iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 October 23 2013


Which is better.... for you?

I'm sure some of you are confused. You're probably wondering why a t-shirt site like OMUNKY would even post an article such as this. As a small business owner, I spend a lot of my time using my smartphone to check emails, post status updates, and take photos. I also use my smartphone at street fairs to process credit card payments. I want a phone that can do all those things and more when I need it to. I decided to write this article to help other business owners pick the phone that is right for them, and also to the everyday person who's just curious about which one they should go with.

If you had asked me earlier this year which I liked better, the answer would go to the iPhone hands down. But then, a couple months ago, my 5 was swiped from under my nose at a street fair I was doing in NYC (these things happen). I needed a new phone, and it was either another iPhone or maybe trying something new. I decided to go with the S4. Now, as someone who has used both devices extensively, I feel I can give a very well thought out answer to which works better for you.

To give you a bit of a background here, I've had an iPhone since the 3's, I own an iPad, a Macbook Pro, and, up until a few months ago, was heavily invested in iCloud. The Samsung Galaxy is my first Android-based smartphone.

I'm more interested in talking about software in this article than hardware. If you want my quick take on that, the iPhone is better built, but I do like being able to open the back of my S4 to add a microSD card and swap out the battery. Both cameras are nice, but the S4's photos look better overall.

The Struggles

With any new technology, there is going to be a learning curve. When I took the Samsung out of the box and powered it on, I was greeted by screens that asked for my GMail accounts. This was great because it meant I wasn't starting over from scratch. But I still had a lot to learn. Luckily, I've been using GMail, Google Calendar (through iCal), and Google Drive for some time, so those easily synced with my phone. Unfortunately, my apps from my iPhone don't. This is because instead of Apple's App Store,  I would now be dealing with Google Play.

Most of the apps I needed were immediately available, such as Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, and Instagram. Some of them were not. I got over it, but it still sucked. My store is powered through Shopify, which has an amazing iPhone app, but no Droid app. This is something I wish I knew before getting my S4. But, oh well, live and learn!

The rest of the software, Samsung's Touchwiz OS, gave me little to no trouble when I started playing with it. For every piece of tech I used (and missed) on my iPhone, Google had an alternative. Here are a few key features:

iMessage and Facetime

My girlfriend was especially sad that I switched to a Droid. her biggest concern was iMessage (pictured left in iOS7). One of the perks to having a Mac, iPad, and iPhone is that all your messages sync, so you can continue the same conversation on all three devices (if you have your iCloud account setup). Sticking to regular text messaging would mean I would only be able to answer her via my phone. The answer, Google Hangouts. This app (pictured left) is available on all smartphones and tablets, and you can use it on your computer. You're also able to use it with video chats, so that takes care of Facetime. All you need is a GMail account, which pretty much everyone has anyways. 

iCalendar

This was a quick easy fix because I was using Google Calendars before I got the S4. All I had to do was move my different iCal calendars that were syncing over iCloud to my Google accounts and boom! problem solved!

Apple Maps

Come on, now you're just being silly....

Photostream

Now this was an interesting one. How does one back up photos taken with their Droid to the cloud? When you use an iPhone with Photostream turned on, it's super easy and efficient. Quite the conundrum! Turns out, I prefer using Google+ Photos. It allows you to backup all your photos from your Droid (and iPhones, if you want), and actually works a lot faster than Photostream. 

The interesting thing is that, if I plug my S4 into my Mac, I'm able to upload my photos from my phone to iPhoto. This means that, if you want, you can still use Photostream with your droid! it just won't be as fluid and, err....modern.

Siri

This one was a big deal for me. I used Siri to set reminders, schedule appointments, check the weather, and more! Sure, the Galaxy has S Voice, which does almost everything Siri does, but not quite the way I want it to. Plus, S Voice has a creepy, well, voice! She kind of sounds like if I turn my back on her she'll hit me over the head with a tire iron and  throw me in the trunk of a car! Don't do it S Voice! I want to live!

