Advertisement
Advertisement

iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 - which phone is best for you?

David Ludlow
6 Feb 2015
Advertisement

We pit the Apple iPhone 6 against the Samsung Galaxy S5 to see which phone one you should buy

Now the excellent and larger iPhone 6 is out how does it stack up against the flagship Samsung Galaxy S5? Unlike previous comparisons, such as the iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S5, the iPhone 6's larger screen makes it a more like-for-like comparison this time around. While the operating systems seem like the biggest difference these phones are also very different on the inside as our specs comparison reveals.

In this article we'll help you work out which handset you should buy. We're comparing the standard iPhone 6, as we believe that the iPhone 6 Plus phablet goes up against larger phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. We've also reviewed both handsets to provide a more detailed analysis. You can read our full review of the iPhone 6 here and our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S5 here.

DESIGN

Dimensions: The iPhone 6 is a much bigger phone than Apple has made before, but it's still pretty slender measuring 138.1x67x6.9mm and weighing just 129g. Admittedly, the Galaxy S5 has a larger screen, but it's a fair bit bigger and thicker, measuring 142x72.5x8.1mm and weighing 145g. Considering that the iPhone 6 is made from metal, compared to the plastic S5, it's impressive that it's lighter. Admittedly, in the hand both phones feel around the same, and they strike a good balanced between screen size and physical size.

Materials: Samsung has steadfastly stuck with plastic as a construction material of choice, and the S5 is no different. It has got a lot better at working with the material as time has gone on, with the S5 a lot better made than the Galaxy S4. It feels tough, the dimpled rear looks great and the phone's available in a range of colours. As good as plastic is, it just doesn't have the same build quality and feel that a metal case brings. From the front, things are a lot better with a Gorilla Glass front panel providing some toughness and making the handset scratch resistant.

As it's made out of plastic, it's easier for Samsung to create the handset in a wider range of colours than you can with a metal handset. There's a choice of Electric Blue, Copper Gold, Shimmer White and Charcoal Black, so you've got a good chance of finding your perfect colour.

Samsung has also made the S5 to comply with the IP67 standard. It means that the phone can resist water, provided it's not deeper than 1m and the phone's not submerged for more than 30 minutes. So, while that's not enough to go swimming or diving with it, drop the phone in a glass of water or get hit by a heavy shower and it will be fine. It's also dust resistant, so you can take it the beach or use on a dry and dusty day without fear of any damage.

With that in mind, the iPhone 6 is a long way ahead in terms of build quality. Its anodised aluminium rear panel looks and feels fantastic, giving a reassuring feel when you pick up the handset. It's the curved ion-strengthened glass, which adds strength and is scratch resistant, that really works beautifully, swooping down to meet the sides of the phone, where it's hard to detect the join. This curved design also makes the handset easier to hold than with previous models. If you're after a premium handset and want something that looks amazing, the iPhone 6 is the better choice here.

As it has a metal case, the phone's only available in three colours: gold, silver and space grey. Apple's done a really good job with each, and there's a decent variety in colours. It's worth checking them out in a shop to find out which one you prefer the look of.

iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 rear

DISPLAY

Screen size: With a 4.7in display, the iPhone 6 is larger than models before it. We think that this screen size makes a great compromise between being large while maintaining the portability and pocketability of the handset. At this size, it's easy to pretty much all parts of the screen with a thumb, making it a one-handed device. For those times where you can't quite get to the top of the screen, Apple has Reachability. Double-tap the TouchID button and the top half of the screen slides down, so you can use it. For those times you need it, it does a great job.

Samsung has used a larger 5.1in screen in its smartphone. With the larger case, this means that the S5 isn't quite as easy to use one-handed as the iPhone 6. Android doesn't have a Reachability-style mode, although Samsung has a One Handed Operation mode. With this on, you can swipe in from the side of the screen to reduce the display size down to more manageable levels, and you turn it off by hitting the Expand button. For those times that you have to use the handset one handed, it's a useful feature to have.

Screen resolution: Apple has upped the resolution of its handset to 1,344x750 from the iPhone 5S, but the pixel density remains the same at 326ppi. This means that the screen is as sharp as the old model, and keeps Apple's Retina tag. Apple has also used the extra screen resolution to fit an improved keyboard, which appears when the phone is put into landscape mode.

