Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5

March 15, 2013 Updated: April 2, 2013

Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy S4 smartphone in New York March 14. How does it compare to the U.S. market leader, Apple’s iPhone 5?  

Samsung will sell the S4 in 155 countries and use 327 mobile operators. In the United States, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint will start selling the device at the end of April for an estimated price of $200 with a two-year contract.

Apple’s iPhone has been around since last September and sold 47.8 million units until the end of the first quarter in fiscal year 2013. How do the two compare?

In terms of size, the Galaxy is slightly bigger and heavier:

  • S4: 5.3 inches x 2.74 inches x 0.3 inches—4.5 ounces
  • iPhone 5: 4.87 inches x 2.31 inches x 0.3 inches—3.95 ounces

The bigger dimensions are mainly because of the bigger (and better) screen:

  • S4: 5-inch, full HD Super AMOLED—1920 x 1080 res—441 pixel per inch
  • iPhone 5: 4-inch Retina Display—1136 x 640 res—326 pixel per inch

Another factor contributing to the weight could be the 2600mAh exchangeable battery, more powerful than the iPhone’s 1440mAh, which cannot be replaced. In terms of battery life, PCMag’s tests says the iPhone has 8:40 hours until talk-time runs out but Samsung so far has not provided details. Rumor has it that higher computing power and the bigger screen eat up the mAh advantage. 

The S4 has eight (!) processors installed which operate at 1.6GHz. On paper this is faster than the iPhone 5’s dual-core A6 processor which was benchmarked by at 1.3 GHz. In computer processing, raw numbers do not mean much, however, and we’ll have to wait until some benchmark tests become available for the S4.       

Samsung’s S4 has a 13-megapixel camera, compared to the iPhone’s 8-megapixel. Again, the numbers speak for Samsung but lens quality will have to be tested before declaring a winner.

In terms of software, the S4 has some capabilities that surpass the iPhone’s. The Smart Pause and Smart Scroll feature recognize when the user is looking at the screen. To scroll, you then merely need to tilt the device without touching the screen. For video, the device will pause when you look away and resume when you look again.   

The Air View and Air Gesture features allow regular control without actually touching the screen: “Air View makes it quicker, easier, and super-convenient to enlarge content and photos, preview emails, and speed dial; all with your finger barely hovering over the screen, even when you’re wearing gloves,” the company’s website states.

A more complicated system allows users to optimize and monitor their healthy lifestyle. The “Health Board,” tracks everything from comfort levels (temperature and humidity) to calorie intake and exercise performance.

The S4 runs the latest Android operating system “4.2.2 Jelly Bean,” released Feb. 11, 2013. The iPhone runs the latest iOS 6.1.2, released Feb. 19, 2013. All major apps, such as Facebook, Google Maps and What’s App are available for both operating systems.