TORONTO – For many consumers wondering whether to buy Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, there’s really only one question to be answered: is it an iPhone killer? Or, perhaps more fairly, does it stack up against Apple’s popular iPhone 4S?
Well, aside from the most faithful Apple fanatics who really wouldn’t consider anything other than an iPhone anyway, there’s no question that Samsung’s latest and greatest — out Wednesday — would satisfy most consumers in the market for a top-of-the-line phone.
One of the biggest differentiators between iPhones and Samsung’s latest smartphone models is screen size. While not quite as oversized as the 13.5-centimetre screen of Samsung’s Note smartphone/tablet hybrid, the Galaxy S III’s 12.2-centimetre display is dramatically larger than the iPhone’s 8.9-centimetre screen. Apple’s smartphone seems a little tiny when lined up side by side with the Galaxy S III.
While Apple has done an incredible job bringing the mobile web to the masses, the extra few centimetres of screen real estate is very much welcomed when browsing the web, particularly when navigating full-scale versions of websites and not just the scaled-down mobile versions. It’s similarly satisfying to have the extra screen space when watching video, playing a game or using an app. And the trade off, having a larger phone to stick in your pocket or tuck inside a purse, really isn’t much of a negative. It doesn’t slip covertly into a shirt pocket but will fit comfortably in all but the tightest of jeans. And when comparing the resolution of the Galaxy S III versus the iPhone’s much vaunted Retina display technology, it’s a wash. Both can output razor sharp text — even when zoomed in unnecessarily close — and vividly colourful photos and video.
While the Galaxy S III, which runs on the latest version of Google’s Android mobile operating system, competes strongly against any other phone on the market when it comes to technical specifications, it’s not something Samsung is boasting about or even highlighting much. Visit the website promoting the phone and you can’t even find a comprehensive list of its specs, which include a dual-core processor, two gigabytes of RAM, an eight-megapixel camera and the ability to handle near field communication to wirelessly connect with other devices. But during a product briefing, Paul Brannen, a vice president with Samsung Canada, noted one of the Galaxy S III’s tag lines is “designed for humans,” meaning the company is trying to emphasize user experience over technical strengths.
“As consumers we always knew what the processor was in our computers and today, I couldn’t tell you,” Brannen said.
“I think the phone industry is going to go down that path where the technology will become irrelevant to the device, it’s how we utilize the device and how that becomes integrated in our day-to-day life.”
Among those “designed for humans” features is a recognition tool that learns the faces of friends and family and automatically shares photos you take with them. If you’re writing a message and decide you’d rather talk to the person instead, raising the phone to your ear will start dialling their phone (assuming you have their number in your contacts). The front-facing camera can identify your eyes and sense when you’re looking at the phone. When you look away, it shuts down to save power (or at least it’s supposed to, it didn’t always work for me). And placing the phone face down on a table silences it if it starts to ring at an awkward time. There’s also a Siri-like app that takes voice commands to control the phone, although it’s not quite as well executed as Apple’s version. Overall, the features are clever but require some work to find in the settings, turn on, and learn. And while potentially useful, they’re probably not quite cool enough to sway Apple fans.
For those who have already bought into the Apple ecosystem, it’ll be difficult to get them to stray. As good of a job that Samsung has done in creating a smartphone that will appeal to many, the Galaxy S III likely won’t strike much fear in Apple.