Samsung Galaxy S3 vs iPhone 4S: Smartphone showdown

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The Samsung Galaxy S3 takes on the Apple iPhone 4S in a bid to dethrone the current smartphone king. Who comes out on top in this epic clash of the titans?

The iPhone 4S is indisputably the people's smartphone champion. Thanks to it's looks, functionality, and features, it's remained firmly on top of the smartphone world since it's release on October 14th last year. Despite a plethora of commendable challengers, such as the Samsung Galaxy S2, the Nokia Lumia 900 and the HTC One X, the 4S remains the choice of many a discerning punter, and with good reason - it is still, arguably, the best phone on the market.

The Apple iPhone 4S is still the smartphone king, but there's always a pretender to the throne. With its all-powerful quad-core processor, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and a gigantic 4.8-inch screen, the Samsung Galaxy S3 represents the biggest challenge to the iPhone 4S' dominance so far.

 

Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Apple iPhone 4S: Build

Apple iPhone 4S

 

Antennagate rocked Apple's world for the wrong reasons after the launch of the iPhone 4, so we were keen to see how the new design 'improves call quality' and 'reduces risk of dropout'. Both the 4S's antennas, which run around the top of the phone, can transmit and receive data, allowing for faster 3G connections. Apple claims that maximum download speed over HSDPA is 14.4Mbps – twice as fast as the iPhone 4.

In the few days we've been testing, we haven't noticed an improvement in call quality and didn't experience any dropouts. But we have definitely seen faster download speeds over 3G and quicker web page loading. We ran the SpeedTest app (on O2-UK network) and got an average of 3.34Mbps download and 1.45Mbps upload. On the older iPhone 4, on the same network in the same location, we achieved average results of 2.32Mbps download and 1.31Mbps upload.

The shape and weight is the same as the iPhone 4, sitting comfortably in the hand and looking superb. Apple's infamous build quality is on show here, the iPhone 4S looks and feels like a premium handset.

 

Samsung Galaxy S3

Available in 'Marble White' and 'Pebble Blue' (pebble... blue?!), the Galaxy S3 is sporting a curvier look than the iPhone 4S and sits in the hand nicely. It actually looks far less like it's older brother, and actually more resembles of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, both in size and contours, although the plastic finish on the back feels more premium than its predecessor.

With a 4.8-inch screen on board, the S3 isn't exactly small. Measuring 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm, the S3 is slightly longer, wider and fatter than the S2 (125.3 x 66.1 x 8.49mm), which may prove to bit a little on the large side for some although the extra thickness may actually make the S3 slightly easier to hold and less likely to slip from your hand, particularly when taking a photo.

At 133g, the S3 is very slightly heavier than the S2, although only by 3 grams, so it's barely noticeable.

 

T3 Verdict: Apple iPhone 4S

 

Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Apple iPhone 4S: Screen

Apple iPhone 4S

The 3.5-inch Retina Display is unchanged over the iPhone 4. With an 800:1 contrast ratio and 960x640p resolution – according to Apple, that’s more than the human eye can process at that size of screen – the Retina Display sets a new benchmark for mobile screens.
 
The Retina Display is a joy to use indoors and at most outdoor light levels, although it becomes reflective and difficult to admire when in direct, bright sunlight such as we’re having recently. Although adding a gratifying pop to images and videos, older applications and their icons can also appear dated and grainy on the new high-res screen – app developers will have to improve their wares for the iPhone 4.

The version we used didn't have Infinity Blade 2 installed, we tried Real Racing 2 which, to us, looked smoother than our iPhone 4 version. The keynote demo of Infinity Blade 2 was mind-blowing considering it was running on a bloomin' phone. It wowed the room. A room full of cynical hacks. Sony PSP Vita, eat your heart out.

 

Samsung Galaxy S3

The S3 one-ups the iPhone 4S and HTC One X on screen size, with an enormous 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED screen, which displays at a maximum resolution of 720 x 1280.

At 306 pixels per inch, the screen is slightly below the quality of the HTC One X and the iPhone 4S but frankly, 306ppi is still eye-searing stuff. Everything that we said about the HTC looking great because of it's size is even more true of the Samsung Galaxy S3. Once again the screen uses Super AMOLED technology, to keep the viewing angle as wide as possible.

Even under the artificial lights of the demo room, we could see that the screen was of excellent quality, but we've to try out in bright sunshine.

 

T3 Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S3

 

Samsung Galaxy S3

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