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Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4 comparison: is the big upgrade really worth it?

samsung galaxy s6 vs s5
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The Galaxy S6 landed with a splash and it's been blowing all other phones out of the water in pretty much every way. If you're a Galaxy S4 owner and your contract is about to expire, or you're otherwise looking to upgrade, is the Galaxy S6 the phone for you, or should you just stick with your trusty Galaxy S4 and save some money? Let’s find out in our Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4 comparison.

Samsung galaxy s6 vs s4 teaser
Of course the Galaxy S6 is technically better than the two-year-old Galaxy S4, but is it worth the upgrade? / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4: Release date and price

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is available new for just over US$500 for the 32GB model. The 64GB model currently sits around US$600, and the 128GB version will still set you back upwards of US$800. It's a fantastic phone, but that's still a big asking price, and it may turn the more frugal among you away.

The Galaxy S4 has been with us for well over two years now and, in that time, its asking price has dropped to under US$300 for the 16GB model and US$350 for the 32GB model. That's a good price for what remains a great handset. It might not be getting any more Android updates, but you can at least get it up to Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4: Design and build quality

With the Galaxy S6, Samsung clearly took note of the criticisms thrown at the Galaxy S5 and, to a lesser extent, the Galaxy S4. The phone has an elegant glass front and rear with an aluminum rim. It's very shiny and elegant – perhaps too much so for some people – but it certainly oozes class more that the plastic (sorry, 'polycarbonate') Galaxy S4.

samsung galaxy s6 vs s4 design back
The Galaxy S6 has a similar shape to the S4, but a much more premium feel. / © ANDROIDPIT

Unlike other aspects of the phone – such as the display and processor – where a considerable improvement is inevitable over the two years that separate the S4 and S6, we weren't sure whether the design would be much of an improvement. Thankfully, it is, and the Galaxy S6 looks and feels like the premium phone the Galaxy S4 should've been.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S4 review 2015 5
The plastic chassis of the Galaxy S4 always undermined its claims to greatness. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4: Display

The Galaxy S6 has an impressive 5.1-inch, QHD 1440 x 2560 resolution, accommodating a massive 577 ppi. It's one of the best displays available on a current smartphone.

But the S4 still holds its own, and actually beats the Galaxy S6 in the screen-to-body ratio department, which stands at 71.91 percent compared with the S6's 70.48 percent. Beside that, the S4 display is still decent by today's standards, albeit if a little on the dim side. There is also some debate about whether the Galaxy S6 screen is large enough for the average user to fully appreciate its ppi prowess. The display is a massive improvement, sure, but not an essential reason to upgrade.

samsung galaxy s6 vs s4 display
The Galaxy S6 has a glorious display, but the S4's isn't bad. / © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4: Software

The Galaxy S6 arrived touting Android 5.0.2 Lollipop and some new TouchWiz software features, and has now been updated to 5.1.1, with Marshmallow not too far off. The Galaxy S4 sits on Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher on most carriers, and it almost certainly won't be receiving an official build of Marshmallow

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Play Store
The Galaxy S4 is now stuck on Lollipop, with no future updates planned. © ANDROIDPIT

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4: Performance

No surprises here. The Galaxy S6 wipes the floor with the Galaxy S4 in terms of hardware – a 32-bit, quad-core Snapdragon to a 64-bit, octa-core Exynos 7 chipset is a big jump. The power management of the S6's 64-bit chip also far surpasses the capabilities of the S4. 

The performance gap between the phones shows in any of the benchmarks for the Galaxy S6. The S6 scored around 69,000 on AnTuTu, whereas the Galaxy S4 came in at 29,000. However, you could make the case that for the average user all that power is unnecessary, and the Galaxy S4 will still be able to multi-task and play most smartphone games with little trouble.

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4: Camera

The Galaxy S6 is introduced some next-level camera performance. A 16 MP rear camera with optical image stabilization is complemented by a 5 MP front-facing camera with real-time HDR. The Galaxy S4 has a 13 MP rear camera, with a 2.1 MP snapper up front. So in terms of megapixel count, the S4 really not that far behind the S6, and with some software tweaks brought about by the update to Android 5.0 Lollipop, the Galaxy S4 has seen some further improvements.

samsung galaxy s6 vs s4 camera
The Galaxy S6 (pictured) has a 16 MP camera, the Galaxy S4 has a 13 MP camera. But there are more differences than the megapixels suggest. / © ANDROIDPIT

However, the S6 camera has a f1.9 aperture, which allows for better shooting in low-light conditions. It also has fast-tracking autofocus, and an infrared sensor that makes it even better at detecting light levels. The S4 lacks all these high-tech features, so if you're a committed smartphone photographer you may want to consider the Galaxy S6, which has one of the best snappers around.

