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Home / News / Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3

Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3

It's the king of Android pitted against Apple's mightiest iPhone yet. But there can be only one phone to rule them all – click on through to find out which is the victor...

Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – fight

The Samsung Galaxy S3 has enjoyed its time atop our Top 10 Smartphone list, but it always knew this day would come. Now that the dust has settled from our liveblog, we can pit the King of Android against the mightiest iPhone yet. Let’s see how they fare.

Read our iPhone 5 in depth review

Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – design and build

The iPhone 5 has been given a stretch to accommodate its larger screen (more on that below), but counters that by reducing its thickness by some 18 percent to an After Eight-rivalling 7.6mm. It’s also 20 percent lighter at 112g. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is exactly a millimetre thicker than the iPhone 5 and weighs 21g more, although in its defence it should be said the screen is almost a diagonal inch larger.

Looks-wise the iPhone 5 is similar to the 4 and 4S, but the all-glass back has been given a metal centre: on the black model it’s anodised aluminium; on the white it’s raw aluminium. Other changes? The dock is now the smaller Lightning, the headphone jack has moved from the top to the bottom and the speakers are larger (and better quality, according to Apple).

Obviously which of these is the better looking phone is wholly subjective, but personally we’d sway towards the iPhone 5 based on it’s insanely solid and precise build quality, which surpasses any phone we’ve ever had the pleasure of fondling. That’s not to say that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is ugly, but it’s polycarbonate body just can’t compete with premium anodised aluminium and glass materials.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – screen

The iPhone 5 has the biggest, best screen of any iPhone yet: 4-inch as opposed to 3.5-inch, still retaining the same 326 pixels-per-inch density and now with 44 percent better colour saturation. It’s also possessed of a more movie-friendly 16:9 aspect ratio.

The Samsung Galaxy S3’s 4.8-inch Super AMOLED screen (also 16:9) looks wondrous indeed: bursting with deep contrast, vibrant colours and true blacks. The pixel density is slightly lower at around 306ppi, so if sheer sharpness is your goal the iPhone 5 has it beat. But overall we’re inclined to believe this one is simply too close to call – both are superb screens.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – OS and power

The iPhone 5 will ship with sparkling new iOS 6, which builds on previous, er, builds with improved Siri, FaceTime over 3G, Safari tab syncing over different devices and slicker Facebook integration. Google Maps has been tossed out in favour of Apple’s own map solution which offers super slick panning and zooming as well as a fancy new 3D building Flyover mode and turn-by-turn navigation.

The Galaxy S3 currently rocks Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which isn’t the newest version of the OS (Jelly Bean is expected to be available on the S3 soon), and has Samsung’s own TouchWiz UI laid over the top. Which OS you prefer is largely a matter of personal choice, but iOS is likely to benefit from its focus on a handful of devices (i.e. a lack of fragmentation) with smoother, less bug-addled performance.

UPDATE: The iPhone 5’s A6 processor has been benchmarked online and has shown to beat all the competition including the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X. Not by a massive margin mind, but enough to prove that more cores aren’t always the answer. Tight software/hardware control as seen with Apple and the iPhone/iOS combo does also make a difference. Watch this space for a full review.

The iPhone 5 sports an ARM A6 chip which keeps everything moving swiftly and smoothly (at least it did in our hands-on). The S3’s quad-core 1.4GHz processor is certainly no slouch, providing the slickest Android experience we’ve seen to date and rivalling iOS for stability. This could well prove a draw.

There’s no NFC on the iPhone 5, which is disappointing. The S3 certainly has one over on it there.

In terms of built-in storage, both phones offer 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options. But the Galaxy S3’s microSD slot means you can boost that by up to 64GB.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – camera

Both smartphones sport 8MP main cameras capable of 1080p video, and front cameras capable of 720p video. Both can take stills while shooting video.

The iPhone 5 features a new integrated panoramic shooting mode and what Apple claims is improved performance due to the sapphire crystal lens cover, improved image stabilisation and A6 CPU offering better photo processing.

The Galaxy S3 is a certified camera heavyweight, offering excellent quality, crisp detail and rich colours. This is destined to be another very close run thing, and we’ll only be able to call it when we’ve compared the two thoroughly.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – initial verdict

It’s a close thing here, it really is. The Galaxy S3 is a fantastically powerful and well-equipped phone – the finest Android has to offer. While the iPhone 5 feels sturdier and more “premium” in your hand, there are other areas (NFC, storage, screen size) where many would gladly choose the Samsung, inferior build or no. In many areas, performance is likely to be extremely similar, or things will come down to personal preference. We’ll give you our full verdict on the iPhone 5 as soon as Apple sends us a review sample – in the meantime, read our initial impression in our hands-on article.

UPDATE: The full iPhone 5 review is now live – and it’s not short.

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Profile image of Dan Grabham Dan Grabham Editor-in-Chief


Dan is Editor-in-chief of Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website.  Our Editor-in-Chief is a regular at tech shows such as CES in Las Vegas, IFA in Berlin and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as well as at other launches and events. He has been a CES Innovation Awards judge. Dan is completely platform agnostic and very at home using and writing about Windows, macOS, Android and iOS/iPadOS plus lots and lots of gadgets including audio and smart home gear, laptops and smartphones. He's also been interviewed and quoted in a wide variety of places including The Sun, BBC World Service, BBC News Online, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio 4, Sky News Radio and BBC Local Radio.

Areas of expertise

Computing, mobile, audio, smart home

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