A lot of reviews regarding phones, gadgets, TV’s, gaming consoles and even operating systems always end up with a solid verdict. “Buy the iPhone over Android devices,” “Build a Windows computer instead of buying an iMac,” etc…

What is wrong with these reviews is that they assume everyone has the same needs. There’s a concluding verdict at the end of these reviews which the author believes is the only logical answer. However, the truth is that you can’t work these things out. It’s like finding the right religion for your school, workplace, or even world.  You just can’t.  It’s up to you to see what makes most sense for your needs. Not for others to decide for you.

Does everyone in at your office own an Android device and think iPhones are for teenage girls only? You’re probably going to become an Android fan in the next couple of years… It just makes sense. If everyone is working with Android then you want your files/apps to be compatible with your team.

Are you more worried about operating system security/banking details than anything else a phone might offer? Then you’re probably going to go with the iPhone. These are the type of decisions you need to make by yourself. This review isn’t going to have any of the “Winner” or “Loser” non-sense sitting next to each phone’s specs.

Photo from laptopmag.com

A bigger screen or plastic back case can’t actually “win.” That’s non-sense. You can decide if a bigger screen is good for your needs without having someone else tell you that it is. If your pants have small pockets then a big screen is a downside. If you enjoy watching movies on the go and at the gym, then a big screen is an advantage. This review will stick to reporting quantitative specs and not biased opinions.

Design/Dimensions of the iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

iPhone vs S4

Photo from Phandroid

Samsung Galaxy S4: 7.7mm thick with a plastic rear. Less prone to scratches. Weighs 130 grams. 5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches.

iPhone 5: 7.6mm with an aluminum rear. More prone to scratches. Weighs 112 grams. 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches

The S4 is over 1cm wider than the iPhone 5. It might not seem like a big difference at first, but when you hold the two phones in your hands, you’ll notice that the S4 is harder to control using one hand. The reason Apple chose to make the iPhone 5 longer instead of longer and wider, was that it’s current width is already perfect for the average human hand.

Although the S4 has no metal on its exterior, which means it can’t be as easily scratched, not everyone sees it as a benefit. Some users feel as if the S4’s build is “cheap” because of its plastic casing. However, because the S4’s exterior is actually cheaper, it won’t cost as much to repair if you drop it. It costs $200+ to replace an iPhone exterior. $5-$15 to replace an S4’s back.

The back can be removed on the S4 which has a huge benefit over the iPhone. You can swap microSD cards and batteries at will. If your S4’s battery died, and you carried around two other batteries, you could just pop them in and start using your phone again. Something which can’t be said for the iPhone.

The S4 is also easier to open and fix by yourself. Whereas the iPhone 5 is much more complicated.

Screen of the iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4: 1080p, 4.99-inch Super AMOLED

iPhone 5: 640 x 1136 pixel, 4-inch IPS

The iPhone 5’s colors are more natural, while the Galaxy S4’s screen has better contrast in low-lighting. Both phones have equal quality when it comes to sharpness.

The S4’s screen size is 4.99 inches, while the iPhone 5’s is 4 inches. The huge screen size difference here can be seen as a benefit or a disadvantage depending on how you look at it. You’ll simply have to visit your local phone store and compare the two screen sizes for your own needs.

Storage of the iPhone 5 vs the Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4: Starts off at 16GB, comes with an expandable microSD slot as well. You can buy microSDs in sizes of 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and even 128GB.

iPhone 5: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.

A lot of people like keeping videos and music on their phones. I know I don’t… With a Netflix membership and Pandora (or Grooveshark. Or Google Music…), I will never need to put media on my phone again. Streaming media to your phone over the internet might use up more battery. But at least it doesn’t take up space.

Anyways, if you’re a fan of filling up your phone with music, podcasts and videos, then the S4 is a good choice. If managing multiple microSD’s with content on them and swapping them out also sounds like a good idea, then the S4 is also a good choice over the iPhone 5.