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4: Battery and microSD expansion

Perhaps the biggest consideration for die-hard Samsung fans will be the absence of a microSD card slot and a smaller capacity non-removable battery in the S6. These are two of the cornerstones that Samsung has built its world domination on, and their absence will be felt by many. 

However, Samsung has promised that you'll be able to get four hours of battery out just a 10-minute charge with the Galaxy S6, which also supports wireless charging. These two perks may be enough to sway people to abandon their Galaxy S4 with its trusty removable battery.

Samsung galaxy s6 vs s4 battery
Galaxy S4 owners might be put off by the S6's lack of removable battery. / © ANDROIDPIT

The Galaxy S6 comes in 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB variants, while the Galaxy S4 only has 16 GB and 32 GB flavors. However, the latter has a microSD slot, which lets you add 128 GB more storage space. If storage is your main concern, then you can easily buy a 128 GB microSD card for your S4 rather than spend hundreds of extra dollars on a Galaxy S6. That said, the average user is unlikely to use up the full 64 GB phone storage on the Galaxy S6, let alone 128 GB.

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4: Specs

  Galaxy S6 Galaxy S4
System  Android 5.1.1 with TouchWiz Android 5.0 Lollipop (depending on carrier)
Display 5.1 inch, Super AMOLED, 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, 577 ppi 5 inch, Super AMOLED, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 441 ppi
Processor Exynos 7, 64-bit octa-core, 2.1GHz Snapdragon 600, quad-core, 1.9 GHz
Internal storage 32/64/128 GB (no microSD) 16/32 GB + microSD
Battery 2,550 mAh (non-removable), magnetic resonance wireless charging, Quick connect charging 2,600 mAh (removable)
Camera 16 MP OIS/5 MP with real-time HDR 13 MP/2.1 MP
Connectivity LTE Cat. 6, Samsung Pay and NFC payments, Bluetooth, NFC LTE Cat. 3, HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0, IrDA, NFC, USB 2.0
Dimensions 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
Weight 138 grams 130 grams
Extras Glass and aluminum construction, Gorilla Glass 4 Polycarbonate construction, Gorilla Glass 3

Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4: Verdict

The Galaxy S6 was the most powerful smartphone upon launch, and remains a force to reckoned with, but being at the bleeding edge of smartphone technology comes at a high price. We wouldn't advise buying an S4 at this point due to the fact that it will miss out on Marshmallow and any further updates, but if you already own an S4 then think about what you really want from your phone before you upgrade.

If you just want a smooth phone that'll easily multitask and run most apps and games on the Play Store today, and run the coveted Lollipop update, then there's no reason not to stick with your S4 for now. If you want to take great pictures that are done justice by the screen you view them on, along with wireless charging, fast-charging, a heartbeat sensor, and other innovative features, then the Galaxy S6 is well worth a look. Being so powerful, it's also future-proof – guaranteed to run just about any new app or game that comes out in the next few years.

Do you own a Galaxy S4? Will you be making the big jump to the Galaxy S6, or are you fine right where you are? Let us know what you think about our Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S4 comparison.

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Robert Zak

Robert Zak
UK Editor

A tech aficionado since he first picked up a NES controller, Robert has written about technology, videogames, and film across a range of sites and magazines, including Den of Geek, Gamasutra, and Computeractive. At AndroidPIT, he'll be bringing you the latest Android news and reviews from the front line in the UK.

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  • BigBear Mato Tanka B 10
    BigBear Mato Tanka B Mar 4, 2018 Link to comment

    I've owned the GS3 ,GS4,GS5 I skipped the 6's ,7's I don't like edge ie curved displays at the edges that's why I went with the GS8 Active it has a flat screen . I'm not happy with a non-removable battery but it has a 4000 mah battery .

  • Shawn 1
    Shawn May 9, 2017 Link to comment

    I had an S4 that I picked up last year for $100. Was a great phone but I stumbled upon a pretty good deal of $150 for an S6 so I made the jump. The article was right that the S4 is fine for whatever day to day tasks we need to do but the S6 does it so much faster.

  • T R 1
    T R Apr 21, 2016 Link to comment

    I have a S4 (16gb) and a S6 edge (64gb with Sony rear-cam). I use then both for gaming, and in some games the S4 performs a bit better than the S6. Both are not rooted, yet... Sadly the battery from the S4 isn't as good as it used to be :(
    Apple isn't anything for me, so I guess I have to stick with Samsung, as some others do.

