Settling the score between the phone giants that rule the smartphone industry - Read on to see which phone wins
The biggest battle of the year in the smartphone wars is Apple versus Samsung, and more specifically the Samsung Galaxy S3 versus the Apple iPhone 5. These are the two hottest mobile devices available and have been involved in the biggest legal battles between mobile phone manufacturers in the industry's history.
Which Phone Should You Buy?
Legal battles aside, which manufacturer has the better phone? Of the seven areas we compared the two devices in, Samsung was the winner in four of them. The Galaxy S3 was the winner in terms of display, battery life, OS, and ecosystem. It tied in the speed category with the iPhone 5. This left the iPhone 5 winning only two of the seven categories. These were the design category, and the camera category. If making a decision solely on which mobile won the head to head challenge in most areas we discussed, the Samsung Galaxy S3 would have to be the easy choice. If you read each section however, you know that many of these categories were so close and came down to the smallest detail, that you really could be swayed towards the iPhone 5 if the mobile just seems more appealing.
A couple of things you might keep in mind when making your decision that we didn't address much in the comparison include price and which systems you are currently using. If bought as part of a contract deal which includes monthly repayment, the two devices have very similar plans available. Just as an example, Virgin Mobile Australia offers contracts for both devices starting at below $50 per month. If you decide to buy one of these mobiles outright, the iPhone can be had for about $799, while the Galaxy S3 retails for about $899 outright, not counting any special sales or deals you may find.
Also, because the two devices are so close in overall performance and quality, it may be in your best interest to go with what you're familiar with. If you have already owned an iPhone and are an avid user of the iTunes store, that's going to be one more reason to consider the iPhone 5. If you are used to the Android OS, and love the Google Play store, then that will be one more positive in the Galaxy S3 column. Either choice would have you owning one of the top two quality smartphones available today.
1st Place Winner:
Read the our full comparison below:
Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 Overall Specs Comparison:
Samsung Galaxy S3
|Size (length, width, thickness)||123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm||136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm|
|Resolution||640 x 1136 pixels||720 x 1280 pixels|
|Processor/Internals||Dual-core 1.2 GHz||Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A9|
|Camera||8 MP, 3264x2448 pixels autofocus, LED flash, Secondary 1.2 MP,
|8 MP, 3264x2448 pixels
autofocus, LED flash,
Secondary 1.9 MP,
|Connector||"Lightning" Connector||Standard USB Connector|
|Battery||Li-Po 1440 mAh (5.45 Wh)
Stand-by Up to 225 h
Talk time Up to 8 h
|Li-Ion 2100 mAh
Stand-by Up to 790 h
Talk time Up to 11 h 40 min
|Memory/Storage||1 GB RAM
16/32/64 GB storage
No memory card slot
|1 GB RAM
16/32 GB storage
MicroSD Slot (up to 64GB)
|Price||From $799 outright
(varies with plans)
|From $899 outright
(varies with plans)
Design: What's on the Outside?
Let's start with the first thing you will notice about any new mobile, its design. Both the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5 are sleek looking mobile devices with their own signature styles. Honestly, comparing one good design over another good design, especially when they look noticeably different, makes it tough to pick a winner between the two. A lot of the decision will ultimately fall to the potential owner and his or her personal preference in style.
Phone Dimensions Comparison
|Samsung Galaxy S3||Apple iPhone 5|
|Height||136.6 mm||123.8 mm|
|Width||70.6 mm||58.6 mm|
|Depth||8.6 mm||7.6 mm|
|Weight||133 g||112 g|
Overall, the iPhone 5 is a full millimetre thinner than the Galaxy S3, and nearly 16% lighter in weight. Does this make for a better design? Again, a lot has to do with personal preference. Many people will like the sleeker and more compact iPhone 5 body, but others may like the weight of the Galaxy S3 and will gladly take the extra bulk for the larger display on the S3.
The Colour Pallette
Other differences between the two designs include the colours available to customers.
iPhone 5 Colour Schemes:Currently, the iPhone 5 only comes in a black and slate or white and silver colour scheme.
Samsung Galaxy S3 colours:The Galaxy S3 offers many more colour options, including Marble White, Pebble Blue, Amber Brown, Garnet Red, Sapphire Black, and Titanium Grey - although certain colours are only available in some countries.
