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Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5 comparison: when Galaxies collide

The Galaxy S6 is one of the most striking Android smartphones in a long time. Samsung took risks, ditched two of the Galaxy S series' most defining features (microSD cards and removable batteries) and seems to have succeeded. Coming off the back of the relatively lukewarm Galaxy S5 reception a year ago, this win was sorely needed. But the Galaxy S6 comes at a cost, so we asked the question: which Galaxy is better value for money? Find out in our Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5 comparison.

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5: release date and price

The Galaxy S6 release date was April 10 globally with an official unveiling during MWC 2015. The Galaxy S6 price varies according to the amount of internal storage: from 599 USD for 32 GB up to 799 USD for 128 GB.

The Galaxy S5 release date was back in 2014 on April 11 and the Galaxy S5 price at launch started at 599 USD depending which carrier you bought it through. Keep in mind that price was for a 16 GB version though.

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Band-Aid vs fingerprint magnet: the choice is yours. / © ANDROIDPIT

The S5 is available on Amazon these days for around 400 USD while the S6 is actually more expensive on Amazon, going for around 620 USD. Keep this in mind as we're comparing these phones: we're looking at them as possible purchase options now, so a 2/3 ratio on current price is the reference point for what follows.

Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy S5

Best price

Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy S6

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Up front both phones look similar, but the Galaxy S6 (back) has thinner bezels. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5: design and build quality

While I have to confess I have never been particularly impressed by Samsung's design language (except on the Galaxy Note 4, which I thought was near perfect), I do have to admit that the Galaxy S6 represents a significant break from the tried-and-true Samsung recipe of plastic covers with textured or dimpled backs.

From the front it's still quite hard to distinguish between the two devices, barring the fact that the S6's Home button is larger and the S5 is a little wider. The Galaxy S6 does have smaller bezels than the S5 though, thankfully, but all other features from the front look pretty much the same.

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The plastic trim on the Galaxy S5 (top) has been replaced by real metal on the S6. / © ANDROIDPIT

It's the sides and the back that are the most radical departures and where the Galaxy S6 earned its ''premium'' stripes. Where the Galaxy S5 had a metallic-looking, ribbed plastic trim on the sides with the infamous Band-Aid battery cover, the Galaxy S6 has an aluminum frame with a sheet of Gorilla Glass 4 on the back, which, in drop tests, tends to hold up even better than the display glass.

The flash and heart-rate monitor on the S6 shift to the side from the S5's position underneath the camera lens, but both cameras protrude slightly. On the down side for the S6, the phone is remarkably slippery and the glass back is a huge fingerprint magnet. On the plus side, the speaker has been shifted to the bottom edge rather than in its traditional position on the back.

The S6 is the clear winner here. While fingerprints and slipperiness are a real issue, the overall design of the phone is more accomplished and confident. Likewise the break with previous identical-looking Samsung flagships was well overdue. Having said that, the S5 does feel better in the hand (at least to me) even if it is much uglier.

Samsung galaxy s5 vs Samsung galaxy s6 hero image
The back is where the most striking design differences lie. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5: display

Both devices have a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display. The difference is in definition. Where the Galaxy S5 rocks Full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) producing a pixel density of 432 pixels per inch (PPI), the Galaxy S6 display boasts QHD (or 2K) resolution (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) for an eye-popping 577 PPI.

Just because the numbers are higher doesn't necessarily mean the S6 display is better though. There are many out there that think anything over Full HD resolution is a waste of time because QHD displays require more power and the human eye can't easily distinguish differences on pixel densities above 350 PPI.

Your position on display definitions is a matter of personal choice, but I have to admit I love the S6 display. It is insanely crisp and bright and easily the best display I've yet seen on an Android device. The Galaxy S5 is equally bright though, has equally good viewing angles and is just as saturated and vibrant as you'd expect. Again, the decision comes down to your feelings on Full HD vs QHD.

