Features and Capabilities
The Apple iPhone 4S is based on the A5 chip, which is a dual-core processor -- although the actual processor speed has not been released by Apple, independent sources rate it at 1GHz. It is super fast and responsive, though there's no way to directly compare it to the Galaxy S III since the same benchmark app isn't available across platforms.
The Galaxy S III has a dual core 1.5GHz processer from Qualcomm, and it's super fast and responsive. I can't say that you won't ever wait to open up an app or switch tasks, but performance is excellent across the board. It also offers more storage, since the iPhone 4S tops out at 64GB total, while the Galaxy S III has 16GB of internal storage and the microSD card slot supports cards up to 64GB in capacity, for a total of 80GB for your music, videos, ebooks, and apps. If you need even more room, a 32GB version of the Galaxy S III is available from T-Mobile, offering a total of 96GB of memory if you plug in a 64GB microSD card.
The Galaxy S III gets a slight nod in this category, mainly due to the added bonus of more extensive multitasking and removable/expandable storage thanks to its microSD card slot. Please not however, that iPhone 4S isn't by any means a slouch when it comes to performance.
Communication and Call Quality
The Apple iPhone 4S is at a distinct disadvantage here because it is not a 4G phone; when it comes to pure download speeds it simply can't compare to the 4G-enabled Samsung Galaxy S III. Obviously there won't be much difference when it comes to texting and Twitter, but it is much more of a concern if you're downloading lots of apps, watching a ton of streaming video, or constantly surfing the web.
Call quality depends as much on your carrier and your location as on the phone itself, so it's impossible to judge this category objectively. I have fairly good service with both the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S III; the iPhone does seem to suffer from more dropped calls, but that's a known issue in my area. It's hit or miss actually receiving a call on either phone when in my office, but I can go right outside the door of my building and both devices work fine.
The winner in this category is the phone that does what you want. While iOS and Android are very different operating systems, they each have their advantages and disadvantages, and most users generally prefer one over the other. The iPhone 4S offers some strong advantages if you already use other Apple products such as the iPad or a Mac, because iCloud can handle reminders and notes in addition to Android's excellent Calendar and Contact syncing capabilities.
Since many apps are now available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play, there's less chance of being forced to pick one platform or the other based on a critical need for one particular app. When it comes to Microsoft Office compatible apps, I've found that they are generally included with the purchase of an Android device, but you'll have to pay extra for either Apple's own Office suite or DataViz's Documents to Go if you get an iPhone. The built-in viewers for Word and Excel documents are top notch on the iPhone, but if you need actual editing capabilities that is going to cost you $20 - $30.
If voice search capabilities are important to you, the iPhone 4S is the obvious choice. While Siri is far from perfect, it is also far, far superior to the Google voice search widget on the Galaxy S III. Siri did what I wanted it to do somewhere between 50-75% of the time, but I couldn't get the included voice app to make a call, do a web search, get directions to a particular destination, or carry out any of the other commands that is is supposed to handle. I had a friend try it with the same results, so it isn't just me.
Entertainment is a dead heat, because so many of the top mobile games are available for both platforms. The same is true for video playing apps, ebook readers, and other entertainment apps. The real choice here is whether you want the extreme clarity of Apple's Retina display on the iPhone, or if you would rather have the larger screen found on the Galaxy S III.
The iPhone 4S is rated for up to 8 hours of talk time on 3G and up to 14 hours on a GSM network, with a standby time of up to 200 hours. The Galaxy S III is rated for the same 8 hours of talk time and up to 200 hours on standby, but I found that the battery drained much faster than the iPhone 4S in real life testing, most likely due to multitasking and using the 4G network instead of the iPhone's 3G.
Both the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S III have 8 megapixel cameras with LED flash, though the Samsung model's front-facing camera with 1.9 megapixel resolution is definitely better than the VGA resolution of the front camera on the iPhone 4S. Camera features and photo quality are very similar on both devices, though the Galaxy S III has some extra features like burst shot to capture up to 20 images at lightning fast speeds, a zero lag shutter, and AllShare Group Cast that can instantly share photos with friends who also have the Galaxy S III smartphone.
The iPhone 4S ranges in price from $200 to $400, depending on the memory capacity you choose: 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB. The Galaxy S III (16GB) is $200 from AT&T and Verizon, and $280 (16GB) or $330 (32GB) from T-Mobile, so the two generally cost the same for the lest-expensive version, but as storage capacites go up, theGalaxy S III has a lower overall cost of entry. Of course all prices quoted are with a new two-year service contract.
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