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iPhone 5s vs. Galaxy S4: Flagship Showdown

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iPhone 5s vs. Galaxy S4: Flagship Showdown

They are two of the best phones available, but which is right for you?

Each year, both Samsung and Apple release a new flagship smartphone (or two) on the market. Although they launch their gadgets in different quarters, comparisons between these flagships are inevitable. We all know that there’s a strong competition between these giants, and each one of them aims at overtaking the other through conventional (technological innovation), as well as unconventional means (lawsuits).

As most of you already know, this year the battle takes place between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the recently released iPhone 5S. Both devices are impressive in their own ways, and it may be difficult to pick a winner. After all, there are plenty of reasons to go with either one of them. That being said, we can’t actually tell you which one of these smartphones is better than the other, because most of the time this decision is rather subjective. However, what we can do is give you details about what makes these handsets tick, and perhaps then you can then make up your mind more easily.

iPhone 5S vs. Samsung Galaxy S4 – Hardware and Performance

When gadget enthusiasts compare two smartphones side-by-side, the first thing they wish to find out is what hardware makes the handsets tick. In short, the Galaxy S4 is more impressive in terms of numbers. The S4′s screen is a 5-inch Super AMOLED boasting a resolution of 1080 x 1920, and the device features 2 GB of RAM and a quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor running at 1.9 GHz (or, depending on your region, an Exynos Octa-core CPU).

In contrast, the iPhone 5S delivers a smaller 4 inch display with a resolution of 640 x 1136, 1 GB of RAM and a dual-core Apple A7 64-bit processor clocked at 1.3 GHz. But don’t let these figures fool you. Much like in the case of a desktop computer, the number of CPU cores and its frequency is not everything. In truth, the CPU powering up the iPhone 5S is truly impressive. It’s the first mobile CPU to take advantage of 64-bit architecture, and it wipes the floor with its competitors in synthetic benchmarks.

Of course, rumor has it that Samsung is already working on its own 64-bit chip (not a surprise given the fact that the South Korean giant has actually manufactured iPhone 5S’ CPU), but for now, the Apple flagship comes on top as far as performance is concerned, by a long shot.

iPhone 5S vs. Samsung Galaxy S4 – Software

While the importance of hardware in a smartphone is incontestable,  hardware doesn’t mean much without proper software. This year, Apple launched the new iOS 7 platform, delivering a new look and a wide range of new features. As usual, Samsung has also continued to push its TouchWiz UI to new limits. Performance-wise, we’ve already established the fact that the iPhone 5S is blazing fast. But what about software functionality?

Comparing iOS 7 with TouchWiz will lead you to one key conclusion: overall, iOS 7 delivers a more intuitive and pleasant-looking user interface, while Samsung’s TouchWiz UI is a bit more cluttered, but offers a wider range of features.

These characteristics can be observed straight from the lock screen, where iOS 7 delivers a cleaner look, but less features / interactivity. TouchWiz offers more shortcuts on the lock screen itself, as well as a secondary lock screen menu containing a grid of 12 favorite apps which can be customized.

The same goes with the iOS 7 Notification Center when compared with TouchWiz’s Notifications. While iOS 7 delivers a cleaner look, with notifications organized between tabs, Samsung’s UI feels less organized, but delivers more options, such as the ability to interact with the notifications directly from the Notification Panel (a feature that is possible thanks to the Android OS itself).

More so, Samsung combines the notification area with the brightness slider and the quick toggles in one single menu. In contrast, iOS 7 separates the Notification Center from the so-called Control Center – the latter offering toggles to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness sliders, music playback and more, without mixing them up with notifications. Once again TouchWiz offers more options and toggles in total, but it all feels more cluttered than iOS 7 which delivers a simpler, more intuitive look.

These characteristics are basically defining the differences between the two user interfaces across the board, even when it comes to productivity. As an example, iOS 7 does a better job at switching applications and keeping them running / updated in the background, but TouchWiz delivers the unique ability to run two applications at the same time in a “split screen” environment. To put it simply, Samsung’s UI offers more on-screen, but almost everything is less pleasant to look at or less intuitive than iOS 7.

All in all, both smartphones are impressive and both have their aces up their sleeves. Both companies have done their best to improve the user experience, but we feel that they’ve done so by taking different paths (as usual). iOS 7 is a more straightforward platform delivering a cleaner and more intuitive look, but at the same time, the number of available software features and customization options is not as impressive as the one delivered by TouchWiz and the Android platform itself.

In the end, Samsung and Apple have continued to walk on the same separate paths as last year, but we do get the feeling that Apple has been more ambitious this time around, and has tried to push iOS further than Samsung did with TouchWiz. Does that make iOS 7 better than TouchWiz? That’s up to you to decide based on your own preferences. As always, we invite you to leave your comments below and let us know what you think.

Vlad Andrici is editor for and writes about technology issues. Follow Vlad on Google Plus.