iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 – Design, Screen and Power

Based on rumours and conjecture, we take a look at how the iPhone 5 will compare with the Samsung Galaxy S3. Specs, design and screen – which phone will we remember as the smartphone king of 2012?

We’ll update this article as more light is shed on the iPhone 5.

Design
iPhone 5 – 7.6mm thick, metal casing, non-removable battery
Samsung Galaxy S3 – 8.6mm thick, plastic casing, removable battery

In recent months, a number of iPhone 5 casing components have been leaked. They suggest that the next iPhone will be just 7.6mm thick, a full millimetre less than the Samsung Galaxy S3, which is 8.6mm thick. It’s extremely impressive, but suggests the iPhone 5 will have the slightly severe feel of the iPhone 4S – expect compact and dense, but you’ll probably want to use a case to improve ergonomics.

 

The leaked case shows that the iPhone 5 will have a metal body, rather than the dual glass panels of the current design. However, one of the more interesting rumours that to circle around the phone is that Apple will use “liquid metal”. This is an unusual metal alloy that feels like glass. Even if it turns out to use good old aluminium, we’re ninety-five per cent sure that it’ll feel higher-end in the hand than the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Samsung’s great white (well, pebble blue and white) hope for 2012 has an all-plastic finish that uses a flimsy, ultra-thin back cover.

 

Screen
iPhone 5 – 4in IPS, 1,136 x 640 resolution
Samsung Galaxy S3 – 4.8in Super AMOLED, 1,280 x 720 resolution

Every generation of iPhone since the original of the species back in 2007 has uses the same size screen – 3.5in. That’s all about to change with the iPhone 5. Although unconfirmed, virtually every rumour out there says that it’ll have a 4in widescreen panel, using a widescreen 16:9 resolution rather than the 3:2 ratio of the current model.

It’s this change of screen style that will make the iPhone 5 able to offer a larger screen without making the phone much wider. The width of a phone is one of the most important factors in how a phone feels to hold – and Apple is sure to be careful about messing up the iPhone’s ultra-accessible ergonomics.

The issue with changing the relative dimensions of the screen so markedly is that – unlike when the iPhone went all Retina Display on us – upscaling apps won’t be easy. However, the most simple solution will be for the phone to display black bars at each end of the screen for apps without iPhone 5 optimisation.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 cares a lot less about how wide it is. With a gigantic 4.8in display, the Galaxy will be too wide for some hands – it’s a whopping 7.6cm across. Screen pixel density will be comparable to the new iPhone, though, with 720 x 1,280 spread across the display.

Each phone uses quite a different screen tech type. The Samsung Galaxy S3 features a Super AMOLED panel, while the iPhone 5 is expected to stick to the IPS display that has been an Apple staple for years now.

Super AMOLEDs offers superb black response and vivid colours, but IPS screens tend to look a little more natural. In our recent comparison of the Samsung and the HTC One X, we found in favour of the HTC’s IPS type. We wouldn’t be surprised if Apple comes up with some spectacular new claims about the iPhone 5’s “life-changing” screen tech, either.

Power
iPhone 5 – 1GB RAM, S5L8950X CPU (A5x variant), cores TBC
Samsung Galaxy S3 – 1GB RAM, Exynos 4412, Quad-core 1.4GHz

One area where the Samsung Galaxy S3 might beat the next iPhone is its processor’s figures. The Samsung Galaxy S3 uses the impressive Exynos 4412 chip, which has four cores and runs at 1.4GHz.

The jury’s out as to how many cores and what clock-speed the iPhone 5 will run at. Our immediate guess would be that it will have a quad-core CPU, but looking at the evidence, this isn’t a dead-cert. Take a look at the current-gen iPad – its A5x chip only has a quad-core GPU, with “just” a dual-core CPU.

The iPhone 5 chip is expected to be an update of the A5x, but the improvements may relate to the GPU for the most part. With a much lesser resolution screen than the iPad, does it really need those two extra central cores? We’re keeping an eye out for more on the iPhone 5’s processing power.