Mobile Quality Build
The iPhone 5's body is made of aluminium, showcasing a fine craftsmanship design, while the Samsung Galaxy S3 is made of a high strength, polycarbonate plastic. Not quite as impressive as the metal iPhone 5 body, but it does provide better scratch and scuff resistance than the iPhone 5's aluminium case. This is most noticeable when comparing the back of any coloured Galaxy S3 to the back of the black and slate version of the iPhone 5. Aluminium in general is pretty easy to scratch, but the anodised aluminium like the kind used on the back of the black iPhone 5 is extremely susceptible to wear and tear. A mobile cover or case would be a wise option for those going with the iPhone 5.
Drop Test Results:
Surprisingly, when it came to durability, the iPhone 5 surpassed the Galaxy S3 in a number of drop tests. It would have seemed like the larger size and hard plastics of the Galaxy S3 might allow it to fare better than its more delicate looking and smaller competitor, but that was not the case. The metal unibody design of the iPhone 5 held up strong in the drop tests, while the Galaxy S3 repeatedly detached its back cover during the drop (no doubt because the back cover is made to be detachable for battery and MicroSIM purposes) and also suffered worse screen damage.
Verdict & Winner: Apple
The design of the Galaxy S3 is ‘inspired by nature’ according to the designers, and this is reflected in gentle curves and a pebble like appearance, while the iPhone has a more traditional bevelled design. Both devices look fantastic, even if they look markedly different from each other. If we are forced to pick one over the other, we'll have to pick the iPhone 5 for not only its more luxury style appearance, but also for its overall durability.
The Display: LCD vs AMOLED
When it comes to the battle of the displays, it is Samsung's Galaxy S3 Super AMOLED capacitive touch screen versus Apple's iPhone 5 TFT IPS LCD backlit capacitive touch screen. To immediately put at ease those who aren't familiar with modern mobile display terminology, let's explain some of these descriptions.
AMOLED is an acronym for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. It is basically a thin layer of organic polymers that light up when an electric current runs through them. Because of this, they don't need a backlight source, which provides the advantage of making very thin displays. AMOLED screens also employ a technique where black pixels can shut off. For example, when the display registers a black colour it can power down the black pixels, which saves power and results in even deeper blacks. A super AMOLED screen provides all the same features previously mentioned, with the added benefit of improving viewing in direct sunlight. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a Super AMOLED display, which comparatively is a significant upgrade from the Galaxy S2.
The Apple iPhone 5 uses the TFT IPS LCD backlit display. LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, which means that liquid crystals are packed between glass panes which are then backlit with a light source. IPS stands for In-Plane Switching, which means that there are pixels that are parallel to the screen resulting in wider viewing angles. And TFT stands for Thin Film Transistor, which means the device has a reduced amount of electrodes per pixel due to efficient wiring. This results in clearer overall images. Now let's compare these two different displays some more.
The first thing you are going to notice is the difference in the size of the displays. Samsung is known for its large screens, and the Galaxy S3 carries on this tradition with its 4.8 inch display. Apple's iPhone 5 screen is smaller at 4 inches even, but will still please fans of older iPhone models which sported smaller 3.5 inch screens. Apple has made the claim that they increased the size of the screen to make it the perfect size for a mobile phone, and for the human thumb, saying that their wide screen 4 inch display is perfect for video viewing without letterboxing or clipping. It is much more likely they increased the size of their display to keep up with the trend of most other smartphones which are going for a bigger display these days. And although the wide screen display on the iPhone 5 is nice, it does result in two black bars, one at the top and one at the bottom of the screen, for older apps that haven’t been updated to new size.
While the Galaxy S3 has a larger screen, the iPhone 5 has retained the Retina display, squeezing an astounding 326 pixels per inch (ppi) onto the screen to produce lovely, crisp images. The Galaxy S3 does the same, with a slightly lower ppi of 302.
One unique way to judge a display is by using what is known as the Colour Gamut. The Colour Gamut defines a very specific range of colours often overlooked by the human eye, and one of the best Colour Gamut standards is the NTSC system, long used to measure colour displaying capabilities in televisions.
Color Gamut: iPhone 5 vs. Galaxy S3
Note: In a correct color gamut, the colored circles should appear as close to the squares as possible.
The iPhone 5 can show 70% of the colours from the NTSC standard, while the Galaxy S3 can show 100%. This information is good to know, but how does this reflect in real world use of these displays? Basically, the iPhone 5 provides a bright and crisp display, with powerful whites and a well-lit backlighting. The Samsung Galaxy S3 provides very vibrant colours, and deep blacks, with a more subdued but effective lighting.
