Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy S4: Is it worth the upgrade?

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will undoubtedly be one of the biggest selling smartphones of the year, but many have already expressed disappointment in the lack of ‘standout’ features and any big leaps in terms of raw hardware specifications from the current Galaxy S4.

The new model features a very similar design to the phone that preceded it, although Samsung has refined the aesthetics and internal components to create a solid and very powerful device. We’ve no doubt that many will question whether the Galaxy S5 is a worthy purchase when the similar S4 will become cheaper as the new model arrives, so here are the key differences and similarities between last year and this year for Samsung Galaxy fans.

The S5’s screen is the same resolution, just 0.1-inches bigger

Galaxy S5: 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display/ 1,920 x 1,080 resolution/ 432 ppi

Galaxy S4: 5-inch Super AMOLED display/ 1,920 x 1,080 resolution/ 441 ppi

Not the best start for those looking for reasons to upgrade! Rumours suggested a big jump in screen resolution to 2,560 x 1,440 for the Galaxy S5, which would make it one of the first phones with a 2K display. Unfortunately Samsung stuck with Full HD for the resolution and has merely bumped the size up by 0.1-inches, which actually reduces the pixels per inch count slightly to 432ppi.

The S5 has a shiny new Snapdragon 801 chipset, and it’s faster

Galaxy S5: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801/ quad-core/ 2.5GHz/ Adreno 330

Galaxy S4: Exynos 5 Octa 5410/ quad-core/ 1.6GHz/ PowerVR SGX 544MP3

Samsung will again use different chipsets in a number of different region specific Galaxy S5 models around the world, but the star option is Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 801 chip clocked at a cool 2.5GHz. Sure, both the S4 and S5 are super speedy in reality, but the S5 is better kitted out for the next generation of more demanding mobile games and apps. The 801 chip also means support for faster LTE and Wi-Fi 802.11 ac connectivity, both being very welcome.

The main camera is much better

Galaxy S5: 16 megapixel ½.6-inch sensor/4K Video recording @ 30fps/ 1080p Full HD video @ 60fps

Galaxy S4: 13 megapixel sensor/Full HD 1080p video recording @ 30fps

Samsung has stuck with the same 2 megapixel front facing camera which totes Full HD 1080p video recording capabilities, but around the back there’s been a shake-up. As was rumoured, there’s now a 16 megapixel ½.6-inch sensor which is capable of 5,312 x 2,988 stills and a super-fast 0.3 second autofocus time. There are also much improved video recording features, including 4K video at 30 frames per second and super slow-mo video in the form of Full HD at 60 frames per second.

The S5 is water and dust-proof

When the Galaxy S4 launched last year, it was another plastic phone from Samsung. The company then launched the Galaxy S4 Active which was much tougher, and it appears that some of the ideas behind that phone have been rolled into the Galaxy S5. Whilst still made out of plastics primarily, the S5 has IP67 certification which means it is dustproof and waterproof down to 1 metre, making it more accustomed to everyday use than the S4. It’s even got a rubberised sealed cover for the micro USB port to prevent against internal water damage!

The S5 has a bigger battery which supposedly lasts longer

Galaxy S5: 2,800 mAh battery/ 21 hours talktime/ 390 hours standby

Galaxy S4: 2,600 mAh battery/ 17 hours talktime/ 370 hours standby

As well as improving power consumption with the new Snapdragon 801 chip from Qualcomm, Samsung has boosted the battery to a larger cell. This combines to provide more standby time and talktime, although in reality we suspect that you’ll still be charging your Galaxy S5 every night, even with these improvements.

There’s now support for 128GB micro SD cards

Hey, big spender! The S5 may not come in a 64GB variant like the S4 did, but Samsung has sweetened the deal by adding support for 128GB micro SD cards. In theory, if you plump for the 32GB phone (at least £600) and then shell out a further £120 for a 128GB micro SD card (good luck finding one right now, they’re very rare), you’ll get a phone with 160GB storage space.


Overall, the Galaxy S5 is a logical evolution of its predecessor. With the screen already at Full HD and 5-inches, there’s no real need to go bigger or better right now for Samsung. The company has brought in power and at the same time less power consumption from the Snapdragon 801 chip, the camera is markedly better and the design is more durable, even if there’s still not a piece of metal in sight. From our early hands-on experience with the S5 we can tell you that it’s a fast and very capable phone, although the real Android fanatics will still bemoan the amount of bloatware and gimmicky features.

The Galaxy S5 launches around the world in April.


Image credit: iMore