Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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October 22, 2012 • Editorials

Whittling Down the ’50 Reasons Why the Galaxy S3 Is Better Than the iPhone 5′

This week I discovered a cool video over at PhoneBuff called ’50 Reasons Why The Galaxy S3 Is Better Than The iPhone 5′, which takes a look at a massive list of things they claim make the S3 better than the iPhone 5. Considering I have the Galaxy S3, it would seem I should agree … but I found the list lacking in many ways. Rather than making a separate list, I decided to go through their list an item at a time and give my perspective as a long-time Android user and current Galaxy S3 user. I will provide a basic ‘verdict’ for each – does it make the S3 better than the iPhone, or does it NOT … there is no room to be neutral!

Here is their list, and I will comment on each one in-line.

NFC capabilities

We all know there is no such thing as absolute security, but NFC has been plagued with security and privacy concerns since introduction right up through a massive hack this summer. Knowing everything can be broken is one thing … inviting problems on yourself is another.

Verdict: NFC is immature and insecure and does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

DLNA technology

DLNA is essentially ‘Airplay for everyone else’. It is more universal, and like many so-called ‘universal standards’, it has spotty implementation and interoperability. Airplay ‘just works’ … DLNA ‘just might work’. It really depends on your gear – and requires more research and effort for the consumer.

Verdict: DLNA does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

MicroSD card slot

I am of two minds on this one – 10% of me thinks that the design compromises required for a MicroSD slot would hurt the iPhone (and iPad and iPod Touch), whereas the other 90% of me says ‘shaddup and gimme MicroSD slots!’.

Verdict: A microSD card slot DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Removable battery

Compared to the MicroSD slot, I would rank my ‘two minds’ as closer to 50/50 … but I have needed dual batteries on Android phones in the past, and carrying a second battery is easier than an external charge brick or other work-arounds.

Verdict:  A removeable battery DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

LED notifications

I have only ever used Android smartphones … well, I did have the pre-phone Blackberry as well – and all of them have LED notifications. I cannot imagine not having that feature.

Verdict: LED notification DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Bigger 4.8 inch screen

As I said in my review, the Galaxy S3 is HUGE, and really not a pocketable device. That is the basic trade-off: 4″ screen on a slim, pocketable device … or 4.8″ monstrosity. One isn’t ‘better’ than the other – it is simply a choice.

Verdict: Bigger 4.8 inch screen does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

True HD resolution at 720p

My two biggest internet video watching outlets? Hulu and Amazon Video. Neither of which work on the Galaxy S3. So with that 720p I get … ? And, there might be 720p resolution, but the pixel density is lower and therefore the video quality is also lower. Though honestly both screens are pretty awesome!

Verdict: True HD resolution at 720p does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Widgets

When I unlock the Galaxy S3 I get the weather right on my home screen, and can simply tap for more details. I am not a ‘widget junkie’ like some folks, but the utility of a few is unquestionable.

Verdict: Widgets DO make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Live wallpapers

Live wallpapers on Android are similar to active desktops on Windows … and both are crap features that look pretty but suck battery life and processor cycles. Yuk.

Verdict: Live wallpaper does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Wireless toggles

So with iOS 6, Apple moved the BlueTooth toggle to the first level setting … reminds me of the Samsung commercial where the guy touts moving the headphone jack as if it is a revolutionary change. The amazing utility of having these toggles all show up in the pull-down cannot be over-stated.

Verdict: Wireless toggles DO make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Available on all major carriers

Galaxy S3 is available to 95% of subscribers, and iPhone 5 is available to 90% of subscribers. Gimme a break.

Verdict: Availability does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Face unlock

Face unlock is a supposedly person-specific way to unlock your device without a passcode. Except that it has been easily compromised by a picture, and has also failed for someone with make-up, haircuts, and on and on. In short – a relatively useless gimmick.

Verdict: Face unlock does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Lock screen shortcuts

Whenever I want to take a picture with my Galaxy S3, I use the lock screen shortcut. Apple has the same thing in their lock screen – for the camera. With the Galaxy S3 I could easily change my settings, and now I have my four most-used apps – phone, messaging, GMail and camera – on the lock screen.

