What Apple should copy from the Samsung Galaxy SIII

What Apple should copy from the Samsung Galaxy SIII

Summary: Apple can learn a lot from Samsung's latest hotness. Design matters and Apple needs to stop recycling the same tired iPhone form factor. Three years is simply too long. Although it has its flaws, the Samsung Galaxy SIII is the Android phone to have. Until the next one comes out.

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What Apple should copy from the Samsung Galaxy SIII - Jason O'Grady

The Samsung Galaxy SIII is a great smartphone and, in a lot of ways, it's better than the iPhone 4S.

In the Fall of 2011 Apple released the evolutionary iPhone 4S instead of coming out with a revolutionary iPhone 5. Yawn. Sure, it comes with a faster chip and Siri, but it uses the same form factor and screen size as the iPhone 4 which came out a year earlier.

Apple rested on its laurels and Samsung caught the iPhone flat-footed. (Let's set aside for a moment the current Apple Samsung litigation and focus on the hardware).

While many people were surprised when the iPhone 5 didn't come out in the Fall of 2011, Apple was repeating history. In the 2008 it released the iPhone 3 then a year later in 2009 it released the iPhone 3GS in the same form-factor. Some refer to this as the the "tick-tock" release cycle. Apple's current rhythm is to release a new form-factor one year (tick), then release a new iteration of the same form factor with upgraded internals 12 months later (tock).

While Apple sat on the sidelines for a whole year (a lifetime in techbology) with the same, tired iPhone design other phone makers took chances and came out with new designs. Apple used to be the one taking the chances, but since it became the market leader the innovation seems to be slowing.

I've been testing a Samsung GS3 (a.k.a. SCH-1535) on Verizon Wireless ($199 w/2 year contract) and it's an incredibly nice device. It dwarfs the iPhone 4S in physical size, but the GS3's design aesthetic makes the iPhone  look like Johhny Ive took an extended holiday. 

The aging iPhone 4 is an industrial-looking block of metal and glass. When the first pictures of the iPhone 4 leaked, I was certain it was an unfinished prototype or engineering mule that lacked an outer bezel. The GS3 by comparison is smooth and curvy and feels great in the hand. The iPhone feels kind of like an ice scraper or something you might use to remove wallpaper with (and it doesn't age well, the aluminum bezel looks like junk after a while).

PROS

The GX3 has great form factor, a large 4.8-inch display, blazing-fast LTE speed, an NFC chip, and Android can do things that iOS still can't (widgets, Swype, Hooha, CyanogenMod 10, etc.). I've become completely enamored with Verizon Wireless' wicked-fast 4G/LTE network since they lit up a new LTE tower about 10 miles from my house (your mileage may vary). 

CONS

It's biggest problem is that the GX3 doesn't run Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Our own James Kendrick nailed it, the GS3 should have shipped with Jellybean, not the outdated Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Rumors persist that Jelly Bean will come to the GX3 as soon as tomorrow (this video shows it in action) but I'll believe it when I get the push notification. Another big detraction on the GX3 is the Samsung TouchWiz skin which runs atop Android 4.0. OEMs need to immediately stop skinning Android or, at a mimimum, provide a setting to "revert to stock Android." Enough already, I hate all Android skins.

Granted, square versus curvy is a subjective opinion but it's more than that. The iPhone 4/4S' physical design hasn't changed in two years and it's really starting to show its age. What's really scary is from the hardware leaks it looks like the iPhone 5 will arrive in essentially the same iPhone 4/4S "ice scraper" form factor, only taller. Sheesh.

I know that the iPhone is the market leader and that Apple is the world's most valuable company and everything, but it needs to stop with the "year off" nonsense. Apple needs to update the iPhone hardware design every year to keep it current and fresh. More than that, Apple needs to pay closer attention to what users want and -- more importantly --what the competition is doing. 

 

Further reading:

 

Topics: Apple, Android, iOS, iPhone, Samsung, Smartphones

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308 comments
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  • Android Fail

    Let me bring the most important point out. The main thing is that Apple iPhone continues to work over and over again with the least amount of glitches.

    I currently own a S3, S2, S1, iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, and a Windows Nokia.

    When on the go or driving in the car, the Android has been the worse user experience of all time. It become glitchy and freezes. I have 4 duplicate contacts of everyone. My apps constantly fight each other. I have to go app to app to disable notifications for an app. There are a lot of unvetted apps - security concerns.