  • Matthew Poon-Linnard 1
    Matthew Poon-Linnard Mar 24, 2016 Link to comment

    Hmm, to upgrade or not. I have a Samsung S4 and it is over 2 years old. Only just recently did I start having some problems with the Sim card issue that I just searched and realized everyone is having with that phone. That is sad as I really like the phone and I am debating on whether to put a piece of paper or foam inside to hold the sim card in place to stop this issue or to upgrade. I have been waiting for the phone to go on sale to upgrade as I don't have much money. Now, as for the battery part, yes, I understand why some would be so upset without the ability to swap out the battery. Now, to date, I have yet had to replace a battery in a phone. Even my current phone is giving me a full days worth of power after 2 years and I am in IT so get lots of text and calls. I even used the phone as my main camera and video while on holiday to test it out and it was great. Now, not have the option to increase memory, that causes me some concern. Yes the S6 starts with 32 and my S4 starts with 16. But I have had to use a full memory card of 32gb before and that would be one of the main issue I see with the phone. If I fill it up, would have to download to another card/device to store when on holidays. That would be the one drawback. My spouse upgraded from iPhone to S5 and there have been some issues with that phone so I won't go to an S5.

    • 1
      Niall Cummins Oct 12, 2016 Link to comment

      Hi Mathew.
      I recently had that Sim problem with my more than 2year old S4. Kept on dismounting by itself and wanted to restart the phone. Got a new Sim which was fine for a week then it started again....
      The solution was to remove the external SD card. Problem has now stopped. Not sure why though. Have bought an S6 now so don't expect to have that problem due to no card slot.
      Hope this helps a bit with your descision.

  • 2
    SlackerMcFly Feb 14, 2016 Link to comment

    No removable battery and no MicroSD slot will keep me from ever buying an S6 or even an iPhone! I put all of my music on Micro SD cards and 128 gigs of storage is not enough for me as I am constantly adding new music to my collection. Now if an S6 could read from an external hard drive while being able to charge the phone then You might have me and you just might beat out iPhone and other phone makers. But until then I will keep my S4. I might upgrade to an S5 but thats about it!

  • 1
    Chris Dec 26, 2015 Link to comment

    Look as far as I'm concerned the phone upgrade is a waste of my money at least for me. I honestly don't care about battery life since I don't use my phone that much anyways and the battery lasts me a long time for what I do use it. I don't care about picture quality as long as my phone can tale a picture. It's simple- does my phone take pictures? Does it make phone calls and let me send text messages? Does it let me surf the web? Does it let me use Facebook and Instagram? Yes it does all of those things which are the only things I care about in a smartphone so as far as I'm concerned I'll keep my S4 until the day I die and I'd totally be ok with this. I don't need the latest and greatest gadget when the one I have does everything I want it to do just fine and it's not like it will stop doing this things so while the s6 seems like a good phone I'll have to pass I just don't feel the big hype like everyone else does.

  • 1
    Scott Reynolds Nov 29, 2015 Link to comment

    SD card and battery access were concerns originally. I bought the 128 g version of s6. I will never need more storage than that. Battery lasts all day. Also comes with fast charger and is also wireless charging capable (not fast wireless though). So I am no longer worried about either. The special called build quality is overrated seeing that most people cover with a case anyways.

  • 1
    Scott Reynolds Nov 29, 2015 Link to comment

    I still prefer look of s4.

  • Timothy O'Grady 1
    Timothy O'Grady Nov 14, 2015 Link to comment

    With the s7 just a few months away, and looking very awesome I can't see much reason to upgrade now. The s4 was great, but really hasn't been able to keep up with larger apps. Also, the camera in more recent standards isn't very good (front or back). That built in battery problem is the killer though. Let's hope Samsung learned from the mistake. I'll take a phone of any width that has battery power any day over the slimmest of phones that doesn't have enough battery. Otherwise you're just carrying their luggage with you.

    See you in April 2016 #gs7

  • wasimariflone 6
    wasimariflone Nov 5, 2015 Link to comment

    Galaxy s6 is a great device. probably the best, but lack of sd card slot and that camera hump breaks the deal for me.