Verdict & Winner: Samsung
Side by side it is hard to choose one of these mobiles over the other in terms of superior display. So we are going to give the slight edge to the Galaxy S3. With both displays offering a superb picture, we have to use the larger size of the Galaxy S3's display as the tie breaker.
Cameras: Front and Back
Cameras on mobile phones have evolved from poor quality novelty features to state of the art must haves that rival many standalone point-and-shoot digital cameras. The Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Apple iPhone 5 both have excellent cameras for the front and back as well as high quality video recording capabilities. Let's start with the basic information on both camera features.
|Samsung Galaxy S3||Apple iPhone 5|
|Flash||Single LED||Single LED|
|Resolution||3264 x 2448||3264 x 2448|
|Video||HD 1080p at 30fps.||HD 1080p at 30fps.|
Video 720p at 30 fps
Video 720p at 30 fps
For those unfamiliar with technical camera terms, aperture is basically how wide the lens is during the taking of a picture, which results in more light being processed. It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but he smaller the aperture number is, the more light it allows in. So technically the iPhone 5 allows more light in during its picture taking. A smaller aperture should give a better depth of field, but with these two mobiles running so close in aperture sizes it is hardly noticeable.
Although the hardware described for each mobile above is very similar, their operating systems and overall photography software are very different. The Galaxy S3 runs the Android OS, either the Ice Cream Sandwich version (4.0 out of the box) or the Jelly Bean version depending on updates. And the iPhone 5 ships with iOS 6.
Both these operating systems, along with the software on each device, allow their mobiles to:
- Take photos while shooting video
- Utilise grid lines
- Take panorama photos
- Use image stabilisation
- Provide easy transfer to social media sites and cloud storage.
Galaxy S3 Camera Differences:
- Live filter modes, which allows the user to add a filter while shooting instead of applying after shooting.
- The S3 also has an ISO and white balance control so a user can manually control the quality and temperature of a shot in different conditions
- A timer mode
- Voice control over the camera, allowing you to shoot a photo by saying ‘shoot’ or ‘smile’
- The ability to change shooting mode, including smile detection and macro
- Buddy Photo Share and Share Shoot options
iPhone 5 Camera Differences:
- Remarkably fast image capture
- Native app photo and video editing (crop, remove red eye, etc.)
- A dedicated shutter button
- Sapphire glass casing which provides optimal scratch resistance.
Despite being top of the line camera mobiles, both devices have their small faults. The iPhone 5 camera tends to oversaturate which results in colour contrast that is a bit higher than the actual contrast of the scene it is taking a picture of. There is also the iPhone 5's unfortunate ‘purple haze’ issue which causes purple lens flares when trying to capture images with an out-of-scene light source. The Galaxy S3 sometimes suffers from a slight blue-green tint in its photos, which isn't immediately noticeable but can cause some pictures to appear cold.
On the other hand, the iPhone 5 does very well in low light conditions, while the Galaxy S3 can have troubles in this area.
Verdict & Winner: Apple
Again, both camera packages are extremely similar to each other, and are near the top of the list compared to most other mobiles overall. But the iPhone 5 wins in the camera contest mostly due to its dedicated shutter button and erring on the side of too bright rather than not quite bright enough.
Battery Life: Long Lasting Power
Many features of the latest smartphones are constantly turned on or running in the background consuming mobile internet data and battery. Fortunately for both the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S3, their batteries are pretty decent. At casual to moderate use, they should be able to get their user throughout the day without a need for a recharge. But which of these two mobiles has the better battery?
Battery Life Comparison:
Let's take a look at the specifications of both batteries.
|Samsung Galaxy S3||Apple iPhone 5|
|Talk-time||11 hrs / 660 mins||8 hrs / 480 mins|
|Standby||790 hrs||225 hrs|
The iPhone 5 internal battery is not readily replaceable by the user and makes getting an aftermarket battery for the iPhone 5 virtually impossible. The Galaxy S3’s battery is easy to access for the user, making it relatively easy to install an aftermarket battery. The specifications of the batteries don't necessarily mean that the one with the biggest numbers, in this case the Galaxy S3, has the best battery. If everything else about the mobiles was exactly the same, then this might be true, but each mobile is running different programs, chips, OS, and more. For example, the iPhone 5 battery runs much more efficiently because iOS 6 is engineered to work alongside its hardware minimising power usage compared to its previous model the iPhone 4s.