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Both Galaxy's run TouchWiz on Lollipop: the S6 is just better. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5: software

We won't go into too much detail here, as the Galaxy S6 basically has all the features the S5 has plus some newer ones, but both devices are running Samsung's TouchWiz on Android Lollipop. The S6 is currently sitting pretty on Android 5.0.2 and the S5 on 5.0, but that's all set to change in the near future with the update to Android 5.1 awaiting both devices.

I was quite critical of the S5's software and interface when it launched and I stand by that judgment. It felt rushed, inconsistent and unfinished. Even after some updates it's still not quite there. The S6, on the other hand, has a much cleaner, more simplified and streamlined interface and for the first time I can honestly say I like TouchWiz.

Both devices support gestures (motion controls), both have fingerprint scanners, private mode, easy mode, built-in themes, multi-window, download booster, cloud printing, NFC, screen casting (MirrorLink), S Voice, S Health (and plenty of other Samsung apps) and a heart-rate monitor.

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The Galaxy S6 (left) has a much better touch-based fingerprint scanner than the Galaxy S5's swipe-based finger scanner. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5: special features

As mentioned above, both Galaxy's have fingerprint scanners (although the S6's touch-based scanner is better than the S5's swipe-based scanner) but the S6 adds a few additional features into the mix. These include Qi wireless charging by default and turbo-charging capability.

The S5, on the other hand, has two quintessentially Samsung features that are no longer part of the S6 recipe: a removable battery and microSD expansion. The S6 replaces its microSD card slot with options for more internal storage: 32 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB, but this dramatically increases the cost. SD cards are slower and less secure but far cheaper than built-in memory.

The S5 is also IP67 water-resistant, which the S6 is not (officially). YouTubers have revealed that the S6 can handle just as much water as the S5 though. This is a tough one to call: Qi and turbo-charging vs microSD and a removable battery.

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The Galaxy S5 is officially water-resistant and the Galaxy S6 is unofficially. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5: performance

This is one area where there is no competition and no cause for debate: the Galaxy S6 is incredibly fast and leaves the Galaxy S5 in the dust. The S6 has the impressive Exynos 7420 CPU powering things and it is the best CPU around right now. The S5 can't compete with a phone on the specs front when it is a year old, but the S5 was always slow, sluggish and glitchy.

Samsung completely reworked TouchWiz for the S6 and while it still isn't quite as smooth as I would like (being a stock Android user generally), it is easily the fastest that TouchWiz has ever been. The S6 simply destroys the S5 in processing power, resource management and battery optimizations, but we wouldn't expect anything different.

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The Galaxy S6 (right) has the superior camera, but the Galaxy S5 camera is still great. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5: camera

The Samsung Galaxy line has always had exceptional cameras and the Galaxy S5 camera is fantastic, even a year after it first appeared. The Galaxy S6 camera, however, is simply from another dimension. It is the best camera on any smartphone on any platform you can get, with the possible exception of the Lumia 1020 but: Windows Phone, pfft.

As with display resolution though, this is a matter of personal preference. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the S5 camera, but if you want the absolute best of the best smartphone camera experience then there's no denying the S6 is the benchmark against which all other phones will be measured this year.

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The Galaxy S5 (left) has a better battery that is also removable. The S6 sports Qi wireless charging and turbo-charging capabilities. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5: battery

The Galaxy S6 has a 2,550 mAh non-removable battery compared to the Galaxy S5's removable 2,600 mAh battery. On paper it looks like the Galaxy S5 is the winner here, and in reality the same is true. Sure, the S6's battery and software optimizations are better than on the S5, but the QHD display and smaller cell comes at a cost. It's enough to get you through the day, but that's about it.

The S5 introduced us to the impressive Ultra Power Saving Mode which has only been improved with the jump to Android Lollipop's battery optimizations. The S6 has the same feature although we get wildly differing battery predictions from each device. As you can see from the shot below, at 92 percent battery remaining the S6 forecasts 3.3 days and the S5 promises 11.5 days. The display is to blame here again.

