iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Clash Of The Titans
What's in store for Samsung Galaxy and iPhone fans with the next generation? We take a look at all the rumours so far
Samsung has now unveiled its latest flagship, the Galaxy S5. While we won’t have a definitive conclusion on the specs and features of the next Apple iPhone, the iPhone 6 or iPhone Air. Nevertheless there’s enough going round on the rumour mill to get an impression of what the iPhone 6 might be like. We thought we’d compare the Galaxy S5 with its forthcoming rival based on current rumours.
But before we get into it, there's another rather tantalizing prospect on the cards in Camp Samsung: the Samsung Galaxy F – or Galaxy S5 Prime – which is said to be an improved reboot of the current flagship, complete with a brand new CPU, more RAM and a metallic chassis.
Reports suggest Samsung is prepping the Galaxy F for a release sometime between now and the beginning of Q4. But Apple has something of a trick up its sleeve this year, if rumours are to be believed: two iPhone handsets; one with a 4.7in display, the other with a phablet-sized 5.5in setup.
This has never happened before and the resulting effect on the mobile space is likely to be pretty significant. Already, consumer watchdogs are reporting huge demands for a larger screened iPhone. And in just a few months Apple will be dropping two larger iPhones on the public. With this in mind, it’s no wonder Samsung is already prepping the release of a Galaxy S5 reboot.
As usual, we need to reiterate that this comparison, as far as the iPhone 6 is concerned, is entirely based on rumours, internet gossip, trends and observed manufacturer habits - it is not gospel! Things may change before release or be inaccurate and we are doing this to get a working impression of how things could stack up. This is not intended to be conclusive. It's just a bit of speculative fun.
Build and Design
Despite earlier rumours to the contrary, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is not a massive revolutionary leap for the brand in terms of design. The screen has not expanded much, and as a result the bodywork has only expanded a little in all directions, just about enough to notice when the phone is placed side-by-side with its predecessor.
The corners are a little squarer, although on slightly – it’s still a very rounded-off shape on the whole. While that rumoured metallic build hasn’t emerged, the silver (plastic) surround now has a ridged texture as seen on the Galaxy Note 3, meanwhile the back panel has a matte finish and a dimpled texture.
There’s also a cover on the microUSB port, a telltale sign of the IP67 dust and water proofing.
Repeated rumours surrounding the iPhone 6 claim it will be the largest iPhone yet in order to accommodate a bigger 4.8-inch or 5-inch full HD 1080p display panel. It’ll likely be a similar move to what Samsung has done with its recent flagships, cramming a larger display into a body that’s much the same size as their predecessors.
For the iPhone 6, now been some leaks hinting at water resistance features, so we could see the first iPhone capable of surviving a dunk in the wet stuff. Rumours have persisted suggesting there will be two iPhone variants, a regular 4.7-inch model launching in September, and following that a 5.5-inch phablet arriving before the end of the year.
While earlier rumours indicated a chassis no thicker than 6mm, there's been a boatload of leaks based around renders and iPhone 6 mockup models coming out of China and they measure 7mm in thickness. It's also said it will be called the iPhone Air as a result of this slimming and in keeping with the iPad Air re-branding. The mockups are all coming from different Chinese sources but have a similar design across the board, suggesting there's some level of legitimacy here. The chassis appears more rounded with thinner edges and an abundance of metal bodywork, but it also sports a panel design similar to the HTC One M8.
There's been an increasing number of rumours lately suggesting that, like Samsung, Apple may opt to launch two iPhone 6 variants in September 2014. Last year, the company revealed the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C - a plastic, lower-cost model.
Allegedly, that idea is being scrapped in favour of a regular iPhone 6 and a larger phablet model - but in either case we're not expecting to see much plastic this time round. We've heard all kinds of sizes thrown around, from 4.5-inches and 4.7-inches at the smaller end, up to 4.8-inches, 5-inches, 5.5-inches and 5.7-inches for that larger model. The most consistent rumours though, point to a 4.5-inch standard edition and a 4.8-inch "phablet".
Rumours also persist of bezel-less edge-to-edge display technology, so even if we do see a larger phablet it should not be a "massive" phone as Apple is sure to try to keep the chassis as compact as possible - similar to the iPad Air and iPad Mini.
You can pretty much guarantee that the iPhone 6 will share the same basic set of storage options as every iPhone prior – 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. We've also heard talk of a higher capacity 128GB variant - with more rival devices now offering 128GB on microSD, it seems even more likely Apple will bump up the onboard space.
Samsung’s Galaxy S5 comes with either 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage plus microSD support for cards up to 128GB.
If the iPhone 6 comes with microSD support then start looking out for other signs of the Apocalypse.
However, there is a wee bit of a problem with the Galaxy S5. Famously, Samsung's Galaxy S4 only offered about 9GB of user-available storage with the 16GB model after TouchWiz took its share of the pie. With the Galaxy S5, this appears to have become an even bigger issue as early reports indicate the 16GB model has just under 8GB to play with. Suddenly that support for massive microSD reserves makes a lot more sense.
