I have an iPhone 5 and an S4 - Comparisons & Observations

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by Sir Ruben, May 20, 2013.

  1. Sir Ruben, May 20, 2013
    Last edited: May 21, 2013

    Sir Ruben macrumors 65816

    Sir Ruben

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #1
    I have been a fan of Apple products for many years and currently own an iPhone 5 which I am very happy with, However I am also a tech enthusiast who just loves gadgets of all kinds. With this in mind, I had the opportunity of acquiring a Samsung Galaxy S4 for next to nothing (compared to the retail price) so I decided I would unleash my inner geek and dual wield 2 top end smartphones, You know, for the lolz as they say.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Previously back when I had an iPhone 4 I also had a Galaxy S2 which lasted a week before it went on eBay. At that time I felt that Android just wasnt up to scratch in general (think it was running Gingerbread at the time like many low end smartphones even now). I also didn't like the screen. Whilst bigger and more vibrant I felt the quality of the screen overall didn't compare well to the retina display when side by side.

    So back to the present! I have forced myself to primarily use the S4 for a week to give it a solid run in, customise it, and just generally use it day to day. In doing this I have come across some interesting bits and bobs (some I didn't expect) so I thought Id start a thread in the hope of helping someone who may be on the fence. This post IS NOT for fanboy rants so lets try and keep this nice and friendly ok? What i will say before I get to my conclusion is that no matter which phone you have its swings and roundabouts. The are both very good phones and both have positive and negative points. A few of which I'll hopefully cover below.

    Build Quality
    There has been much said about the Galaxy S4's build quality but to be honest I didn't find it as bad as people make out. The device is comfortable to hold due to its curved edges and feels nice in the hand. It doesn't feel heavy and it looks thin. There are no creaks or movement in the body and everything feels sold.

    [​IMG]
    (Taken with the iPhone 5, I'll admit that the first thing I did was remove the 'Life Companion' cheese. Simply awful).

    One thing I did notice was what I thought was a crack in the fake metal band that runs around the sides of the phone:

    [​IMG]

    After further inspection there are lines like these on all four corners, presumably joins in the plastic which further give away the fact that its made of plastic and not metal. One other thing Im not keen on is the way the camera module isn't flush with the back of the phone. Due to this, if you rest it on a table it sits right on the camera, not the best of designs. Also the camera module is a big rectangular thing whereas on the iPhone its a neat circle that sits flush with the phone.

    The Screen
    Since the S2 things have changed! The screen is gorgeous, the fact that Samsung have been able to make it larger without increasing the size of the phone is great. Viewing the screen is a joy from browsing the web, to viewing videos and photos. Although I dont need a screen of this size Id be lying if I said I didnt want it on my iPhone:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    One thing I have noticed is that its harder to see in daylight, in this respect the iPhone 5 performs better. The brightness has to be cranked up to max in daylight which is a shame. As the battery manager shows, the screen is the biggest battery drain on the device. The whole full HD 1080p is basically marketing guff as well, whilst the S4 screen is virtually flawless it doesn't appear to be anymore 'HD' than that of my non HD retina display. Both are sharp, clear, vibrant, and lovely to use.

    Android OS & Apps
    Android has moved on A LOT since I last used it. As we all know it can do a lot and is very flexible. There are many many things I like about it. However where iOS does less, it does those things better. On Android it does more but some features are still half baked. Saying that I could very happily use Android day to day. Also when Jellybean arrived there was much talk of 'Project Butter'. Let me state right here and now, from my use there is still plenty of lag, delays, and sometimes freezes. Some people will attribute this to touchwiz etc, but the fact remains that this is state of the art hardware and it lags and stutters still. The gallery is one example, tap the icon, slightly longer than expected delay to open, sometimes with a stuttery animation. Sometimes not. Swiping between homescreens, again sometimes stuttery sometimes not. The lockscreen, sometimes the animated light effect will also stutter. A good example would be attempting to click on an app a second time thinking that it didn't register my first tap. I cant say that I ever mistakenly think this with the iPhone. There is just a little more, I dunno, delay or lack of responsiveness.