    As a developer, I do not want any more screen sizes. You know how many things I have to watch out for on different platforms and vendors. Android 2,3,4,4.1 x Vendor Samsung, HTC x resolution sizes. There are over 3000 different android devices out there.

    So once more I dare you say Android is better than iPhone 5. You can have the S3. I will be laughing with my new iPhone coming out soon.
    Will Tran
    • uhuh

      That's funny cause I have a SII and it's been working as good as my friend's iphone 3gs while we're driving through the country on vacation. In fact even better cause I can use the tethering function(rooted Android is awesome!) and he(iphone user) enjoys it in his laptop too! Custom Jelly bean rom with google now makes siri looks outdated. Listening to a song on the radio and wondering who sings it couldn't be easier and faster to find out using the app widget and blazing fast 4g speeds while my friend using his iphone barely opened the app and tapped on the button to ID the song. His phone's screen size: lame! Talk about a nice screen with awesome color and quality: That would be?? one more time, an Android!! Voila!!)and these are just a few things that I'm able to do in my android(let's not even talk about customization here, does iphone allow any?? lol)
      ratico1
      • Using custom rom makes your answer irrelevant

        As 99% of peope do not use custom roms every experience on that is totally useless.
        That you even feel the need to put on a custom ROM however shows that the original ROM was not up to scratch
        IE11
        • No

          I would say its like 85% maybe, but the number is growing with easy flashing tools. Either way I support what you are saying about it not being an average experience.
          Jimster480
          • No more like 99.999% Thats closer to how many dont even know

            what an os is or that android is one.
            Johnny Vegas
          • I don't care about the bells and whistles

            of either phone but one thing that convinced me that android is better is because of the friendlier phone interface. I press the first few letters of the recipient and it brings up a list that I can choose from. When I had the iPhone 3G, I had to do a lot of keystrokes just to make a call. My work requires that I'm on the phone almost throughout the day. I haven't tried the newer iPhone models but if they still don't have that feature, I don't think that's smart. A smartphone is supposed to help you make calls smartly. Some may counter with "But you can use Siri". In a crowded and noisy place, I don't think that helps.
            rob95
          • noway

            Are you kidding me?
            cholasuek
          • Not sure what you mean

            I think it's new(ish), as in last year or two, that the unified search comes up tapping on the only button from the "desktop" and gives you a quick unified search through contacts, apps, etc. iphone 3 was years ago, so I'm not sure it has the unified search. I'm pretty sure contacts always had a quick a-z index and easy search, like you said, start typing the name...
            Again, iPhone 3 was years ago so its hard to remember, but i do know i never had a problem quickly going through contacts, so it probably at least had the a-z index and contact search bar at the top.
            I have the iPhone 4 (the one released June 2010), which you can probably get fairly cheap now no contract, and
            1 - tap the home button from the app launcher screen, start typing in your contact in the "search iphone" box that comes up, or
            2 - tap contacts icon or choose contacts from "phone", start typing name to only search through contacts, or choose a-z and tap the contact
            Again, i'm not sure of the iPhone 3, but i would not recommend buying any cell phone over three years old these days.
            ossoup
          • "I press the first few letters of the recipient and it..."

            All iPhones from 3GS onwards can run the current iOS 5.1.1. In iOS, in order to "find something" you tap the home button twice and start typing in the search area. You get the results as you type, including contacts etc.
            Oh, and those same iPhones will run the upcoming iOS 6 as well.
            danbi
        • I came across the same thing

          To do any of the supposedly "open" stuff that gave Android any advantage for my use, I had to root it. It would not even allow custom SSL ports with Exchange synching, something the first iphone did just by entering the port with standard server:port notation. I found apps that sorta did it ok, if a little buggy, but not good enough for non-annoying, everyday use.
          I did like the idea of VNC server, but just like with the iPhone, I needed to root it first. All the hacks I could have done with the iPhone if I rooted it. I do think the rooting community is more serious with the android though. When I rooted the iPhone, I found it lost value, because things became less stable and security became more of an issue. I found everything I needed and wanted worked without rooting. With android, you kind of have to root because of all the carrier crapware they allow, eating your battery among other annoyances.
          ossoup
          • not me...