Enter Maluuba, my new favorite app on any device. Maluuba let's me do everything Siri did, including checking sports scores and movie times, and it also provides me with a calendar for the day (it syncs with my Google Calendar). It also has a cool feature that lets me see things to do around me. Overall, a great alternative to my long lost Siri. My one gripe is that it won't talk back to me. I feel so alone....

iCloud

Google pretty much invented the cloud! Everything iCloud can do, Google can do and more! All my contacts, emails, calendars, and conversations (via Google Hangouts) are synced to my Google accounts. Easy peasy! 

This isn't a Droid Fanclub

Just because I'm having a lot of fun with my S4, I don't want you to think I've just jumped ship at the first sign of newer tech. There are plenty of things I miss about my iPhone that can't be replaced with any Droid. iOS7 was very pretty and responsive, and now I can only experience it with my iPad. Everything on my iPhone just worked and setup was easy. Yes, Apple makes you use their internet browser and their calendar off the bat. But they work so well it never really bothered me. And yes you can use Google Chrome and Calendar on an iPhone. But it doesn't work as flawlessly together as when you're using native Apple Apps. When you open an email in Apple Mail that has a time for an event, you can easily add that event to iCal. Or if there is a link to click on, Safari opens it with ease.

I miss iTunes. I loved iTunes! Lately, I have been using Pandora and Spotify more, but I still have room in my heart for the place where I spent a ton of money on music, ever since I got my first iPod over 10 years ago. iPhones are amazing at playing music, especially in cars. This is a fun, albeit irritating fact, that neither Apple or Samsung tell you in their commercials. If your car has a USB port, it will only connect an iPhone to your stereo, not a Droid. This has something to do with the super expensive iPhone cables, which allow Apple products to play music in cars via USB. With their mini USB chargers, Droids do not have this ability, and you have to use an Aux port. Lame! It's not a deal breaker for me because my car doesn't even have a USB port. But it's still an interesting fact that separates the two phones. Yes, more newer cars use bluetooth, so it's not a huge deal. But it's still an interesting comparison. 

Which Should I Get?

The biggest problem with having these debates with someone else is that most people have only really used one of these phones or the other. If you don't take the time to really get to know them, how are you going to tell me which is better? That being said, here is my two cents on which phone is right for you. 

If you want a phone that just plain works (and works well) right off the bat, go with an iPhone. Not being able to understand how a phone operates can be very frustrating. iPhones are generally pretty easy to learn and use. I've heard a few people are having trouble with the changes in iOS7. Once you figure out that closing apps is a little different, it's pretty straight forward. 

The big pro and con of an iPhone is that Apple wants you to use their apps. Sure, they work great (except Apple Maps), but what if I don't want to? Safari works better on an iPhone than any other internet browser. But, in general, I prefer Firefox or Chrome to Safari on my computer (and S4). For someone who likes to use a particular browser or email client and doesn't want to do it Apple's way, this would be a great reason not to go with an iPhone.

The Galaxy lets you pick your default internet browser, mail client, maps, and more. I love using Google Chrome on my S4 because I also use Chrome on my computer. I also like that when I search for something that requires directions it knows to ask me if I want to open that up in Google Maps (pictured right). If I search for a restaurant it asks me if I want to open that up in apps like Yelp or OpenTable. Sure, the Galaxy may take a little more time to learn the ins and outs, but at the end of the day, you have a phone that's more YOU than any iPhone could ever be.

Bottom line is this. If you are heavily invested in the world of Apple, want an easy phone that you don't need or want to customize too much, and aren't looking for the latest bells and whistles, go with an iPhone 5 or 5S (or 5C if you like last year's tech and bright colors). You're going to love it! If you want a phone that requires a little more tech savviness to set up and is more customizable, go with the Galaxy S4.

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I've had a lot of fun using both phones. After using the S4 for some time now, would I go back to an iPhone? That's a tough question. I think at the moment the answer is no. I was not very impressed by the 5S when it was announced. I think I need to see more from Apple before I consider switching back. Right now, I'm pretty content with my large screen, badass camera, and awesome keyboard.

Which do you prefer and why? Also, if I missed a topic you are curious about, feel free to ask it in the comments below.