Apple iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
You don't have to be a techie to know that Apple and Samsung have been going at it for what is closing in on half a decade now. And yet, despite the undeniable reality of their rivalry, it's been a while since the two giants have had products that are as closely matched as are the new iPhone 6 and the now aging Galaxy S5. And yes, we're mainly talking about their size, as that has historically been one of the key differences that split the crowd into team Apple and team Samsung. But now, with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, Apple has finally given up on its insistence that smaller is always better, and has attacked a position that Samsung, it seems to us, is very well-equipped to defend – after all, making big screen devices is something of a specialty with the South Korean company. But does that mean that Apple is headed for a certain defeat? Read on to find out.
Few will contend that the iPhone 6 has looks on its side, but the Galaxy S5 is a more practical buy, with its water- and dust-resistant body and removable battery.
Once you've put the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S5 side-by-side, it's impossible not to appreciate the differences that, historically, have characterized the two companies' approaches towards design. With Apple, sleek industrial looks have, traditionally, stood at the center, while Samsung has been far more conservative, even practical, and both these takeaways apply to their latest flagships.
The new iPhone 6, for example, while an evolution in Apple design when compared with the iPhone 5s, retains the customary all-aluminum unibody – it's just a literally more rounded take on the authentic iPhone look. We were kind of surprised, though, to see Apple go for a camera sensor that protrudes from the back of the new iPhone – a first with Apple. We're not actually worried about scuffing that one – it's protected with sapphire glass, after all – but it does prevent the iPhone 6 from laying flat, which can be seen as a mild annoyance.
As pointed out, Samsung has taken a different approach towards the Galaxy S5's design. For starters, the company has used more pedestrian materials with the body of the GS5 – like polycarbonate plastic and a leather-like, soft-touch plastic for the dotted back. The S5 is also IP67-certified, which means that it is dust-proof and resistant towards damaging ingress of water for up to 30 minutes when submerged in up to a meter of water.
Handling either of the two devices is a pleasure, though we're sure some of you will prefer the cool touch of aluminum with the iPhone 6 – keep in mind, however, that the metal provides less surface friction, so the Apple flagship is more slippery when compared with the Galaxy S5. Moving on, it's also important to consider the physical footprint of both devices: the iPhone 6 is shorter, narrower, slimmer, and lighter, but it also comes with an 18% smaller screen. Lastly, we're glad to see that while the volume rocker and silencer switch still reside on the left, Apple has placed the power button on the right side of the device, so you won't have to reach for the top. Bar the silence switch on the iPhone 6, the Galaxy S5 has an identical layout, and though its plasticky buttons provide excellent feedback, they can't quite compare with the precision-crafted, metal pieces used with the iPhone 6.
Finally! A big iPhone screen, and an excellent one at that. In comparison, the Galaxy S5's gaudy colors are off-target, but it recovers some lost points with its larger, more-detailed screen.
In a very big way, the 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone 6 is its highlight feature. Indeed, after bumping the diagonal length from 3.5 to 4 inches with the iPhone 5, and sticking with that with the iPhone 5s, Apple finally addresses the market's demand for a larger-screened iPhone. In order to keep up with its self-imposed “Retina” threshold, the company has also bumped up the resolution of the IPS panel, and it now reads 750 x 1334 pixels – or good for 326 ppi, which is sufficient for a very clear image. With the Galaxy S5, we're looking at a notably larger (17.7%), 5.1-inch display with a crisp resolution of 1080 x 1920, or 432 pixels per inch. The panel is of the Super AMOLED type, with all its advantages and disadvantages baked in.
Taking a closer look at the iPhone 6's display, we find that peak brightness has been improved over the iPhone 5s, and can now reach the very excellent figure of 606 nits – more than enough for a superb viewing experience even under direct sunlight. Minimum brightness, at 7 nits, is also decent and won't burn your eyes off if you're looking at the screen in a dark environment. In comparison, the Galaxy S5's screen peaks at the decent 442 nits of brightness, and goes as low as 2 nits – great for reading in the bed.
Moving onto color accuracy, we're looking at very accurate colors for the most part with the iPhone 6. Certain hues (green, yellow) trail their target values fairly closely, though reds are slightly less saturated than ideal. The IPS screen's color temperature is rather cold, at 7162 K (6500 K is the reference point), and that translates into a slight bluish overcast that is nevertheless hardly noticeable after a while. Lastly, at 2.23 on average, gamma is excellent. The situation is quite different with the Galaxy S5. For example, the panel's color temperature of nearly 8200 K means that it's quite cold (or bluish), and the color errors are not trivial. As you can see from the chart below, all this techno talk translates into hues that are significantly over-saturated across the board, and just incorrect on the whole. In fact, even if you substitute the default Standard display mode on the GS5, and go for Cinema instead (less incorrect), the gap will still be there.