There look to be some excellent Windows Phone 8 devices coming from Nokia and HTC in the coming months, but if you are looking for a smartphone right now there are really only two serious options to consider; the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III. You can find a number of other Android devices, some old Windows Phone and BlackBerry units, but for the person who wants the latest and greatest these two are ones to consider. It is actually a nice time to buy since choosing between just two is easier than looking through all of the options we have had in the past when it was tough to find real standout candidates. I am blessed to be able to own a Galaxy S III on T-Mobile and an Apple iPhone 5 on Verizon and have to say there are pros and cons to both devices, but you cannot go wrong with either one.
Apple iPhone 5
The new iPhone 5 is an amazing piece of technology and everyone that has held or used mine over the last few days has said how well built it is and how fast it is. If you are already part of the Apple ecosystem then it is a no-brainer that you pick one up as soon as you can. Apple already passed the 5 million sold level in just three days, which is an amazing statistic unmatched by any other smartphone. As I said in my first impressions article it feels more like an iPhone nano than an upgraded iPhone. While it has a 4 inch display, it is narrow and quite small. You need to have good eyesight to enjoy the small display, but at least the resolution is crisp and you can zoom in to text in many applications.
Siri is working brilliantly for me and saving me time entering reminders, looking up sports scores, and interacting with the device and my finger. I love the quality of iOS apps and it is very refreshing going back to an iPhone. Verizon LTE has been unbelievable and after traveling over 100 miles up and down the Puget Sound area I was rarely out of LTE coverage with speeds beating my home cable connection! I took over 75 photos this weekend as we were dropping off my oldest at college and the cameras, back and front, capture excellent still images and video. The size is so convenient for placing in my pocket and the iPhone 5 almost disappears in my jeans and shorts pockets. I forgot my new Apple charger, but the iPhone 5 still went all day Saturday and Sunday without a recharge and this was with LTE on for 2/3 of that time.
The iPhone 5 is not perfect and even though iOS Maps worked perfectly for me all weekend, there have been many who have had unsatisfactory experiences with the new mapping service. I still cannot get any Passbook service to show up in the new utility even though I downloaded and signed in to a couple associated apps. I also cannot find a car charger and even though I was able to go two days with the iPhone 5, I want the ability to charge it up in my car.
Samsung Galaxy S III
Samsung has sold over 20 million Galaxy S III smartphones and it is doing extremely well on a number of carriers in the US and around the world. If you are a T-Mobile customer then you don't get a choice between these two and the Galaxy S III is the one to buy right now. I LOVE the large display that still has a very pocketable form factor. Google Maps is excellent and the HSPA+ I experience flies. The GSIII also supports LTE on other carriers too. If you are a Google ecosystem user, then you will like the GSIII better as the iPhone 5 severely limits the Google experience even going so far as to remove the YouTube and Google Maps apps. I have a few screens of widgets and like the ability to quickly glance and see status updates. The GSIII is extremely fast, even with the default TouchWiz UI.
The Siri copy on the GSIII, S Voice, is pretty much a miserable experience and I can rarely get it to work accurately. I cannot wait to get Jelly Bean on the GSIII with the Google Now service that I find MUCH more accurate and functional on my Galaxy Nexus.
Do I prefer one over the other?
If I was on a single carrier that offered both of these devices, it would be extremely difficult for me to choose between the two. I know the iPhone 5 is new in my hand and thus probably getting a lot more attention from me, but if I really did have to pick just one I would likely go with the Samsung Galaxy S III. While the iPhone 5 is a much better built product, the larger display, widget support, expandable memory card slot, removable battery, and fantastic Google experience make the GSIII more useful to ME. Thankfully, I have the opportunity as a mobile phone blogger to own both devices on two different carriers so I do not have to choose just one and can enjoy the best of both. Do you have a choice between the two on your carrier and if so, which one did you choose?
Related ZDNet coverage
- Apple sells 5 million iPhone 5 units in 3 days, still disappoints
- Apple iPhone 5 first impressions: Beauty is in the hand of the beholder
- Samsung Galaxy S III: Summer blockbuster defined by superstar software (review)
- Samsung Galaxy S3 gets Android Jelly Bean
- 20 million Galaxy S IIIs sold, next step is the Jelly Bean update