There’s one key advantage Android offers over the iPhone: choice.
If you’re shopping for a new Android smartphone, the possibilities are almost endless. While that can work to your benefit, it also means that it’s harder than ever to make a decision.
When it comes to Android phones, there are two main flagships competing in the market right now: the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3. Both phones come equipped with some of the best hardware on the market and have been widely received by critics.
So which one should you buy? We’ve highlighted some of the most important differences between the two.
Design and Hardware
Design ultimately comes down to personal preference, but there are a few things to consider when comparing the Galaxy S5 and LG G3. First off, the G3 is slightly bigger than the S5. If you need a larger screen, LG’s flagship may be better suited to your taste. Samsung’s phone comes with a 5.1-inch display, while the G3’s is full-on phablet status at 5.5 inches.
LG also frames the G3’s screen with extremely thin side bezels, which makes the display appear a bit larger than it already is. The Galaxy S5, by comparison, comes with chunkier bezels along its top, bottom, and sides. The LG G3 is also lacking a physical home button underneath its screen, which could be either a pro or a con depending on your personal taste.
One of the biggest physical characteristics unique to LG’s phones is what the company calls its Rear Key design. This means that the power button and volume controls are on the back of the phone, rather than on the top or along the sides. I found this placement to be a bit awkward and jarring, but some may find it easier than stretching their fingers.
Other than screen size, one of the biggest design differences you’ll notice is the material used for the back of the device. The LG G3 comes with a plastic back with a finish that makes it look like spun metal. The Galaxy S5, comparatively, features a dimpled textured back that feels slightly less premium.
In terms of hardware, the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy S5 are both equipped with top-of-the-line components. Their processors are equally fast and capable of handling your everyday needs, but there are some discrepancies when it comes to display quality.
The G3 is one of the first smartphones to come with a display with a super-high resolution of 2560 x 1440, while the S5’s display features a 1080p resolution. On paper, this means the G3’s display should be sharper than the S5’s. In everyday use, however, I didn’t see much of a difference. In fact, I preferred the S5’s display in some circumstances.
When looking at high-res photos on Flickr, the S5 displayed color more vibrantly than the G3. The Galaxy s5's display is also much brighter than that of the G3. When watching a YouTube video on the G3, it became difficult to discern details because the screen was so dim. This was especially noticeable in darker scenes.
What It’s Like To Use Them
A smartphone’s software is just as important as its hardware. If its user interface is complicated and difficult to navigate, you’re not going to enjoy using the phone. Both Samsung and LG have heavily skinned Android to include their own software features and additions. In the past, I’ve criticized both for being too cluttered and busy, but Samsung and LG have both made some improvements on this front.
Ultimately, I prefer the LG’s version of Android compared to Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay. The G3’s UI is a bit softer than Samsung’s slightly rigid interface. The company has slightly tweaked the layout — which LG calls its “Simplified UI” — to feel much cleaner and smoother. The time and weather widgets on the home screen are solid rather than transparent, which gives the OS a slicker feel. I also find the Smart Notice feature to be very useful, offering tips that are discreet enough to avoid becoming distracting, but accessible enough for me to actually read.
The softwares both have their similarities — i.e. you can run apps in separate windows on either device, and access a bunch of Quick Settings by dragging down from the top of the display. While the G2’s version of Android felt a little bit like a clone of Samsung’s, the G3 now has its own distinct feel.
Camera performance is also crucial to consider when purchasing a new phone. Both Samsung and LG have touted their respective phone’s camera as a standout feature, but in my day-to-day testing I preferred images taken with the Galaxy S5. The G3’s Laser Autofocus allows it to to zero-in on the subject of your image more quickly. But color reproduction was much more accurate and bold in photos taken with the S5. Check out some of the sample images below.
When it comes to battery life, both phones lasted for about the same amount of time. The LG G3 and Galaxy S5 were able to get through a full workday with a little battery to spare. However, since the G3 is a larger phone, I expected it to last longer. Most phablets can last for at least a day and a half on a single charge. The good news is that the the S5 and G3 both come with removable backs, so you can throw in a spare battery if your phone runs out of juice.
Conclusion: Get the LG G3
So which one is the winner? Both the Galaxy S5 and LG G3 are excellent choices for those seeking a new Android phone, but overall I preferred the LG G3. Although I criticized the phone for its Rear Key design in my review, the phone redeems itself with its much improved software, attractive design, and larger screen.
It all depends on what matters most to you. If a bigger screen is more important, go for the G3. If you’re looking for something slightly more compact that can take more colorful photos, the S5 is probably a better option. Not to mention, the S5 comes with a fingerprint sensor, meaning you won’t have to type in your password to unlock the phone — which can be an appealing bonus for some. But in terms of the overall user experience, I preferred the G3.