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Samsung Geeks | September 16, 2014

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Galaxy S3 vs iPhone 5

Galaxy S3 vs iPhone 5

In this post, we will focus on differences between functionality and features of the Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5. Before we start, we just want to make it clear that we know our domain name is “Samsung Geeks”, but that doesn’t mean that we’re total Samsung fanboys. We have a huge appreciation for all new forms of technology, no matter who makes them. If you’re expecting an Apple and iPhone bashing post with fire and brimstone, then you’ve come to the wrong place. Here, you’re just going to get an honest and personal opinion of the two most popular mobile devices on the market today.

In terms of hardware it’s difficult to compare the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S3. Why? Because they sort of fit in different size categories, and this is the first thing we should really discuss. Before that, though, here is a table of specifications between the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 for those of you who are only interested in that. But seriously – all these numbers don’t really mean anything important!

We used some pretty colours to let you know what doesn’t really matter, and what is (ever so slightly better) between the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3.

[table caption="Comparison Between Galaxy S3 vs iPhone5 Specifications"]
Parameter[attr style="width:20px"],Galaxy S3,iPhone 5
Operating System, Android 4.1 (Jellybean), iOS6
Screen Size, 4.8 inches, 4 inches
Screen Type, HD Super AMOLED (Samsung) Pentile with 16 million colours | 306ppi, IPS Retina Dispaly (Sharp) RGB Stripe with 16 million colours | 326ppi
Screen Ratio, 16:9, 16:9
Dimensions, 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm, 123.8 x 58.5 x 7.6 mm
Weight, 133 grams, 112 grams
Processor, Exynos 4412 1.4 Ghz quad core, Apple A6 Dual Core (A15)
RAM, 1GB/2GB (region specific), 1GB
FM Radio, Stereo FM with RDS, No
Rear Camera, 8 Megapixel (3264 x 2448 pixels) Autofocus with LED Flash. Fully featured with simultaneous HD Video and image shots. All the bells and whistles + a couple of extras, 8 Megapixel (3264 x 2448 pixels) Autofocus with LED Flash. Fully featured with HD video. All the bells and whistles
Front Facing Camera, 1.9MP with 30FPS 720p Recording, 1.3MP with 30FPS 720p Recording
SIM card type, Micro SIM, Nano SIM,
Microphones, 2, 3
USB, micro-USB with USB On the Go support, Proprietry Apple “Lightning” connector,
Connectivity, HSDPA 21 Mbps; HSUPA 5.76 Mbps LTE 100Mbps, DC-HSDPA 42 Mbps HSDPA 21 Mbps HSUPA 5.76 Mbps LTE 100 Mbps Rev. A up to 3.1 Mbps
WLAN, WiFi 803.11 a/b/g/n/ 2.4Ghz + Ghz | HT40 (Dual Band) | DLNA | Wifi Direct | Personal WiFi hotspot, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n  2.4Ghz + Ghz | Dual Band | WiFi Plus Cellular
Internal Memory, 16/32/64 GB, 16/32/64GB
Expandable Memory, Up to 64GB with Micro SD Card | 50GB free Drop Box | 50GB free Box.com, No
Bluetooth, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP and EDR, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP
NFC, Yes – with S-Beam and Android Beam – NFC Payment options coming soon, No
Navigation, A-GPS | GLONASS | Barometer | Geomagnetic | WiFi | Cellular, A-GPS | GLONASS | Geomagnetic | Cellular
FM Recording, Yes, No
Colours, Pebble Blue | Marble White | Garnet Red, Black | White
Battery, Lithium Ion 2100mAh (590 Hours Standby) Removable, Lithium Polymer 1440mAh (225 Hours Standby) | Not Removable[/table]

Looking at this table, from a hardware point of view, it’s clear that the Galaxy S3 has a slight advantage over the iPhone, but in terms of usability it’s not really the case.

