Samsung Fails to Top Apple With Its Galaxy S5

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The Mobile World Congress, one of the most important annual events for the mobile industry, is in full swing in Barcelona.

The event, which is typically a key staging ground for new product releases, has already seen its fair share of high profile new devices that are preparing to hit the market in the year ahead. And in that same spirit, South Korean smartphone giant Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF  ) also used the MWC to debut the latest version of its high end smartphone lineup – the Galaxy S5. 

As one of the best-selling high end smartphones on the planet, the Galaxy line of phones is always a threat to smartphone dynamo Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) . However after seeing what the Galaxy S5 brings to the table, Apple investors can breath a sigh of relief.

Breaking down Samsung's latest smartphone
In perusing the initial reactions to the Galaxy S5, the tech community as a whole appears to be wholly underwhelmed with Samsung's efforts here.

That's not to say that the Galaxy S5 isn't a better phone than its predecessor the S4. It is in several ways. However, Samsung failed to offer more than just incremental improvements with the device and still appears to be trailing Apple by about half a year in its product development cycle.

Source: Samsung

Looking at the hardware, the Galaxy S5's 5.1 inch display is only slightly larger than the 5 inch display from last year's model and what should be an indistinguishable difference in picture quality. The Galaxy S5 is powered by a Qualcomm SnapDragon 801 chipset. Samsung upped the specs of its rear-facing camera, improving it from 13 megapixels on the S4 to an impressive 16 megapixels in the S5, although the front-facing camera offers only 2 megapixels.  

One of the coolest features of the Galaxy S5 is that its apparently highly water resistant. Samsung claims the S5 can withstand 30 min in as deep as 3 feet of water, which although not a game-changer, is a certainly a nice plus. Beyond that, the S5 will come in four colors, three of which Apple already offers with its 5s (black, grey, and gold) plus a blue backing as well.

Samsung did play catch up with the S5, adding a fingerprint scanner like the one Apple introduced on the iPhone 5s last September. And in a nod to the emphasis on biometrics we've seen from many consumer tech names, the Galaxy S5 also features a heartbeat monitor integrated into the rear camera's flash as well.

Overall, it appears Samsung's Galaxy S5 is another strong offering that compares well with other high end smartphones like Apple's iPhone 5s and HTC's One. However, these annual product updates offering each player in the smartphone space a key opportunity to leapfrog its competition with either a new feature or some other kind of differentiator. And in that respect, the Galaxy S5 clearly falls flat.

The door is still wide open for HTC and Apple
As the first major high end smartphone launch in 2014, Samsung failed to raise the bar, which bodes poorly for the Korean electronics giant in the rest of the year.

According to reports, Apple is fast at work on the typical form factor redesign expected from the iPhone 6. Most reports agree that Apple will follow the general trajectory of the high end smartphone market with a screen size increase in this year's iPhone, which could in theory diminish one of the key differentiators between the iPhone and the Galaxy S5.

There's little question that the Galaxy S5 will sell well. According to analysts, Samsung shipped well over 60 million of the Galaxy S4 last year. However, with Apple shipping 51 million iPhone last quarter alone,  it's looking like Samsung isn't doing much to try to steal share from the likes of Apple at the highly profitable high end part of the smartphone market. And that should certainly disappoint its investors.

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Read/Post Comments (23) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 7:19 PM, VegasSmitty wrote:

    How much does Apple pay the MF to keep writing articles to glorify their toys?

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 7:58 PM, Theguvna wrote:

    This is just an opinion. The columnist must have an iPhone. Android is. Better operating system than Apple, but they refuse to accept this. I am looking forward to getting one.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 8:22 PM, chong wrote:

    Samsung device are plastic and design, can not compare to apple products.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 9:03 PM, tomdc1020 wrote:

    @ Chong

    Current generation iPhones only cost around $200 to make and that includes all labour costs. Based on the figures from Apple's annual reports, the additional costs such as R&D, marketing, packaging and operating system usually come up to between $40-$50 per device. Apple then sells the 16GB phone models to carriers at $650 each. They sell the 32GB and 64GB models to carriers at $750 and $850. Therefore, before taxes (which Apple goes to extreme measures to avoid paying), Apple collects $400 every time they sell a 16GB iPhone...and that's TWICE what they paid for the hardware. But it gets even worse. The difference in manufacturing cost between a 16Gb iPhone and a 64GB iPhone is just a measly $20 (the 64GB memory modules they use only costs $29 while the 16GB modules cost $9) Yet, Apple sells 64Gb iPhones for a whopping $200 more. So Apple is selling a $220 device for $850...That's called being 'overpriced'. And being overpriced is how Apple makes the lions share of the profits despite selling a minority fraction of the handsets and how they've managed to accumulate over $150 BILLION dollars of excess, unused cash in offshore accounts.