    Other areas of the OS can also irk. Google Talk was replaced by Hangouts. Going to the Play Store tells me that Hangouts is installed however its still showing as Google Talk on my device. Today it turns from an 'installed' button to an 'update' button so I update the app. Its now become Hangouts but the app icon has remained the old Google Talk icon. I also installed an app today that after configuring it and closing it my home screen wouldn't move, then it came up with a message saying the app had a problem at which point normal service resumed. The ringtone volume is also weird, when someone calls it starts ringing quietly and then abruptly explodes up to the volume I have it set at. Seems to do that every time and it sounds a bit naff to be honest. Not sure if that is a bug or something I can change somewhere?. I have come across many little things like this throughout the OS that bug me and are something I have never encountered using iOS.

    Haptic feedback is great, I really like the feature and would love to have this on my iPhone. Now I don't know if this is an Android thing or an S4 thing or what but I find that the intensity of the feedback seems to change by itself for no reason. So for example sometimes when Im typing I can clearly feel it, other times it goes really faint for no reason.

    Oh I also realised quickly that I hate the cheesy look of touchwiz and loved the homescreen of the S4 shown at the Google conference (the Google edition S4). A few tweaks later I now have the exact same layout as the S4 shown at the conference. Much less touchwiz = win. Customisation like this is something iOS will NEVER have. Some comparison shots of my homescreen layouts:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Back when I had a Galaxy S2, apps were severely lacking compared to their iOS counterparts. While thats still sometimes true today the gap has closed somewhat. Check out a few comparison pics of some popular apps. S4 on the left iPhone 5 on the right:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    (notice the skeuomorphism featured on the S4's calendar app lol)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Camera
    I was really looking forward to the 13mp camera. I really did have high expectations from it. It has a lot of modes and photo trickery which is nice. However upon direct comparison to my iPhone 5 I was left a little disappointed. Its a great camera in its own right but, well check them out for yourself and see what you think (not the greatest of photo subjects but you get the idea). S4 on the left, iPhone 5 on the right. All images have been reduced in size:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The last shot of the watch actually had the S4's HDR mode on in an attempt to give the image a bit of a boost. All in all Im just not as happy as I should be with the pictures I am getting from it. More accurately, Im not as happy as I was EXPECTING to be so maybe its me.

    Additional Features
    Im finding NFC very useful and already use it daily. Coupled with NFC Task Launcher I have it doing some really useful things. I have a NFC tag hanging in my car, when touching my phone against it, it puts the S4 into driving mode, loads up S-Voice Drive, and cranks up the screen brightness. I have one at my bedside that puts the phone in silent, sets my alarms for the morning, and puts the phone into power saving mode to conserve battery. Pretty cool stuff although i can see why Apple are not completely buying into it as its not really anything more than a cool feature at this time. Some people wont use NFC, I personally think its awesome.

    Conclusion
    It didn't take me long to realise that things were different this time. The S4 wont be going on eBay like the S2 did. Do I need two phones? nope, but what the heck. Its a solid smartphone and if you are primarily an Android user its simply fantastic. If you have an iPhone and are thinking of switching it may not be as clear cut. Just like I did you may spot little things here or there that bother you, however the allure of a bigger screen and features such as NFC may be more important to you than the occasional issues here and there. iCloud and iMessage are another 2 features I don't really want to say goodbye to either and whilst there are alternatives on Android they don't all gel together quite as well. We have Key Lime Pie to look forward to in the not too distant future which Im sure will improve and refine the Android OS further.

    Hope this write up will be of some use and please bare in mind that it is nothing more than the thoughts and observations of one little person. Everyone will have different feelings, needs, and experiences. I'll finish up by saying that if I HAD to chose one or the other at this moment in time I would probably have to say goodbye to the S4. Luckily I dont have to and can enjoy the best of both worlds :)
     
  2. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    #2
    Nice read.