That said, some more evidence has arisen claiming the S5 will contain less bloatware than its predecessor.
According to GottaBeMobile, the handset is going to beat the Galaxy S4 for the amount of useable memory on board. Previous reports about there only being 8GB of storage on the S5 are from hands-on time with the device at Mobile World Congress, but it seems that some of the software installed for the expo will leave the handset before it hits shelves.
There was “Unpacked” software on each device at the conference which wont make its way onto the real devices and should give each handset an extra 2GB of storage. If this report is correct that’ll mean each handset has 10.7GB to play with after TouchWiz and other apps are pre-loaded.
You can also get your hands on a MicroSD card up to 128GB meaning you could even have space on your 32GB device for 154GB of content.
We've covered the varying and sometimes contradictory issue of display sizes for the iPhone 6 (or its possible pair of size variants) in the design section already, but the actual tech being used is an interesting subject all on its own.
Apple filed a couple of patents in recent months, one referring to "quantum dot" displays which could produce richer and more natural colour. The other points to a wrap-around Sapphire Glass "tube" design which could make interacting with the iPhone 6 a 360-degree affair.
While the wrap-around display rumours appear to have trailed off somewhat, the talk of Sapphire Glass has only increased, suggesting it's possible we'll see the ultra-strong material cladding the front of the next iPhone. Interestingly, there's also a lot of whispers saying Apple has figured out a way of embedding solar panels into the display to continuously top-up the battery.
Some analysts say that while Apple has been using Sapphire on its prototypes we shouldn't expect the production models to feature the material, however, reportedly it's too expensive for mass manufacturing. It's known that Apple has invested large sums of cash into Sapphire manufacturing partners, even going as far as to buy a load of furnaces, but whether this is just for its camera lens cover and TouchID button cover (which already use Sapphire) is not clear. A report from Forbes seems certain Sapphire will be on the display though, analysing the expected cost of Sapphire displays and the investment figures showing what Apple has put into Sapphire production - allegedly the scale of the figures implies it can't really be for any other purpose.
Samsung’s display has enlarged ever-so-slightly from the Galaxy S4’s 5-inch panel to 5.1-inches and has remained Super AMOLED with a full HD 1920x1080 pixel resolution. This should result in a pixel density of 430 pixels-per-inch (ppi) for some sharp image quality and Samsung’s tech consistently delivers great colour, brightness and contrast.
Processor and Performance
What are the certainties here? Well, Apple will definitely continue to push its 64-bit architecture and the iPhone 6 will be far enough away that it’ll be a new chip, probably the usual “twice as fast” as the previous one, regardless of whether it’s called A7X or A8.
TSMC has been linked as Apple’s key supplier for A8 chipsets and is now apparently mass-producing the chipset ahead of the handset’s launch later this year, alongside Apple’s long-rumoured iWatch. So why did Apple ditch Samsung?
Reports suggest Samsung was struggling to meet Apple’s demands for the 20nm chipset. There are of course political motivations, too. Although a report from 9to5Mac suggests this isn’t the case, citing “production issues” are the deciding factor.
Less predictable are the remaining details.
While Apple could make the push from its current 1.3GHz dual-core with 1GB RAM to something beefier the company has demonstrated it’s not really about that kind of progression, so it seems doubtful unless there’s some new feature it really feels needs the extra grunt.
Samsung’s release details are a little lacking in, er...detail. Fortunately some clever types have done some digging and found that Samsung has opted for a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz, with 2GB of RAM and an updated Adreno 330 GPU. This is certainly fast, but not the 64-bit leap forward some were expecting, nor is it a Snapdragon 805 - Qualcomm's more fearsome chip pegged to appear inside rival devices in the coming months.
It's slightly odd to find 2GB of RAM rather than the expected 3GB, which would have brought things in line with Samsung's Galaxy Note 3.
Not much has been said of the iPhone 6’s camera setup, but if Apple’s iPhone 5S launch is anything to go by the company seems pretty set on the “less is more” approach as it’s still using an 8-megapixel iSight back-illuminated sensor (BSI) with some clever tweaks to pre and post capture processing and a True Tone dual-LED white/amber flash.
Apple may end up using the same setup again, or, being drastic, we could see a 13-megapixel snapper in its place.
What’s more a new patent filed by Apple suggests the new imaging technology inside the iPhone 6 – or Air, or whatever it’s called – could feature Lytro-like capabilities.
Lytro is a type of camera which allows you to capture an image and then dynamically select (and re-select) a focal point at a later date. This form of witchcraft is achieved using something called "plenoptic" technology, and the idea is you can just shoot an image and then re-focus it later.
Apple's patent details a "digital camera including refocusable imaging mode adaptor", according to AppleInsider. While no specific mention has been made of the iPhone 6, Apple will need to continue to enhance its camera technology in order to remain competitive.
