Apple

Samsung's Galaxy S5 gives a glimpse into the iPhone's future

Jordan Golson has been testing Samsung's flagship 5.1" Galaxy S5 smartphone and has seen the future of the iPhone.

The 4" iPhone 5s next to the 5.1" Samsung Galaxy S5.

Samsung was kind enough to send me a Galaxy S5 phone, and I've been testing it out for the past week. Unfortunately for Samsung, its biggest shortcoming is not something the company can do anything about.

The phone itself is excellent. It's thin, the battery lasts all day, and it's supposedly waterproof, though I wasn't brave enough to test that particular feature. The camera takes lovely pictures, and I never had any complaints about the S5's speed. However, I didn't do any benchmark tests -- I stuck to general impressions that any smartphone user would have.

Unlike some reviewers, I haven't had any trouble with the fingerprint sensor that's built in to the home button. Apple's Touch ID implementation is a bit more elegant than Samsung's, but it works just fine.

The best feature of the Galaxy S5 is definitely the big, beautiful 5.1" screen. Watching high-def videos is a pleasurable experience and blows the iPhone away when used side-by-side. And therein lies the problem.

Other than the screen, the Galaxy S5 falls short when compared to the iPhone in almost every way. Waterproof though it may be, the phone is still made of cheap-feeling plastic, some 18 months after Apple introduced the all-aluminum iPhone 5. But even that plastic falls short when compared to Apple's plastic iPhone 5c. The 5c feels solid, with a fit-and-finish approaching that of LEGOs, the ultimate standard in plastic manufacturing.

The Galaxy S5 is fine, but it just doesn't feel as polished as its main competitor.

The software is where it all falls apart. I admit, I'm a dedicated iOS user, but I've made temporary switches to Android several times over the years, and I continually find it lacking. Launching the phone for the first time (my tester is on AT&T), I had to go through a number of setup screens -- no big difference from the iPhone there -- but, unlike on Apple's locked-down device, I was asked numerous times about AT&T products that were preloaded on the device. Then, after I had skipped all of the offers, my home screen was still filled with icons for the AT&T Locker, AT&T Navigator, and more. I appreciate all the stuff AT&T wants to shove at me, but it reminds me of the heady days of preloaded crapware that one would find on a 2002-era Dell.

Android has come a long way over the past few years, both in usability and design, and I appreciate the ability for Android users to customize their system in a nearly infinite number of ways.

As an alternative to Apple, for those who don't buy into the company's Jobsian locked-in ecosystem, the S5 and Android are perfectly legitimate alternatives. Even the gadget review site The Wirecutter says the Galaxy S5 is its favorite Android phone, though it still prefers the iPhone 5s.

The iPhone still gives the better user experience, both in hardware and software, with the exception of the Galaxy's big, beautiful screen. So, what happens when Apple launches the iPhone 6 with 4.7" and 5.5" options later this year, and Samsung's best differentiating feature disappears?

Have you tried the Galaxy S5? Do you think a larger iPhone would remove Samsung's biggest competitive advantage? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

About

Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.

22 comments
aaron.strayer
aaron.strayer

Couldn't agree with you more. I've been a cell phone salesman for the last 3 years and started with an android device as my first smartphone. Previously using a Motorola razr. My first smartphone was Verizon's Motorola droid 2 with slide out keyboard. It was amazing and I learned to forgive the droids hiccups and minor annoyances of "force close" "location temp unavailable" when using the free maps app and the general "cookie cutter" feel of android. But I was a full supporter of google ecosystem and what it had it's eye on I. The future. I liked the idea of using my droid 2 to being able to hook up to other peoples pcs my pc through USB and easily transfer content. Oh, and if I ran out of space I could just pop a 32gb memory card in it.

My droid 2 was purchased as a standard everyday consumer who was getting into his first smartphone. 1 year later I embarked on a career in retail sales for one of the major carriers. The majority of sales rep carried the iphone. Since I was so proud of my droid phone I defended it. But more and more people came in with iPhones and I felt I couldn't adequately answer all their questions since I had never carried one myself.

So I decided to purchase my first iphone. The iphone 4. Omg. No more app hang ups. No more force closing. I had battery life again!!! (Newer androids have now corrected the battery life issues). I was so happy with ios. It was clean, responsive. But MOST importantly stable. It worked. It did what it would said it would do. I was so worried about the internal battery. With my droid phone I'd just take the battery out and put it back in. And way-lah my phone would be good for another 48 hours. With iphone it was light and day. Maybe every 3 to 4 weeks I would do a soft reset and that was it. I'd run I to customers who carried 3G or 3GS phones for over a year and NEVER turned their device off or done a soft reset to fix an issue. Because the iphone is just so damn reliable. I've learned that's all I care about. I just want stuff to work as advertised, not sometimes. And oh btw, I'm sick of reading about quad core processors, etc etc for android phones. The iPhone 5s dual core smoked the quad core processors of the s4 and htc one.

