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Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5c: Is Samsung’s Smartphone Better Than Apple’s?

By Sanna Chu on October 3, 2013 5:12 PM EDT 0

iPhone 5c
The iPhone 5c is pretty but does it perform better than the Galaxy S4? Here's a comparison of Apple's and Samsung's smartphones. (Photo: Reuters/Stephen Lam)

In the Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5c debate, which next-gen smartphone is the better buy? Is Samsung's bigger and features-packed device or Apple's colorful handset running the redesigned iOS 7, the better option? The Galaxy S4 has won many accolades since it was released in April, while the iPhone 5c, launched alongside the iPhone 5s last month, has been outsold by the higher-priced iPhone.

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The Galaxy S4 is hugely popular, reaching 10 million units sold in 27 days, making it fastest selling Android device so far. Meanwhile, Apple has not released separate sale numbers for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, but combined the two models sold a record-setting 9 million units in just three days. Though iPhone 5s likely makes up the bulk of those sales, as it remains sold out at seemingly all Apple stores, and there are reports that Apple overestimated consumer demand for the iPhone 5c.

But should consumers also overlook Apple's less expensive device for Samsung's flagship device? Here's how the Galaxy S4 compares to the iPhone 5c:

Operating System: The Galaxy S4 ships with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and Samsung's TouchWiz Nature user experience, which boasts features the Apple's iOS lacks. In particular, Samsung Galaxy S4 ads have touted its eye tracking features such as "Smart Scroll" (which allows users to scroll while looking at the screen and tilting the phone), and "Smart Pause" (which pauses videos when the user looks away). There is also "Air View" (which allow user to preview images and messages by holding or waving a finger slightly above the screen) and the Galaxy S4 definitely has a lot more camera features, such as "Drama" mode, "Eraser" and "Dual Shot".

The iPhone 5c runs on Apple's dramatically new operating system, iOS 7. The updated software brings new features to the iPhone such as Control Center, Air Drop, new multitasking and iTunes radio. The new iOS 7 has been specifically designed to match the color options for the iPhone 5c: white, pink, yellow, blue and green. The iPhone 5c also comes with a new Camera app that allow users to shoot in square format and choose from eight live filters that can be applied before or after your take a photo. However, there were already countless photography apps that gave users similar effects.

Winner: Galaxy S4 has more cool features

Performance: The Galaxy S4 operates on the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The iPhone 5c operates on the Apple A6 processor, which was featured on the iPhone 5. Most benchmark tests suggest that the Galaxy S4 outperforms the iPhone 5c, Macworld reported. While the Galaxy S4's Geekbench 3 single-core score was almost identical to that of the iPhone 5c, the S4 was 58 percent fasters in the multi-score tests than the 5c. The Galaxy S4 also beats the iPhone 5c in the Sunspider JavaScript test, being nearly 500 milliseconds faster. Finally, the Galaxy S4 also had the edge in the GFXBench tests.

The iPhone 5c also falls behind with battery life, boasting 10 hours of 3G talk time compared to the Galaxy S4's 17 hours. The 5c has an advertised stand-by time of 10.4 days or 250 hours, while the Galaxy S4 is said to last 15.4 days or 370 hours on standby, which makes sense as the iPhone 5c has a 1507 mAh battery compared to the Galaxy S4's 2600 mAh battery.

Winner: Galaxy S4 is faster and longer-lasting

Display: The Galaxy S4 has a big 5-inch display, while the iPhone 5c has a smaller 4-inch display. For people who prefer bigger screens, the S4 is already the clear choice as its display is a whole inch bigger. The S4 display has a resolution of 1930 x 1080 pixels or 441 pixels per inch. The iPhone 5c has a display with a resolution of 1136 x 640 pixels or 326 ppi. However, the numbers of pixels do not tell the whole story. Since the S4 uses PenTile display, its screen doesn't have as many sub-pixels as a smartphone using LCD technology, such as the iPhone 5c, Mashable reported. PenTile technology is supposedly ideal for videos and photos, but not as great for things such like text, where precise pixel placement matters.

The iPhone 5c, accordingly, looks about as sharp as the Galaxy S4 to the naked eye. While the Galaxy S4's bigger screen makes it easier to view images, video and text, the iPhone 5c has noticeably nicer color contrast, which makes the images more aesthetically pleasing. The iPhone 5c is also significantly brighter than the S4, making visibility in direct sunlight better. However, Samsung's flagship smartphone can play full 1080p HD video, which is something Apple's device is unable to do.

 Winner: Tie (While the Galaxy S4 is bigger, easier to view images, video, test, the iPhone 5c has better color contrast and is brighter)

Design: Both the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5c are made of polycarbonate material, but that's where the similarities end. The Galaxy S4 comes in black and white, with a textured, almost metallic design. The iPhone 5c comes in five colors (white, pink, yellow, blue and green), which are pastel-like and matte. The Galaxy S4 is markedly bigger than the iPhone 5c and the Samsung smartphone is more rounded, while Apple's handset shape is more squared. While the Galaxy S4 looks more dated, it could be better suited to professional situations. The iPhone 5c definitely stands out more, but is not for everyone.

Winner: Tie (The Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5c cater to different tastes)

Conclusion: The Galaxy S4 beats the iPhone 5c in terms of performance and software features. As for display, both phones have their pros and cons. The Galaxy S4 is the clear choice for those who want a bigger screen but while the S4 boasts more pixels per inch, it may not actually be sharper due to the fact that it uses PenTile technology rather than LCD. In any case, the iPhone 5c has near comparable sharpness and offers better color contrast and brightness. In the end, it may just come down to which design you prefer, a more standard metallic-like body or a fun, taffy-colored phone.

Winner: Galaxy S4

Which side are you on in the Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5c battle? Let us know in the comments.

Follow @SannaChu

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