The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3 are two of the best Android based smartphones available on the market today. If you’re fortunate to own either one you’re not a loser but what if you wanted to confirm if you made the right decision or you wanted to know which phone is best just cause? Well wonder no more, G Style put the two powerhouse phones through a battery of tests and real world circumstances and this what we came up with.
First up is the Samsung Galaxy S5. The flagship phone from Samsung is the powerhouse as it always has been and Samsung has never been one to come up short with how they outfit their Galaxy series phones hardware wise and it remains true with the S5.
The Galaxy S5 comes packed with 2GB of RAM 16/32GB of internal storage expandable up to 128GB, 5.1″ super AMOLED screen 1920 x 1080 (full HD), Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.5 Ghz quad-core processor, 4G LTE support, 16MP rear facing camera, 2MP front facing camera, WiFi support a/b/g/n/ac as well as NFC, 2800 mAH battery (removable), USB 2.0 & 3.0 support, all running on Android Kit Kat 4.4.2 OS and coming in four colors, White, Black, Blue and Gold. Impressive indeed but specs alone does not make a phone because the LG G3 specs are comparable if not a little better.
The LG G3 which is LG’s newest iteration of their G series is a beast. The G3 touts probably the most impressive screen in terms of resolution for its size that I’ve seen on a smartphone to date. It’s no slouch in the specs department. The G3 comes packed with a 3GB of RAM and 32GB internal storage, 5.5″ Quad HD (2560 x 1440) IPS display, 2.5 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, 4G LTE support, 13MP rear facing camera w/ OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) with Laser Auto Focus and dual flash, 3000 mAH battery (removable), USB 2.0HS support, WiFi support a/b/g/n/ac as well as NFC. All this comes running with Android Kit Kat 4.4.2 and coming in three colors, Metallic Black, Gold and White.
Hardware specs are never solely a reason to go out and buy a certain smartphone. In fact there is really no single reason that anyone goes out and buys a smartphone these days. One of the biggest contributing factors that does ultimately lead to a smartphone purchase in my opinion is design or the overall look of the phone. It matters. You’ll be carrying it around potentially for two years unless you’re a baller and you can switch phones with the weather, however, most of us don’t have that luxury and design is key to how you make a choice in the smartphone you choose.
The Galaxy S5 has a generic design to be polite. Nothing groundbreaking here. Actually I hate it, but it’s a design that Samsung believes works. It’s basically a rectangle with rounded edges. Samsung has stuck to plastic overall with a faux metal look around the edges and a perforated back plate design which I don’t particularly care for but it does help with your grip if your hands are wet or a little slippery so I understand it’s purpose. The button placement on the Galaxy S5 is right where it needs to be for a phone of its size. The buttons are easy to get to if you want to turn your screen on and off or if you want to raise and lower the volume. Camera placement is centered in the back of the phone with the heart monitor and dual flash placed right underneath the camera lens. The home button is also centered at the bottom as well for easy access to your home screen if necessary. Simple design, that’s it. If you’re buying a Galaxy S5 it won’t be because they’ve wowed you with the design.
The LG G3 has a design not too far off from the S5 in terms of it being a rectangle with rounded edges but the LG G3 does it so much better and it doesn’t feel cheap. You have the feeling that you have a premium quality made phone in your hand even though it too just like the S5 is made primarily of plastic. It has thin bezels to help show off that 5.5″ screen, on-screen buttons help to streamline the design further by taking away protruding buttons. The back plate of the G3 is made of plastic but it has a brushed aluminum look to help give it that premium feel. The camera, OIS laser system and dual flash are centered in the back as opposed to off-center and just below you have the part of the G3’s design that I will NEVER get used to. I know the intent of button placement on the back of the G3 is for convenience but for me it’s been everything but convenient, when watching a movie or listening to music I must have turned off the phone screen at least 20 times or made the volume go in the wrong direction when trying to figure out where exactly the buttons are on the back of the G3. I know some people may love this but I don’t, I found myself having to turn the phone around from time to time just to remember where the buttons are positioned to raise and lower volume and not shut off the phone. Call me a moron. This doesn’t work for me. That’s not to say it won’t work for you but I tend to like my buttons discreetly on the side of the phone. I found this to be really the only design “flaw” but overall I like the G3’s design a bit better.
The Galaxy S5 and the LG G3 both have beautiful screens in terms of size a how they seem to you but in my experiences with both phones there are some differences. Samsung has a beautiful 1920 x 1080 full hd super AMOLED display that when you look at it at full brightness you get those deep rich blacks, and you see a really nice color spectrum overall. You see this even more so when you’re going over pictures that you’ve taken or when watching a video. What most impressed me about the S5 was being able to really see the screen on my phone in broad daylight more so than with the G3. The G3 for all it’s screen resolution (2560 x 1440) had a very flat look, colors didn’t really pop and when using it in broad daylight at the height of the afternoon sun I could barely see my display. With the S5 I could hold the phone flat in my hand and look at the display clearly as opposed to the G3 where I had to tilt the phone up to be able to see what was on my screen (See gallery)
Video on both the G3 and the S5 was top-notch. The screens are impressive and I didn’t really expect any disappointment here and I was right. A combination of 720 and 1080p video files uploaded to my phone made for a good experience when I was watching an action movie or some anime and the WatchESPN app, with Youtube now offering video playback in 1440p for the G3 and hopefully for more devices in the future it’ll make watching video on these devices a pleasure with their beautiful screens so no complaints there.