 

Connectivity
iPhone 5 – new proprietary 19-pin connector, no microSD, microSIM
Samsung Galaxy S3 – microUSB, microSD, microSIM

Perhaps the most earth-shattering change in the iPhone 5 is that it’ll reject the 30-pin connector used across iPods, iPads and iPhones in favour of a much-smaller (reportedly) 19-pin model. This will be comparable in size to the microUSB standard, although it’s not expected to be exactly the same as microUSB. Apple is never keen on going with the bog-standard option when it can make its own version.

The problem with changing connector is that the new iPhone will likely be incompatible with current iPhone docking accessories – not good news if you own something like a B&W Zeppelin. However, we’d bet that Apple would produce a dock converter accessory to make up for it.  And, naturally, you’ll have to fork out a few quid for that.

It’s all change, but the next iPhone won’t bring expandable memory to the series – no iPhone to date has offered a memory card slot.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is pretty much the polar opposite in its approach. It lets you use microSD cards and uses the microUSB standard. Handily, it’s MHL compliant, too, able to output HD video with surround sound audio to an HDMI port when used with the right cable. Unlike the iPhone, the Samsung doesn’t rely on sync software to transfer files directly either – you can drag and drop files when plugged into a computer over USB.

Cameras
iPhone 5 – 8MP, LED flash
Samsung Galaxy S3 – 8MP, LED flash

The rumour zone that has been subject to the wildest ideas is the iPhone 5’s camera. So many Apple patents have been published in the last year that touch on camera features that you could almost believe it’ll wash your car and buy a present for the other half on your anniversary.

Top patents include a 3D camera and a multi-focus sensor. The latter will let you choose several points in a scene that you want to be perfectly clear and sharp, rather than just the one. We think the 3D camera is less likely – especially as it’s highly unlikely the next iPhone will have a 3D screen – but hey, it could happen.

The megapixel count of the next iPhone hasn’t become too much of a hot topic yet, with recent rumours suggesting it’ll stick with the eight megapixels of the iPhone 4S. This is the same count as the Samsung Galaxy S3, too.

 

Why is everyone (well, apart from Sony) sticking at 8MP these days when 12MP cameras in phones have been around since 2009? We’d wager that the phone-makers have gotten savvy and realised the point at which megapixels can do no more for the small sensors of phones.

Over the last year, we’ve started to see phone-makers big-up the size of their sensors just as much as the megapixel count. This is a good thing, and we hope Apple is going take a similar approach and edge past the currently class-leading iPhone 4S with the next iPhone.

Battery
iPhone 5 – 1430mAh (TBA)
Samsung Galaxy S3 – 2100mAh

The last time the iPhone 5 battery cropped up on the rumour shopping list was way back in 2011, so we regard it as anything but airtight. With a reported 1430mAh capacity, it’s a way below the 2100mAh of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Samsung made a particularly strong effort with the latest Galaxy’s battery, outstripping most of its rivals by around 20 per cent. For example, the HTC One X uses an 1800mAh unit and the Sony Xperia S a 1750mAh battery.

We expect the iPhone 5 will match or slightly better the stamina of the iPhone 4S – which in turn suggests that the rumoured 1430mAh figure is bunkum. Unless Apple has really come up with some power management miracles, it needs a larger battery than the iPhone 4S – which has a 1420-1430mAh battery.

Verdict

The jury isn’t so much out on this one as “not yet picked”, but we can confidently say a few things about the Galaxy S3-iPhone 5 match-up. You can bet the iPhone 5 will feel denser and more expensive in-hand and will continue to offer the beginner’s usability benefits of iOS over Android. However, it’ll also be a lot less flexible – using a new proprietary socket and lacking a memory card slot – and you can bet that by the time it’s released the Samsung Galaxy S3 will be substantially cheaper to own.

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