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iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3: S3 Declared Victor

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The Samsung Galaxy S3 has been out since May and recently met its biggest rival, the iPhone 5. The comparisons and reviews – and even some teardowns – are flying. So let’s have a crack at it too.

iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3

Because Apple is famously reticent about internals like clock speeds, RAM and processors, teardowns are necessary to see if the facts stand up to the Apple hype. So the following details aren’t coming directly from Apple’s specs sheet but what the top tech testers are discovering about the iPhone 5 after some “dissections”.

So, let’s begin. The phones, as we can see from sales figures, are hugely popular. The iPhone 5 got more than five million pre-orders in its first three days, and Samsung expects to have sold 30 million Galaxy S3 units by the end of the year.

Dimensions: The iPhone 5 is 123.8×58.6×7.6mm and 112g in weight. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is 136.6×70.6×8.6mm and weighs 133g. Ignoring sizes, as the two phones have such different screens, the iPhone 5 wins out on weight and thickness as this is how things work in the world of portable consumer electronics. One point to Apple.

Screens: The iPhone 5 has a 4”, 1,136x640p resolution screen that’s LED, IPS and TFT. It’s housed in Gorilla Glass. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a 4.8” 1,280x720p Super AMOLED screen that’s protected by Gorilla Glass 2. The iPhone 5 is easier to handle with one hand, but the S3 is way better for browsing and films, so it’s a draw here.  However according to the folks over at DisplayMate, the S3 deserves an extra point as its display is more “high tech” than the iPhone 5. The S3 shows the full gamut of NTSC versus only 72 percent in the case of the iPhone 5. Advantage: Samsung.

Connectivity: The iPhone 5 has 3G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 802. It also has that proprietary Lightning dock that you’ll just love to spend $30 on a new connector for.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 has the same connectivity of the iPhone 5 but also has Wi-Fi Direct, NFC, Wireless Charging and DNLA There’s also a “one size fits all” microUSB cable, which means you can borrow a mate’s cable regardless of the smartphone he or she has. Winner: Samsung Galaxy S3

Memory/storage: Both have 1GB of RAM, along with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. However, the Samsung Galaxy S3 wins by a mile with its up-to-64GB of microSD memory expansion. The US Samsung Galaxy S3 also has 2GB of RAM so that is another point to note. Winner: S3

Processor: While Apple won’t reveal the architecture or frequency of the chipset, it looks, thanks to tests, that it’s based on two Apple ARMv7 cores (making it somewhere between A9 and A15). The frequency can go up to 1.3GHz but generally sits at 1.06GHz, and its A6 chip is helped along by a triple-core PowerVR SGX 543MP3.

We know for a fact that the Samsung Galaxy S3 has a 1.4GHz Exynos 4412 chip with four Cortex A9 cores (international model), and the graphics is handled by a Mali-400MP GPU. There’s no contest here, although Apple fans will insist that iOS doesn’t need four cores. However, for multitasking, games and apps, the S3 should perform better (on paper at least). As for the US version of the S3, it boasts a higher clocked 1.5GHz dual-core processor. It may be short of 2 cores but it gets a 2GB dose of RAM to give it that extra kick. Winner: Samsung Galaxy S3

Camera: The pair are on a par here, with 8MP cameras with LED flash, simultaneous HD video and still capture, autofocus, touch focus, face detection, geo-tagging and image stabilisation. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has smile detection, but this doesn’t beat the iPhone 5 BSI sensor. User tests say that the iPhone 5 takes better photos in low light. One point for the iPhone 5.

Battery: The iPhone 5 has a Li-Ion 1,440mAh battery that’ll give up to eight hours of talk on 3G. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a 2,100mAh battery that gives almost 12 hours on 3G. However when it comes to real life, though, users are reporting that the iPhone 5 does live up to its specs sheet but the Samsung Galaxy S3, despite its bigger battery, can’t lay claim to more as it tops out at around 8 hours as well. So it’s another tie here.

Operating system & apps: OSs are hard to compare fairly. There’s always going to be friction between iOS and Android because it’s a matter of taste more than anything else. If you like customizing the heck out of phones, go for Android, but if you prefer something streamlined out of the box and all you want to swap is ringtones and wallpapers, chose iOS.

The iPhone 5 has the advantage of being pre-loaded with iOS 6, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S3 is still waiting for Jelly Bean in most areas though. So while we can’t compare iOS and Android, we can say that in having the latest update and its features, the iPhone 5 has an advantage over the Samsung Galaxy S3.

iOS 6 might have Facebook integration, but Android ICS gives you the same integration with every app you care to install, like Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Picasa and Imgur.

Apple Maps has become the whipping boy of the year, whereas the S3 and TouchWiz have nifty features like Palm Swipe, Direct Call, Pop-up-Play and Smart Alert. I also found Siri to be better than S-Voice, but this could all change as soon as Jelly Bean brings Google Now. Then there is Google Maps of course which is preloaded in the Winner: iPhone 5. Taking all this into account, we’ll have to call it a draw again.

Design: The iPhone 5 wins hands down. Sure, there’s no great redesign, so it’s still as classy as ever, only lighter and slimmer. Samsung used a slightly more expensive looking plastic for the S3 than it had before, but it still looks gaudy. Advantage iPhone 5.

Conclusion: The Winner: iPhone 5 gets four points and the iPhone 5 gets three. The S3 got its points for display, memory, connectivity and processor. The iPhone 5 won on camera, design and dimensions. The phones drew on battery life and OS.

Mike is the man who reviews gadgets that aren’t mainstream or products that can’t exactly be classified as consumer electronics e.g. portable talking toilets. It’s always interesting to read about the crazy products we have here in Asia that just don’t get as much publicity as they warrant.