Verdict & Winner: Samsung
The only way to really determine which the right battery is would be by referring to multiple real world tests. These tests show that the iPhone 5 generally has a talk time of up to eight hours and a standby time of up to 225 hours. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a higher talk time of up to eleven hours and forty minutes. The standby time of the Galaxy S3, 790 hours, far exceeds the iPhone 5's.
Speed: What's Under the Hood?
To run the features and software of mobiles like the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5, processors and the chip sets that house them have to be extremely fast and efficient. These are essentially the brains of the mobile and for every feature, down to the smallest task performed on these mobiles, a processor is needed to run code and make calculations. The mobile processors of old are being replaced by dual core, quad core, and more advanced processors every year. The speeds that the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3 achieve are at the top of their class, and will please anyone owning either of these mobiles. Surprisingly however, they use very different processors.
The iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S3 both have 1GB of Ram. The Galaxy S3 boasts a high powered quad core 1.4 GHz Exynos 4 chip however, while the iPhone 5 uses its custom built dual core A6 processor. On the surface it would make sense that the quad core processor of the Galaxy S3 should be significantly faster than the dual core iPhone 5 processor, but it's not that simple. For starters, the dual core processor that the iPhone 5 uses is hard to compare to other dual core processors because it is a proprietary in house design made specifically for the iPhone 5 and designed to run exclusively for that mobile's iOS and software. This makes it much more efficient than standard dual core processors. Using multiple independent industry benchmark tests, the Galaxy S3 seems to be slightly faster in most categories, but the iPhone 5 generally beats the S3 in WiFi and 4G LTE speeds.
Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing the Australian models of these mobiles is that the iPhone 5 has a single chip for data and voice for 4G LTE, while the Galaxy S3 doesn't (you’ll have to get the Samsung Galaxy S3 4G model). One thing that the Galaxy S3 has that the iPhone 5 is lacking is NFC (Near Field Communication), which allows radio communication with other nearby machines for purchasing activities and mobile to mobile sharing - such as S-Beam, the Galaxy S3’s file transfer system between local S3s.
Verdict and Winner: Tie (with Samsung taking a small lead with the 4G LTE capable S3 4G model)
OS: Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 vs iOS6
Operating systems (OS) can make or break even the most feature-packed mobile phone. What good is a mobile with loads of features if the OS and user interface(UI) make it hard to use these features, whether by being too slow, hard to use, or dated. There have been three major operating systems as of late, which have proven very popular among those owning mobile smartphones. These are Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
Of the three, Windows Phone is the newest and is still being refined. The other two operating systems, Android and iOS, are the ones used on the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Apple iPhone 5 respectively. So let's take a look at how they compare to one another.
Samsung Galaxy S3 - Android Ice-Cream Sandwich 4.0
The Samsung Galaxy S3 uses the Android OS, shipping with the Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) version, although updates to the newer Jelly Bean (4.1/4.2) version are available. This is an open source operating system used by several top smartphones today. The open source nature of Android makes it easy for programmers to independently come up with new apps for the OS, and allows users to root and customise their mobiles easily and has lead to significant updates and improvements to advance rapidly. Over the last few years many features have been developed including NFC, panorama, 4G, notification features, and social media integration, all well ahead of many mobiles with rival operating systems.
Because it is currently developed by Google, it has many Google related benefits, such as easy compatibility with Google services like Gmail and Google Now. The S3 also has S-Voice, the phone’s voice control feature that’ll help you use your phone without actually having to use your hands. In fact, the only real negatives surrounding Android aren’t with the OS in general, but have to do with hardware fragmentation. Not every mobile will have the same or compatible specs or even screen size, which often leads to some models having to use older versions of Android or to use versions that won't work to full capacity on their handsets.
For example, some modern Android based apps may not be supported on some older or less advanced Android running devices. Fortunately, this is not a problem for the Galaxy S3 which boasts top of the line specifications that take full advantage of the Android OS.
Unfortunately, you’ll find that many carriers pack Android phones with bloatware - that is, software specific to the carrier you buy the phone from. For example, an Android phone bought from Vodafone will come pre packed with Vodafone software that will connect you to Vodafone’s online portal, among other things. These programs will often run in the background and can take up a lot of space on the handset. This isn’t a problem for all carriers or if you buy it outright.
