This month saw the debut of the iPhone 5 and the likely fall from grace of the Samsung Galaxy S3 from the top sales charts. We know the specs and have some hands-on reports now, so we can do a proper comparison.
iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3
Screen: The iPhone 5 has a 4” widescreen screen display, which changes its ratio from 3:2 to 16:9. This means a larger screen, but not a wider phone. It’s still obvious how much Apple loves its ergonomics, but this may present a problem with upscaling apps. Unoptimised apps may have to settle for showing two black bars at the ends of the screen. The Samsung Galaxy S3 screen is huge, has pretty much the same ppi as the iPhone 5, and makes watching films and playing games a sheer pleasure compared to the iPhone 5.
The two phones have different screen tech – the iPhone 5 has IPS Retina display and the Samsung Galaxy S3 has Super AMOLED. The latter makes for vivid colours and deep blacks, but IPS looks more natural and realistic. You can’t fault either screen, but neither quite live up to the display on the upcoming Nokia Lumia 920 so if anything they are fighting for tiny scraps here.
Design: The iPhone 5 is the world’s thinnest smartphone – it’s smaller, lighter and thinner than the Samsung Galaxy S3, and Cupertino is obviously still mad about utilitarian chic.
We still have the glass and aluminum combo for the iPhone 5, but the shiny trim is tinted and so looks even classier. It is simply more high end than the plastic-fantastic shiny Samsung Galaxy S3. The flagship device of a tech giant shouldn’t look like it would be more at home in a crib.
Camera: We’ll forget the bit where Tim Cook said the iPhone 5 camera makes children look happier. The new camera is, however, a thoroughly respectable 8MP offering, and is easily on a par with the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Power: On paper the Samsung Galaxy S3 1.4GHz Exynos chip should beat the iPhone 5’s A6 processor hands down, but it appears, after some benchmark tests, that it doesn’t. Some tests have shown that the dual-core A6 chip runs faster than the Samsung Galaxy S3. We’ll wait for more results before accepting this but bottom line is both are the fastest smartphones on the market now.
Connectivity: That new dock connector on the iPhone 5 means you’ll have to buy a $30 adapter to use your old iPhone accessories, but it does mean that you have a slimmer iPhone now. There’s still no extra memory capacity, removable battery or NFC. Grrr.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 has microSD support and MHL compliance which means that users can play HD video and surround sound via a HDMI cable. Users can also drag and drop files instead of messing around with syncing software. Both phones have 4G LTE support.
Verdict: The iPhone 5 seems more premium than the Samsung Galaxy S3, but the new connector, persistent lack of a memory card and a screen size that may be considered small by today’s standards is going to annoy many. The S3 is also falling in price now, starting at $99 on contract at many outlets, compared to the starting price of $199 for the iPhone 5. Otherwise, the phones are evenly matched and in many cases, OS preference will decide for many. The good thing is, you can’t go wrong with either device.