Processors and Speed - Irrelevant 

The quad-core 1.4Ghz Exynos 4412 in the Galaxy S3 might technically be a faster processor than the dual-core A6 in the iPhone 5, but this is obsolete. The processors are powering a totally different device with a totally different operating system. The different operating systems (iOS6 in the iPhone 5 and Android 4.1 (JellyBean) in the Galaxy S3) use the resources in a totally different way so it really is impossible (or rather stupid) for anyone to claim that the CPU or RAM in one device is “better” than the other, because it may be simply down to the fact that the Galaxy S3 needs to have a faster processor because it has more heavy-load processes to cope with on Android than on iOS6.

Take this as an argument and throw it out the window. Ignore it – it’s not important. Both devices have state-of the art processors, and the speeds on both devices are stunningly lag free. Whoooosshhhhh!

iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S3

Design/Size/Screen | There is no winner

Listen, the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3 can’t really be compared on size and design either. It’s subjective, OK?

When the Galaxy S2 was released with its 4.2 inch screen, the world was maybe not quite ready for such an “enormous” device. We were at MWC during the announcement and the subsequent public viewing. Many people commented that it was just way too big to be a phone. Now, with the Galaxy Note being launched with a 5.5 inch screen… in all honesty, no one is too fussed about a larger device, people have adapted and got used to it.

Apple have realised that a 3.5 inch screen (as seen on previous iPhones) just doesn’t cut the mustard any more in terms of what you can achieve with a larger screen – so they’ve made it bigger. Hurrah! Good. Is the Galaxy S3 too big, or the iPhone 5 too small? it doesn’t matter – whatever the size is, you get used to it after about a week. Go figure!

Screen | Meh

With an IPS screen size of 4 inches and a ratio of 16:9 (which means that movies won’t have any annoying black bars (that’s nothing new, by the way)) the two devices are actually quite comparable in terms of functionality, because both device utilise all of the screen space. Yipee! The iPhone has a resolution of 1136 x 640, and although this isn’t as large as the Galaxy S3, bear in mind that the screen size is smaller, so the screensize to resolution is better over all. That means you get quality if you are one of those people who like to look at screens through a microscope – most people don’t so… it’s not important.

PenTile vs RGB Stripe is an interesting discussion. We’re being sarcastic. It’s not that interesting and for the majority it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever. There are a few people out there who have “special eyes”, to which the PenTile pixel matrix is offensive. Fair enough. On the whole – there’s no great difference and both devices are stellar!

Size | Up to you!

As gentlemen with larger-than-normal hands – a slightly larger Galaxy S3 device is naturally more suited to us than the smaller iPhone 5… but not everyone has giant hands! Not everyone wants a device that big, and not everyone needs one. With a larger screen you can do more in terms multitasking like pop-up play, but the main ones lie in video playback and web browsing. On the other hand – you could just hold you iPhone 5 a few centimeters closer and bobs your uncle… they might as well be the same size! Also, as we said earlier – you get used to whatever sized device you are using, and pretty quickly, too!

Weight | Doesn’t matter!

We don’t really think that size and weight matter all that much. The first thing anyone does when they spend bazillions of monies on a Mobile phone is get a case for it, Right? This immediately makes the device thicker and heavier. Do phones really need to get thinner and lighter? We think… nope… they’re sort of OK where they are. Still, as a technical marvel – our jaws hit the floor!

Design and Looks | Hmm…

With the Galaxy S3 – Samsung started to move the design of their products away from the rectangular, generic, predictable and boring(?) reminiscent of every-other-phone on the market. It was met with scepticism, from us and from everyone else – but now we quite like it. It’s different and looks good! We’re not convinced by the “inspired by nature” tagline, and tend to lean more towards the “inspired by patents… via nature” camp. Even so – the design on the Galaxy S3 is nice, unique and unique. Simultaneously sophisticated and smart… it doesn’t look anything like the iPhone5, but it’s not a bad looking pebbly thing at all!

Design wise, the iPhone 5 is a slightly stretched out iPhone 4s . This is by no means a bad thing – as it is undoubtedly amongst the most iconic and beautiful phones on the market. Everything is succinct, good and delicious to behold. Made entirely out of Brushed aluminium and glass… Om nom nom nom nom… you can’t really fault it.

Really there’s nothing between them – it’s totally down to preference. The fact that the iPhone5’s exterior is made exclusively of glass and aluminium is a plus over the Galaxy S3’s “hyperglazed” polymer (*caugh caugh plastic*), but by the time you’ve put a case on it – who really cares, because you’re not going to see it anyway?