  • Guido Biggelaar 2
    Guido Biggelaar Nov 5, 2015 Link to comment

    I have an S4, second one. I want an S6 but that's just want. I have remained with the S4 for financial reasons and to be fair, the article is correct. The S6 boasts some nice speed and capacity but they are not enough to move me until I have to. Great article, hit the button perfectly. Importantly, I'm in the app and device business so I will definitely upgrade next time regardless. Need Marshmallow.

    GT Ohh

  • 2
    Steele Tollison Oct 5, 2015 Link to comment

    My S4 is a great-performing workhorse with a very respectible camera. I travel internationally as well as domestic areas where cell coverage is limited. I use my S4 for a LOT of photos and videos; simply swapping out my micro-SD card when it's near full. This allows me to keep shooting without worry; no concern for uploading to the cloud or plugging into a computer somewhere along my journey. I also have music, film, and other entertainment cards I slip into the phone while on long flights. I carry a spare battery because I may go for days without an opportunity to charge. In summary, the S6 TAKES AWAY ALL THIS FLEXIBILITY. I cannot endorse it because in my situation, it takes away far more than it brings to the table. If Samsung delivers valid improvements while maintaining the tools I need, I'll stay. If they force future buyers into cloud dependency, dependency on periphials, and other loss of flexibility, they'll no longer have my business.

    GT Ohh

  • 2
    Keefe Harold Oct 5, 2015 Link to comment

    When you get a new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, follow this video and transfer data from old smartphone to Galaxy S6 Edge and S6 Edge +

  • 2
    Aleksander Aslamowicz Aug 13, 2015 Link to comment

    For the last 2 years, I was using my Galaxy S4, and I loved it. Now I have just bought an S6 edge, and I am a little disappointed.
    Of course, the camera, and the new display are amazing, but I do not see huge difference on other things.
    I am missing Gallery synchronization with Dropbox, Menu functionality on left soft button, Transition effects (e.g. stack card) when moving between home screens, home screens looping (right now it stops on your last home screen, and you have to go back opposite way). I also do not like the look of new Settings, but it is only my opinion.
    I am not complaining about lack of memory card slot (of course it is a shame), because I am using cloud for storing all of my photos and videos, so even 32Gb is enough for me. Also during last 2 years, I did not have a need to replace or remove battery from my S4, so I do not care about this in new S6.
    New functions like edge nighttime display, color people edge, fast camera on (by double tap center button) are nice, but is it worth it?
    The only thing I really love in new phone is the new display, and amazing camera. The rest I treat as add-ons, that I could live without.

    GT Ohh

  • Rival 2
    Rival Jul 13, 2015 Link to comment

    I have the galaxy s4, I went to BestBuy to get the Galaxy S 6 and one of the workers had one and he was trying to show it off to me... I was not impressed yeah the screen was clear and bright and the phone was nice on the outside but who gives a crap about the outside when you always put a case on it to cover it up.. And I have a 7000 mah battery for my s4 I go 2 days without looking at a charger.. S6 is a no go I'm looking at the lg4 it has removable battery and SD and a 5.5 inch screen and just as fast as the s6 also with a clear screen

    GT OhhSteele Tollison

  • 2
    Mike Jul 10, 2015 Link to comment

    I went from an iphone to an s2 then the s4 that I have now and have always loved and needed the 2 features that the s6 does not have..
    I use the phone as a camera when I go on holidays etc and a lot of times I have to change the battery half way through the day and also back up my photos onto the sd card.. No upgrade for me at this stage..

    GT OhhSteele Tollison

  • Jason Statham 2
    Jason Statham Jun 27, 2015 Link to comment

    I'm gonna stick with s4 for now. I don't think I'll buy s6. I might wait for s7 to come out but till then I don't think there is big reason to upgrade now.

    GT OhhSteele Tollison

  • 2
    Mi dah Jun 16, 2015 Link to comment

    I love the fact I have a removable battery and a main reason for my phone choice.
    Our phones and cameras can be minipulated on command and not only by ourselves.
    Also it's another level of convenience to instantly power up.
    The removable storage again very handy and a cheap way to upgrade the phones capabilities.

    GT OhhSteele Tollison

  • 1
    Joseph Nguyen Jun 9, 2015 Link to comment

    My 2 years contract is up this coming weekend and I currently have an S4. One of the reasons, I went with Samsung over iPhone 4S at the time was because of expansion memory and removable battery. But, for the S6, these two key features won't be there???? I am sure this simple dumb mistake will cause a huge drop in sales for Samsung. As I am looking now more favorably at iPhone6+ and iWatch combination for the future. Its more secure, and probably has a more advanced cameras as well? Thinking seriously in going back to Apple now...

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