For the next several hundred words, I promise not to use the words “flagship,” “game-changer,” “iPhone killer,” “head-to-head,” or even “shootout.” There has got to be a way to size up a new smartphone without devolving into the most overwrought tech clichés on the Internet. We can do this, people. We can tell you why you should or should not break free from the Jedi mind meld (see what I did there?) that the ghost of Steve Jobs still has on you and pretend you got mugged in the subway for your iPhone, so you can go snatch up Samsung’s latest flagsh... uh, game-ch... NO! Its latest phone. It’s just a phone, people.
Only it’s not a phone, it’s the Samsung Galaxy S4, and a lot of people are raving about it. Some are even saying it’s the first smartphone that might actually be better than the iPhone 5. This makes no sense to me, but for the purposes of good journalism, I decided to do an objective comparison of the two so that you, the reader, can make an informed decision.
Here we go:
Size matters. It’s ... so ... big! The S4’s screen is 5 inches, compared with the iPhone’s crappy little 4 inches. After a couple of minutes holding this thing, your iPhone 4 will feel like one of those flip phones from the early 2000s.
Size matters, part two. It’s ... so ... skinny! The S4 is .31 inches, which means if you turn it sideways nobody will even see you have a phone. (The thing is, though, the iPhone 5 is actually skinnier—at .30 inches. It’s also lighter: 3.95 ounces vs. the S4’s 4.6. But let’s move on.)
Speed matters. It’s ... so ... fast! The S4 has a lightning-fast 1.9-GHz quad-core processor, next to the iPhone’s turtlelike 1 GHz. It also has 2 gigs of RAM, twice as much as the iPhone 5. That is basically like Oscar Pistorius racing your grandmother.
You’re pretty. No you’re pretty. The Galaxy S4’s super AMOLed display clocks in at a mind-blowing 441 pixels per inch. Do you have any idea how many pixels per inch that is? It’s like if you took all of Mark Zuckerberg’s money and turned it into Susan B. Anthony coins and put them into a football stadium, that would give you an idea. The iPhone Retina display’s pixels per inch is a measly 326, which is barely enough Susan B. Anthony coins to fill a swimming pool. I’m just trying to help you visualize.
Instagram cred. The Galaxy S4’s rear-facing camera is 13 megapixels, 2 on the front. That is 13,000,000 pixels, in case you’re unfamiliar with basic math. The iPhone’s megapixel count is a shameful 8 rear, 1.2 front. And that’s not all, ether. The Samsung camera’s front- and rear-facing cameras can be operated at the same freaking time, which means you are about to see a bunch of artsy pictures from Williamsburg with another picture—90 percent of them will be selfies—inside the actual frame. Not enough to break the Apple spell? What about the ability to add NINE MIND-BLOWING SECONDS of audio to a still picture, or create a gif right there in the camera? The iPhone 5 can’t do any of that.
Gesture-riffic. To this point, Apple has been winning the gesture wars “handily” (see what I did there?) what with the pinch-to-zoom and pinch-to-rotate and pinch-to-grow-an-inch. But the Galaxy is a game ch—I mean, it’s bringing a whole new swagger to the gesture category. You can now “tap” on your screen by just hovering your finger over it, and swipe through photos without ever touching the phone, (because who wants to go through the effort of bringing your finger all the way down to the screen to have to click on something?) It’s nothing short of a revolution. You can also swipe between pages, which on an iPhone requires the cumbersome double-tapping of the home button. If I can be serious for a moment, this stuff is actually really cool, because I am usually eating Cheetos when I look at my phone. It would change my life to be able to use my phone without actually touching it. I would eat way more Cheetos.
Tilt-tastic. Samsung’s “Smart Scroll” technology deploys a sensor deep in the bowels of the front-facing camera to basically spy on whoever is using it, using face-recognition software to then allow you to tilt the phone up or down to scroll through a page. That may be creepy, but it’s another win for the Cheetos set. We’re well on our way to being able to use a phone via telekinesis at this point.
A phone that’s good for you. Sure, with any of the Apple store’s 13.8 million health and fitness apps, you can use the phone to exercise and eat better. But the Galaxy S4 has a nifty new feature called S Health, that uses its accelerometer to track your steps or cycles, or maybe even breast strokes one day. If only it would deliver a shockwave every time I reach for a bag of Cheetos.
Moolah. Both the S4 and iPhone 5 are $199 with a contract, but the iPhone 5’s contract requires you to name your first-born child “Steve Jobs.” No clear winner in this category.
Vault. The Galaxy allows you to cram up to 64 gigs of pornogr... I mean, pictures of your cats, on it, via a micro SD card. The iPhone 5 hates micro SD cards, but it will store up to 64 gigs of pornogr.. pictures of your cats, if you spend more money up front for a bigger phone.
Your S4 can have sex with other phones. Well, not exactly, but it does have this titillating feature called “Group Play” that lets people touch one phone to the next to trade music, pictures, and blueprints of the Vatican. The iPhone’s answer to this naughty “play” is AirPlay, which once you shell out even more money for the Apple TV allows you to stream content from the phone (or any other Apple device) to the Apple TV wirelessly. (See how many times I said “Apple” there? I get paid extra for that.)
So who wins?
Clearly, the Samsung S4. But you're still going to buy an iPhone 5. Admit it. You're a tech lemming.