The camera is where the S5 and the G3 are very different. Both phones have great features and take great pictures but the Galaxy has always been the champ as it pertains to smartphone cameras (Nokia 1020 excluded). Now to the particulars, the S5 has a 16MP rear facing camera and a 2MP front facing camera. When taking pictures in good light you get a result that looks as if you’re looking at what you just took a picture of. It has great clarity and colors never appeared flat or off, the pictures looked very natural. In low light the s5 does take good pictures but realistically, I’ve never seen a camera on smartphone that really took really great pictures in low light so I’m never overly critical of a smartphone that doesn’t take great low light pictures, especially pictures at night, I’m a firm believer in if you want really great low light photos get an real camera.
As far as the in camera app it has all the features that are starting to become standard today i.e panorama, dual shot which uses the front and back camera to take really creepy selfie / scenery at the same time pictures, a beauty face/selfie mode and a virtual tour mode (Why anyone would need such a mode is beyond me but whatever it’s there). Selective focus is a useful and great tool if your pictures are blurry so the Galaxy S5 doesn’t suffer from lack of options with picture-taking.
The G3 has a 13MP rear facing camera with OIS (optical image stabilization) and laser auto focus. The pictures that you get from the G3 are pretty good. It rivals the S5 in clarity and quality and truthfully it just depends on your own opinion if you like the pictures on the G3 better than the S5. The colors on the photos of the G3 is where things were a little different from the S5, a lot of the photos I took while they looked great didn’t give me very vibrant colors like the camera on the S5 did, I tend to like my pictures to look as I see them so the G3 lost a few points here but it’s far from a deal breaker. I did really love that the G3 has OIS coupled with laser auto focus because I can recall a few times I thought I took some shaky pictures only to find in the gallery that the picture was stable and pretty clear if not perfect. The laser focus system focuses on a specific target based on where you’re aiming so even if the background of your photo is somewhat shaky the focus or object of your picture wouldn’t necessarily be. I found myself not having to use magic focus mode at all to refocus my photos and the OIS and Laser focus was a big help.
Just like the S5, the G3 has a ton of photo options to for you to use like panorama, selfie, dual shot/creepy selfie mode and magic focus mentioned before. The G3 just like the S5 gives you plenty to look forward to with your picture-taking so other than a few minor things that bugged me about the camera on the G3, it’s solid and comparable to the S5.
Each of these phones uses a distinguishing software or custom skin built on top of Android 4.4.2. The Galaxy S5 uses its software TouchWiz and the G3 uses a custom skin exclusive to its phone. The S5 software has a bit of a different look this time around from its predecessor as well as being much less taxing on the phones’ memory and resources. TouchWiz is much improved from earlier versions from how it behaves to how it looks. No freezing, no cheap looking default apps and its a very good mesh with Kit Kat. The default settings menu has changed to a rounded icon category style grouping system that’s separated according to the functions you want to get access to, you can edit the how the menu looks if you don’t like this view to a tabbed or list style format whichever works for you.
The G3 default settings menu has a general list style setup that you can switch to a tabbed mode just like you can on the S5 and as I said before it all depends on how you like your setup. The G3 software improved ever so slightly from the G2 which wasn’t really that bad, as I said before the software improvements this time around are done in such a way that the custom skins are much less invasive.
Both phones come bundled with its own native apps which I would probably never use if not for the sake of this comparison but they’re available to you. The S5 has it’s S-Health apps which are for the pedometer, heart monitor, general fitness, diet, etc. You have Galaxy Apps for the phone itself and if you have either the GearFit or the Gear 2 then the Galaxy apps allow for easy syncing all while giving you detailed information for each device.
The G3 allows the same but not as bloated in terms of native apps for the phone itself. The AT&T version of the G3 that I tested didn’t have many apps for their wearable tech but just like the S5 you can always find what you need in the Google Play store. I’m not sure how many people use the native software apps but it’s still good to have them available even if you want to just try them out. Although the software was pretty seamless on both phones it is not without flaw. The problem I had with the software if you consider it one with both phones is that there are just too many options, way too many. I’m an experienced user of all smartphones and I can work my way around any phone but I’m finding more and more that as smartphones improve, the skill level required to use them increases. This is not a good thing when the smartphone is supposed to make your life easier.
As a self-proclaimed minimalist and voice for the average consumer I always think about my mom or someone who isn’t of the millennial generation that may want to use a phone like this. They would have a hard time navigating their way around. Sure there are simpler phones you can buy but what if you want a G3 or an S5? Should you not have one just because the software is too complicated? No. This was the only real issue that I had with the software of both phones and let me just say it’s not a problem exclusive to the S5 and G3, universally it’s become this way but since my comparison is based on these two phones I’ll have to hold them slightly accountable.
There’s more to the software of course, tons more and for the record the software is what helps make the G3 and the S5 great phones but since I’m speaking to the average consumer or at least I’m attempting to, I just want to give you the general feel of what you’re getting when you buy either phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3 are not only two of the best Android phones but they’re two of the best smartphones in a highly competitive market especially when you consider the champ and standard-bearer the iPhone (say what you want but it is) is in that market. It’s a tough choice to make. Whatever choice you make is not a wrong choice.
The S5 is the phone to have if you want the best camera and probably the brightest screen of any smartphone. The G3 is phone you want if you’re a pixel fanatic and you want that high-resolution 5.5″ screen and a comparable camera. If you’re into how a phone looks and design is your selling point then go with the G3 but if not then go with the S5.
Either way you don’t lose. You can’t lose. Smartphones are so well made today and you get so much out of them that’s impossible to feel that a bad choice was made. I know that’s not a definitive answer about which phone you MUST have when you consider that this article is based on comparison but with these two phones sharing so many similarities to say one is better than the other means that I would really have to nitpick down to every last spec and let’s be honest who’s gonna do that when they’re trying to buy a new phone? If you like it buy it. Simple. That works for me.