Raw Power

Samsung Galaxy S4: Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 1.9GHz CPU, 2GB RAM,

iPhone 5: Apple A6 dual-core 1.2GHz, 1GB RAM, PowerVR SGX 543 GPU

If you’ve ever compared the raw power of the PS3 and Xbox 360 vs their user base, you’ll find some surprising results. Just because the PS3 looks more powerful on paper doesn’t translate into a better community or more console sales. Other things come into factor as well. These things include: developer community (raw power is useless if you don’t have developers pushing the consoles to the limit), price of console, user-base and many other things.

Photo from MacRumors

Photo from MacRumors

In the image above you can see that the S4 “appears” to be twice as the iPhone 5. Then in the comments of the MacRumors article, there are people mentioning that Samsung’s benchmarks don’t really amount to anything:

Android is a far less optimized system, it needs the faster CPU to give the same fluid user experience that iOS gives. Don’t read too much in to it folks.-Risco

Don’t even get me started on the fact that I had to support Android all the way back to 2.3.3, and the Android Browser which has been modified by the various hardware makers (HTC, Samsung, etc) to break a few web standards we needed. I can’t wait for the day when the whole world is on a late version of Chrome. -Cahaos86

Apple’s software and hardware are all developed by the same company. While Google has its hands in Android and Samsung has its hands in the hardware. The S4 also came out in 2013, while the iPhone 5 came out in 2012. So there’s not much use in comparing the raw power of these two devices when looking at their operating system performance, game performance and app availability.

Even communism looks good on paper, but in reality, it’s just a theory. This can’t be farther from the truth for bench marks as well. Hardware specs only tell you half of the story… So on to software.

Software of the iPhone 5 vs the Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4: Android 4.2 with TouchWiz

iPhone 5: iOS 6.1

The S4 uses an operating system that is very similar to the S3. Although, Samsung customized Android Jelly Bean specially for the S4. One of these customization includes the addition of “TouchWiz.”  TouchWiz allows you to control your phone using gesture and eye control. Something which is very new to the phone market and still quite experimental.

Android allows apps to run in the background at will. Applications also have more power over the phone itself. For example: alarm apps downloaded from the app market can’t turn on the alarm if the iPhone’s lockscreen is on. That means you have to leave your phone plugged into a charger and turned on all night if you want to wake up. Android on the other hand lets apps work even when the lockscreen is on.

However, the benefit of running apps in the background, is also the downside of Android. If apps continue running in the background they can quickly drain battery. This is something which casual users will have a hard time managing. The solution is long and tedious. It involves downloading a “Task Manager” which requires you to manually kill apps every half hour or so to maintain battery life. What’s even worse is that apps can turn themselves back on at any time…

Remember when it was mentioned that hardware benchmarks are pretty useless? This is exactly why… If you’re playing a game, but the Android operating system is still running 10 apps in the background, the performance will be worse off than an iPhone playing a game running 0 apps in the background.

When it comes to the design of iOS vs Android, that’s up to you. Some will argue that Android’s widgets are great because they are customizable, while others will complain that they look “childish.” On the iPhone end people will either say that the design is beautiful, or that it’s really dated and needs an upgrade. Something which is bound to happen soon anyways… 

Camera of the iPhone 5 vs the Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4: 13-megapixel sensor, LED flash

iPhone 5: 8-megapixel sensor LED flash

The S4 might be slightly more detailed, however these phones’s cameras are about the same. There’s simply not enough time to mention the downsides/advantages of each phone’s cameras in this article. Cameras are tested in low-light conditions, different focus, flash, no flash, etc. If you plan on using your phone for novice photography then you might want to research each camera more. But if you’re a casual user, you’re in good hands regardless of the iPhone 5 or the S4.


Which phone would you rather buy (or have already bought)? The iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S4? Leave your comments below as to why you made the decision you made.


Article written by Octavian Ristea. He bought an iPhone 5 on May 31st and is now talking about himself in the 3rd person.

Octavian doesn’t have (any major) bias towards either the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S4 as he knows that people always use whatever gets the job done. Whereas a lot of consumers like to argue Mac vs Windows, iOS vs Android, or PS3 vs Xbox; he doesn’t really care. Octavian wouldn’t tell you what religion you should follow as much as he wouldn’t tell you what phone or gaming console you should use. However, he would tell you that the name “Samsung Galaxy S4” gets a bit ridiculous of saying/writing 14+ times.

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