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Galaxy S6 vs. Galaxy S5: Is Samsung’s new phone actually better?

Samsung is hoping six is a magic number. The mobile giant announced the Galaxy GS6 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and since then all of us at DT have ogled over its stunning new look. It’s a huge departure from the ho-hum design of the Galaxy S5.

Related: Hands on with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

The Galaxy S6 was the headline-grabber at Mobile World Congress mostly because of it’s bold new look. How does the GS6 build off the GS5? Is the phone the answer to Samsung’s smartphone woes? We pit the Galaxy S6 against the Galaxy S5.

Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6

Galaxy S5

GalaxyS5

Size 143 x 71 x 6.8 (mm) 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 (mm)
Weight 138g 145g
Screen 5.1-inch Super AMOLED 5.1-inch Super AMOLED
Resolution 2,560 x 1,440 pixels 1,080 x 1,920 pixels
OS Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with TouchWiz Android 4.4.2 with Samsung UI
Storage 32/64/128GB 16/32GB
SD Card Slot No Yes
Processor Exynos octa-core 2.1 + 1.5 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 801
RAM 3GB 2GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+ Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+, NFC
Camera Front 5MP, Rear 16MP Front 2.1MP, Rear 16MP
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.0 Yes, version 4.0
Motion Processor Heart Rate Monitor Heart Rate Monitor
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water Resistant No Yes, IP67 rated
Battery 2,550mAh 2,800mAh
Charger USB 3.0 USB 3.0
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Ave. Price N/A $200+
Availability 4/10/15 on all 4 major carriers AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile
Review Best Phone at MWC Award 4.5 out of 5 (Editor’s Choice)

Processor and architecture

For Samsung loyalists, 2015 will be remembered as the year Samsung parted with the Qualcomm processor. We’ve entered the era of the Exynos octa-core processor. How it stacks up against Qualcomm’s Spapdragon is only speculation at this point. No doubt, the expectations are high for Samsung’s new 64-bit octa core chip. We’ll keep you updated on the how the new processor stacks up.

Related: Samsung may have a rugged Galaxy S6 Active planned for all you butterfingers

Aside from the upgraded processor, Samsung has included 3GB of RAM (that’s a whole gigabyte more than the GS5) and boosted the internal storage capacity starting at 32GB. The added storage and RAM will make the GS6 one of the most powerful devices on the market. This isn’t really a surprise to anyone. On the other hand, Samsung has omitted an SD card slot, no doubt, in an effort to make a slimmer and more attractive handset.

Design and resolution

Overall, the GS6 is one of the best looking phones out there. The slimmer profile and aluminum bumper and glass rear panel make for a more premium looking Galaxy phone. The camera does stick out slightly from the rear panel, but that’s forgivable these days because, well, even the iPhone does it. So is the non-water resistant chassis, which Samsung has done away with for the GS6. Sadly, few new phones are waterproof this year due to an increased reliance on metal styling.

Samsung also upped the GS6 resolution. At 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, the SG6 fits into the category of Quad HD resolution with about 30 percent higher pixels density than the GS5.

Another yet-to-be-seen feature is GS6’s battery. It’s where specs don’t always tell the full story. While the GS5 had some nice features that were omitted from the GS6 (including a removable battery and larger battery size), Samsung has included a rapid charge feature that is estimated to give your phone about 4 hours of battery life with a 10 minute charge. When you add that to Samsung’s brand new processor (jury is out on its efficiency) and Android 5.0, which sips battery better than older iterations of Android OS,  and standard wireless charging feature for every GS6, it’s clear that the GS6 has thought through the battery game.

Camera

The GS6 improves upon an already stellar camera offered from the GS5. Most important, the “selfie” front camera has been upgraded to a 5-megapixel shooter from 2.1 megapixels, which puts in on par with other Android superphones.

The merits of a great camera surely don’t come down to just megapixels, though, and the GS6 has a couple of new advancements designed to make the most of the rear 16-megapixel shooter. For starters, now GS6 users can simply double tap the Home button and be transported to the camera app in less than a second. It’s a great feature that’ll take some of the angst out of candid photos. The rear camera also has optical image stabilization and a larger f/1.9 aperture that will take wider shots.

Related: Samsung Pay will work with or without NFC, so long you have a Galaxy S6

Both devices also tout the ability to capture HDR images and video, but the GS6 has an auto-HDR feature that’ll shoot with consistently better photo quality.

Conclusion

The bottom line is this: Samsung’s new handset is a beauty. It’s decision to make a beautiful device come with a several trade offs. Leaving out the SD card, removable battery, and water-resistant chassis are disappointing. However, it’s a small trade off for most of us who are thrilled that Samsung stepped up its design game. This is one of the most elegant handsets of 2015 so far.