Functionality / Operating System / User Interface | GS3 Edging ahead?

I think it would be fair to say that it is a tiny bit easier to use iOS than Android if you’ve never used a smartphone before. Android JellyBean comes with some really nice tutorials and an “easy mode” these days which is a plus, but with any operating system (and anything at all for that matter), it takes a little while to get used to. People who are used to using iOS will find Android a little confusing at first – and the other way round too, which is probably why there is so much iPhone bashing and Android bashing online. Does it matter? Not really. Why? Because and operating system is just a way of doing things, and what is really important is not how things are done, but what they are able to do. The good news is, that both devices can do lots.

So – What can an iPhone do (or rather iOS6) do that the Galaxy S3 (or rather Android JellyBean) can’t do?  The answer is not that much…

Check out this (slightly bias) video from “AskTheAndroidGuy” for a slightly sarcastic view of what the Galaxy S3 can to that the iPhone5 cannot:

Music | on par

Apple have announced iTunes 11, which allows music streaming to your iPhone…. but everyone has been able to do that for a long time with the likes of Spotify. Google also have “Google Music” which has allowed music streaming  for some time – though this has been limited to certain countries. With the clout iTunes has on the music industry – If I was Spotify or Pandora I would be rather worried right now. Streaming FLAC (= super good audio quality) music over LTE sounds epic… but I’d much rather save my data tariff and just use my internal memory or external memory. I know I’m not always going to get signal, and until network operators can sort that out this sort of thing doesn’t excite the senses.

Outside of Android and Google, Samsung also have the slightly less cloutless “Music Hub”, from which they boast a comparable streaming service for £/$/€9.99 per month. I think clout is probably the right word here – because when it comes to Music – Apple has it, and Samsung do not!

Navigation | Samsung + Google Win!

The Galaxy S3 boasts an onboard sensor-assisted navigation system, using the internal compass and accelerometers to detect orientation, while the barometer detects pressure (and therefore height) for a faster lock speed. It also takes data from both the (American) GPS and the (Former Soviet Union’s) GLONASS system. Pretty much – there’s not much it can’t do.

Couple that with Google Maps, one of the most advanced personal navigation tools EVER (maps , topography, satelite imagery, 3D buildings, interactive floor plans, directions, SatNav mode… etc etc) which also pulls geolocation information from WiFi networks and celltowers, the Galaxy S3 is fairly unlikely to get lost.

In the new iPhone 5, Apple have scrapped their integration of a very-watered down Google Maps and added their own version. It has some nice coloured-in 3D buildings, but it doesn’t (yet) have as much functionality as what Google have to offer.

Browser | Flash?

With iCloud Tabs you can sync between what you were browsing on Safari to your iPhone 5. The Galaxy S3… and any other Android device has been able to this with Google Chrome for some time. One difference between the two is Flash Support, which the default browser in the Galaxy S3 supports (Chrome for Android does not). This is a bit of a double edged sword, as flash is ‘on the way out’, as it is being replaced by HTML5, but it is still very much there. Benefits of flash mean that you can enjoy a truer web experience, including playing online flash games and being able to see video content on any website. The bad things are, of course, those annoying adverts.  That being said – adverts are being written in HTML5 these days so you can’t escape them.

Battery | Galaxy S3 Wins (only just)

The Galaxy S3 has a LiIon 2100mAh battery, and the iPhone 5 has a LiPo 1440mAh battery. The iPhone5 has a smaller size than the Galaxy S3 so they’re going to be about the same… about 10 hours video playback et cetera et cetera. The industry standard of “about a day” for each of these devices is fair. Not much more, not much less. Both are… pretty mediocre.

That being said – we do expect the Galaxy S3 to come out on top with battery life – with additional power saving from the built in “power saving” mode, and the more efficient quad-core processor.