    One thing about the camera I read about. If you remove the tiny plastic around the lens, the photos come out much better and sharper. I thought it was BS cause the plastic doesn't cover the lens, until users started posting before and after pics. Then I removed it on mines and even though I had no problem with the quality, after I removed the plastic, pics did come out sharper.

    Also for any lag you experience, you can go to developer options and turn animations off. I never had lag on my S4 so I didn't see any changes, but doing this on my S3 made a huge difference.
     
  3. daveathall macrumors 68000

    daveathall

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2010
    Location:
    North Yorkshire
    #3
    Excellent comparison, I echo the above, I didn't notice the small disc on the camera until I read about it. Enjoyed your review, it obviously took a while to compile it. Thank you very much. :)
     
  4. blairh macrumors 68030

    blairh

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    #4
    Great comparison. OP, does the notification badge in the email app work by default?

    Pictures on the S4 look worse.

    No mentioned of the OLED's screen white performance. In my demo I see the S4 still suffers from poor white performance. Regardless of mode.
     
  5. Sir Ruben thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sir Ruben

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    #5
    I installed Nova Launcher Prime which enabled the app badges in addition to giving me the stock Jellybean home screens. I think it looks quite nice.
     
  6. sbddude macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2010
    Location:
    Nor Cal, USA
    #6
    Th photos are clearly better from the iphone.

    One thing i find interesting is how you have your home screens set up. Just icons and folders just like iOS. Have you tried any widgets? To me that is one if the most useful features of android.
     
  7. kiltedthrower macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2012
    #7
    I have my Note 2 pretty much the same way. I have 2 screens. I only use 2 widgets - calendar and Google search. The rest is a dock and folders.
     
  8. blairh macrumors 68030

    blairh

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    #8
    Yeah I thought you might be getting the badge icon from Nova. It's a shame the S4 doesn't use an IPS panel. Just my personal preference.

    Photos you took of both phones are great.
     
  9. Chodite macrumors 6502a

    Chodite

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    #9
    Did you remove the tiny piece of plastic covering the camera's lens? I also own an iPhone 5 and the pics I'm taking with my S4 are blowing me away.

    EDIT: sorry, already asked.. just not answered :)
     
  10. The Game 161 macrumors G5

    The Game 161

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    #10
    Theres a tiny piece of plastic covering the camera's lens? :eek:
     
  11. Sir Ruben thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sir Ruben

    Joined:
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    Location:
    UK
    #11
    Hi, I do have widgets when scrolling the the left of the main homescreen, I have one for the weather, news, and Google Now. I''ll be honest though Im yet to find them truly useful.

    ----------

    Sorry missed the question. THe plastic covering the lens HAS been removed. In fact after comparing the photos I went back and re-checked just to be sure! I kinda wish it had been still there. I found a couple of camera comparison links on the web and unfortunately they confirm my experiences with the camera:

    http://blog.laptopmag.com/iphone-5-vs-galaxy-s4-camera-shootout-you-be-the-judge

    http://www.technobuffalo.com/2013/04/24/samsung-galaxy-s4-vs-iphone-5-camera-comparison/

    Im finding low light shots particularly horrible. I think I may compare the 2 cameras in low light and add my findings to my original post for you guys to see.
     
  12. sentinelsx macrumors 68010

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    #12
    I believe you have to use "night mode" for low light shots to be better.
     
  13. durant35 macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2013
    #13
    Are you using the low light setting on the S4? Yes, the iPhone 5 does have an excellent camera, its just too bad it lacks even basic controls. The ability to control my ISO, white balance, metering, scene mode, anti shake and all the other tons of options make the S4 a far better experience for taking photos IMO. Take the S4 out of the "auto" setting for optimal results.
     
