The Samsung Galaxy S5 carries on in the footsteps of its predecessors and aims to improve instead of change. The physical home button is pretty much set in stone (Samsung is doing it in tablets too), the capacitive button that used to launch the context menu now handles recent apps. Other than that, nothing has dramatically changed. The screen is only just bigger at 5.1" (up from 5 inches sharp) but the new water resistant design has required the tight-seal flap over the microUSB port. The Galaxy S5 has also swapped the hyperglaze finish for what looks and feels like leather.
The LG G2, on the other hand, had at the time of its launch the sole purpose of outclassing the Galaxy S4 in every way possible. With an almost bezel-free front, it still holds the best screen-to-surface ratio in the industry and the rear-placed physical buttons allowed an impressively clean, minimalist design.
Size-wise we're looking at 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm for the Galaxy S5 and 138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9mm for the LG G2. The two contenders are almost identical in weight, tipping the scales at 145 g and 143 g respectively.
The LG G2 fits a bigger 5.2" display in its narrower and shorter body. Some outstanding use of space has allowed LG to fit the same number of sensors above the screen. There's a front-facing camera, proximity and ambient light sensors next to the earpiece.
It works the other way around below the screen, where Samsung had to accommodate a physical Home button and a couple of capacitive keys, while the LG G2 has its controls on-screen. The side bezels are clearly a lot slimmer on the G2.
What the Samsung flagship has in its favor is overall thickness - 8.1mm as opposed to the G2's 8.9mm.
Considering the G2 was meant as a response to last season's Galaxy S4 the finish used is obviously LG's take on Samsung's hyperglaze. The S5 is a different story altogether - in terms of both styling and usability. The perforated leather-like finish is perhaps the least important part of the equation - although it certainly allows a much better grip. We do think it's a notable improvement over the glossy plastic of the S4 but everyone is free to disagree - and dislike the faux leather.
What counts is the removable battery cover - over LG's lack of power options and memory expansion. Even with a card slot and removable battery, the Galaxy S5 has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, which is one of the important upgrades over the Galaxy S4. And one the LG G2 just couldn't have anticipated.
Around back, the camera lenses are almost identically placed at the top but the camera module on the Samsung creates a prominent bulge. What's tangibly raised on the LG G2 is the power button, squeezed between the volume keys. The entire setup is comfortably placed right under the user's index finger.
Both phones use a single LED flash but the Galaxy S5 adds a heart-rate sensor on the back, just below the 16MP camera lens. The Galaxy S5's speaker grille is in the lower left corner at the back.
At the bottom, the Galaxy S5 features a microphone and the microUSB 3.0 port under a protective flap, which the phone will prompt you to close every time you unplug a cable.
The speaker of the LG G2 is located at the bottom - there's a matching grille on the other side of the microUSB port for the microphone.
The 3.5mm headphone jack is at the bottom on the LG G2 and at the top on the Samsung Galaxy S5. The former is perhaps more comfortable for connecting a headset with the phone placed on a table, while the latter is more pocket-friendly.
The flat sides of the Samsung Galaxy S5 contribute to the more angular look and feel of the device. The LG G2 is more curved with rounded corners, but that hardly makes a difference for the actual handling. Not at this screen size anyway. In fact, the glossy finish has resulted in a somewhat compromised grip.
Funny how two plastic devices are so different in terms of finish and actual feel in hand. The curvy and glossy LG G2 handles almost like a piece of glass, gliding in - and hopefully not out of - your hand. The feel of leather is quite convincing in the Galaxy S5 and - the aesthetic qualities aside - it does allow a more precise and secure hold.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S5. The LG smartphone was able to outdo Samsung's last attempt but repeating that feat would've been quite a surprise really. This one isn't decided by looks and build quality - both phones are very well made and handling quite comfortably. LG's insanely slim bezels and the rear buttons are great points in favor but the Galaxy S5 is just much better than the predecessor. Even if the G2's non-expandable memory isn't a deal-breaker, LG has nothing against Samsung's water-resistance and fingerprint scanner.