With the Galaxy S5, Samsung has used a Full HD 1,920x1,080 panel, which gives it a pixel density of 432ppi. By that measurement, the S5 should be sharper than the iPhone 6, but it's a little more complicated due to the screen technology used (more on the full details next). In short, the iPhone 6 has three sub-pixels per pixel (red, green and blue); the S5 uses a pentile arrangement, which uses fewer subpixels in a diamond formation, (one green, alternating red and blue). Close-up and on text, the S5's text isn't always quite as sharp, but images generally look better. It's too close to really call, and both phones look sharp.

Screen technology: Apple uses an IPS LCD panel in the iPhone 6, which has excellent viewing angles (you can see it clearly from practically anywhere). It's also extremely bright, with our colour calibrator measuring it at 543cd/m2, with excellent contrast (for LCD) at 1,456:1 and a decent black level of just 0.37cd/m2. We measured it as being able to produce 95.1% of the sRGB colour gamut. The downside of this technology is that it requires an always-on backlight, which needs more power.

Samsung has used a SUPER AMOLED panel, which has self-illuminating pixels and no backlight. As well as being better for battery, it means perfect blacks, as a pixel can be turned off (we measured 0.01cd/m2 for the black level), practically infinite contrast and excellent colour reproduction of 99.9 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. Although there are fewer sub-pixels, you'd have to say that Samsung has the better overall display here, with only brightness of 339cd/m2 letting it down slightly.

That's not to say that Apple's display isn't very good; it is, and you'll be more than happy with the results, as it's one of the best LCD panels that we've seen. However, AMOLED has the edge when it comes to pure quality.

iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 screens

PERFORMANCE

Processor: The iPhone 6 has one of Apple's brand-new processors, the 64bit A8. This dual-core part runs at 1.4GHz, which may not sound like a lot, but it's highly optimised and iOS 8 is so quick, that the combination of the two is impressive. In fact, the handset completed the SunSpider JavaScript test in 384ms, which is faster than any Android handset we've seen. Graphics performance is equally as good, with the iPhone 6 scoring 17,509 in the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test. With the new Metal API now available, Apple is promising that developers that use it will be able to produce faster and more detailed graphics.

Samsung has used a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU. It's not 64bit, so won't be able to take advantage of the Android L 64bit OS, but it's still very quick indeed. It ran the SunSpider JavaScript test in 391ms, and scored 18,451 in the 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme test. From these results, you can see that both phones have similar performance, although Apple's CPU and OS are clearly more efficient, as they score similar results at a lower clock speed and with fewer cores.

Battery: We know that the iPhone 6 has a 1,810mAh battery in it. In our video playback test, it lasted for 12h 58m, which isn't bad considering the size of the handset. More observed than measured, the new 20nm A8 chip sips power, so we found battery life to be excellent during the day, when the screen's not on all of the time and the handset's synchronising in the background. A day's worth of heavy usage is absolutely fine with this phone and you won't get charge anxiety.

Samsung has used a huge 2,800mAh battery in the S5, which meant that it lasted 17h 30m in our video playback test, with that big screen drawing less power than Apple's does. To top it all off, the S5 has a replaceable battery and a low-power mode that switches to a black&white interface and restricts that apps that can run to make it last even longer. If you live day-to-day, either phone will do; if battery life is really important, the S5 takes the lead.

Storage: Apple doesn't have a microSD card slot on the iPhone 6, so you need to buy the storage you need upfront. There's plenty of choice with 16GB, 64GB and 128GB (no 32GB) capacities available. You can only buy the S5 with 16GB of storage, although a microSD card slot can help you expand the memory as you see fit.

iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 power buttons

CAMERA

The iPhone 6 has an 8 megapixel resolution, although it uses a relatively large 1/3in sensor, so each pixel gets a lot of light. Standout features include an incredible 240fps video mode, a burst stills mode, which keeps going until memory fills up, letting you snap of a ton of photos and then grab the perfect moment. It also shoots video at Full HD resolutions at up to 60fps. It also has the TrueTone Flash, which uses one white and one amber LED to match the flash colour to the ambient colour temperature, creating more natural images. Samsung has fitted a 16 megapixel sensor to its S5, although it has a relative small 1/2.6in sensor. It has a 4K video shooting mode, can refocus shots after they're taken and has a bright standard LED flash.