There are so many other things I love. The responsiveness of the keyboard. The ability to easily move the cursor among words to quickly edit a letter change (gotta love that zoom to pinpoint the exact spot in the word for a quick edit!!!, android has nothing on that!!). Long story short, my iphone lets me stay connected with my world, friends, and family when I need it to, without the fuss of OS crashes and laggy keyboards.

The only knock I have on the apple product is pushing ios 7 to the iphone 4. That was a bad idea apple, and definitely a poor research/testing job on your part. Bogging down the iphone 4 with ios7 forced people to upgrade their devices to the 4s, 5c or 5s. Please don't allow a software update to be pushed to a device which degrades the functionality of a device to where it's frustrating to use/operate. It goes against apples entire "it just works" brand it has built with its consumers!

Gisabun
Gisabun

"The software is where it all falls apart.." so you are blaming AT&T for this? Fine. But if you used another provider, would you get the same crap? I don't remember getting all the junk you described with my S4.

Personally I dislike the way Apple locks down things. They do it on purpose to cut support costs [read the Isaacson bio]. I have no problems with the S4 case and I'm getting almost 3 days of battery life.

It is now Apple that has to catch up. They use to be the innovators. Now they are playing catch-up.

mahesh.mehtac
mahesh.mehtac

Both the phones are best only in price... :) i have a second hand galaxy S3 mobile which i got from Quikr.com...and i love that phone.

tonyspence
tonyspence

Call that a review? What a waste of bandwidth. Could have learned more reading the box.

carstendnr
carstendnr

Excellent unbiased article, it does your credibility wonders.

BobJeffers
BobJeffers

To me it is about functinality and features.  Android is more open in that it attempts to make itself able to be functional with all platforms and not isolate itself as iOS or even Microsoft has done.  I use a series of Windows computers for work and Android works most seamlessly with them.  Apple, not so much.


Features, I prefer a battery that can be readily replaced.  I prefer to be able to swap out additional storage than to always rely on the cloud... even though I do use several services.  I have no problem with plastic as it is very easily replaced if damad=ged.  Not so easily done with a metal body that ultimately shows every scratch or dimple from drops and keys in the pocket.  


I prefer the ability to customize portions of the system that matter to me.  I use a non-standard keyboard that Apple has chosen not to make available.  I prefr choice.  I prefer compatibility across a wide range of systems.  


Until Apple decides to paly nice with the majority of syustems and platforms used in the business world, I will remain an Android person.


In answer to your question, no, the screen size is NOT the over riding feature to make a difference for me.  It is only one factor.  There will be those that will change to Apple or stay with Apple once they deside the screen size they pick next is the next perfect size.  But for me, not happening.

carljaltman
carljaltman

I will never consider using an iPhone until they allow expandable memory.  My wife has a 4S, and she is constantly running out of space and having to go through the arduous process of deleting things.  It is ridiculous that you can't use MicroSD or connect a USB drive.  I can (and did) purchase a 32 GB Class 10 MicroSD card for my Galaxy S3 for $20.  Apple charges $200 for the same memory.


My house is divided.  We have both of the above-mentioned phones.  My wife has an iPad 2, I have an Asus Transformer.  My 7 year-old son has a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7".  Granted, he prefers to play on the iPad, but only because of the larger screen.  The iPad may be more intuitive, but any decent Android tablet will run the same games and apps.  The Galaxy Tab 2 was $140.  The Asus Transformer was $200 + $150 for the keyboard dock.  The iPad was $700...

nrhudson
nrhudson

I have a Galaxy S5, the rest of my family has iphone 5C phones.  For me it's about the screen size.  I'm OK with the phone being made of plastic, I have a case over it anyway and wouldn't use a phone without a case.  Why buy a pretty phone only to cover it up.  If the iPhone made a larger screen, and now with the 4G connectivity, I would consider a switch.  I love apple products but the screen size has always been the killing factor for me.

inet32
inet32

This conversation has really brought out the kiddie brigade.     Maybe Tech Republic should put an age filter on their memberships.


I write Android software for a living and my personal phone is an S3 - soon to be an S5 - but it's just a DEVICE.   It's not a religion or the source of spiritual enlightenment.  All this stuff will look like junk in a few years and by then who knows what company will be on top?  Anyone who gets hung up enough on some ephemeral electronics to throw insults at strangers and bloggers on the web because they like the "wrong" device should seek counseling.

vsant_anna
vsant_anna

I agree 110% with sperryr's comment, this IS a very juvenile discussion.

sperryr
sperryr

This debate is no different than those who think the Ford Mustang is better than the Camaro! Just like our cars, we develop a relationship with our phones.  There is no convincing an Android user that an Apple product or IOS is better or vice-versa.  I am an Apple fan but hold no disrespect for those who love their phone or PC etc.  After reading some of the comments, this is a very juvenile discussion. 

philip.arnold
philip.arnold

Of course it points to the future of the iPhone, for the main reason that Apple have had 2 innovations in the last 5 years, and they are the 64bit processor (although wasted with 1GB RAM) and the finger print scanner, apart from that everything that they have produced has been directly been ripped off from BB, WP, Android or other phone OSs


