20 02 2013
Apple iPhone 4 iOS 5.1.1 vs. Samsung Galaxy S3 OS 4.1.2
You know that feeling of anticipation and excitement of using something new? You look forward to making it yours; bending it to your will and watching it deliver magical results? And then when the time comes and you feel “meh“? That.
After using the Apple iPhone 2, 3 and 4 for half a decade, I switched over to the Samsung Galaxy S3- partially involuntarily, I might add- in November 2012 after becoming frustrated with Apple’s increasing loss of focus on quality and reliability.
This isn’t the usual commercial, “shock value” or “flame generating” post. Purists and fan-boys will ask me to compare the iPhone 5 running iOS 6 with the Samsung Galaxy S3 running Jelly Bean. But I’ve used these two, in parallel, for personal, business and productivity reasons, and I’m merely describing my experiences here. I’m a techie at heart with expertise in usability and marketing, so my contrasts are going to be tainted by a bit of both. You won’t find the usual size/ color/ price/ features comparison here, but a list of the latent differences that I’ve encountered.
I’ve jailbroken my iPhone, so it has a lot of features that are otherwise missing in the traditional iPhone. I’ve given each characteristic a score from 1 (worst, awful impact) to 10 (best, makes life beautiful) based on my personal, subjective experience. This comparison is missing the “usual” characteristics that are used in other posts because they don’t matter to me as much as these do. For example, I don’t really care that the iPhone’s memory cannot be expanded with an SD card or that the Samsung Galaxy has a larger, AMOLED display.
Apple iPhone 4 iOS 5.1.1
Samsung Galaxy S3 Android 4.1.2
Limited. My phone was jailbroken & unlocked, so I could install Cydia apps that could modify the basic foundations of the phone.
Open customization. Many apps change the phone's behavior, look & feel and usage norms
Amazing. Still the undisputed king. Elegant in its simplicity, yet beautifully usable.
Rough around the edges and far from good. Simple tasks take multiple clicks and swipes
Tailored to being a phone first, then a handheld computer. As if it was developed for "humans"
Tailored to being a handheld computer, then a phone. As if it was developed for for techies
Mostly reliable, with a few glitches. Is able to connect to most wifi networks with alacrity
Highly unreliable, with rampant issues. Dozens of problems and many more "suggestions" to fix them
|SIM & network detection||02|
Frustratingly buggy. "Invalid SIM", "No service" and similar issues are rampant. Often needs repeated reboots
Practically seamless with the exception of GPRS connectivity, which is slightly buggy and non-user-friendly
Good. Selective sections can be reset, such as network, content, setting, etc.
Terrible. The entire phone needs to be reset, wiping off everything on it (VERY frustrating)
iTunes is the ideal (and only) companion. Despite its recent drop in quality and reliability, at least it works most of the time
Fragmented at best, none at worst. Samsung's Kies is purported as an alternative, but it's a usability and reliability nightmare
Very fast when performing core/ critical functions like using the dialer, SMS, email, settings, etc. (even with Cydia apps installed)
Frustratingly slow. Opening and using core/ critical apps takes 2-5 times longer than the iPhone
Nearly perfect. After a reset or wipe, iTunes restores the iPhone to its original state, including apps, their data, their location, their position, their state, etc., AUTOMATICALLY
Non-existent. After a wipe/ reset, restoration is manual at best and frustratingly pathetic. User comfort is not a consideration for Google/ Android (Titanium is paid app that needs rooting)
Practically non-existent. Two non-Apple applications cannot exchange data. A big blow for iOS
Excellent interconnectivity among applications. They are often able to talk to each other seamlessly
After unlocking the phone,takes 2-3 clicks, 2 to 2.5 seconds to call a favorite contact
After unlocking the phone,takes 4-5 clicks, 4 to 6 seconds to call a favorite contact
Applications are screened and often reliable and safe. Reviews are screened and often accurate
Applications are not screened and often unreliable, unsafe and laden with misbehavior. Reviews are not screened and are often inaccurate
|Change frequently used settings||03|
Not available without jailbreaking. Using SBSettings, the experience is better than none at all
Native support by pulling down the status bar- quick, useful and functional
|Change other settings||06|
Above average experience. Setting locations and naming conventions are intuitive and friendly
Awful experience. Settings are hidden deep inside menus and sub-menus. Naming is poor and unfriendly
Integration is limited to the Apple ecosystem, and therefore has limited business use
Practically omniscient. Google drive is beautifully integrated into almost everything, and most importantly, both on AND off the phone
Here’s an interesting video that demonstrates a difference between the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S3: http://www.indiaondemand.com/video/lHL95iUC4tw/Samsung-Galaxy-S3-vs-iPhone-4-Game-Test-Temple-Run.html. Not the entire video, but the first few seconds. Did you notice the following?
- 8 seconds into the video: See how much longer the Samsung Galaxy S3 takes to come out of sleep after the home button is pressed?
- 18 seconds into the video: See how much longer the Samsung Galaxy S3 takes to start up the game?
Such time lags are common in the S3 even when using standard phone, SMS, mail and address book functions. They might seem small (of the order of magnitude of 2-4 times when compared to the iPhone), but do become frustratingly evident when urgency is needed (“quick! call 911!”) or when you’re with friends, stupidly and interminably staring at your Galaxy phone waiting for the phone app to open.
If the “conventional” differences such as screen size, processor power, display resolution, memory expansion, removable battery, battery life, and camera quality and resolution are taken into account, it’s very likely that the Samsung Galaxy S3 will score over the iPhone 4 (and maybe even the 4S).
Apple iPhone 4 iOS 5.1.1
Samsung Galaxy S3 Android 4.1.2
But like I said earlier, as a technology entrepreneur, I place more value on the ease of use and the productivity that I can squeeze out of the smartphone. Plus, after having jailbroken my iPhone, I don’t feel like rooting my Samsung Galaxy S3. For some inexplicable reason, I expected Android and S3 to give me the same – if not more – feature richness that the iPhone did, without rooting it.
The iPhone isn’t free of issues either. After the sad demise of Steve Jobs, the quality of Apple’s products has slowly but surely headed south, while they continue to ignore the pleas and shouts of their customers and development community.
If Google and Samsung can fix the issues of syncing, wifi, backup and restore, and the slowness of using basic telephone functions, the S3 – and future phones – might easily beat the iPhone. Until then, the iPhone is “ole reliable” – at least it works where it supposed to.