  14. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    #14
    Not saying your own experience isn't what it is, but those two sites only seem to confirm inconstancy with both phones. They didn't even have a professional photo of reference. I've seen better pics from users in MBR on both phones.
     
  15. MRU, May 21, 2013
    Last edited: May 21, 2013

    MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #15
    I don't think widgets are such a big deal. To me they make a device cluttered and tacky. There is generally no design consistency because they are all from different sources (unless they are stock ones from google or HTC. Samsung Touchwiz stock ones have no design consistency) and end up making your phone look like an old 1999 website with 45 different fonts, and a crapton of animated gifs all in different colours. Pure tacky and for me - far from useful.

    I have 1 clock widget, and two app icons and only 1 main home screen on my device. With a customisable App drawer that is accessible with persistent button on my home screen I just don't see the point of duplicating all my icons on multiple screens.

    Very occasionally i may have a calendar widget, but that's when I'm feeling flamboyant ;)

    [​IMG]

    And a daring

    [​IMG]
     
  16. tech4all macrumors 68040

    tech4all

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    NorCal
    #16
    With all due respect, functionality and usefulness of widgets trumps the looks. I didn't buy a smart phone because I wanted to necessarily look at nice and pretty graphics, I bought to make my life easier. If they look great, then great, but if not, I'm not gonna stop that from having me use them. Not sure about the animated GIFs and colors though...? Never seen those on Android...

    I don't look at my calendar widget and think, I love how it all looks consistent, I think "ok gotta a meeting tomorrow at 1pm."

    That's one the ways Android beats iOS for me. With iOS you're basically forced to have your app icons in front of your face regardless how often you use them. Yea you can rearrange them, but it's cluttered. Some people do like a clean screen with nothing on them. I don't mind having 'clutter' as long as it's 'clutter' I use. If I wanna see my apps, I go the app drawer and get an iOS-like layout.

    I hope next month iOS will show some really great stuff, but really not holding my breath. All we're probably gonna see is a change to the look of the UI. There's still hope that iOS 8 will see the real stuff Jony Ive can do. If not, it's OS X and the little robot for me.

    Sorry guess I went off topic a bit.
     
  17. The-Real-Deal82 macrumors 601

    The-Real-Deal82

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    United Kingdom
    #17
    A very good review OP and the best I have read here bar a country mile. Well done and thank you for taking the time to compile it. :)

    The camera on the iPhone is one of the best on the market at the moment in regards to phones. As others have said it lacks features in comparison to other brands which is a shame, but there are some very good camera apps that allow missing features like ISO, F-stop, white balance adjustment etc.

    Being a hobbyist photographer it is nice to have a phone with a semi decent camera for quick snaps here and there. At the end of the day no phone will compete with even the good compact camera's on the market but they can come close. With any camera is the quality of the glass that gives the quality in the picture and phones are at the distinct disadvantage of having an extremely small camera lens with limitations such as not being able to play too much with aperture due to size. They are point and shoot in effect.

    The main point that annoys me about the marketing that surrounds compact camera's and phone camera's in the mega-pixel rubbish. The iPhone 5 has an 8 MP camera if I remember correctly but this is never going to be true pixels. It does a decent job through duplication and this is a process many compact camera's use too. When phones start bragging 13, 14, 15 MP it is nothing more than a marketing gimmick in my view. Its a figure that sounds impressive at first glance when compared to rivals but as we can see it means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Plus, unless you are blowing an image up to A3+ size, you don't tend to need a megapixel count of over 8. My DSLR is 10 and produces some beauty shots, with the advantage of good glass of course. :)
     
  18. MRU, May 21, 2013
    Last edited: May 21, 2013

    MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #18
    I don't see why we can't have both design consistency and usefulness. :)


    And the analogy of a 1999 website is 'an analogy' not saying widgets actually use gifs. But certainly take an S4, have a load of widgets open, s-health, Flickr, Flipboard, s-calendar widget, weather widget, music, google music on your S4 and there is a myriad of different colours and design elements that simply don't work together. Add your desktop wallpaper which is mostly hidden behind the clutter and then big brash Touchwiz icons on top and for me its just a whole big tacky mess.... (I only use s4 as an example as its the phone in the OP)

    Also tere is a lot of quick access duplication...

