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Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S head to head review

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Samsung and Apple have been fighting for supremacy of the top-end smartphone market for several years now. Traditionally it has been Apple's iPhone that has won the two companies' yearly battle.

While the exact reason for this is debatable, Apple's improved security features and iOS' malware-free status will undoubtedly be one factor motivating many businesses to opt for an iPhone over a Galaxy. 

Aware of this, Samsung has worked hard to ensure its latest Galaxy S5 comes loaded with a variety of security features designed to make it the most business-friendly smartphone available. This adds up to make Samsung's 2014 battle against Apple's current iPhone 5S flagship one of the most interesting to date.

Design and build
In the past we've always awarded Apple handsets the design round when comparing them with Samsung's Galaxy handsets. This is because past Samsung flagships, like the Galaxy S4, have always felt fairly flimsy compared to Apple iPhones, featuring bendable and cheap feeling polycarbonate backplates.

This year however, Samsung has changed its design practices and has built its flagship to be IP67 certified. This means on paper the Galaxy S5 is tougher than the iPhone 5S, being dust and water resistant. A consequence of this is that the Galaxy S5 has a slightly rubberised and perforated, as opposed to smooth and shiny, detachable polycarbonate backplate, and a metal bar which acts as a plug to protect its microUSB port.

Testing the two smartphones we found the Galaxy S5's certification rang true and the smartphone is significantly more robust than the iPhone 5S, which features an all but identical design to its predecessor the iPhone 5.

Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S head to head review three-quarter

The one negative consequence of the Samsung Galaxy S5's IP67 certification is that it makes the handset slightly heavier and chunkier than the iPhone 5S, with it measuring in at 142x73x8.1mm and weighing 145g. By comparison the iPhone measures in at 124x59x7.6mm and weighs 112g. However the iPhone is notorious for being easily damaged, with many Apple handsets suffering from scratches or shattered screens.

This means that for those who prefer smaller, lightweight handsets the Galaxy S5 will feel a little unwieldy. However for those already embedded in the Android ecosystem, where large handsets are the norm, the Galaxy S5 will feel comfortable in hand.

Winner: The Galaxy S5.

Display
Back in the day Apple's Retina display technology was the best available and offered smartphone users imaging quality previously unheard of in the mobile space. A few years on and the technology, while still good, isn't the best available and a select number of handsets have arrived in the market with better displays.

On paper the Galaxy S5 is one of these handsets, with its 5.1in 1920x1080, 432ppi Super Amoled display, beating the iPhone 5S' 4in 640x1136, 326ppi IPS LCD Retina display.

Despite the specs, traditionally we've found the benefits of IPS versus Amoled screen technology has made picking between the smartphones like the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5S fairly difficult.

Amoled technology as seen on the Galaxy S5 is designed to help displays produce deeper and richer blacks. The technology does this by electrically charging each individual pixel to generate colours. The flip side of this is that the screen has a shorter shelf life and can produce more heat than IPS displays, as preferred by Apple.

IPS displays are in general better at displaying colours and whites than their Amoled equivalents, because the technology works by organising liquid crystals on a fixed plate that's charged at a consistent rate.

Comparing the two smartphones screens, we found, while the iPhone 5S display is brighter, the Galaxy S5's screen does offer superior performance. The Galaxy S5 has superior contrast levels to the iPhone 5S and has radically better viewing angles. Using the two smartphones outdoors we also found the Galaxy S5 remained usable in bright lighting conditions that rendered the iPhone 5S all but unusable.

Winner: The Galaxy S5

Next: Operating system, software and security

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Alastair Stevenson
About

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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