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iPhone 5 vs. Samsung Galaxy S III

Check out Alex Reiter’s in-depth look at two rival companies latest addition to their smartphone lines.

By Alex Reiter @ghost_reiter

One of the most magical times of the year for consumer electronics has come and gone: the time during which Apple announces and releases its lat-est smartphone. Apple’s new smart- phone update, the iPhone 5, is already being praised as a welcome upgrade to the iPhone line.

However, rival smartphone maker Samsung, along with many critics, says that the iPhone 5 lacks innovation. Samsung has displayed this opposition by hammering Apple with television ads claiming that “The next big thing has already arrived.” Samsung claims that the next big thing is the Galaxy S III, an innovative An- droid smartphone that has been on the market since early July.

So what kind of truth does this statement carry? Does Samsung have more innovations than Apple? And most importantly, is either option worth the cost? Read on to find answers to these questions.

iPhone 5

With the release of the iPhone 5, Apple introduced a taller, thinner, lighter iPhone. The screen is now4- inches tall, allowing users to see more Tweets, emails and messages. It also provides a better video viewing experience. No longer will users see black bars above and below their movies.

The phone is also 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S, which is amazing considering the larger size. Users will immediately feel this difference from previous models when picking up the device. Also, in several brutal drop tests, the iPhone 5 fared very well, as the screen survived drops onto tile, rock, concrete and wood floors from three, five and nearly seven feet.

With the addition of iOS 6 soft- ware, users have several new features. The feature that I believe is the most beneficial to students is Do Not Disturb, a single switch in the settings menu that automatically ignores calls and silences alerts so that you can get stuff done. Also, Passbook is a new place for users to keep their digital coupons, gift cards and even tickets. The great features of iOS are still here and more polished with this update.

Galaxy S III

Samsung evolved on a much larger scale between releases of its popular Galaxy S smartphones. The Galaxy S III has a bigger, more detailed 4.8 inch HD screen, more storage, built in 4G LTE for faster data on the go, and all in a package that is thinner and lighter than the Galaxy S II. The Galaxy S III also has more software thanks to the completely redesigned Android 4.1.

With Android 4.1 and Samsung’s Nature User Experience, users get an intuitive, unique experience. Taking screenshots only requires a swipe of the palm over the screen, watching video is easier with the video overlay feature, and unlocking the phone requires simply looking at the screen thanks to facial recognition.

The Galaxy S III hardware is where the phone falls short. The entire device is made out of a plastic material that feels extremely cheap and flimsy in the hand. I believe that this was poor choice by Samsung, as the lat- est smartphones should be considered premium products both inside and out. Although the phone may have the latest in smartphone technology inside, it does not feel that way on the outside.

Those who have big hands or have trouble typing on small screens will find the Galaxy S III to be an enjoyable experience, but beware. Drop tests have shown that the Galaxy S III will break from a fall just three feet high. If you are considering the Galaxy S III, make sure to get a case.

Which is better?

I receive this question a lot. And the answer is always different for every person that asks. This is not an en- dorsement, it is a simple assessment. Like Jonathan Ive, senior vice presi- dent of industrial design at Apple, recently stated, phones are probably the device we use most. Phones are a mater of preference.

If you like a smaller, more confined experience that will provide you with a solid feeling device, the iPhone 5 is for you. However, if you are looking for something that has the latest tech- nology and a unique, innovative user experience, then the Galaxy S III is for you.

Why do I want a smartphone?

Many college students have al- ready bought smartphones in the last few years, but many others have not yet joined the smartphone owning masses. My summary of owning a smartphone for the first time is that it changes the way you interact with the world around you, sometimes in a positive way, and sometimes nega- tively.

Smartphones can be incredibly helpful for managing time at school. For example, calendar and to-do list reminders can help you keep track of your school-work. Both the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III have applications that let you do this. On the other hand, social networking apps and games can often be distracting. But this depends entirely on self-control.

If you do not already own a smartphone, I do recommend that you check out one of these devices. Both are worth the price paid and cost of a monthly data plan. The value added can save you a lot of time and can help you communicate more efficiently with your friends and family.

As for students that already have a smartphone, my recommendation to you is this: for iPhone users, if you have an iPhone 4 and you have owned it for two years or more, I strongly recommend that you upgrade to an iPhone 5 soon.
As for Android smartphone owners, I recommend upgrading every two years as well, because as contracts expire, phones soon become outdated. In addition, if your Android handset is giving you issues, I would strongly recommend looking getting the Galaxy S III as soon as possible as, problematic Android phones can be very discouraging and time consuming.

If you have any questions about the Galaxy S III, the iPhone 5 or anything else technology related, you can email me at or follow me on Twitter @ghost_reiter.

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