    The iPhone and the iPad use almost the same internal hardware minus a few radio chips. The iPad costs significantly more to make than the iPhone so it costs more to acquire than an iPhone, right? Wrong. The iPhone's price is $150 more than the iPad precisely because the US phone subsidy system exists and was offering up to $450 in phone subsidies back in 2007 when the iPhone was introduced and Apple has decided to absolutely misuse it at the expense of all consumers.

    Sure, other smartphone vendors are doing something similar on the high end. However, they're not as greedy as Apple has proven to be. For instance, Samsung's S4 actually costs significantly more to make than Apple's iPhones yet they sell them to carrier at slightly lower prices than iPhones. Furthermore, unlike Apple, the other manufacturers have offered discounts on bulk purchases made by carriers while Apple has always charged them a fixed price with no possibility of discounted prices no matter how many iPhones they buy or sell.

    Don't let the shiny metal surfaces of the iPhone trick's just aluminum (the same metal used to make foil paper), which is not an expensive metal at all.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 9:16 PM, deasystems wrote:

    @VegasSmitty: About one tenth as much as Samsung pays MF to keep writing articles to glorify its toys. You have to wonder why MF would do it.

    Oh, wait…

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 9:30 PM, babushnik wrote:


    something is only overpriced if it does not offer value commensurate with the price...

    most people agree that the overall experience of the iPhone is topnotch... and it is, therefore, NOT overpriced...

    samsung and others make nice products too... hooray for competition...

    why should apple have to apologize for making a bigger profit?

    also, you fail to point out that the iPhone has a MUCH higher resale value than the competition which easily offsets any price difference at time of purchase...

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 9:32 PM, WalterPidgeon wrote:

    Samsung's Galaxy smartphone suite of products makes Apples IPhones pale in comparison in worldwide sales. Apple is good in N. America because north americans are brainwashed to be better than the Joneses.

    The Galaxy X5 is going to be a great seller starting April 11th.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 9:41 PM, utazdevl wrote:

    What the author fails to realize is that Samsung already has the "lead" on Apple in the S4 vs. 5S debate. Apple has a large gap to fill with the introduction of their 6 (expandable memory, replaceable batter, Screen size, Camera megapixels). I am aware that Apple will likely address many of the listed items (as well as likely ignore the battery and memory stuff) but if the 6 is what the rumors have said it will be, Apple will basically be looking at a phone that is technically about even with the S5, leaving the consumer the option to choose Android or iOS yet basically get the same quality phone.

    Samsung's incremental increase from the S4 to S5 would better be noted as a "missed opportunity" to put more distance between itself and Apple's iPhone.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 9:59 PM, Baddaboom wrote:


    please..... and what do you think Samsung will sell their garbage for? You guessed it, the same price, if not more money (their note is over $700, starting price). At least Apple produces a nice design, with anodized aluminum and an operating system that doesn't crash and have to be memory dumped every two seconds to operate normally. Do you really think Samsung pays more to produce their phones? You should be ranting about Samsung's plastic garbage costing less than $100 to produce each phone, if not less than that. Design comes at a price, that's why designer sunglasses sell for many times more than the plastic generics you find at walmart, simply because they look good (durability doesn't even have to be there, but usually they are "hand crafted in italy" or whatever). Design Design Design!!!!! Why don't you idiots understand that?

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 10:37 PM, olliebeans wrote:


    Clearly you never owned an android product. IOS is garbarge. I never had your so called crashes with android as I did when i had an I CRAP. I have been using the S3 for almost 2 years now and am waiting on the note 4. If sammy flagship products were as cheap and fail as you say they are they would not be the top selling brand. I crap is just that, overpriced junk. One day you will wake up like I did and realize that crapple sux. Have fun reading this on your oblong 4 inch I crap.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 10:38 PM, tomdc1020 wrote:

    You're the idiot and exactly the kind of person apple loves screwing. The iPhones design hasn't even changed in 4 years so your design argument is rubbish. Since they are apparently spending so much on design you would think they could shrink the top and bottom bezels a little. They are ridiculously big compared to the screen size and has been that way since the first iPhone.

