Return of the Galaxy S3

I said I had finished posting about android vs iPhone, but I was wrong!

I’m still waiting to return my faulty S3—yes, kogan support is that slow—and I’ve been using the Galaxy S3 again for the past week. I’ve got a couple of new comparisons to add for those interested.

Form factor: Samsung Galaxy S3 vs apple iPhone 4

Form factor is the physical size and shape of the phone. The Galaxy S3 is thinner, lighter, more slippery and has buttons in different locations.

Thick or thin?

The Galaxy S3 fits beautifully in jeans pockets. Being light, thin and slightly curved, it’s a very comfortable fit. It isn’t bendy, but it feels like it moves freely with you whereas other more chunky items—iPhones, wallets, 3DS, etc.—feel … unbendy. That’s a plus. However, when it comes to taking photos, I prefer the thickness of the iPhone 4 to the tapered sides of the Galaxy S3. It feels more solid, which I like. I feel steadier.

Hardware buttons

I find myself accidentally pressing buttons more often on the S3, particularly the power button on the side of the phone. I think apple were smart putting that button on the top out of the way. I also tend to bump the back button (bottom left corner, next to the home button) and it is quite sensitive. This can be frustrating, when you accidentally close apps you are trying to use! It doesn’t happen too often. On the other hand, I now find myself tapping uselessly on this spot on my iPhone which does nothing. It doesn’t help that the iPhone apps typically put ‘back’ in the top right corner of the screen. I still forget there is a dedicated menu button in the bottom left and frequently hunt through the UI for settings in apps, until I remember—‘there is a menu button!’

I really think the iPhone 4 nailed the button placement. I like the separate volume up and down buttons—bonus points for using the ‘+’ button as a camera shutter. I like that these buttons are circles on the iPhone—the volume rocker feels a bit thin on the S3. Everything is thin on the S3! Back to the iPhone, the power/lock button is nicely out of the way on the top and the dedicated silent button is a treat. The home buttons are about the same. It’s unfortunate I keep clicking buttons by accident on the S3, but give me time and those habits should change.

Slippin’ and slidin’

The texture and curved back on the S3 make it prone to sliding off angled surfaces, like armrests on couches. Trying to balance it on your leg is tricky, and if you use your phone as a torch at night and want to sit it on a ledge, better make sure it’s flat. You can use an S3 as a level—if it falls on the ground, the surface was not level! (I’m just joking, I don’t use it like that and neither should you!) My iPhone 4 has a bumper on it (I can’t get decent reception without a bumper) and that has good grip! Bumpers get dirty though, so that’s a downside. Still, an iPhone with bumper is more likely to stay where you place it than a Galaxy S3. Is this an issue? Depends on where you like to sit your phone ~:)

Apps—cross platform for the win

There are great apps on both, but having switched between the 2 phones (and I will be back on my iPhone when the S3 is sent back for replacement) I can’t get enough of cross platform apps. Forget iMessage, try WhatsApp on both iOS and android. It’s really good! Steer clear of iBooks—you have plenty of choice with Kobo, Kindle and Google play books (available on both). And for note taking, evernote is impressing me. I have also switched from 1password to keepass, and storing the keepass database on dropbox means it’s always available! I haven’t found an app that is like Reminders on iPhone though… any suggestions?

I’m enjoying the doubletwist music player. I’d still prefer the headset integration on the iPhone, but I like the doubletwist app better than the iPod app. It has 2 small quirks—it won’t sync ratings back to iTunes (yet? I hope) and it displays all album art as square, so some artwork is skewed. Brilliant playlist management on the go though, nice lock screen UI, and the syncing works fine!

Interestingly, google drive gives you access to all your documents on both—but it’s read only on the iPhone, while you can edit on the S3! Win!

The verdict?

Use whichever you like! There are clear differences between the devices and operating systems, but I wouldn’t recommend either over the other. It’s got to be a personal choice. We will see how my resolve is tested if/when an iPhone 5 is released. In the meantime, I think the S3 will make a fine phone and maybe I’d like an iPad for using iOS apps! But I’ll be saving money and waiting to see what apple will announce next…

All this will also depend on: how quickly kogan get a replacement phone—with working vibrate—out to me, when iOS 6 is released, when Samsung release android 4.1 Jelly Bean for the Galaxy S3. Let the race begin!

ps: I’m less convinced about the keyboard superiority now, the go keyboard is good but not without quirks ~:)


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Ben Boyle

Web developer, Dad, gamer, mentor, animator, universal design advocate, fan of gadgets and sunshine!

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