Verdict: Lock screen shortcuts DO make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

SmartStay

Smart stay uses the front camera to watch you watching the screen, and will keep the screen from dimming if you are still looking. If you are off-angle, move around or are otherwise doing something that fakes out the device it will fail. For me the failure rate is 100% … and it sucks battery life.

Verdict: SmartStay does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Pop up play

Pop up play is essentially ‘picture-in-picture’. If you find that useful, MAYBE you will use this. Maybe. I file this one under gimmick again.

Verdict: Pop up play does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

C Pen

Welcome to 1999 … it is a slightly better stylus. Again … gimme a break.

Verdict: C Pen does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Best shot

When you are taking action shots – like I have been with my son in marching band competitions – it is easy to take lousy shots … but hard to get good ones. With burst mode you can capture up to 20 shots in rapid-fire succession, and then choose the best shot. That said, it is a minor feature – but clearly a useful one, since the iPhone might have a fast shutter/process time, but no burst mode.

Verdict: Best shot DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Data usage controls

Just WHAT is hogging the data on my phone … on my iPad I can just see HOW MUCH, not WHAT is using how much. On the Galaxy S3 I get granularity – and I know some don’t care, but you just have to think about what I do for a day job (hint: statistics and metrology engineer) to know why that would matter.

Verdict: Data usage controls DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Battery statistics

See data usage.

Verdict: Having battery statistics DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

True multitasking

Exactly what IS true multitasking? EVERY computer regulated foreground and background processes, adjusts thread priorities, and on and on. If anything, Android is MUCH more likely to have phantom slow-downs, data hogs and crashes due to misbehaving background processes. This is beyond a ‘gimme a break’ – it is a negative proof.

Verdict: True multitasking does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Adobe Flash

Adobe flash is battery draining, processor sucking crap that is pretty much unsupported as a mobile platform. Why are we having this discussion anymore? Oh, I know … someone needed to get to 50 on a list!

Verdict: Adobe Flash does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Multiple app stores

Choice is great … so long as it matters. The impact of multiple ways to put stuff on your Android device is clear – NOBODY buys apps. This is why the app store revenue pie chart is pretty much 95% iOS to 5% Android. If you are not giving it away for free, someone else is. That said, for me it allows me to funnel money to Amazon rather than Google at every opportunity in terms of music and books and apps … BUT … this open-ness has also made Android the most malware-infested, virus-laden, insecure mobile OS in history, so …

Verdict: Multiple app stores does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

More e-mail attachment options

Think about how when you first got your Windows 95 or newer computer, and and you could right-click and select ‘New’ and quickly choose something to create. Within a few months of installing stuff that same option would take a long time to pop-up, and eventually get so bogged down as to make you think it was hung up. Welcome to the Android sharing world. More choices = good, crappy performance = bad. Overall? That said, in my quest for the ‘99% computer’, haven’t ever landed in a situation where this is an issue. Why? Because when I am working in any of my programs I have the option to email from there, just as I tend to do from MS Office apps on my desktop.

Verdict: More e-mail attachment options does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

More in-app sharing options

See above.

Verdict: More in-app sharing options does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Google Maps and Street View

Apple Maps. hehe

Verdict: Google Maps and Street View DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

File explorers, works like USB flash drive

With my original Droid, I could simply plug in a USB cable and use the device like a flash drive – and it was incredibly useful. With Android versions starting at 3.0, it has become more convoluted and less useful, and pretty much ALWAYS frustrating. Of my multiple laptops at home and work running different OSs, there isn’t ONE that will consistently mount the S3 and be usable for MTP and camera usage. It doesn’t ‘just work’ – it is buggy and unreliable.

Verdict: File explorers do NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Haptic feedback

Haptic feedback basically buzzes the screen to let you know your keypresses were recognized. This is most useful when your OS is laggy, has mediocre keyboard recognition, and suffers phantom slowdows. In other words – Android. But there are always uses, and the lack of ANY sort of iOS option doesn’t make sense at this point.