What makes the Galaxy S3 slightly better here is the removable battery. After ~1000 charges, any battery will start to lose its capacity and you’ll notice that sacred 1 day of battery life dropping to a few hours. That sucks, right? Not with the Galaxy S3 – because you can simply buy an extra battery  for it (yipee!), thus extending the lifetime of the many many monies you just spent to several years instead of just a couple. There’s no downside to this, at all, and apart from a uni-body design perspective, we’re not sure why Apple doesn’t do it.

Connectivity | They’re the same!

Apple talked some jargon about “ultrafast Wireless” … we’re not really sure what that is, but LTE has been around on other phones for about 2 years, and most certainly on the Galaxy S3.

WiFi | Same deal

WiFi on a/b/g/n are pretty much standard on all new phones, so this is to be expected. The Galaxy S3 also boasts HT-40, a technology which allows using dual bandwidth over WiFi to transfer data twice as fast as anything else around, the iPhone 5 has “dual band” WiFi too, which we assume is the same thing. Jolly good – they’re the same!

NFC | Galaxy S3 win

NFC is an interesting one – with things like Android Beam and SBeam being real industry leaders. Apple have decided not to include this in the iPhone 5… which is a real shame. We really like the usecases of NFC – especially for Mobile payment, and we were really looking forward to them introducing something an NFC payment platform to push the market forward.

USB/Charger | Hmmm hrrrr

I guess one main feature of connectivity is the charger/USB cable.  Apple’s new connector “Lightning” is reversable (you can plug it in “upsidedown) and it’s still good to go) which we really really like… but micro-USB is such an industry standard that… meh. We don’t really get why they’re still using proprietry shennanigans. At least if you already have iPhone accessories you will be able to get an adaptor ($$) so you can still use them.

Camera | Same thing

Both the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S3 have an 8 mega pixel camera with backlit technology. The Galaxy S3 has a Zero Shutter Lag, and the iPhone 5 has something similar, and the hardware is really quite comparable. Why not more than 8MP? Because it’s a phone – and neither the sensors or the lenses are big enough for any more megapixels to make a huge difference.

Where Apple might have done a better job here is Apple here is in the post-capture image processing, which we assume tweaks the image to make it look better than what was actually captured. That’s good – we like that, and hopefully time will tell if that makes a difference.

The iPhone 5 also has a ‘brand new’ feature called “Panorama” which is the Panorama mode which has been in Android OS for… well… for years and year and years. The difference here, however, is that while the Galaxy S3 and other Android devices downscale each “shot” in the panorama mode to make the entire picture, the iPhone 5 makes its composite panorama out of full resolution images so the over all quality would be much better. We’re not entirely sure if this is relevant – as there’s not a sensible way to share + display a panorama image.

One of the really nice features of the Galaxy S3 is the Social Tag mode – the Galaxy S3 has automatic face recognition, which allows you to tag people you know and share pictures with them easily – it also means that you don’t have to tag them on Facebook (if you’re inclined to upload all your pictures to Facebook!). This is an extremely impressive, though somewhat Orwellian, feature which sets the Galaxy S3 apart somewhat. There are also some features like “Best Photo” on the Galaxy S3 – where it will take a series of photographs is extremely quick succession and then choose the best one for you based on optimum lighting conditions – smiles and other such things required for photographic excellence. It actually works quite well – so this is certainly a plus!

In all honesty, we’re not hugely inspired or impressed by either of the cameras, as they just do not compare to any cheap camera, and certainly not a DSLR. This is because the camera sensor and lens are just too small!

Conclusion:

Well – with the iPhone 5, Apple haven’t brought anything new to the table. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a cracking device – it just means that maybe we’re going to have to stop looking to Apple for innovation and maybe look to someone else to uncover the latest technology. We are somewhat disappointed, mainly because we really wanted to see some NFC in the iPhone5. Why? Because Apple are HUGE and they (certainly used to) pave the way in mobile tech – we wanted to see the world come round to NFC payments via smartphones, and the Iphone 5 really could have done that.

So really – the iPhone5 is just as good as the Galaxy S3 in terms of hardware. You can’t fairly compare processors and RAM, because the Operating systems use them differently. You can compare phone cameras… but the truth is that both of them suck compared to a real camera so that’s not so interesting. All that’s left is software, size and design – and that’s really up to the consumer.

