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iPhone 4S vs Samsung Galaxy SIII

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We recently pitted HTC’s mid-range One S against Apple’s aging yet hugely popular iPhone 4S – two phones that are quite similar on paper.

Samsung’s recently released Galaxy SIII is making a big splash in the smartphone world right now, not just because of its large size. We know there are many people out there who are unsure which to go for, with the decision often pushed in stores to opt for the iPhone, Galaxy or HTC’s One X.

The SIII already did a number on the One X in last week’s comparison, but how will it stand up to Apple’s most recent mobile? The iPhone 4S is still one of the most popular devices around – everybody knows what it looks like and they’ve probably used one too, but Samsung’s offering is new and different.

One dwarfed by the other, yet the SIII has a big appeal not just from being brand new but also its impressive specifications list and design. We’re going to compare the two devices in detail and see which comes out on top, so sit tight and read on.

Processing Power

iPhone 4S: Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9

Galaxy SIII: Quad-Core 1.4GHz Exynos


There’s unfortunately little contest here. While Apple’s A5 chip is fast and very well matched to the iOS operating system to provide a smooth and fluid user experience, the quad-core Exynos chip in the S3 just blows it away.

As benchmarks show, the S3 will render 3D graphics and motor through multitasking of even the most demanding of apps with very few problems. If you want to play mobile games that are close to console quality, you need something as powerful as the Galaxy SIII.


iPhone 4S: 3.5” Retina Display, 960×640 resolution, 330ppi, Gorilla Glass

Galaxy SIII: 4.8-inch Super AMOLED (Pentile Matrix), 720 x 1280 pixels, 306ppi pixel density, Gorilla Glass 2

WINNER: iPhone 4S

This is a tough one, as the key factor here for many is size: would the 4.8-inch size of the S3’s screen be enough alone to make you want one over the iPhone, or to put you off it immediately? If so, you probably won’t be too bothered about the resolutions and types of screen used in each phone.

For the record, while smaller, the iPhone’s Retina Display is sharper with a higher pixel density per inch. Both are protected adequately with Gorilla Glass, with the S3 touting the newer, tougher Gorilla Glass 2. Its screen is vibrant and colourful, and if a bigger screen is for you then you’ll be impressed.

Form Factor

iPhone 4S: 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm, weighs 140g

Galaxy SIII: 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm, weighs 130g


We don’t feel right calling this one as the two phones are at opposite ends of the smartphone scale in terms of size. We’re sure the sheer size of the S3 will put many off, although we know that larger phones are now becoming the norm. On paper the S3 is thinner than the 4S and lighter too, but it’s also taller and wider.

Despite its size we prefer the rounded, natural feel of the Galaxy SIII in our palms over the squared design of the iPhone and find it easier to hold to our face even on long calls. You may prefer a smaller phone that fits nicely into your hand with – We’ll leave this one up to you to decide.


iPhone 4S: iOS 5.1 (Upgradable to iOS 6)

Galaxy SIII: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) + Samsung TouchWiz Nature UX


Samsung has done brilliantly with the latest version of TouchWiz, and we feel that it fits in with Android 4.0 very nicely. It’s quick, smooth and intuitive to use and with plenty of great features included, such as S Voice and the natural interaction options.

iOS is very straightforward to use, which is part of the reason why it’s so easy for young and old people alike to be able to understand it within minutes of first picking up an iPhone. We feel that with the S3 Samsung has struck a similar balance. At present both phones feature voice assistants – S Voice and Siri – and S Voice currently does more than Siri does. With the iOS 6 upgrade coming this Autumn Siri will learn more tricks, but for now Samsung is winning.


iPhone 4S: 8MP Rear Camera, Face Detection, HDR, Geotagging, VGA Front Camera, Full HD 1080p Video Capture

Galaxy SIII: Rear camera: 8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, Full HD Video @ 30fps. Front camera: 1.9 MP with 720p HD video


Both phones actually use the same 8-megapixel sensor, so as you might expect, still image results are similar. However, the S3’s camera app has much, much more functionality with a host of customisable options. Its front facing camera is of a much superior quality and is actually capable of taking respectable snaps and recording HD quality video.

