Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5
What better way to determine how drastically Samsung's flagship phone line changed this year, than to lock horns between the Galaxy S6, and the 2014 darling Galaxy S5. Not only do we have a premium chassis (blasphemy!) on the S6, but this time Samsung also pulled out all stops in the specs department.
While last year the Galaxy S5 shipped with a 1080p display “only”, this year the new S6 highlander comes equipped with a Quad HD panel, 3 GB of RAM instead of 2 GB, optical image stabilization for the camera, and a scorching fast chipset. Will these be enough to soothe the pain that comes with a sealed battery compartment and no memory card slot for nearly twice the S5's price? Let's find out...
With a premium unibody chassis, the Galaxy S6 runs design circles around the S5, but lacks its watertight casing.
The Galaxy S6 has a pretty glaring advantage before the S5 when it comes to design, and we don't mean its reflective nanocoating only. Instead of the S5's soft, dimpled plastic cover, it has a very elegant casing with metal frame, and reinforced glass cover in several colors for every taste. The Galaxy S5 is somewhat more flexible in its orthodox design, though, as it sports an IP67 waterproof rating, allowing you to submerge it in up to three feet of water for half an hour, and a removable battery cover, so that you swap the battery quickly if needed.
The new S6 is easier to hold and operate with one hand, as it is narrower, thinner and lighter than its predecessor, while the protruding camera on the back serves as a comfortable base for your index finger to prop. When it comes to the physical lock and volume keys, they are conveniently placed around both phones, and with good tactile feedback.
Speaking of buttons, the home key underneath the display of the Galaxy S6 still incorporates a fingerprint reader, just like on the S5, but this time it is of the more convenient touch sensor variety that recognizes your prints with a simple tap only, instead of swiping over the whole thing. Samsung also intros a double-tap gesture for launching the camera with the S6's home key directly, without even unlocking the handset, which is a great feat to have.
Looking at the back, we find both handsets donning a 16 MP camera placed right in the upper middle, which is a fine placement, so that your fingers won't try to get into the frame while shooting in landscape mode, for instance, as it so often happens with cornered cameras. Overall, the Galaxy S6 design is leaps and bounds before the S5, while still keeping the unmistakeable rounded corner form of Samsung's recent flagships, and the signature clicky home key.
From the outlandish Galaxy S5 hues to the color-accurate S6 panel - Samsung's AMOLED display tech has gone a long way in just a year's time.
The phones have the same screen diagonals – 5.1” - but different screen resolutions. The Galaxy S5 dons a 1080 x 1920 resolution, while the S6 has the most pixel-dense display on a mobile, with a 1440 x 2560 pixels screen that has a record 577 ppi density, so you'd never notice individual pixels with a naked eye, no matter how closely you look.
We've grown accustomed to expecting very cold, oversaturated and incorrect colors from Samsung's AMOLED screens, at least until the Note 4, and the Galaxy S5 is no exception. The S6, on the other hand, carries over the nice trend from Samsung's latest phablet, and exhibits a credible color presentation in the default screen mode, plus a white point that is very close to the reference 6500K mark.
Outdoor visibility is excellent on both handsets, given that, in auto light sensor mode, both phones get boosted to a very high peak brightness under direct sunlight. That's about the only display quality category which is almost on par – in everything else the Galaxy S6 display trumps the S5 panel, and then some. Case in point - the Gorilla Glass 3 protective cover on top of the S5's panel gets upgraded to the latest Gorilla Glass 4 on the S6, too. The phones offer a super-sensitive touch layer that can be turned on and off at will, allowing you to operate the screen with gloves on, for instance.