Samsung S3 vs iPhone 4—5 day smackdown!

I got a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone this week. I’ve already posted my first impressions. How am I faring with the switch after another 3 days?


After my first day I was struggling with music syncing, headsets and learning Android—particularly the keyboard. I have made some progress.

Music syncing—sorted!

I gave up on syncing with iTunes via cable, or trying to drag and drop files—there are heaps of songs in my library, I don’t want them all on my phone all the time (I use smart playlists to mix up the music a little each time I sync). But full props to doubletwist for being exactly what people like me want. I ended up picking up airsync for wifi syncing too. And the syncing is beautiful. Playlists come through, ratings (I use ’em) come through, artwork comes through. It even auto syncs when I plug it in, and doubletwist detects when I change a playlist in iTunes.

Headsets and music controls

I ditched the headset. I tried it. I don’t like feeling like I have earplugs in. I am using the iPhone headset and it is mostly OK. A couple of gripes remain. The volume buttons don’t work. I can use the buttons on the phone, but headset buttons would be better. Play/pause, skip (double click) and skip back (triple click) work most of the time. Sometimes they don’t work. I think it depends which app is active. This is still a bit confusing.

This is not as good as the iPhone. I used to plug headphones in and slip it in my pocket and then start the music from the headset. Having to make sure I have the right app running is confusing. Likewise, sometimes I can’t turn the music off without unlocking the S3 and getting into an app.

On a positive note, the S3 has FM radio and it works great! I haven’t listened to radio in years so this is pretty cool 🙂

Music playback

I’m using the doubletwist player and it works very well. It has a ‘play next in queue’ option which I’ve always wanted in the iPod app! That’s a win. And my iPhone has been skipping and distorting on some tracks—that hasn’t happened on android. Music playback is awesome, just the headset controls aren’t quite so good. But I can live with this ~:)


The keyboard situation is much improved. The predictive text is still good. I installed and switched to the go keyboard and it’s a nice improvement. Double space adds a full stop again! It also supports swipe/sweep to type. I’m not going to explain it here, but it’s awesome. (Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work in search boxes, regular tapping in there.) Go keyboard ftw!

Hardware functions

There’s still no hardware button for silent, but if you hold down power (about 2 seconds) you get a quick menu that has sound, vibrate, silent and flight mode options (along with power off and restart). Good menu, now that I know where it is!

New discoveries—the good and bad

Did you know a ‘Galaxy S3’ is actually a ‘Samsung GT-I9300’? This is shown in the Play Store and recorded in web stats (I had wondered what those I9xxxx entries were!), but generally I prefer product names to this throwback to model numbers. I thought an S3 was a model number… GT-I9300 feels like a component instead of a product. It’s a UX thing ~:)

I’m not sure about the plastic. It is nice and light. I think it might be picking up extra fingerprint grease. Maybe it’s the weather.

iMessage is still active on my iPhone—when it’s on wifi with an Internet connection. If my contacts send me messages from their iPhones, they get delivered by iMessage and I don’t see them on the s3 because no SMS is sent. That could get confusing!

I fixed up some ringtones, big improvement.

‘Multi-tasking’ is quite different. You can’t just open an app and have it remember what you were doing, it almost always starts from the beginning again. I only found today you can switch between running apps after holding the home button down (for 2 seconds).

Where is vibrate? I can’t get the S3 to vibrate at all! I think vibrate might be broken on my phone. Even in the settings where you can make your own vibration patterns, the phone never vibrates.

If you use a passcode to unlock the phone (I do), you can’t get into the camera in a hurry. You can get in on the iPhone without unlocking the phone. This is a shame. It kind of makes sense from a security perspective (random people can pick up iPhones and take photos!) but I wish there was a setting for it.

802.11n wireless support. That works on my router so it’s cool the S3 has it!

I wonder what else I don’t know…

Sadly every time I go to read articles about android, I find dodgy sites that ask me to do surveys or just don’t answer my question. The web seems to be full of linkbait and spam around android howto articles. I wish google would fix up their search results rankings. They make android. They make google search. I’m a customer of both and the experience here is pretty poor…


Samsung S3 ’droid—first impressions

My Samsung Galaxy SIII arrived yesterday. Last night I took the SIM from my iPhone 4 and popped it into the S3 and fired ‘er up.

The good

  • Love the large screen!
  • It is sooo light! The iPhone feels heavy by comparison.
  • Widgets! I have only just discovered these, and I’ve never been a fan on desktops but I think I like them on the phone! Especially for social media snacking 🙂
  • Almost all my iPhone apps exist on google play store and most are free (on both stores)
  • A lot of my content carried over! Cloud syncing for the win! Google apps synced (Gmail, Reader, Calendar), books (Kobo, Kindle and Google) all synced, comics (Comixology) synced
  • Comics looks awesome on the larger screen
  • Integrated stores! Apps that opted-out of Apple’s fees and removed their stores are no longer hamstrung. Kobo and Kindle in particular!
  • Nice account integration: google, twitter, facebook, dropbox
  • Dropbox is a nice addition—with 50GB more space (for 2 years) for S3 owners

There’s a lot to like!

The bad

  • iPhone headset controls sorta don’t work—play/pause works, but volume control doesn’t
  • No hardware button for silent mode—I miss it
  • Different keyboard. Augh, re-learning how to type with thumbs. Actually, the predictive text is quite good (but a mental shift). Why no auto full-stop when I double space though?
  • Clueless about android. How do I learn it?
  • Can’t spend iTunes credit—are there gift cards for google play? Do they frequently go on special? Because I never pay full price on iTunes with a 20% off gift card! 🙂

After 4 years with iOS, it’s the little things I miss. But this was a good reason for switching to ’droid, to learn something different. After one day I just feel awkward but it’s not a fair comparison.

The ugly

  • In-ear headphones—not for me thanks!
  • Unregonised device on OS X Mountain Lion. C’mon—Apple, Google, Samsung—play nice!
  • There’s no music on my phone—because I can’t get the phone to show up as a drive on OSX (see above). I dislike this!
  • iBooks… gone! I only had one iBook though.
  • Can’t watch video bought on iTunes. Game of Thrones would look so good too! MacBook it is 🙂

I really need to sort out the music and headset asap.

Other than that, keeping content in the cloud is important. The real cloud—the web—not apple’s locked in DRM video and iBooks. I really wanted to make the switch before I invested in too much content and regretted it.

The verdict?

Play more!

I haven’t ported all my apps over yet. And haven’t explored all the new apps either. More to come…