Apple iPhone 5 - iOS6
The Apple iPhone 5 uses the iOS operating system, specifically the iOS 6 version. This OS has some major differences compared to the Android OS. It is not an open source OS, but is an OS specifically made for use with the iPhone. There are pros and cons to using this type of proprietary based OS. The negatives include having to use certain Apple products or features exclusively with the iPhone 5, like iTunes as far as music and apps, which makes it slightly more difficult to move from one operating system to another (like Android to iOS).
The plus side is that many of these features have been proven to be very good products and software. For example, iPhone apps are noted for their overall superior quality to Android apps, largely due to a stringent screening process on Apple’s behalf and developers choosing to make Apple apps before Android. The closed source nature of iOS makes customising hard if not altogether impossible and jailbreaking an iPhone will render the mobile's warranty void. However, some people are perfectly fine with these limitations due to the ease and simplicity that iOS and its user interface provides. The voice activated virtual assistant Siri is another popular feature of iOS 6.
Verdict & Winner: Samsung
The Ecosystem: Apps and Accessories
Now let's compare the ecosystem, or apps and accessories, available for each of these mobile devices. We'll start with accessories. The good news for both the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Apple iPhone 5 is that they are the two most popular smartphones available today. This means accessories are readily available for both devices.
Battery Replacement - Juice Top ups:
One accessory that the Galaxy S3 has, that the iPhone 5 doesn't, is replacement or spare batteries. As mentioned before, the Galaxy S3 has a removable back cover that allows users to easily remove the battery themselves. This has resulted in several different aftermarket and manufacturer batteries to either replace the existing battery, or as a spare battery for emergencies. The same type of battery can be put in, or users can even find a battery with more durability and power to replace their existing one.
Unfortunately, the iPhone 5 does not allow for user access to the battery, and any battery replacement would have to be done directly through Apple. If done by a third party, the warranty would be voided so it might be an idea to also consider Apple Care as an extra safety net to protect an iPhone. Both mobiles have an abundance of covers to choose from.
Cases and Covers:
The iPhone, which historically has been the bestselling smartphone, probably has the most covers available due to its years-long reputation and popularity. The iPhone 5 though, introduces a new form factor and old cases and covers won’t work with it. The Galaxy S3 also has several covers and cases out as well. In fact, due to the removable back on the Galaxy S3, there are several flip cases that can entirely change out the back cover, which is great if the back ever gets damaged or scratched badly.
Cable Connectors: A standard USB cable?
The Galaxy S3 uses a standard Micro USB cord, making finding replacements easy. On the other hand, Apple strikes again with their obsession with proprietary features and uses a new cable called the Lightning. Not only is this cord specific to Apple, but it is specific to the iPhone 5 itself and any new Apple devices. Easily finding a replacement anywhere but an authorised Apple dealer will prove difficult and renders any old iPhone dock connectors or accessories redundant.
Mixing Business with Pleasure: Apps and Games
As far as apps and services are concerned, both devices beat most other mobile devices out there. The iPhone 5 has their very popular iTunes App store, and the Galaxy S3 uses the popular Google Play store. Although both services were started in 2008, the iTunes App store took an early lead in terms of the sheer number of apps made available, downloads, and overall popularity. This is because the iPhone was an immediate hit with the public when introduced, and it took some time for Android devices to reach the same levels of popularity.
One advantage the iTunes App store has over Google play is that the apps are made for one specific brand of mobile, the iPhone. This makes the apps better quality as developers like to create apps that follow the same specs for all mobiles using them. Because of hardware fragmentation, it is extremely difficult for Google Play apps to run with the same quality across all devices. This can also lead to apps being available for the iPhone long before they are available for an Android device.
As an example, the popular Jetpack Joyride game was available for a full year through the iTunes App store before it was finally made available through the Google Play store. As of now Apple has more apps available than the Google store, roughly 700,000 compared to 650,000, but this could soon change.
Because Android is an open source OS, there are more free apps available through Google Play, although the quality is generally not as good as the apps from the iTunes store, which are almost never free.
Verdict & Winner: Samsung
It's tough to figure out which ecosystem is the best choice here. The Galaxy S3 has more free apps, a replaceable battery, plenty of cases and covers, and an easy to replace Micro USB cord. The iPhone 5 has better quality apps, more apps, but does suffer some from the lack of easily replaceable battery and the very specific new Lightning cord. We'll have to go with the Galaxy S3 here.
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