Verdict: Haptic feedback DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Voice controls (different from voice assistants)

Samsung’s S Voice is like a slightly modified Siri with different applicability but that doesn’t work as well in actual practice. On first tests I was impressed with S Voice, but that very quickly faded … Siri works much better for me.

Verdict: Voice controls do NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Driving mode

Driving mode should allow me to check email and so on while driving. Only it is a crappy feature that doesn’t work very well – if at all! Plus, you should stick to driving.

Verdict: Driving mode does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Browsing options (desktop mode, offline reading, incognito)

The browser on the Galaxy S3 allows some different options, the only one unavailable on the iPhone 5 is incognito mode, which allows you to browse sites without a trace. Well, when I say ‘unavailable’, I mean you have to change a setting rather than just opening a new tab. In other words, no big deal for 99.999% of real life.

Verdict: Browsing options do NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

T9 dialing

The way most people call is to start typing a name and then upon finding it select to call. The Galaxy S3 also lets you do that typing on the number pad. OK.

Verdict: T9 dialing does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Wireless app management

If I want to grab an app for my Galaxy S3 I can head to Google Play (yes, still hate the name) and choose ‘install’ and select which of my devices I want to install the app, and it installs. It is a great feature, plain and simple.

Verdict: Wireless app management DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Better app integration

This is not about ‘apps’, but about Google – Android allows you to overlay loads of Google stuff more easily … so they can better control your eyeballs. They are NOT doing you a favor, they are ensuring they can maximize how they sell your eyeballs. This is a misnomer at best.

Verdict: Better app integration does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Power saving

Power saving options and modes are critical on devices such as the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5. Both have plenty of options.

Verdict: Power saving does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

App refund policy

If you somehow manage to buy an app, install and test and realize you don’t want it within 15 minutes of clicking ‘buy’ you can request a refund. On Amazon or iTunes you need to ask for support. I have asked for support, and I have tried the 15 minute Google deal and been ~1 minute late and encountered the typical worst-in-class Google service. I realized I was better off kissing the $0.99 goodbye then ever dealing with Google and their abysmal excuse for ‘service’. No thanks – this is one of those items they made to look good on a checklist like this, not because they care about customers; because Google does NOT.

Verdict: App refund policy does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Hide or disable any app

Most of us with iOS devices have a folder of unused Apple crap … and most of us with Android devices drag default apps off the home screens. Notifications are granular – moreso on iOS, actually.

Verdict: Hide or disable any app does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Reject list

If you decide you ALWAYS want to send a number to voicemail, you can do that on the Galaxy S3, whereas on the iPhone 5 you need to assign a silent ringtone or manually reject the call. How big a deal is this? Not very, but enough of a difference I will give it to the Galaxy S3.

Verdict: Reject list DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Direct call

Direct call lets you look at a contact and instead of tapping ‘call’ you just bring the phone to your ear and it will call. This seemed really cool until I realized that I typically have multiple numbers for most people and my first couple of attempts called the wrong number. For single-number contacts this could be nice … but I fail to see the real-world utility. Yet another feature-for-feature sake.

Verdict: Direct call does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Double tap to top

Bang on the top of the device to go to the top of the list. While it sounds pretty useless, it gets worse – I could NOT get it to work (yes, I did turn it on!). Yet another useless gimmick feature that continue to bog down the OS for no good reason.

Verdict: Double tap to top does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Smart alert

In case having a light wasn’t enough, you can have the Galaxy S3 buzz when you lift it if you have new notifications. Again it is unreliable and yet another useless battery draining ‘feature’. The LED is bright enough to let you know. Plus, when I was showing it to people, their comment was that since at work they have vibrate-only mode enabled, the buzz would confuse them about whether or not they had a text and cause them to simply check their screen anyway.

Verdict: Smart alert does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Tilt to zoom

This is a feature designed by lawyers in case they needed to remove the pinch to zoom. Period.