Let's face it: the S5 has a great battery. Not perfect but still better than the S6. The S6 is supported by the convenience of wireless charging and the time benefits of turbo-charging but does not let you switch out a dead battery for a fresh one, making a wireless charging pad or outlet a necessity.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S6 Galaxy S5 ultra power saving mode
The same Ultra Power Saving Mode exists, but that QHD display produces very different results. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5: audio

Many people will be happy to have the speakers off the back of the latest Galaxy, even if front-facing speakers are the benchmark by which we judge all smartphone speakers. The S6 has bottom-mounted speakers compared to the S5 which uses the traditional location on the back.

The Galaxy S5 speakers are better though. They are of equal volume but a little hollower and bassier than the S6. The high notes aren't quite there and there's not the best clarity, but the S6 is too top-heavy, sounding like a tin can full of broken glass with only the echo of bass, as if it recently left the building.

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The Galaxy S6 (bottom) has a bottom-mounted speaker, but it's not as good as the S5's. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5: specs

  Samsung Galaxy S6 Samsung Galaxy S5
System Android 5.0.2 Lollipop + TouchWiz Android 5.0 Lollipop + TouchWiz
Display 5.1-inch, Super AMOLED, QHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels, 577 ppi) 5.1-inch Super AMOLED, Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 432 ppi)
Processor Octa-Core, 64 Bit (4 x 2.1 GHz + 4 x 1.5 GHz) Quad-Core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (2.5 GHz)
Internal memory 32/64/128 GB (non-expandable) 16/32 GB (+ microSD)
Battery 2,550 mAh (non-removable) 2,800 mAh (removable)
Camera 16 MP (rear), 5 MP (front) 16 MP (rear), 2.1 MP (front)
Dimensions 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm
Weight 138 g 145 g
Connectivity Wi-Fi, HSPA, LTE Cat.6, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, USB 2.0, Infrared Wi-Fi, HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0, Infrared
Price 599 USD (32 GB), 699 USD (64 GB), 799 USD (128 GB) 385 USD (16 GB on Amazon) 

Final verdict

All told, I tally a score of 6-5 in the S6's favor: design, software, performance and camera with a shared point for special features (depending on whether you value microSD and a removable battery or Qi and turbo-charging). I also gave both devices a point for displays as the preference for either a QHD display or Full HD is entirely subjective.

The S5 stands up extremely well after a year and is the winner in the categories of battery and audio. When it comes to price though, things get a little interesting. Right now, at just two-thirds the price of the Galaxy S6, the S5 represents extremely good value for money.

If you just want the best phone and don't mind the cost, get the Galaxy S6, no question. But if you want the best value for money, get the S5. It's ugly and slow but its camera is great and it still has a microSD card slot and removable battery.

This item has been completely rewritten since its first release, which is why previous comments might be outdated.

Readers' favorite comments

  • Glostermeteor Jan 24, 2015

    If they get rid of the expandable storage and removeable battery the S5 will be the very last Samsung phone I buy.


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  • Having gone back to an S5 from an S6 my experience tells a different story. The S6 has awful memory management, killing apps almost as soon as you've left them to check a message or an email, its very laggy and has screens full of anomalies such as pink and green hues on the bottom third of the screen. Add to the fact they FEEL heavier than the S5 even though they're not, and they're too expensive to get half decent storage 64 or 128 is half decent in this day and age, and you have a phone that's just not up to the cost. The S5 on the other hand is quick and has a perfect screen and you don't have to use the cloud which is good as the s6 is awful with reception and data too.

  • darockk Sep 14, 2015 Link to comment

    want expandable memory? buy the 128GB version.
    want removable battery? buy a power bank

    so glad they have made a phone that looks awesome now. no doubt thanks to not having to worry about a removable battery, and losing the sd card slot means it costs less to produce so more money can be spent on the build quality.

    keep up the good work samsung, the s6 is an amazing phone.

    Those of you who are happy with their s5 im glad for you, but the screen on the s6 is so much better. and the camera..oh boy, where do i begin?...

    • Good luck with your screen problems as in pink section on the bottom third of the screen. Look close .. it's there. Also, try playing a game then loading a few other apps then go back to your game. .. poof it's gone.

