Gadget review: Samsung Galaxy S III vs. iPhone 4 vs. HTC One X vs. Galaxy Nexus
After months of secrecy, Samsung finally announced the much awaited Galaxy SIII smartphone at an event in London. But how does this latest smartphone fare against rival smartphones? Find out in our gadget report.tech reviews Updated: May 07, 2012 12:55 IST
After months of secrecy, Samsung finally announced the much awaited Galaxy SIII smartphone on Thursday at an event in London. The phone packs what is currently the best in terms of hardware and software on any Android smartphone. But what are these specs exactly and how do they compare against rival smartphones? This is what we will find out today.
Samsung Galaxy S III
On paper, few phones today can match the Galaxy SIII. It seems to have the best of everything and in some aspects that is true. Considering Samsung’s expertise in display making, the Galaxy S III’s display is bound to be spectacular. The processor is already winning benchmarks in early hands-on previews. The battery is seriously big for the thickness of the phone and the phone seems pretty smooth running on the latest version of Android.
Then there are also all the other software enhancements that Samsung has added to the phone. The Siri-like S-Voice that listens to you and does basic tasks like opening apps, showing the weather, searching the web, etc. The phone can track your eyes with its front camera and keeps the display on while your eyes are open and switches it off when you close your eyes. While typing a message, if you pick up and put the phone against your ear the Galaxy S III automatically calls the person for you. If a call comes in the phone even warns you of previous messages and missed calls that came from the same number that you may have missed. Samsung thinks it makes the phone human and indeed some of it is very clever.
But not everything about the phone is great. One of our major gripe with the phone is the design, which looks spectacularly mundane for a flagship phone. The back of the phone even reminded us of Samsung’s cheaper Android phones. The phone comes in two color finishes, Pebble Blue and Marble white, with the former having a brushed metal finish and the latter a glossy one. Neither of them, however, manage to invoke the same feeling when you look at, say, the HTC One X, the Nokia Lumia 800 or the iPhone 4S. Over time, the design of the phone might grow on us, as it did with the Galaxy Nexus, but it will disappoint anyone who sees it for the first time.
Samsung also has a sketchy history with updating their phones whenever a new version of Android comes out. Ask any Galaxy S II or Galaxy Note user in India if they have received the Android 4.0 and you will know what they feel about it. These, too, were the flagship devices for the company once upon a time and there is no way to tell if history will not repeat itself.
That aside, however, there is little to keep the Galaxy S III from taking the crown for the best Android smartphone that its predecessor held on to for so long. Samsung has announced that the phone will launch in India on May 29 with the M.R.P. being around Rs. 38,000 (actual price would be around Rs. 34,000). We are yet to get our hands on this phone but from what we have seen so far, it looks like a winner to us.
HTC One X
Our previous favorite Android smartphone, the One X still has a lot going for it. For starters, it still is the best looking Android smartphone out in the market today and nothing that Samsung offers can match it in that department. It also has an incredible display that we know for a fact, having used it first hand, that it’s brilliant and easily one of the best things about the phone. And although the Galaxy S III beats the One X in benchmarks, the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor is no slouch and outside of benchmarks you will never feel the difference.
It also comes with Android 4.0 and although we are not big fans of Sense 4.0 it does add some useful features, although nothing that can compare with what Samsung has added on the Galaxy S III. Camera performance remains a weak area and although it is fast with acceptable image and video quality, ‘acceptable’ is not the adjective you should be hearing for anything on a flagship device.
When it comes to updates, HTC is not known to be any better or worse than Samsung, although in recent times they have been a bit quicker on the uptake, being faster to update their phones to Android 4.0 than Samsung. This gives us a bit more confidence in the fact that the One X is more likely to get the next version on time than the Galaxy S III.
All things considered, we think the One X is a worthy alternative to the Galaxy S III. Especially for someone who gives preference to form over function.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
If regular updates is what you worry about then the Galaxy Nexus is the one for you. If there is any phone most likely to get the next version of Android, that too on the first day, this is it. But there’s a lot more to this phone than regular updates.
Running on stock Android, the Galaxy Nexus offers you the pure Android 4.0 experience, as intended by Google. This might not seem like much until you actually use it, after which it will be difficult to get back to any other Android phone that does not have a stock ROM. This is the second biggest selling point of this phone.
Other things include a gorgeous display, fairly thin body and smooth performance. The hardware might not seem like much on paper or in benchmark scores but it’s more than enough in practice. Having said that, the Galaxy Nexus’ hardware lacks the sheer horsepower of the other two Android phones here, which also makes it less future proof and it will start showing its age a lot sooner than others.
There are other things to worry about too, such as camera performance, which is the least impressive here, above average looks, only 16GB memory and a battery life, which is known to be unimpressive.
In other words, the Galaxy Nexus is great if you’re an Android purist or a software developer but if you want a more of an all-round device, you should look elsewhere.
Apple iPhone 4S
The odd man out in this group, the iPhone 4S is also the oldest. But don’t let the numbers in the chart fool you, this one can still hold on to its own. For starters, that glass and metal body is classier than both the Samsung phones combined and only the One X with its unibody design can come close.
It also has some other significant advantages. The OS is smoother and a lot simpler. The number of quality apps, especially games, is significantly higher on iOS and it also always gets all the new apps and games first. The camera is significantly better than the one on the One X and the Galaxy Nexus and if the Galaxy S III has the same camera as the S II then it will again be inferior to the one on the 4S. The iPhone also has the widest range of accessories ever made for any device.
But there are a lot of disadvantages as well. The screen, although gorgeous, is very small for watching videos or browsing the web. The glass body looks great but is not known to take a lot of damage. iOS has improved significantly over the years but compared to an open OS like Android is still very restrictive (unless, of course, you jailbreak it). And lastly, Apple’s ridiculous pricing in India makes it very poor value for money.
Overall, the iPhone 4S is for those who value a consistent user experience, great camera quality and quality apps over everything else and are willing to spend the big bucks for it. But if you want something with more bang for your buck, the Android phones are a better choice.
First Published: May 04, 2012 17:35 IST