Quality is a matter of compromise on both cameras. With the iPhone 6 we found that it generally had better exposure and colours, and its low-light photos were excellent with plenty of detail and little noise. With the S5, you get more detail in an image, thanks to the high resolution, but exposure wasn't quite as good and low-light scenes are a lot noiser. It's a toss-up, but we'd rather have the better quality, lower-resolution iPhone 6 sensor. You can compare the S5 (top) to the iPhone 6 (below) - click either photo to view it full-res.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini camera test HDR mode01

FINGERPRINT READERS

Apple was the first company to put a fingerprint reader in a phone, and the iPhone 6 has the TouchID sensor. It's extremely accurate, and you just have to hold your finger on it to make it work. At the moment, it can be used to unlock your phone, pay for App store and iTunes purchases and third-party app developers can also use it. When Apple Pay finally launches in the UK (no date, as yet), you'll be able to use TouchID with the NFC chip for contactless payments, and also for online shopping.

Samsung has put a fingerprint reader in the S5, which you activate by swiping your finger over it. It can be used to unlock the phone, but also to authorise PayPal purchases. Not other uses for it currently exist.

iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 on top of each other

OPERATING SYSTEM

The iPhone 6 runs iOS 8.1, as of the most recent update, and it's a great improvement over iOS 7 in terms of features. It now integrates well with other Apple devices, so you can answer calls coming to your iPhone on your iPad (using Continuity), or even share tasks, starting writing an email on your iPad, for example, and finishing on your iPhone, using Handoff. These features all work across OS X Yosemite, which means that iOS 8 is even better if you're also a Mac user. IOS 8 is extremely smooth and we still believe that it has the greatest selection of apps available for it.

Samsung shipped the Samsung Galaxy S5 with Android 4.4 on it, although it has since released an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is available for all users to download now. As Samsung uses its own TouchWiz UI, not much has changed visually with Lollipop; the interface is a bit neater, buttons a bit cleaner and notifications are a bit easier to read. However, under the surface, Lollipop is faster, more reliable and smoother than the old OS. There are also some great features that iOS doesn't have, such as looking up incoming phone calls in Google to show you who's calling. It's a lot slicker than previous versions, too, with Samsung only making basic modifications to the OS. There's a lot of choice on the Google Play store when it comes to apps, too, although the quality perhaps isn't quite as good as with Apple. Both operating systems are mature and well-featured now, so there's not so much to tell them apart. For more information on this read our Android 5.0 Lollopop vs iOS 8 guide.

WEARABLE TECH

If you want to pair your smartphone up with some wearable tech, there's good choices with both phones. Apple's iPhone 6 will work with the vast majority of fitness devices, with iOS being the first platform manufacturers choose to support. Smartwatch wise it's a different story, with only the Pebble Smartwatch currently available for the iPhone. We'll have to wait until the Apple Watch is released until we truly get a powerful smartwatch.

With the Samsung Galaxy S5, most fitness devices will work with it, although there are a couple of minor exceptions. When it comes to smartwatches, you're spoiled for choice. Any Android Wear device, such as the excellent Moto 360, will work with it. Then, you've got Samsung's own range of watches, including the rather good Gear Fit, to pick from. 

PRICE

The iPhone 6 is relatively expensive at £539 for the 16GB version, all the way to £699 for the 128GB version. Our best iPhone 6 deals page will help you get the best UK prices, but it has to be said that you'll have to pay quite a bit of money for one. You can buy the Samsung Galaxy S5 SIM-free for around £430, making it around £100 cheaper than the basic iPhone 6 model. On contract, you'll find better deals for it, too.

CONCLUSION

Both phones are very good and have their merits, so it's not simply a case of which one is best, but which one is best for you. If you've got other Apple devices, the integration offered by the iPhone 6 make it a real winner. Likewise, if you're looking for the best build quality, the slickest OS and the best selection of quality apps, then we'd have to say that the iPhone 6 is the better choice. Apple also gets bonus points for upgrades, as the iPhone 6 will get the latest OS on the day of release for a good while to come; Android phones often have a delay and quite often get overlooked. As an entire package, then, there's a lot to love about the iPhone 6 and it's most likely the best choice. That said, if you're on a tighter budget, don't have other Apple devices and want a phone with incredible battery life, and need the IP67 protection, then the Samsung Galaxy S5 is still a great choice.