Apple’s approach to the iPhone 5s of tweaking the software and refining the sensor has been met with critical acclaim across the board. Next time around it’s possible Apple could add in more megapixels – potentially 13-MP – but where all the real action takes place is likely to be inside the sensor and with the software.
Steve Jobs met with Lytro's founder to discuss a partnership prior to his death. This patent was filed in September 2011 and numerous sources claim many of Apple's products released since Jobs passed away were developed in accordance to roadmaps laid out by the late-CEO. So, in this context, it's entirely feasible the iPhone 6, complete with a Lytro-like camera, could be part of his posthumous plan.
With the Galaxy S5, the camera forms one of the most substantial updates on the device. Where the Galaxy S4 was a bit gimmicky in this regard, the Galaxy S5 actually introduces useful and interesting features to give it a good deal of appeal.
The sensor is a 16-megapixel setup with 4K video capture capability. There’s also a rather cool “Selective Focus” mode, which sounds quite similar to a Lytro camera and can allow you to capture an image before selecting a focal point later. Other neat tricks include a 0.3 second capture speed and “HDR Live”, which lets you see how HDR will change your image before you capture it.
However, Samsung's Selective Focus is unlikely to be as sophisticated as Apple's Lytro-like setup. The reason is that Samsung's Galaxy S5 simply takes a series of about five shots at different focal points and lets you cycle between them. True Lytro cameras use a depth sensor to actually sweep spatial data throughout the scene, which means a finer level of control when selecting focal points in post-capture editing.
Rumours originally pointed toward Apple using solar panels inside the Sapphire Glass display. It would mean the handset could charge itself whilst using the sun’s energy. It would be a great breakthrough in battery technology if it was true but another leak seems to have proved it wrong.
Images and information from Chinese site MyDrivers.com suggests there will be a normal battery between 1,700mAh and 2,000mAh. It’s a vast improvement on the battery inside the iPhone 5s which was 1,570mAh. That itself was a step up from the 1,440mAh battery in the iPhone 5.
The battery inside the Samsung Galaxy S5 is more powerful at 2,800mAh. You have to remember though there’s a much bigger, beautiful display to power so that’ll already eat up the extra juice. That said, we still want an improvement on Apple’s next battery, we hope it’ll be closer to the 2,000mAh if possible.
Other hardware and features
Apple’s pretty much committed itself to continuing with its Touch ID fingerprint scanner tech, so it’s highly likely it will show up again in the iPhone 6. Could its functionality be expanded past unlocking the phone and purchases in iTunes though? We would hope so.
Apple may also make greater use of its iBeacons technology, its own bespoke alternative to NFC.
The Cupertino phone giant appears to be working on eye-related technologies. Samsung already has its eye-tracking which enables the screen to power on or off depending on whether you’re looking at it, and a feature which lets you scroll webpages with your eyes.
Apple is thought to be coming up with a similar feature, according to reports.
A recent set of rumours for the iPhone 6 claims Apple is hard at work on a mobile payment service to rival Google Wallet. Allegedly the company has been in talks with multiple retail brands, payment companies and banks in order to prepare the ground for this new service. It's been suggested this would expand on Touch ID, but aside from this there's very little idea of how such a system might manifest.
Samsung may get a bit of flak, as it seems the rumours were true that it’s implementing a Touch ID-like fingerprint scanner embedded in the Galaxy S5’s Home key. When calibrated this allows you to unlock the phone, but Samsung has also inked a deal with PayPal to allow for transactions, so it does have one-up on Apple in that regard.
There’s also an additional fingerprint point on the rear of the phone designed to work in conjunction with the S-Health 3.0 app in order to monitor your heart rate. Another interesting feature is the ability to leverage both Wi-Fi and 4G simultaneously to boost downloading to super-fast speeds.
Lastly, Samsung has implemented many of the Android 4.4 KitKat changes for the Galaxy S5, including a streamlined UI with transparent elements and re-designed icons. You also get the “Ok Google” Google Now voice command input as seen on the Nexus 5.
Getting your hands on the handset is always a bonus. With the Samsung Galaxy S5 it’s possible already. It’s available in 125 countries across the globe with more to follow, it’s the largest Samsung smartphone launch ever following the 60 countries the S4 was launched in.
Alongside the Galaxy S5 comes with wearables, the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit. In the UK you can pick up the handset for £579 SIM-Free or on contract with a number of networks. The wearables are available as well for £199 each.
Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone 6 is still a long way off. It’s likely we are looking at an August or September announcement for the new iPhone and then a release shortly after. There have been rumours of an earlier announcement to give more time between two versions of the handset being released but nothing has been confirmed by Apple.
If you need your handset upgrade right now, Samsung have the advantage of being available from pretty much every retailer you need – today. With Apple’s iPhone you’ve still got a bit of a wait...