The iPhone is an excellent camera phone, but we feel that the Galaxy SIII offers more with its expansive camera suite, clever options and settings and a very impressive macro mode for detailed close-ups.


iPhone 4S: HSDPA (14.4Mbps), Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0

Galaxy SIII: HSDPA (14.4Mbps), Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA, NFC, Wi-Fi Direct, Nearby Devices, Micro USB with MHL Support, USB On The Go


When it launched the iPhone 4S last year, Apple chose to shun the relatively new technology NFC. Since then it’s blown up, with many phones featuring it and new wireless payment methods popping up all over the place. The Galaxy SIII does feature NFC, for wireless file sharing between two devices and other contactless methods.

The S3 features many of the latest wireless file sharing features, such as Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA. Sharing files over Wi-Fi between your phone, laptop, tablet, and PC is easy thanks to S Beam which is a combination of NFC and Wi-Fi Direct. You’ve also got AllShare Direct which offers DLNA sharing between other Samsung devices, and USB on the Go, which allows you to hook up USB peripherals such as a mouse, gamepad or keyboard using an adaptor. Samsung wins here on account of having pretty much everything covered in the connectivity area.


iPhone 4S: 16/32/64GB Internal Storage, 5GB iCloud Cloud Storage (standard, can be upgraded to 10, 20 or 50GB)

Galaxy SIII: 16/32/64GB Internal Storage, 50GB Dropbox Cloud Storage, microSD card slot up to 64GB


Apple’s decision to offer cloud storage at a paid premium is starting to see them lose the fight to Android when it comes to storage. Both Samsung and HTC now partner with Dropbox to offer huge amounts of cloud storage space with new phones, and with the S3 you get ten times the amount Apple offers you at 50GB.

You’ve also got the cheap and easy option to expand your capacity with a micro SD card slot. With 32GB cards costing less than £15 (if you look hard enough), you could find yourself with close to 98GB of storage space at your disposal with the entry-level 16GB model. Those who plump for the 16GB iPhone will only have the option of paying for iCloud space to expand upon their storage. To match the 50GB of Dropbox space you’ll need to fork out £70 to Apple.


iPhone 4S: Non-removable 1432 mAh Li-Po battery: 7hrs 41 Talktime, 6hrs 56 Web Browsing, 9hrs 24 Video Playback. Overall Average: 45 Hours

Galaxy SIII: Removable 2100 mAh Li-Ion battery: 10hrs 20 Talktime, 5hrs 17 Web Browsing, 10hrs 20 Video Playback. 42 hours usage rating

WINNER: iPhone 4S

Unfortunately bigger screens and faster processors can have their drawbacks. The S3 has a removable battery which is much bigger than that of the iPhone, and as such it offers a fair bit more call time and video playback. The iPhone outstrips it for web browsing, which is presumably due to the big drain from the 4.8-inch display on the Samsung model.

GSMArena says the iPhone 4S should last 3 more hours overall with average usage from a single charge. The S3 has a trick up its sleeve with a removable battery, which allows a second battery to be purchased for around £35 for those who want to carry two around and swap them around to effectively double your battery life. However, as standard the iPhone 4S will stand you in better stead for a longer lasting smartphone.


Being released almost 9 months ago and the tech world moving as fast as it does, newer phones such as the Galaxy SIII will inevitably have newer and better parts and features. Until recently the iPhone has held its ground in terms of specifications, but now it’s easy to see that quad-core processors such as Samsung’s are outpacing it.

New features such as NFC, and Wi-Fi Direct give the S3 the edge in terms of comparison, while its S Voice feature can currently do more than Siri – although that’s going to change in a few months with the introduction of iOS 6.

Unfortunately as we found with the S3 v One X battle, Samsung loses out in the screen stakes with a less than stellar panel. That said, it’s still big and colourful, it’s just not as crisp as the iPhone’s Retina Display.

Both offer a great quality camera, but the S3 goes a little further with a number of shooting modes and manual settings which will appeal to those who like to get a bit creative with their snaps. Despite a huge battery the iPhone will outlast the Galaxy SIII, although that option of a swappable second battery may tempt some hardcore gadget fans out there.

Finally, if you’re big on music and video then the sheer amount of storage space available with the S3 easily tops the iPhone and iCloud.

We feel that despite all of this, the decision will primarily come to down to size and form for many. The Galaxy SIII is a brilliant phone, but for many it’s simply too big and cumbersome. The iPhone is perfectly palm sized, and although it’s a bit squared in terms of design, it still fits quite nicely into pretty much everybody’s hands

If size isn’t a problem for you, the Galaxy SIII is a clear winner.

Let us know your thoughts on our comments below or via our @Gadget_Helpline Twitter page or Official Facebook group.