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Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. S5: What's New

 Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy S6 at Mobile World Congress today (March 1) in Barcelona, Spain. While we won’t know exactly how it will fare on our benchmarks, we do know what to expect from the new phone's specs and features. Generally speaking, the Galaxy S6 is more powerful and feature-rich than their predecessor. This functionality comes at a price, however, in terms of battery life and customizability. So, just how out of date is your Galaxy S5, and should you sell it now?


Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung Galaxy S6
CPU2.5 GHz quad-core processorOcta-core processor: 2.1 GHz quad-core and 1.5 GHz quad-core
RAM2 GB3 GB
Storage16 / 32 GB; expandable via microSD32 / 64 / 128 GB; not expandable
Dimensions5.6 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches5.6 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches
Weight5.1 oz4.9 oz
Battery Capacity2,800 mAh2,550 mAh
Screen Size5.1 inches5.1 inches
Screen Resolution1920 x 10802560 x 1440
Default OSAndroid 4.4.2 KitkatAndroid 5.0 Lollipop
Ports and SlotsUSB 2.0, microSDUSB 2.0
Front Camera / Rear Camera2 MP / 16 MP5 MP / 16 MP

Tech Specs

Samsung wants to make the Galaxy S6 line even more powerful than the previous generation. The Galaxy S5 came with a 2.5-GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, either 32 or 64GB storage, and Android 4.4.2 KitKat built-in.

The Galaxy S6, by contrast, sports two processors: one quad-core 2.1-GHz and one quad-core 1.5-GHz. In theory, this will allow it to handle more applications with greater precision. It will also offer 3GB RAM and storage options of 32, 64, or 128GB and come with Android 5.0 Lollipop ready to go. (Galaxy S5 owners will also receive Lollipop as a software update.)

These increased capabilities come at a price. Although octa-core processing allows more granular app control, the lower speed could be troublesome for graphically intensive apps, such as console game ports. Furthermore, the Galaxy S6 lacks a microSD slot, meaning that you’ll have to pay up-front for expensive onboard storage, and whatever you buy, you’re stuck with. The Galaxy S5 doesn't have that restriction.

Size and Screen

At 5.6 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches, the Galaxy S5 skewed to the larger end of the smartphone scale. The Galaxy S6 is a little smaller — but not so much that anyone would notice. The S6 measures 5.6 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches.

The screen is arguably where the Galaxy S6 gets its biggest upgrade. The Galaxy S5’s screen is 5.1 inches and offered full 1920 x 1080-oixel resolution, for a pixel density of 432 ppi. The Galaxy S6 goes beyond the standard HD at 2560 x 1440-pixel resolution on a 5.1-inch screen, giving it a pixel density of 577 ppi. Both S5 and S6 use a Super AMOLED screen.

Battery Power

Until we run tests, it will be impossible to tell how the Galaxy S6’s battery compares to that of the S5. However, it’s worth pointing out that the S6 actually has a diminished battery capacity compared to its bigger brother. The Galaxy S5 offered 2,800mAh of capacity, while the S6 weighs in and 2,550mAh.

It’s worth pointing out that a smaller battery capacity does not necessarily mean reduced battery life; the primary determinant in how long a phone’s charge last is how much power it draws, not how big the battery is. Still, it’s entirely possible that you’ll have to charge your S6 a little more often than you’re used to if you currently own an S5.

Camera

Selfie enthusiasts, take heed: The Galaxy S6 was made with you in mind. The Galaxy S5 and S6 both feature 16-megapixel rear cameras, but the S6 offers a 5-MP front camera. Compare that to the 2-MP front-facing camera on the S5, and it’s easy to see how the S6 could be a boon for self-photos and video calls.

Aside from that, the Galaxy S6 has a bevy of camera software improvements that could help it take much better pictures than its predecessor. The S5 offered high dynamic range functionality, selective focus and “virtual tour shot,” which allowed users to take a 360-degree photo of their surroundings.

The Galaxy S6 includes more refined versions of all of these features, plus quick launch, low light video, improved zoom, automatic white balancing, slow- and fast-motion options and a pro mode for users who want very granular control over their photos. We will investigate the S6’s photo capabilities in a separate article, but it sounds like the phone will give users an unprecedented level of control.

Services

Last time around, Samsung highlighted how many Google services the S5 had access to (just about all of them). The S6 will retain its Google functionality, and add a number of Samsung-specific features, including S Health 4.0 and Samsung Pay. The former will help keep users fit, while the latter will let them pay in-person for goods and services wirelessly via NFC.

What’s the same?

Beyond the features described above, the Galaxy S5 and S6 have very similar feature sets. Both offer 4G LTE service, a wide variety of video and audio codecs, and a slew of sensors, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, barometer, fingerprint reader and heart rate monitor. If you could watch it or measure it on the S5, chances are you’ll be able to do it on the S6, too.

Overall, the Galaxy S6 appears to be incrementally better in terms of hardware. The real trick will be to measure their performance in a full review and see how they measure up.


Marshall Honorof is a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.zz