iPhone vs. Samsung Galaxy – The Ultimate Competition
The iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3? Staunch advocates and vocal detractors heat up the tech war on both sides of the Apple and Android. Both smartphones were the most coveted mobiles of 2012 and are still ruling the markets around the world these days. So which should you buy?
The iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 were the two most successful phones of 2012 and are still the hottest mobiles in the world, but which should you buy?
A Quick Update
With the imminent arrival of iPhone 5S and the recent unveiling of Samsung Galaxy S4, it is safe to say that both the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 are about to be outshined. While the former has noticeably reduced its price tag (SIM-free for £345 from £500 starting price), the latter hasn’t budge at all (£500 for the low-end 16GB model). Typical Apple style.
Apple and Samsung have distinct approaches to handset design so it is more than just a battle between metal and plastic or hard lines against smooth curves.
Prior to the iPhone 5, the two previous iPhone models featured a hard, solid feel due to the glass panels on the front and rear. The iPhone 4S used steel for its metallic parts unlike iPhone 5 that uses aluminium. Though steel is harder, it is also heavier. With aluminium, iPhone 5 slims down to 112 g and 7.6 thick – making it a very slim and lightweight phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is structurally closer to its forebears than the iPhone 5 is because it has slightly less of an obsession with being small and thin. To keep its weight down, it uses plastic and comes with a removable rear battery cover. Most critics believe that the plastic battery cover is perilously thin, which becomes especially noticeable when you take the thing off to access the phone’s battery or micro SD memory card slot. But it cannot prove that there is something wrong with the Samsung Galaxy S3’s construction, though.
The iPhone 5 uses a comparable form of toughened glass as its front armour despite its lightweight design while the Samsung Galaxy S3 uses Corning Gorilla Glass II and can also take a pounding even if it has that plastic feel.
When it comes to shapes, the iPhone 5 is a good deal less wide - 58.6 mm against the Samsung Galaxy S3’s 70.6 mm. People with small hands view this as one of the most compelling design aspects that make them want to choose iPhone 5 at first glance. It would be quite annoying to stretch just so you can reach from one side of the Galaxy S3 screen to the other, one-handed.
iPhone 5 – black and white only
Galaxy S3 – white,black, blue, red, grey, brown
The battle of smartphones is more about its cameras rather than its audio internals. But the Galaxy S3 is a standout in this aspect not only because it its DAC superior but also because it supports Apt-X (a high-quality Bluetooth codec). You can easily convert your digital music files into the analogue signal that comes out of the headphone jack.
The iPhone 5 has a custom DAC using the Cirrus Logic 38S1077 class-D headphone amp. It cannot hide the noticeable loss of fidelity, much like listening to a lower-quality MP3 file.
Back to the core hardware, both phones have mono internal speakers. On an iPhone 5, you’ll find the speaker grilles on the bottom edge – two of them. On a Samsung Galaxy S3, the speaker is up by the camera lens.
Price and Deals
iPhone 5 – From £529 SIM-free, or £36 a month on contract
Samsung Galaxy S3 – From £391 SIM-free, or £30 a month on contract
For the budget conscious, the Galaxy 3 is a quite a steal because of its steady price drop. The iPhone 5’s wallet-sucking initial high cost is still unchanging, making it lose some points in this department.
Though they both have excellent screens, the iPhone 5’s is more widescreen – using an IPS (in-plane switching) screen technology – letting the display expand without making the phone any wider than the iPhone 4S. Less concerned with keeping the phone palm-friendly, the 720p 4.8-inch monster screen (Super AMOLED panel) of the Samsung Galaxy S3 does not compromise on size.
The Samsung Galaxy S3, however, is the king of contrast with its rich colours and deep blacks. In a dark room, the black areas on the phone’s screen will look much more convincing than the iPhone 5’s, which will take on a slightly grey-ish hue. But for the outdoors, the IPS screen of the iPhone 5’s maximum brightness is more dazzling. Its surface is a little less reflective to boot and colours appear more natural. The Galaxy S3’s Super AMOLED displays often oversaturate colours to show off what they’re capable of.
The software is as important as the hardware. If you want simplicity, go for the iOS because it might take a while to get the hang of what Android is all about. The Android, however, is more flexible and feature-packed unlike the restrictions that you would get with an iOS.
Apps and Games
The Google Play store is rapidly catching up with the Apple App Store in terms of sheer volume of apps and games. However, quality is much more important than quality in this field – and here the Apple App Store still has a clear lead.
Worth mentioning are Apple App Store’s music creation tools like the official Korg iKaossilator and its own Garageband that do not have worth alternatives on Android.
The advantage of an Android device is that you can manually install apps using their respective APK installer files – this is called side-loading. With an iPhone 5, you can only install apps from the official App Store unless you hack the phone.
The iPhone 5’s connectivity, though applicable through 3G, 4G, and some form of a Wi-Fi Direct, is limited to all the other Apple’s mobile devices only. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has an easy win because it has much better, more open connections. It uses the industry-standard microUSB port, with MHL compatibility. This lets you output video and audio from the phone to a TV, letting it function as a dinky little lounge media player.
Again, the Samsung Galaxy S3 rules this round. Underneath the plastic battery cover of the phone is a microSD slot that’ll take cards up to 64GB (£40 for a class 10 card). Want a 64GB iPhone? That’ll be £699.
Both have 8-megapixel sensors with an LED flash apiece. In practice, the iPhone 5 wins out for pure photo quality. It grabs that bit more detail, has slightly more natural-looking colour and less invasive upping of contrast. The Samsung Galaxy S3 LED flash is more powerful, however. Both phones offer a good-quality user-facing camera for video chat over Skype/FaceTime.
It can be a tough decision. Choose Samsung Galaxy S3 if you want relative open-ness, micro-SD card slot and lack of restrictions. It is also a much better media player. If money is an issue, it also takes the lead, with at least £120 savings to be made. The iPhone 5, however, is a better fit for you if you are less interested in the tech, since it is much easier to use, easier to hold and is more robust. High camera quality is also where the iPhone 5 excels. And if you don’t mind its ridiculous price tag, then go for it. Or maybe, join online competitions that offer an iPhone prize package for the lucky winners.