Verdict: Tilt to zoom does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Pan to move

Again, designed by lawyers meets gimmicky motion feature. I found this one (unsurprisingly) unreliable.

Verdict: Pan to move does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Turn over to mute

I thought this was great and was one I LOVED in the promo videos … and then I was listening to John Coltrane on Amazon MP3 (y’know, the REAL MP3 store for Android) at work and someone came to my desk and I said ‘watch this’ and flipped it over. And it kept playing. I am sure it works great for some stuff, but this is yet another half-baked non-feature.

Verdict: Turn over to mute does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Easier screenshots

You don’t need to use the semi-reliable home & power combo on the S3 (as opposed to the VERY reliable home & power combo of iOS) you can use and even LESS reliable ‘palm swipe’. I had ~10% success with this … suffice to say it is NOT easier. And – yet another ‘lawyer designed’ feature since the home & power is a blatant iPhone rip-off. Again.

Verdict: Easier screenshots does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Custom launchers

Customization is a wonderful thing … but at this point in the list we get a string of minutia that is customizable. Sorry – not going to pass ‘list padding’.

Verdict: Useless list padding does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Custom lock screens

See above.
Verdict: Useless list padding does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Third party keyboards

While the iOS keyboard works extremely well (pretty much universally agree it is better than standard Android keyboards), since a keyboard is a primary input for most, the ability to customize to make it work best for YOU is a great feature.

Verdict: Third party keyboards DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Universal microUSB charging port

I have a bunch of iOS plugs around the house … but I have TONS that work with my various Android devices. I always have something in my bag, and even have my old Palm Pre Plus charger plugged in at work, which works with nearly everything (except the Nexus 7). Yeah, universality is nice.

Verdict: Universal microUSB charging port DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

USB host (for USB connections)

USB Host allows you hook wired things like keyboards, mice, and even the X360 controller to your Galaxy S3. I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t just go Bluetooth for keyboards, but anything that allows me to use my existing controllers is a win for me! Prepare to do some fiddling … but who really cares!?!

Verdict: USB host DOES make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Share shot and buddy photo share

Not the most useful features, but anything that allows wireless and simplified sharing is a good thing more or less. With these you can let others quickly into your photos by sharing photos – but is it worth it. Share Shot requires you to set up shared WiFi connections with anyone you want to share photos with, and Buddy Share requires you to have full contact info and the face recognition to work. I have managed this once with a friend with a Galaxy S3, but it didn’t work with anything else. So it is yet another ‘orphan’ technology that will be long forgotten before there is further adoption.

Verdict: Share shot and buddy photo share does NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

CONCLUSIONS

OK, so that is the end … and let’s tally them up: out of the 50 items, I came up with 34 items that do NOT make the Galaxy S3 better than the iPhone 5.

Which leaves 16 items from the original 50 that are clearly differentiated and are better on the Galaxy S3 than on the iPhone 5.

Do you agree? Disagree? Feel free to tear me to shreds in the comments – but try to state your case for the items! I love to learn!

10 Responses to " Whittling Down the ’50 Reasons Why the Galaxy S3 Is Better Than the iPhone 5′ "

  1. Just with regard to the stylus: I was absolutely staggered when the new device came out–was it at Superbowl time?–and they bragged on the stylus. Yo, I thought the whole point of a touch screen was that we *ditched* the stylus? It just seemed weird to me.

    • loopyduck says:

      I think it’s more that people have a choice now? Didn’t people used to hate styli because it was the only viable input method with resistive screens? I’m not sure it’s a problem that you can now choose to use either finger or stylus…

      • Well, I am potentially getting a Galaxy Note II in a couple of weeks or so … and if so you can be SURE I will see if we want to flash back to the 90s!

        • loopyduck says:

          What I really want is for someone to bring back the candybar-phone-with-smartphone-OS that was the SDA =P To be honest, I wouldn’t use the stylus at all (except maybe to sign PDFs). I think the MDA Vario was the last straw; the little notch that kept it locked in the silo wore out and I’d keep on losing the darn things. I know the S-Pen uses some kind of magnet to trigger pen mode; does it use magnets to hold it in place as well?

