Apple iPhone 5 vs. Samsung Galaxy S III: All rise

GSMArena team, 25 October 2012.

Introduction

When we review phones we try to put them in context, and tie everything up with a snapshot of the market and the closest alternatives. Now, we usually keep droids and iPhones separate because honestly they just don't mix. But every now and then, they just cannot be kept apart. Never mind the risk of explosion.

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Apple iPhone 5 • Samsung Galaxy S III

So there you have it: the new iPhone 5 against the Samsung Galaxy S III. In case you're wondering why this has taken so long, we needed quality time with both phones - not just to get the reviews in, but actually use them day in, day out. Now we're ready to share our impressions and give you insights that will hopefully help decide which one is right for you.

The two phones are polar opposites in terms of design - starting from size, through the design language, to the OS philosophy, those two could hardly be more different.

Apple has everything tightly locked down. Perfection, as they see it, can only be achieved in their walled garden. With Android and Samsung there's little you're not allowed to tweak (but be careful what you wish for as the saying goes).

It's not a battle of light versus dark, it's a matter of values and beliefs - Zen-like perfection and simplicity versus nothing-is-off-limits freedom. Here's what kind of design choices that led to:

Apple iPhone 5 over Galaxy S III:

  • Thinner, lighter, more compact
  • More impressive build materials
  • Sharper screen with better sunlight legibility and more accurate colors
  • LTE on all models

Samsung Galaxy S III over iPhone 5:

  • Bigger, higher-res screen
  • NFC connectivity
  • Standard USB port for data transfer and charging
  • microSD card slot for (cheap) storage expansion
  • Mass storage mode, USB Host functionality
  • Native Google Maps
  • 2GB RAM in some versions

The new iPhone is taller and thinner than its predecessor, but keeps the same screen width and pixel density, and makes sure the hand feel is not impaired. Apple also went with a brand new connector design - the Lightning port. The inconvenience of yet another standard aside, it is better in every way and has allowed Apple engineers to build a more compact phone.

Samsung, on the other hand, went all out - bigger this, more of that, let's get this in too. It adhered to industry standards and the Galaxy S III has a microSD card slot and a user-accessible battery, which makes extending the phone's life easier (e.g. expanding the storage or changing the battery when the old one starts showing its age).

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Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III going head to head

The differences in ideology are apparent in the software too - Apple's design is best executed by Apple, so they made their own maps. It's not an easy task and it will take years to get them right (it's how long it has taken their competitors to get where they are today).

Samsung on the other hand take advantage of Android's open, extendable design and piled on new features. There's barely a corner left in the OS that doesn't bear their mark.

We'll start by comparing the hardware of the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S III, with the performance of the two contenders in various real-life challenges to be examined after that.

This will be a rollercoaster of a ride, so better get strapped in before jumping to the next page.

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