    You think the s4 costs less than 100 to produce? Search for iPhone 5s and Galaxy s4 manufacturing costs, the iPhone always costs less to make and more to buy.

    People that say Android crashes every 2 seconds have never used a high end Android. Almost everyone I know who owned an iPhone has switched to Android and no one has gone back. Why do you think Apple doesn't include memory expansion slots? They want to fleece customers a crazy amount for the extra space.

    You keep enjoying your outdated itoy.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 11:26 PM, ddddenis wrote:

    You can go to a bar/party/disco with your GF in a Camry or in a BMW, yes, both will give you that ride with out any problem, after all both have 4 wheels, engine and so on....the questions many wants to get a GF to a party in a Camry? well, close to zero, but the fact is, many will have no options and the Camry will be their only "choice", they will say that they prefer a Camry, they are good and so on. At the end of the day, few can get their GF in a BMW and that's ok, that's reality. There are thousands of dollars difference between them. Glad in the Cell business that difference is in hundred of dollars, and so the % market share is not similar like in the car market. Then, do you have a Galaxy because is better of because you can not afford it with out the pain in your wallet? Again, it is ok if you can't, it;s called the life.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 12:16 AM, jschlieckau wrote:

    Even IF Apple comes out with a phone that has a matching screen size, better battery, upgradable storage, widgets in the OS and is lower cost, they STILL would be behind the Galaxy S4. THE S4!!! Only brainwashed Apple fans like the author of this article would think otherwise.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 12:54 AM, deasystems wrote:

    @utazdevl: "Apple has a large gap to fill with the introduction of their 6 (expandable memory, replaceable batter, Screen size, Camera megapixels)."

    Those are excellent examples, utazdevl!

    Apple will never impose sub-optimal band-aids like SD card slots instead of copious, fast, built-in memory or replaceable batteries instead of high performance integrated batteries, or excessively large unergonomic screens, or more megapixels instead of superior function and image quality.

    "Samsung's incremental increase from the S4 to S5 would better be noted as a 'missed opportunity' to put more distance between itself and Apple's iPhone."

    Tragically delusional…

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 12:57 AM, luke30 wrote:

    Apple has incredible mind control over its customers in the United States. I've never seen anything like it.

    My favorite is a comment from a couple days ago when the S5 came out:

    "I rarely comment seriously on a subject as close to world values than this. When i see someone on my commute train with a Samsung i look at them with the same pity as the sad suit choked sad person sitting at the train table with his massive Windows plastic monstrosity, and his mouse and his disbelief. What i have came to understand is that this their reality. They don't know any different. It's like trying to battle creationism with science. You can beat people over the head with honest, well meant help and compassion, if they don't listen, move on. It's called triage. I know that one day i will live in a world with No Religion, No Windows, No android and we'll go on a mission that we may call a Star Trek."

    I mean wow. How does one explain idiotic, cult-like defenders of a consumer electronics product?It's like arguing over which blender is better, Black & Decker or Braun.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 1:00 AM, WineHouse wrote:

    Samsung certainly does spend a lot of money on advertising. Rather, that should read "shelling out for shills." The street-talk and bully-talk in these commentaries are truly humorous, as are the misspellings and bad grammar.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 1:07 AM, Nunyadambzness wrote:

    Let me be the first to say: iphone drones have become sooo damn pretentious.

    First and foremost: the article is titled how Samsung "fails" to top apple, but then the first paragraph clearly not only compares the GS5 to it's GS4 predecessor, but also clearly outlines how the Samsung DOES top the iphone 5 in features! LMAO your moniker rings true, Motley FOOLs!

