The Galaxy S3 is Samsung’s newest addition to the world of Android smartphones and guess what? Reviews seem to be suggesting it’s the iPhone’s superior. Boasting almost twice the clock speed of the iPhone 4S (1.4GHz quad core vs 800MHz dual core), a thinner body (8.5mm vs 9mm), lighter (133 grams vs 140 grams), expandable to have more memory (62GB expandable vs 64GB non-expandable) and more battery storage (2100mAh vs. 1432mAh), the S3 bests the 4S on many inarguable criteria. The S3’s AMOLED screen isn’t quite as sharp as the 4S’, but the stats are close enough that it’s not really worth making a fuss over. It seems the biggest complaints are about the slight blue tinge of the screen and the rounded plastic case, which some reviewers thought felt “cheap.”
As many of us know, stats can be misleading and are often spun to support whatever slant the reviewer may have. A larger screen isn’t necessarily a check in the “plus” column, and processor stats are relevant only to the extent that they boost the performance of the device. It’s a perennial observation that iOS devices do more with less, offering fluid and smooth transitions and quick app launch times while Android devices with twice the CPU power stutter. You won’t find a single review of the iPhone 4S that complains about slow video playback or choppy transitions, even with its considerably slower CPU. Heck, compare even a first-generation iPad to most Android devices and you’ll find even the two-year old tablet is smoother. And then there’s the Android operating system itself; with ongoing difficulties with security, malware, fragmentation and decreasing interest from Google in its upkeep, the best phone in the world may devalue itself by serving up Android (perhaps this is why Samsung is taking such an interest in Tizen?).
Another way in which the iPhone dances to a tune that competitors don’t seem to hear is where innovation versus evolution are concerned. Where much of the mobile industry still boasts clock speed as a major selling point, Apple gives us Retina screens (a concept that had never been made a priority in mobile before). Where the competition brags about storage space, Apple introduces Siri (voice assistant technology which, previously, had scarcely garnered any attention in the market). Apple isn’t so much concerned about competing on numbers and specs as it is about changing paradigms and forcing competition to follow suit. So long as Apple maintains a reasonably modern level of basic tech specifications, it will never really have to play the numbers game.
It’s true that not every feature on the Galaxy S3 that out-rates the iPhone 4S automatically qualifies as a win, but it’s hard to argue that it puts pressure on Apple not to coast into the next revision of iPhone. Perhaps the most important point about the S3 is not so much that it has caught up to the iPhone; after three-quarters of a year, most of the major players manage to close the gap between their products and Apple’s on at least several of the major points. Instead, the S3 surpasses the iPhone 4S in inarguable ways as opposed to simply catching up. It’s unlikely that the next iPhone will attempt to compete on raw power (it’s been a long time since Apple boasted clock speed), expandable memory (this IS Apple we’re talking about) or even screen size… but it seems like there’s little question about the S3 being the phone to beat. If the next iPhone drops in the fall (as precedent suggests), it will either have to outdo the S3 on most stats as well as basic features or Apple may find themselves in a much tighter, neck-and-neck race.