  • I have the s5 does everything I need it to with no problems no lag or battery problems probably the best phone ive had up to now hopefully will lst me a few years

    • I have the same opinion my friend every year all these sites they say same thing's for the oldest flagship models.Galaxy s5 is a very very good model after 5 years when I see very big difference I will change it. Whe don't leave for smartphones. ..........

  • I moved from the Note 4 to the S6. I've experienced immediate changes on how the phone handles, and have noticed how much better it performs with everyday use. It's so much faster, simply put. I've also owned the s4, and have played with my fair share of s5's. The stutter/lag I once experienced with these phones is gone on the S6. I've yet to see the phone stop in between apps or while multitasking, and the jidders and hangups between these apps is gone. So what I can't take the battery out. I was able to on my other phones, but never did. The only complaint I can possibly find would be no expandable memory. If you care about memory that much, buy the S5. Just remember, the S6 is better in every other possible way, and I can see that first hand. Smoothest phone I've used to date. I will be snagging an S6+ later this month.

  • I am trying to decide on a new smartphone as my old in the tooth Galaxy S3 is feeling slow and laggy. With so many excellent phones, I can narrow my choices to the S6, Droid turbo and the I phone 6. I do lament the lack of sd card, but I can honestly say I have never swapped a battery for a fresh one. Still, why isn't anyone making a phone that tops all the specs? the technology is available to every handset maker. Cost constraints aside, the most appealing phone to me is the moto x. WHY can't I have the specs for the droid turbo with a removable battery and sd slot. Am I asking too much?

    I would also like to address the troll who calls himself Michael Hannigan. Why do people like you troll comment forums to spout off your vitriolic diatribe? People like you turn an intelligent discourse into neanderthal flame wars. If you have nothing of value to add, go somewhere else please.

  • Miiiichaelllll?????? How many times have I told you to stop playing with your brother's phone????? Now put it back and go put the clothes back on your dolls!!! Your case worker warned you about trying to act like an angry big person!!

  • Can anyone suggest me which smart phone is better S5, S6 or note 4?

  • An Droid Jun 14, 2015 Link to comment

    Replaced my S5 after a year with a S6 Edge. Internal memory (64gb) is sufficient and very fast.
    Battery life is not stellar, but I have a charger at home, work, and in my car.
    And as mentioned in the article, everything else is substantially better.

  • There's certainly nothing slow or sluggish about the S5 I've been using for the last 12 months so I don't know what's up with his,the S5 is a fantastic device that has as much grunt as any android device could possibly need right now,as much as I would love an S6 it wouldn't be because I want a more powerful device that's for sure

  • Whoever Michael Hannigan is, needs to watch how he responds to people who have an opinion that differs from his own. There's no need to he an insulting ass about it. People are entitled to their preferences and this moron insults people with every other word. In short, FUCK YOU, PUNK!

  • these comparisons are
    getting ridiculous now

  • Samsung galaxy s5 is batter than samsung galaxy s6

  • I've got the s5 . I think I'm going to keep it after my contract runs out. It's a great phone.
    Slow and sluggish? This always makes me laugh when people talk about any mobile phone. How quick do apps have to open? Does .05 seconds really make a difference? Love my s5. It would take something really good for me to change I think.

  • I like

  • I like this

  • ezg May 10, 2015 Link to comment

    First, I would like to note that I work for a phone retailer that handles all models of phones. Second, I try not to be biased about my reviews and only reiterate what I have heard from costumers and true use of product. The S6 is an amazing phone in many ways from size and performance and clarity. But from what I have heard from the costumers is that battery life was hurt a lot with new phone. The phone jams and cant be turned off or reset due to the permanent battery. 20 percent of your memory on the 32 GB is already used for software leaving you with only 25 actual GB without an option to expand. It was Samsung's way of saying you spend more on our phones if you want true use. I have had more people return the S6 and go for the S5. The S5 DOSE have the wireless charge option as well. I sadly will be leaving Samsung if these features are not replaced and I have been a die hard fan of Samsung.

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