Samsung Galaxy S5 vs S4: What’s Different and What Matters?

February 24, 2014 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Today Samsung announced the Galaxy S5, and as expected it’s loaded with changes and new features from last year’s Galaxy S4.  While there aren’t as many changes in some areas as we had expected, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is definitely a different device from any other one Samsung makes, but that doesn’t always mean it’s worth upgrading from your current model just because it’s newer.  We like to help you out here on Android Headlines and compare the newest phones with eachother, pointing out the specific features of one phone and how it may be better for you than features on another new, hot phone, but what about comparing it to last year’s model?  The Galaxy S4 was a well-received phone that received a lot of praise, but also received plenty of criticism as well.  While Samsung addressed many problems with the device like bloatware and overall design, they didn’t change other things that irked people.

First off let’s take a look at design differences.  The front of the phone looks extraordinarily similar to the Galaxy S4, and even more similar to the Galaxy Note 3.  Unless you’re an enthusiast you’re not likely to pick any of these devices out when put right next to eachother except maybe for the size.  The back of the phone is a completely different story though, and now the Galaxy S5 features a pocked leather-like material whereas the Galaxy S4 had the same slimy plastic that Samsung used for a while and basically everyone hated.  The Galaxy S5 is also slightly heavier 5.1 oz vs the Galaxy S4’s 4.5 oz, which is likely chocked up to the more premium materials used on the phone in general.  The Galaxy S5 is also slightly larger than the Galaxy S4, which is likely to drive some people crazy.  Samsung increased the screen size from 4.99-inches on the S4 to 5.1-inches on the S5, and the device itself became ever so slightly larger as well.

Moving on to the internals the Galaxy S5 has received a significant upgrade in most areas when compared to the Galaxy S4.  The processor is the same Snapdragon 800 quad-core as is in the Galaxy Note 3, albeit clocked at an even higher 2.5GHz, vs the 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 processor on the Galaxy S4.  This processor powers the new 5.1-inch 1080p screen with all sorts of new saturation, contrast and brightness adjusting technology, and actually ends up being ever so slightly less sharp than the Galaxy S4 at 432 pixels-per-inch vs 441 PPI.  This likely isn’t noticeable though as such a high PPI isn’t usually visible unless you stick your face up to the screen.

GS5 Galaxy S5 1.9

The camera has received a significant upgrade too, going from 13 megapixels on the GS4 up to 16MP on the GS5.  Megapixels aren’t the only important thing here though, as the sensor has been significantly upgraded in size as well, meaning you’ll be getting more light into each of those pixels, and the sensor even features a new type of technology called ISOCELL that helps take in more light as well.  The Galaxy S5 also features a dedicated chip that takes HDR photos instantly, and also allows for HDR video, giving your photos and videos richer color and helping balance harsh lighting conditions, whereas the GS4 has a software HDR mode that takes a few seconds to render after taking a shot.  The GS5 camera also features a new type of auto focus that works in tandem with the traditional auto focus found on smartphones, giving an astounding 0.3 second auto focus time.

Samsung increased the battery size from 2600mAh on the GS4 to 2800mAh on the GS5; a fairly insignificant size increase that will likely be better felt as long as the software has been more optimized as Samsung has promised.  Software wise Samsung made some significant improvements in overall design, particularly when it comes to colors and shading of icons and menus.  Gone are the weird tabbed menus on the GS4 that cannot be swiped between, replaced mainly with menus that look more like an app drawer than anything else.  You’ll find the TouchWiz launcher is still similarly laid out though, even with the refined icons.  Fitness features have been upgraded as well, building upon the pedometer that made its debut with the GS4, the GS5 adds heart Rate sensors on the back of the phone, increasing its use as a fitness device instead of just a phone.

Those looking to upgrade their Galaxy S4 will definitely find plenty of reasons to do so.  While such an upgrade isn’t for everyone, especially given the cost of upgrading from one year’s model to the next, the Galaxy S5 is a pretty significant upgrade in many areas.  Don’t forget too that the GS5 is waterproof and dustproof unlike the GS4, which will likely help out in a few tricky situations.  If you’re in the market for a new phone and are set on a Samsung device, the GS5 is likely a better run for your money when it debuts in April, although for those who don’t really care about the new features you can get a Galaxy S4 for a pretty sweet deal nowadays.  Many would have liked to see more changes on Samsung’s behalf, but there is definitely plenty to be happy about with the Galaxy S5.