    Furthermore, feature by feature the Galaxy simply outperforms the iphone for several reasons, and for layman's terms, I'm going to stay away from the new features because those speak for themselves. First of all, the fingerprint or "nipple print" feature on the iphone (which is hack-able) was released in response to the facial recognition offered as far back as the android 4.0 OS. Hell, I have that on my SG2!! and Apple still doesn't. Period.

    furthermore, the Galaxy has a non-static memory meaning you can easily transfer data and clear the memory by not only tethering, but by removing the micro SD card and loading it to ANY device. On that note: the 64 gig iphone will run you $800 vs. the Galaxy that is expandable up to 64gigs for $200! need I say more? oh, yeah, I should, just to shut the iphone drones up. The Camera is FAR superior on the Galaxy, period. Where the iphone happens to have a camera feature, the Galaxy is actually a camera that happens to be a phone. The professional features and options available on the Galaxy camera don't even get RIVALED by the iphone, not even close. Lastly, the screen on a Galaxy is an AMOLED vs. old school LCD on the iphone. So an Iphone can't even SEE the difference in the quality of the pictures taken on a Galaxy unless they view it on a MAC. Try it and see!

    Go ahead and do your research, this is the first article since Mondays release that denounces Samsung's further infringement on apple's market share. All the others will give you a better, un-biased review of each phone. And in the ones I have read, which is pretty much all of them, the Galaxy is a better phone.

    I would go as far to bet cash money (not bit-coins) that the author of this editorial is an iphone drone. : )

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 1:28 AM, tomdc1020 wrote:


    "Apple will never impose sub-optimal band-aids like SD card slots instead of copious, fast, built-in memory or replaceable batteries instead of high performance integrated batteries, or excessively large unergonomic screens, or more megapixels instead of superior function and image quality."

    Sentences like that is what make iPhone users hilarious. I'm still not sure if you're being sarcastic.

    How in the world is the iPhone battery superior because its non removable? It already has worse life than pretty much all the competition. The fact that its integrated doesn't change anything except making it more expensive to replace.

    The memory is only copious if you spend an additional $200. A card of the same size would cost less than $40... and no, having it hard wired in does not make it faster.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 4:52 AM, brazos wrote:

    Samsung needs a new design and designer! Who ever designs their phones are lacking of ideas need to go out more talk to people, age issues stuff like that. I can say this I'm a designer my self. Phone is so outdated and not stylish or man enough to handle. its more like taking a feminine side. Not like an Iphone or other phones that has a firm design. My friend has a samsung and he ditched it to get a new Iphone. Samsung lags and design issues. The name samsung gives me goosebumps.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 8:33 AM, terich22 wrote:

    Did I miss something? When is Samsung trying to catch Apple. It seems to me that there phones have been ahead for some time now. I love the plastic argument since I spend so much of my time staring at the back of my phone. No thanks. I would rather have a beautiful full HD screen with plastic on the back than a small non HD screen with a cheap metal on the back. Just my two cents. :)

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 8:47 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    @Walterpigeon (or should I say paid Samsung hack?): iPhone outsells Galaxy worldwide too:

    1. S4 sales April to Nov 2013: 40M

    2. iPhone (4s, 5c, 5s): Oct. to Dec. 2013: 51M

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2014, at 1:10 PM, deasystems wrote:


    "How in the world is the iPhone battery superior because its non removable?"

    The built-in design provides many advantages, tomdc1020. Among them are higher capacity for a given battery system volume, greater reliability, lower weight, and long life and longevity. Multiple independent tests prove the value of this design: Despite the iPhone's compact size, it provides better battery life than most of its competitors.

    "The memory is only copious if you spend an additional $200. A card of the same size would cost less than $40... and no, having it hard wired in does not make it faster."

    Built-in storage is more compact, lighter, much faster, more reliable, and much easier to manage than removable storage. It is also full function, unlike removable storage that typically can only be used for certain types of files and data. For example, most phones with removable storage do not allow the user to run apps stored on external cards. By the way, it's much easier to lose a small SD card than it is to lose a whole phone…

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2014, at 2:03 PM, jackmanKYZ wrote:

    Analytics company IHS has released its teardown report of the Samsung Galaxy S5, which also reveals an estimate of the phone's bill of materials (how much its parts cost). The Galaxy S5 costs Samsung about $256 to build, which is just slightly more than what the Galaxy S4 cost back in 2013 - $244.

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Andrew Tonner

Andrew Tonner is a tech specialist for The Motley Fool. He is a graduate of The University of Arizona with a degree in Finance.

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