In summary: The Galaxy S3 is bigger than the iPhone5. Battery life is pretty much the same, The Galaxy S3 offers some better features such as Navigation …but… well… that’s about all there is to say. Both devices are powerhouses, and both Samsung and Apple deserve a pat on the back.

But don’t take our word for it… what do you think? Let us know in the coments below!

[poll id="13"]

  • Anon

    Struggling to read the iPhone 5 tech specs?

    • SGeek

      …no?

  • http://www.facebook.com/roubalita.rouba Roubalita Rouba

    The disappointment lies in the fact that Apple since the launching of the 4s has been constantly disappointing consumers with giving them nothing new. Everybody expects Apple to innovate and they have clearly failed to do so both with the 4s and of course 5. Nothing new that was not already in the market which means it may be time for the King to take off his crown!
    PS: iPhone would not possibly have NFC because it doesn’t need it…NFC cooperates with devices of other brands and Apple never does so ;)

    • SGeek

      You raise an interesting point about possible reasons for not including NFC.

      It’s one feature which would have made the iPhone5 a perfect all round device – such a shame they missed it out. Oh well… iPhone5s!

  • nir

    the best comparison i have read (and i have read a lot) …. unbiased keeping a practical approach and ignoring “noise” from both companies …. translating the adv/disadv do daily use.
    well written

    • SGeek

      Thanks so much for your kind words – it really encourages us to keep working on the site and writing more (hopefully useful) articles!

      Dom

      • Alert

        Best comparison ever!!!

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  • EddieT

    you should state that this is the international version of the SGS 3 vs the iphone 5. this confuses US readers not familiar with both variants.

    • SGeek

      That is a very good point and I will amend the post appropriately. I hope that readers will understand after reading this that hardware specs are somewhat superfluous… in fact, they are entirely meaningless when compared to actual performance, functionality and most importantly usability. That’s the message i was trying to get across, anyway!

      Dom

  • Rick

    Amazing… the phone 4 months newer has managed to almost match the older phone. How about a comparison between the iPhone 5 and Galaxy Note 2?

    • Claudio

      You bet! Apple managed to bring something “new” that was months in the market with a higher tag price. Makes no sense to me.

  • http://ludovicurbain.blogspot.be/ Ludovic Urbain

    I think your screen comparison is wrong. MY media is 1080p or 720p, not some weird resolution made in Apple land.

    Just that will make me choose a device with a standard res over even a device with a slightly better res, when media consumption is expected.

    Other than that, flash is still very much around everywhere, it’s a definite win for anything non-anti-flash.

    The rest of the comparison is pretty much spot-on though, so thanks ;)

    • SGeek

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      I still maintain that screen size&resolution/pixelsperinch are somewhat redundant between the two devices, though I never meant to suggest completely. I often find it surprising how vocal and top-trumpsish people can get over technical statistics when it comes to screens, which often have little or no impact on every day visibility or usability. My TV can play 1080p content – and that’s quite large compared to a 4”/4.8” device. Even 720p content looks fine on a 30”+ TV!

      Sometimes I do worry about companies using technical “improvement” for the sake of bamboozling people into buying things they don’t really need with nonsensical magical jargon. HTC, for example, just announced the Droid DNA with a 440ppi 1080p screen – I don’t think I can .. I mean… why?! It’s staggeringly impressive from a technical point of view: but can we even tell the difference between the quality without a magnifying glass?

      Dom

      • http://ludovicurbain.blogspot.be/ Ludovic Urbain

        A media consumption device is always better when its resolution is a multiple of the conteny. Thus 1080p is better than 720p and both are much better than random resolution as on the iphone5.

        Our TVs should have much higher res so why would you want phones to suck too.

        Yes we can see the difference between 1200 and 2400 dpi prints without glasses.

        In conclusion. While a higher res may not be directly be used properly it is a good step forward in viewing comfort.

  • Shvets

    Hey SGeek… can i please ask you for help… i just bought a samsung note 2… although 3g is working just fine on it, none of my messengers (yahoo messenger, skype, viber, whatsapp etc.) works on it!! i don’t kow what to do… can you help me out !!!!

    thanks a ton in advance!!