    Also for me I have calendar appointments on my lock screen, with quick access to my calendar, so don't generally feel need for them on my home screen. Same with music controls for radio, spotify, music, google play music. When I've started the app they are in my Notification area and on my lock screen, so just don't see what a widget offers me extra to that.

    To me duplicating content from three areas (notification, lock screen and then widget on home screen) is uneccessary overkill.

    I know its a personal subjective thing, but I was responding to sbdude who was asking the OP why didn't he use widgets. I wasn't saying widgets were bad for everyone, but for me they are not important.

    And yes for most part in my opinion a widget often offers little more than a shortcut to the app, and offers little advantage to me than simply opening the app anyway. Google search bar, when we have quick access to google search or google now for example. Even my clock widget is verging in frivolous when we have clock top right status bar and on our lock screens, but like I say I like to live dangerous ;)

    Just different boats for different folks. The point I was trying to make is that for many people widgets aren't important and certainly not the defining factor of what makes the android experience.
     
  19. The-Real-Deal82 macrumors 601

    The-Real-Deal82

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    #19
    Being an ex Android user myself I can say that widgets are not for everyone. I much prefer to put apps I use in folders and keep screens clean and clear of animations. In my last few months of using Android I found myself clearing the widgets off my device and using it in a basic fashion. I found the battery lasted longer too. Widgets have their fans, but some of us would rather not use them.
     
  20. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #20
    This is it exactly... :)
     
  21. Dontazemebro macrumors 68020

    Dontazemebro

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    #21
    Agreed on the tacky front. A great solution I found to remedy this is by using transparent background widgets. If you check out the Android theming section at xda, there's a thread posted with nearly every popular widget available in a custom transparent option. Also if you're up it, you can pull the apk file and do it yourself. It's really fairly simple using either Photoshop or gimp.

    The transparent look really does make your screen look a lot more cohesive.
     
  22. daneoni macrumors G4

    daneoni

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    #22
    Agreed. Haven't used widgets since Froyo and Gingerbread.
     
  23. mattopotamus macrumors G5

    mattopotamus

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    Jun 12, 2012
    #23
    This may be a silly question, but did you change the s4 camera settings from 8mp to 13mp? I know I read somewhere that it is set to 8 by default. I don't know how much of a difference that would make, but I am sure it would do something.
     
  24. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #24
    Going on memory, Go into camera and menu/settings and change the cropping 16:9 shooting to 5:3 and it will jump to 13mp :)
     
  25. Sir Ruben, May 21, 2013
    Last edited: May 21, 2013

    Sir Ruben thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sir Ruben

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    #25
    Yes I now have the camera in 13mp mode but the results are the same (except the pictures being larger due to the higher megapixels). I guess my main issue with it is that the pictures just aren't very vibrant and not that clear either. None of the camera modes improve the picture, they are more software gimmicks more than anything else. Don't get me wrong there is nothing really wrong with the camera as such and I'm sure that many people will be completely happy with it. In my opinion it is also better than the camera in the HTC One. I just didn't expect it to have worse pictures than a nearly 7 month old iPhone 5.

    The night mode setting on the camera does very little to improve low light shots. I haven't had time to test the low light mode properly yet though so I'll post further observations when I do.

    Also I forgot to mention the battery in my original post. I am very happy with it. Considering what I have running in the background it goes like a champ. lasts me more than a day with wifi, NFC, all the sensor features, and 3G all on. I also have the brightness set at just over half way with auto brightness turned off. I found that horrible as the screen would erratically switch from bright to dim etc all the time.
     

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