Apple iPhone5 or Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE?

The new Apple iPhone5

Is iPhone 5 or Galaxy S3 better? Is iPhone5 worth the upgrade? These are religious debates which I am not ready to engage in. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. I shall only focus on my requirements and why I think iPhone5 is the best choice for me … at the moment.Being an Apple user (iMac, macbook, iPhone (until 3GS), iPod, etc) for many years, I love Apple products for their clean and spartan design. However, I was very pissed with Apple’s arrogance (if I may use the word) when Steve Jobs refused to admit a product flaw in iPhone 4’s antennae. Instead, he gave a ridiculous response that people held the phone the wrong way and thus caused the issue. OMG, this really upset me cos that’s not the Apple that I love. It’s intuitive to hold a phone in the palm, not with 2 fingers pinching its sides. Enough said, this is an old issue and I am not going to be a broken record. You can check out the following links if you need to refresh your memory on this saga.

So I switched from iPhone 3GS to SonyEricsson Xperia Arc (Android) in 2010 just to prove a point – there is life after Apple. The switch wasn’t that painful afterall and I love my SonyEricsson. However, my SE started to give me problems recently. It started auto rebooting, auto shutdown and the final straw was that it actually wiped out all my calendar events, including those in my MacBook. Luckily I had time-machine backup copies and that saved the day.

Now, here’s the million dollar question, “Why did I choose iPhone 5 over Samsung S3?”. It was not an easy decision, trust me.

Why not SonyEricsson?

This is a simpler question to answer. For some reasons, Sony kept pushing down applications onto my phone and as a result, my phone got more and more cluttered with applications that I never used. Even though I uninstalled them, they will miraculously re-appear after a while. What’s worse? Android needs memory for almost everything. As a result, even though my SE has 14 application updates pending, I couldn’t update any of them. Some of these applications will also crash unexpectedly. It was becoming a norm that I had to restart my Channel News Asia application each time I read it as it will crash upon launching. From the error messages, it seemed that these issues were caused by the limited memory in the phone.

According to my friends who are using Samsung S3, they didn’t have any of these issues and thus I suspect this is very Sony specific. To summarize, I had enough and I definitely want a change (even though I really like its camera).

Long Term Evolution (LTE), aka 4G

This tops my wishlist as I hate waiting for pages/applications to load. On paper, both iPhone 5 and Samsung S3 meet this criteria. Unfortunately life is not as simple as I like it to be. There is no standardization for LTE today and even in a small country like Singapore, we need 2 frequency bands (1800MHz and 2600MHz) to provide island-wide coverage.

iPhone 5, in this case, only supports 1800Mhz band, which will be typically deployed inland where its lower frequency allows better penetration of the buildings. 2600Mhz, on the other hand, is used near the coastal areas for wider coverage. I haven’t really tested my iPhone 5 in coastal areas such as East Coast Park, but at my residence in Hougang, the coverage and speed is fantastic. It’s even faster than my broadband.

Compared to Apple, Samsung got this right with Galaxy S3 LTE as it supports both 1800Mhz and 2600Mhz. From LTE coverage point of view, S3 is definitely more desirable than iPhone5. Galaxy S3 LTE will be launched soon and it’s just a couple more days / weeks away. (source: cnet)

Winner for this round: Samsung Galaxy S3

Screen Size and Retina Display

Having used SonyEricsson Xperia Arc for 2 years, I am pampered by the large (4.2″) screen. I don’t agree with Apple that a larger (or rather wider) screen will make the phone difficult for single hand operation. As an Asian, if I can hold the phone comfortably in one hand, there’s no reason why the bigger built Americans can’t do it. See the photos above? I can reach any part of the phone easily. 😉

iPhone5 (left) is longer than iPhone4S (right) but with the same screen width.

iPhone5 is really just longer (not wider) than iPhone4S and thus do not expect what’s on the screen to be any larger. The longer screen will reduce the scrolling and that’s about it. Again, this is another huge disappointment as a bigger viewing screen will make reading easier.

Then what about the retina display? Is this really good? Yes, it is. But is it necessary? I can live without it, for sure. I don’t show people my stunning photographs on a phone, by the way.

As for Samsung Galaxy S3, do I even need to introduce anymore? It has a large screen (4.8″) and although it doesn’t have retina display, I don’t think that’s a deal breaker.

Winner for this round: Samsung Galaxy S3

App Store and its ecosystem

Apple AppStore has a very strong ecosystem and Android has always been trying to catch up. 2 years ago when I started using Android, the Android Marketplace was weak, both in quantity and quality. Today, I think Google Play is much better and the quality of the apps has also improved. Having said this, I think AppStore is still the clearcut winner here.

Winner for this round: Apple iPhone5 

Manufacturing Precision

Have you seen the official iPhone5 introductory video? In the 6 minute video, you will notice that almost 2 minutes was focused on the manufacturing precision of the phone. As a consumer, do I really care? Though I appreciate the final output such as a highly polished diamond cut beveled edge, it is not a big deal to me as I know I will be wrapping this baby like a mummy. The amount of exposed areas after I added the screen protector and casing is really … not much. What about colour? Black or white? I don’t really care.

Since Samsung (or any other vendor for that matter) does not put in so much emphasis on their manufacturing process, I don’t know if their manufacturing process is as precise, or even better. So reluctantly, I think Apple is a winner here.

Winner for this round: Apple iPhone 5


This used to be one of the most important features on my wishlist. However modern phones have pretty decent cameras and in this aspect, I would think the difference in image quality between iPhone5 and S3 would be minimal.

Winner for this round: No winner

Integration with Apple MacOS

There are many 3rd Party synchronization applications in Google Play for MacOS and I was using SyncMate and doubleTwist for my SonyEricsson Xperia Arc. I would not say the experience was seamless. It was kinda hit and miss; though more hits and misses. However, the last synchronization actually wiped out all my calendar events and that helped me with the decision between S3 and iPhone5.

Winner for this round: iPhone 5


Seriously, if I am not so deeply rooted into the Apple ecosystem (iCal, iPhoto, iTunes, Apple Address Book, etc), I would have chosen Samsung Galaxy S3. However, for the sake of seamless integration, I chose iPhone 5.

Many people asked me, “I thought you are an Android guy? I thought you don’t like Apple? I am surprised that you bought an iPhone!” … Well, my response to those is, I support products and not companies. I bought iPhone because it’s the phone that suits me best. This doesn’t mean I have changed my views on Apple; it’s still a company with “arrogance”.

Disclaimer: The above is purely my personal views and you are entitled to yours. Let’s agree to disagree …


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