          One thing I find hilarious about the Note II is that where I am–San Francisco–the ONLY people I’ve seen using them so far are short East Asian women. It makes the appearance of the phones go from “this might be a little large for me to use one-handed” to comically huge!

      • Having a choice is absolutely fine and understandable, but making it a big selling point and a focus of the advertising struck me as really weird.

  2. loopyduck says:

    Whew, that was quite the list! How long did it take to write the whole thing up?

    In regards to the “Exactly what IS true multitasking?” I think the point is that, rather than being funneled through Apple’s API for Seven Special Services, any app is allowed to do its own thing. On one hand, this would inevitably lead to battery drain. On the other hand, it would have let apps like Sparrow handle push without having to spend oodles on running their own servers or worry about security issues.

    Also, unless an app’s features work with the S3, they’ll have to rely on either the developer’s servers to keep it alive with a “ping” every once in a while (which also costs battery, though ladmittedly ess than true multitasking) or get killed off after 10 minutes of idling. For example, I use Colloquy on the iPad. There are a few group (we’re spread out through a lot of different time zones) activities that necessitates long periods of idling on IRC; I’d rather not keep my PC on and turn to my iPad for that. However, in order to idle with Colloquy, I need to turn off screen auto-unlocking, because if it locks and 10 minutes pass, the app gets terminated (and honestly, the iPad screen is awfully bright in a dark room, even with it turned all the way down). A relatively minor issue, but I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only one that has an active scenario where true multitasking would be useful.

  3. gorkon says:

    I hate lists like this as sometimes it devolves into what is better for the author…not the over all. For example….I too don’t give a crap about custom launchers….in fact I don’t want the S3 launcher at all but I want the Generic one on the Galaxy Nexus. That’s like themes on pocket pc….bs fluff that doesn’t make a device better.

    Multiple app stores ARE something I care about, but not for the same reasons. I also think there’s more to worry about stupid devs than viruses. I had a perfect app that I had to give up because the dev just added really bad malware to it so he could make a buck and then wanted like 3 bucks for a widget(not worth it). I say just take the danged free versions OFF and let it go.

    The sharing is the best for me though. I like how easy it is for me to take an image from Facebook and share it on Google+.

    The C pen or S-pen whatever it’s called is cool but I ain’t buying it….better come with it.

  4. Doug Miller says:

    Everybody has things that are important to them and not important. It is interesting that you list the ability to customize a launcher as list padding but the ability to add a third party keyboard is not list padding, because the ability to customize how you input to the device is a great feature. Well, I think that most people see their launcher more than they do their keyboard, so I’m not sure that I get the difference.

    Anyway, I do think that you missed the boat on in-app sharing. Android’s universal sharing is far, far better than iOS, and it is the one major thing that I miss when I use my iPad. With Android, as I am reading in a twitter app and encounter a tweet that has a link that I may want to read later, I can easily share that single tweet to Evernote, Instapaper, Pocket, to an email app to send as an email, to Facebook to share on my wall – in short, it’s quite powerful. On iOS, I can only do those things to Evernote and Instapaper if the developer has added the feature to the app. I think that it is a big, big improvement in Android – one that you may not use, but one that is used by many.

    • My thoughts on ‘list padding’ were that they already hit on custom app launch mechanics, so having two OTHER custom app launch mechanics was superfluous … Not that the items themselves aren’t useful, they were just already covered.

      As for in all sharing, I get what you are saying, but even on the Galaxy S3 is see slowdowns when I pop a menu to share, something I don’t get on my iPad. In fact it was the reason I reset my original droid to factory settings more than once … Too much crap bogging down the system. But you are right, it was a judgment call – and I decided no neutrality so I had to pick in all cases a binary response.

  5. GagaScrewer says:

    That still leaves us with 16 reasons why it DOES make it better! 😉

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