under normal circumstances, you probably shouldn’t consider upgrading to the Galaxy S5 based on specifications alone.

On the front of both devices, you’ll find the appropriate sensors and an earpiece. The Galaxy S5 has a 2.1-megapixel front facing camera, while the Galaxy S4 has a 2-megapixel camera, but don’t expect to see a huge difference in quality between the two. Both devices also feature an IR blaster and a 3.5mm headphone jack located on the top end.

Along the bottom end of each device, you’ll find a home button and two capacitive buttons, but on the Galaxy S5, Samsung has decided to swap out the menu/settings button with a multitasking button. The major difference here is found in the home button on the Galaxy S5. There’s actually a fingerprint sensor built-in to the S5’s home button that can be used to unlock the device and make payments via PayPal.


Overall, the fingerprint sensor is a nice addition, but in our testing the device failed to accurately read a fingerprint on multiple occasions. Another downside to the S5’s fingerprint sensor is that you can only store up to three fingerprints at a time. That’s definitely not a deal breaker, but hopefully Samsung will update the software to allow more entries at some point. The good news is, Samsung will be allowing developers to leverage the fingerprint sensor within apps, so expect to see this feature’s integration expanded in the future.

Samsung is definitely heading in the right direction, but in no way does this feature compare to Touch ID on Apple’s iPhone 5s. In order to properly use the sensor, you’ll need to swipe your finger across it vertically. It’s just a bit awkward based on how a person naturally holds a smartphone. Samsung is off to a good start, but the fingerprint sensor probably isn’t something you’ll enjoy using on a regular basis at the moment.

The Galaxy S5 is also equip with a heart rate sensor. This sensor is located on the backside of the device below the camera and it will allow you to monitor your heart rate using the S Health app. The heart rate sensor seems accurate in our testing, but as we pointed out in a previous article, there’s really no benefit in having a dedicated heart rate sensor on a smartphone. Using Runtastic’s Heart Rate Monitor app (available in the Play Store), we were able to obtain very similar results on a Galaxy S4.


If you’re into mobile photography, the Galaxy S5 is definitely a step up in camera quality when compared to its predecessor. The S5 is packing a 16-megapixel camera that delivers great image quality over the 13-megapixel rear shooter found on the Galaxy S4. The S5’s camera also features extremely fast autofocus, taking only 0.3 seconds to focus between shots. Along with that you’re getting UHD (4K) video recording, but unfortunately, this high resolution video mode won’t provide any stabilization. In addition to the cameras, both devices feature a single LED flash.

One notable feature of the Galaxy S5’s camera is Selective Focus. This will allow you to refocus a picture that you’ve already taken. The only downside is, the Selective focus mode must be enabled when taking a picture for this to be possible. No complaints in this area though. Selective focus seemed to work as advertised.

A standout feature on the Galaxy S5 is its IP67 dust and water resistance rating. This will allow the S5 to be fully submerged in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. As shown in the video above, the water resistance is definitely impressive, but because if this the S5’s USB 3.0 charging port comes stock with a port cover to help keep the water resistant seal. The USB 3.0 port will allow faster charging and data transfers when compared to the Galaxy S4’s micro USB 2.0 port.


The back cover also has built-in water resistance protection with a ring of rubber around the inside to help protect the S5’s internal components. Speaking the back cover, this is where you’ll find a small speaker, Galaxy branding on each device, and one of the major design differences of the Galaxy S5. The back cover is designed with a soft touch finished and covered in small dimples. Like it or not, this is here to stay. Fortunately, many third party covers and official Samsung accessories will be available in the future. The soft touch design of the back cover is definitely a step up from the glossy plastic found on the Galaxy S4, but I’m not a fan of the dimples. Under the back cover, both devices have a Micro SD card slot, Micro SIM card sot, and a removable battery.

Taking a look at software specific features, the Galaxy S5 comes with a new Ultra Power Saving Mode that will help preserve its battery up to 24 hours in standby mode once it drops below 10 percent. The mode can be automatically or manually enabled, but it will grayscale and simplify the UI to conserve power. This is made possible by the Super AMOLED display which is only required to light the white pixels when this mode is active. As we mentioned, you’ll be limited to a simplified user interface and only a select amount of features and apps.


Other notable software features on the Galaxy S5 include Kids Mode, My Magazine, a few camera modes, and some small visual changes to TouchWiz. For more information and opinions about the Galaxy S5, be sure to check our recent review roundup. If you’d like to find out more information or pricing and availability for the Galaxy S5, here’s a link.

Overall, the Galaxy S5 may not be a huge upgrade, but it builds on the Galaxy S4’s strong points, adds performance improvements, and a few heavily marketed features that you might use on a regular basis. It’s not the biggest jump from last year’s Samsung flagship, but if you’re ready for an upgrade, you won’t be disappointed with the Galaxy S5. Is it a necessary upgrade if you currently own a Galaxy S4? Probably not. It never hurts to have the latest smartphone, but based on the facts, what do you think about Samsung’s Galaxy S5?

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