iPhone 5s vs. Galaxy S 4: How does Apple's new iPhone match up with the Samsung superphone?

Daniel Bean
S4 and 5S
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The Samsung Galaxy S4 (left) and the iPhone S5 (right).

At Tuesday’s event in Cupertino, Apple finally introduced the world to its much rumored iPhone 5s, flaunting a great number of spec and feature bumps over the company’s preceding smartphone, the iPhone 5. So, as the iPhone 5s becomes the de facto Apple flagship smartphone device, we wondered: Does Apple make the biggest and baddest smartphone on the block? Or does that crown belong to Apple's arch-rival, Samsung, and its Galaxy S 4?

With apologies to the HTC One, Galaxy Note 3 and Nokia Lumia 1020, we compared the specs of the GS4 and 5s head-to-head to see which one reigned supreme. Dig in to see how the two superphones differ, and which one you might consider buying

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Processing Power and Memory

Apple says its new processor for the iPhone 5s is a 64-bit chip called the A7, and that the iPhone 5s will also run a 64-bit version of Apple’s iOS 7 (For an explanation of what that means, click here). Apple is claiming that this will boost speed and the graphics you can play on games, but some analysts think this will have little to no effect on performance, as it’s unlikely that Apple will equip a smartphone with 4 or more GB of RAM anytime soon (Apple doesn't publicize it, but the iPhone 5s likely uses 2GB of RAM).

Still, Apple says its new flagship smartphone is over twice as fast as the iPhone 5, and its phones generally feature palpable speed boosts over predecessors.

The Galaxy S 4, meanwhile, is powered by a Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon 600 clocked at 1.9 GHz and uses 2GB of RAM, a hardware configuration that, as it seems, wouldn’t benefit from being reconfigured for a 64-bit environment.Both of these smartphones come in the standard 16, 32 and 64 GB internal memory variations, but the Galaxy S 4 also has the option to add a microSD card for up to 64 extra GB of storage.

We don't yet have any speed tests for the iPhone 5s, but the Galaxy S 4 generally scores pretty well. Soon, we'll know how it compares to the new iPhone.

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Device Build and Display

Apple is producing gold, silver, and “space gray” high-grade aluminum cased versions of the iPhone 5s. Much the same as the design of the iPhone 5, the aluminum build allows for the overall weight of the device to sit at a quarter of a pound, slightly lighter than the plastic-cased Galaxy S 4, which weighs in at .29 pounds. The Galaxy S 4 comes in black and white versions. The iPhone is widely considered to feel nicer, and is still a bit lighter than the GS4.

The iPhone 5s, meanwhile, is also packing the same screen as the iPhone 5, a 4 inch IPS LCD “Retina” display (1136x640 resolution, 326 ppi), while the Galaxy S 4 offers a larger 5 inch full HD (1920x1080, 441 ppi) Super AMOLED display. .

Screen size has certainly been a hot topic in the smartphone space. Apple has decided to stick to the 4 inch screen size for its smartphone, while other manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola churn out 5 inch display sizes and larger for theirs. Those who prefer a larger screen might opt for the Galaxy.

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Both phones possess physical hardware “home” buttons, but the Galaxy S 4 also features capacitive touch buttons for “back” and “menu” just below the display of the phone. Some find this confusing and messy, while others enjoy the greater control.

Special Features

Both companies have their own "voice assistant" software - Apple with Siri and Samsung with S Voice - each allowing users to make calls, send messages, or even search the Internet for information. Both phones also offer a cloud backup service for photos, apps and other personal data, Apple with iCloud and Samsung with Auto Backup.

But despite all the copycatting, some of the real attention grabbing aspects of these phones are the apps and features that are unique to their brands, and these are sometimes what help users decide which device is more appealing to them.

Apple's new Touch ID fingerprint sensor, for instance, is meant to make it possible for users to simply touch their fingers to the phone’s home button to unlock the screen. No more lock screen PINs or swipe patterns. Apple says Touch ID can also be used to sign in and make iTunes purchases on the iPhone, as well.

Meanwhile, one of the selling points of Samsung's Galaxy S 4 is actually a "no touch" screen control. With Air Gesture, users can answer calls and flip between screen by just waving a hand at the screen.

The Galaxy S 4 also offers NFC (Near Field Communications) technology for sharing content with other Galaxy devices by just tapping them together. On the other hand, the iPhone 5s is obviously compatible with Apple's FaceTime, the much heralded in-call video chat app that most Android users are still envious of.

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The camera on the iPhone 5s is also an improvement from the iPhone 5, a camera that was widely regarded as one of the best on any smartphone. Though still an 8 MegaPixel sensor, Apple claims that its bigger pixels mean better pictures (we’ve heard this before from HTC). The sensor in the camera is also now 15 percent larger, making for greater clarity in captures.

The Galaxy S 4 offers a 13 MegaPixel camera, reportedly at 1.1 microns per pixel. And the S4’s front facing camera is a 2 MegaPixel camera, capable of 1080p video capture, while the iPhone 5s’s front facing camera, or FaceTime camera, is only a 1.2 MegaPixel lens.

As for camera flash, the iPhone 5s has a new True Tone dual LED, with cool white and warm amber flashes that combine to get the best color and contrast for your shot. The Galaxy S 4 packs a standard single LED flash. Apple's camera probably remains superior to Samsung's.

Apart from the specs, Apple’s new iOS 7 squares off against Samsung’s own software advancements on Android Jelly Bean. iOS and Android have long divided people, though most admit that Android has made major leaps in quality and speed over the past several years.

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As Apple doesn’t often disclose the battery size of its devices, we can only really rely on the company’s given estimates on talk and standby times, of which they say the iPhone 5s should be good for 10 hours and 250 hours, respectively. The Galaxy S 4, however, does have a hefty 2600 mAh battery and, unlike the iPhone, can be replaced if the charge of the battery starts to slip over time. Samsung lists its talk time at 17 hours and its standby time at 300 hours, though obviously that can vary based on your specific usage.

For more comparisons between the iPhone 5s and the Galaxy S 4, check out our comprehensive specs battle right here.