When one talks about the latest in cellphone technology it is not surprising to hear the name Apple mentioned. As a leader in the production of iconic smartphones, Apple’s iPhone has become one of the most desired devices on the market, and for good reasons. Recently however, another smartphone has given Apple a little playful competetion. In fact, Samsung’s Galaxy S3 has been given the name “the iPhone killer.” I believe that Samsung has succeeded in creating an ideal smartphone that competes with the design of Apple’s iPhone 5.
Let’s start with what defines this phone -the screen. The Galaxy S3 (GSIII) houses a 4.8 inch 1280 x 720 16M Super AMOLED Display, while the iPhone 5 has a 4 inch screen with retina display. The GSIII maximizes the surface area on the front of phone, making it feel large and luxurious. In fact, most of the front is just the screen itself; you won’t find a lot of extra trim commonly found on the iPhone. Apple had once said it was the optimum size for a smartphone, but Samsung and others are proving them wrong with their larger than life screens. The larger screen size makes the GSIII ideal for watching content and browsing the internet when both hands are free. The Galaxy S3 also offers superior media support. It can play a wider range of audio and video formats while the iPhone 5 only supports a very limited range. However, the iPhone 5’s retina display provides a more vivid viewing experience than the GSIII. Unfortunately, the larger screen size also means a shorter battery life and the inability to use the phone with one hand.
The iPhone 5 has a glass and aluminum design that is admittedly quite attractive and light. The iPhone 5 weighs 112 grams. However, the GSIII’s plastic body still manages a premium look. The plastic body also helps keep the weight of the phone down, measuring in at 133 grams. Although the Galaxy S3 feels plasticky in-hand, it is still a tough phone thanks to the Corning Gorilla Glass II used to protect the phone from the wares of day-to-day life. The iPhone 5 uses a similar strengthened glass to protect the phone, and in a drop test between the two the iPhone 5 fairs better.
Now we turn to the back and see the Galaxy S3’s 8 MP camera. The iPhone 5 also has a back facing 8 MP camera. In fact, both cameras are capable of 1080p HD video recording, auto-focus and LED flash. However, the GSIII’s front-facing camera outshines the iPhone 5’s. Samsung’s front-facing camera has a higher quality than Apple’s, shooting at 1.9 MP opposed to 1.2 MP. One new feature of the iPhone 5 is the ability to record video and take pictures at the same time, something the Galaxy S3 can do with both its rear and front-facing cameras. However, Android offers a more complete camera app. Although it appears complicated at first, the app actually gives the user much more flexibility on how they want to take photos. White balance, exposure, ISO and metering can all be adjusted and various filters can be applied. The GSIII also lets you take 20 continuous shots in seconds with Burst Shot, or choose the best out of 8 continuous shots with Best Shot.
The Galaxy S3 operates on a Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich Platform, while the iPhone 5 runs on Apple’s iOS 6. The Galaxy S3, however, is expected to get an update to Android 4.1, Jelly Bean Platform in the near future. Both of these operating systems have very different looks and levels of customization. Most users praise the iOS operating system because of its simplicity. Apple fans say it just works, without any extra effort. The Android system on the other hand has an OS that is customizable on just about every level. Android also provides more free apps, and doesn’t lock you down to one app store. Where the iPhone 5 restricts, the GSIII provides openness and customizable options. In addition, the Map app on the iOS 6 is poor. Apple recently ditched Google and in order to provide their own Map app and the result has left customers extremely annoyed. Away from the app, iOS 6 is very similar to its recent incarnations. Not much has changed from the previous versions, which to me makes the system feel a little dated. For Jelly Bean, Google has introduced a number of new features under the Project Butter to help make user interface smoother, faster and more responsive.
Lastly, the Galaxy S3 is packed with some innovative features that will probably be overlooked by the average customer. The S Beam feature of the GSIII allows the user to transfer documents, contacts, pictures, videos and music simply by placing the backs of two S Beam enabled devices together. Surprisingly though Apple opted not to install an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip in the iPhone 5, which is the technology behind the GSIII’s S Beam. The Direct Talk feature on the Galaxy S3 allows you to go from a text message directly to a phone call by simply lifting the phone to your ear. The GSIII recognizes this motion and dials the contact’s number automatically. The S Voice feature on the Galaxy S3 opens the door to more sophisticated voice commands. With S Voice you can tell the GSIII to turn off the alarm for a few more minutes, reject or answer a call, turn the music up or down, and even tell the camera when to shoot, something the iPhone’s SIRI is incapable of.
It is hard to pick a clear winner in the battle of Apple’s iPhone 5 vs. Samsung’s Galaxy S3. Both phones are very different, and both devices are not without their disadvantages. The iPhone 5 offers a neat and tidy experience that also restricts the user on many levels. The Galaxy S3 provides the customer with more openness and customizable options but is hard to use with one hand and has a shorter battery life due to the larger display. Despite these drawbacks, the GSIII suits very well against the iPhone 5, and has given Apple something to worry about. I believe the GSIII has proven to be an ideal smartphone and a good alternative to the iPhone 5, especially if money is a deciding factor.