With the release of the iPhone 5, the debate of which phone to choose, the Samsung Galaxy S3 vs iPhone, is hotter than ever. I weigh in on the pros and cons with my feedback on the Samsung Galaxy S3.
To be quite honest, I generally use my phone for email, voice calls, texting, calendar and not much else. So bear with me, because this review will only focus around the usability of these items.
The iPhone 5 was just released this past Friday; I’ve been pleased with my iPhone 4 for just over 2 years now so I was sure I would love the iPhone 5, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something better out there. I was super excited when Samsung sent me the Galaxy S3 to review; the timing couldn’t be better!
My first reaction to the Samsung Galaxy S3 was that it was quite large! Compared to the iPhone 4, it must be half an inch wider and an inch or so taller. On the downside, bigger isn’t always better (albeit, the iPhone 5 is just about as large as the S3) and such a large smartphone makes it border on having the feeling of a tablet –not exactly what I’m looking for in a smartphone. That said, I have a clutch that’s perfectly sized for the iPhone 3 plus a few credit cards. With the slightly larger iPhone 4, it was a squeeze but I was still able to put my phone into it. Neither the iPhone 5 nor the Galaxy S3, which are both siginficantly larger than their predacesors, will fit into my clutch — considering that buying a new clutch in addition to a pricey new phone is not cheap, these constantly changing phone dimensions are annoying and I’m not a fan (I am sure many ladies can relate). I guess the same would apply for phone cases, which need to be constantly changed with each iteration of smartphone. On the upside, the larger Samsung screen makes for a really sweet browsing experience and the picture quality appears way more vivid than my iPhone 4.
Samsung Galaxy vs iPhone – cont’d
Once I moved through the setup process and the phone was configured, which took about a minute, I jumped to testing out the keypad (my single most favorite aspect of the iPhone). About 2.5 years ago I had a Droid X by Motorola and I didn’t last with it more than 1 month because, in part, I couldn’t stand the T9 Trace or simple typing on the keyboard (thank goodness for Verizon’s 30-day return policy!). The Droid OS on the Samsung Galaxy S3 has definitely come a long way since the OS on the Droid X and it is certainly much easier to use the keypad (much better accuracy). That said, being that I am a long time iPhone user, I was frustrated because the S3 just didn’t have all my go-to tricks that I’m used to on the iPhone, which made typing rather annoying (ex: trying to form a period with a double space). It even took me a few moments to figure out where to find the underscore symbol! And although I am sure I can switch it off, even the giveback on the keys was annoying (mostly because I am not used to it). Regarding the S3 learning how I type, in truth, I didn’t play with it long enough to see if it would start recognizing corrections –mostly because I got really frustrated that it wasn’t behaving like an iPhone and I had to take a break. So I guess my feedback is biased –but for long time Droid users, I think they will find the OS’s keyboard functionality on the S3 to be both enhanced and really user friendly and generally, they will be very pleased.
Lets move on to the many home screens (I counted 7 by default). I like the ability to have multiple screens, but I kept clicking back to the tiled apps because I found that this centralized list is the fastest way for me to find what I am looking for on the phone. I think the widgets are pretty cool if you’re thoughtful about how to configure them onto the multiple screens, however, if you only use your phone for a few basic functions (like I do), you may find the many screens and widgets to be too cluttered and, in a word, overkill.
Speaking of overkill, I think Samsung was overzealous with some of the features offered on the phone –sometimes less is more. For example, there’s a feature called “Direct Call” which will dial the contact currently opened on the phone’s screen when the device is brought near the face. I couldn’t help but wonder who I might dial accidentally if I flip through my contacts while flipping my hair. Just a thought. In any case, this feature can be disabled (as can many others), so I am glad I have a choice.
But it’s not all bad, there’s a lot to love about the S3; namely, everything Google-esque. For instance, Google Maps on the Samsung Galaxy S3 are impeccable and now that iPhone 5 no longer uses Google Maps (and Apple’s maps are severely inferior), the S3 certainly has an edge, if for that reason alone. If you live in NYC for example and you rely on your phone to show you the nearest subway station, that’s one feature the iPhone will no longer be able to provide by default. However, Google Maps, which shows all subways and can provide mass transit directions, comes standard on the S3 – a big plus.
Lets move on to email and calendar. I use Outlook Activesync. Setup was pretty straight forward. At one point the S3 asked me for my Gmail credentials to sync my contacts and calendars, but luckily, I was able to continue without it. Once my Outlook was paired with my S3, all of my contacts, calendar appointments and emails were in sync. I created a new appointment from the S3 and watched it appear on my desktop Outlook calendar. I then tried to edit an existing appointment using the S3 and it worked seamlessly. Back when I had a Motorola Droid X, I was unable to invite participants to existing calendar appointments created in Outlook. Although it has been 2.5 years since then, I was weary that I would encounter some of these same issues –I was pleasantly surprised that there were no issues at all. In fact, my favorite feature about the S3 is how seamlessly my calendar, contacts and emails synced. In particular, I liked the calendar look and feel, expecially the “year view,” which the iPhone doesn’t offer.
Lastly, I enjoyed the google search bar off the homescreen, as well as the web browing experience on the S3. As I mentioned already, even though the phone is larger than I’d like, I really liked the image quality and larger size of the S3 screen.
So what’s my final assessment on the Samsung Galaxy vs iPhone?
Sorry Samsung and Droid, I am still in love with my iPhone and iOS!
Not for nothing, this is a really good Droid. The OS has come a long way since the Motorola Droid X. If you are someone who has never had a touch screen smartphone before, you will be very happy choosing the S3 –it’s a great phone. But if you’ve had an iPhone for many years and are familiar with its tricks, there’s just too much to give up, too big of a learning curve, and not enough upside to make a switch from the Samsung to the iPhone worthwhile. For me personally, 4G would have been a key consideration for a switch, but with the iPhone 5 also on 4G, it’s pretty clear that I will be upgrading to the next-gen iPhone –maybe even this week.
Note: the image above was shot with an iPhone 4.