When the iPhone came out they made a big song and dance about the 4x3 screen being "perfect for your thumb to move around", and then with the iPhone 5 they copied everybody else who had moved to 16x9 YEARS before


The rumours of the iPhone 6 being 4.7" is because everybody else has moved to larger screens (since a 4" screen is only perfectly sized for your hand if you have small hands), and Apple are following WP, BB, Android into larger screens


Sony started water proofing in 2013, Samsung followed this year, so in about 2 years Apple will follow


Over a year ago Android phones moved to full HD, producing 440+ PPI, while Apple stick with the same PPI they claimed was "amazing" a few years back


All of this, and Apple will claim to have "invented" everything that they're copying from everybody else

If you want a polished, well built product, pick up a HTC One, and then you'll see what the best built phone on the market REALLY feels like!


Now, PLEASE, remove your head from Apple's behind and realise that other companies are innovating while Apple's response is to litigate! We know that you're an Apple iDiot, but please realise that the world outside of Apple is a bright place, and not something that isn't good until Apple follow 5 years behind everyone else...

MartinDay007
MartinDay007

I really don't get the whole "aluminium" v "plastic" debate. I have had a Samsung Galaxy for over two years, the "plastic' still looks fine and I don't have it in a case. I would say the majority of people I know (99%) who have a Samsung don't have it in a case whereas the majority of people I see with an IPhone (99%) have their fantastic aluminium body and smooth lines moddie coddle and hidden in some sort of case, some of which I must say would have Steve Jobs turning in his grave. 


Once you have used the Samsung you appreciate the screen size and find the IPhone's tiny screen almost quaint. As for the AT&T bloatware, surely that is an AT&T problem not a Galaxy S5 problem; buy the phone unlocked and don't all those lock down features disappear?


The IPhone was a revolution when it was first released, it deserved to be the massive success it was, I remember being rightly blown away with the Steve Jobs IPhone announcement. 


Now I am not so sure, in my view the Galaxy S3 was always a better phone than the equivalent IPhone, and now I might even suspect that the Nokia Lumia may even be a better phone than the IPhone and the Galaxy. 


A lot of people saw past the hype and realised once the IPhone had been bettered. However there are some people that are very much entrenched in last year's fashion long after those that really know what is good have moved on.


Whereas once I would have considered the IPhone a desirable product I am not sure that I would thank anyone for giving me one these days, I now consider it an also ran compared to what you can get with the Galaxy and Lumia. 


Apple is very much a religion for some people, for them there can be no other God. For others, Apple is a just another company, and when something better comes along they buy it because of what it is and not because of what the label says. It used to be that having an IPhone said something about someone, it still does, but these days perhaps not so much in a positive way.

hyga
hyga

I just caught the fact that you are an "Apple Columnist". That explains the lousy article. You want your Apple stock price inflated. Never mind...

hyga
hyga

Who cares about the bloatware? Delete it or hide it, problem solved in a matter of minutes. And how the heck is that enough of an issue to say the iPhone is better? And who uses a phone without a case? Why is plastic vs metal really an issue? I have an S5, and I agree the naked iPhone looks better than the naked S5, but once they are both in the case who cares? My husband's iPhone is in a Mophie case because he needs better battery life and that's not exactly a great look. SMH...

GSG
GSG

If you're used to the locked down Apple environment, you'll have issues using Android, just like I have issues using anything Apple.  I have a Samsung phone, Samsung tablet, and another tablet that runs an older version of Android.  I find doing anything on an Apple phone or Apple tablet to be an incredibly frustrating and restrictive experience.   But then, I have a problem with authority and don't like to be forced to work or play within a restrictive framework.  I like to customize at will. 

And all those extra Icons?  Tap and drag to the trashcan.  If you want them later, just put them back on your screen.  Or, you can do what I do.  Home screen is the weather widget, and then apps I use the most.  A swipe from right to left gives me what I've set up to be my entertainment screen.  This is where I have music, ebooks, games, icons.  Since the screen can get a bit busy, I put things like Games into their own folder.   From the home screen a swipe from left to right gives me tools like Malware scanners, Citrix client, Camera, email, etc...  The point is that spend a few minutes and you can customize the phone to fit the way you work and play.

Jo52790
Jo52790

Jordan golson isheep

Jo52790
Jo52790

You dumbass it's 5.1 inch screen not 4.7 smfh evidently he's a apple fanboy

rduncan
rduncan

This just in - Apple fanboy ....in Galaxy s5 vs figment of imagination - figment of imagination wins.


When Apple brings out it's big screen phone they will be innovators again?

HTC One is a better put together handset if that is what floats your boat.

-What is this article even about? Android v IOS, Samsung v Apple, AT&T crap - I don't know why you bothered - nor I

Carloscast
Carloscast

The iPhone 5s sold 10 millions in a weekend son..