            I don't 'root' my Android. My HTC rezound does everything I can think of very well. People generally root Android phones to make them even better, not to make up for something.
            trob6969
          • HTC Rezound RULES

            It just works..one more step to jelly bean. Too bad carriers and maker can't or won't promote its greatnest well makes it cheaper..
            wb923
          • you answer your own quesion

            >> "open" stuff that gave Android any advantage for my use

            and
            >> I do think the rooting community is more serious with the android though.

            You do realize, that the reason is because Android is open?
            eulampius
          • rooting is over-riding the stock

            You do not over-ride the stock of a system because it's more open, that is you forcing it open. You can do the same with iphone...
            I agree android has more space for customizing, but you do not root anything "because it's more open", you root it because you do not want the limitations of the system. Many people appreciate the security and stability of letting apple manage the underlying OS. Many people over-ride android because the base os does not let them do what they want, or they want to remove the embedded crapware.
            ossoup
          • please

            "Many people appreciate the security and stability of letting apple manage the underlying OS. Many people over-ride android because the base os does not let them do what they want, or they want to remove the embedded crapware."

            Yes we have crapware but that's not Androids doing it is the carriers. Just like iPhone user many appreciate the security and stability of letting android manage the underlying OS and don't root or load custom ROMs. So what is your point exactly? That the Base OS is lacking some needed functions? hmm so why do people jail break iPhones? Because they are so perfect they want to make them worse? LOL Obviously they wanted to change something the base OS didn't allow them to do.

            There is NO difference and your argument is worthless and turns a blind eye to the very same thing being done on iPhones?
            piiman
          • you seem a little religious on this...

            My point was that I found what the first poster obviously did, that taking the time to tweak, fiddle and root it was necessary for the android experience they wanted. I found the same thing. stock android was really no more "open" than the iPhone, for my needs, and to do what I really wanted (and what I thought android was about) i had to root it anyway, which i could also do just as well on my iphone.
            Rooting or jailbreaking is done because the stock OS is too limiting for your purpose, by definition, pure and simple. The fact that more people choose to root, or override the stock os on android does not mean that it is more open, just that the stock os is less up to the task they purchased it for than occurs with iphone users. i've tried rooting/jailbreaking, and you do lose access to stock updates (without overriding your override), sometimes your warranty and other tradeoffs. for the iphone, it comes with what many need in the first place, that is it's a more refined commercial product. android is more a do-it-yourself project to get rid of the crapware, find a stable rom that's fast enough, with the features you want, etc.
            The crapware is not just a carrier thing, but part of the deals android makes to provide a cheap phone. iphone allowed you to turn carrierIQ off in settings from the get-go, while for android it was embedded so deep you need hours of research and tweaking sometimes to get rid of it. with iphone, you go to settings and just turned off the carrierIQ debug info if you didn't want it.
            if apple can tell the carriers it doesn't want their crapware, i don't see why android couldn't, unless they are just choosing to allow it and work with the carriers instead of their customers.
            ossoup
          • compare the S3 vs iPhone 4s

            Ossoup... I encourage you to go to youtube or any other website that has an in depth demo of how the S3 and its features work and I'm sure, you'll stop your argument right away. This mind you, taking in consideration that the S3 is running ICS. Once the push for Jellybean arrives, it's over. The S3 simply has more features and is much smoother than IOS period. Anyone who doeosn't think so is either blind or stupid.

            Let's forget the fact about old Os's and compare what we have today, then our judgment form there.
            evan33
          • If you want to waste your time...

            If you want to try to discount the whole discussion of IOS being a bit more commercially refined than Android, the lack of real openness without rooting either, droves of android users feeling the need to root android to get what they want from it, and every other thing we were talking about on a bait-and-switch argument, i don't have time for that since it's not a real discussion.
            I'll admit, S3 is probably cool. I'm basing my experience on about a dozen android devices, the general unknown you get with most of them if you'll even get the current os that comes 6 months from now, how ios simply let you users off carrierIQ off-the-bat, while android users were fretting and digging for hours to remove it, etc. I was talking about android and ios in general. If you think one good phone that is almost on the current os makes every other ios/android reality null and void, that's your land.
            ossoup
          • yes it does - but at a price!

            generally iphone contracts are higher than s3 contracts even though the phones are close in price. Most people are prepared to accept crapware or advertising if it reduces costs. I dont which is one reason I buy unlocked phones and find my own network sim only deal
            cymru999
          • processors

            Remember that Apple has been smooth with UI without powerful processors. Android is smooth now because of quard core. So I think Android cheats a little don't you think? And Apple still at what... processor ?
            cholasuek