Samsung Galaxy S III vs. Apple iPhone 4S: It's Tough to Compare

NEWS ANALYSIS: The comparisons between the Samsung Galaxy S III and the iPhone 4S started almost immediately, but is this fair? The real test comes when Apple rolls out the iPhone 5.

When Samsung, the new world leader in mobile phone shipments, introduces anything, a glance to the Apple iPhone is a natural response. When Samsung introduces a phone that in all likelihood will be the summertime blockbuster of Android phones, holding Samsung against Apple€”or the Galaxy S III against the iPhone 4S€”becomes more of a compulsion.

The sizes of the devices is notable: The iPhone 4S, with its 3.5-inch (diagonal) display, measures 115.2 by 58.6 by 9.3mm, while the S III, with a 4.8-inch display, measures 136.6 by 70.6 by 8.6mm. Still, the iPhone weighs 140 grams to the S III's 133 grams.

Apple has its Siri assistant, which users can ask to do things like send emails while they're jogging or remind them about an appointment or birthday. The S III has S Voice, more of a presence than an assistant that's waiting, anticipating and literally watching.

Still, measuring up the two smartphones anymore seems silly.

Apple is preparing to refresh the iPhone later this year. So, it is the unknown iPhone 5 that the Galaxy S III will be more properly compared against. Though, according to reports coming out of Samsung's London event, the Galaxy S III will arrive in the United States later this summer, while by most accounts the newest iPhone won't arrive until the fall.

Could consumers waiting for a new iPhone, or at least its introduction, hurt Galaxy S III sales? In the fast-moving mobile market, it's anyone's guess.

"If nothing else, Samsung's GX3 has provided a target for Apple to aim at with the iPhone 5," Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told eWEEK. "The S III's display size, CPU and RAM are all significantly superior to Apple's current generation iPhone 4S, and may well come to represent the 'table stakes' required for vendors to play in next-gen smartphones."

Plus, King added, Samsung included expandable memory and a replaceable battery in the S III.

"Neither Apple nor HTC offers those features at this time, and it seems to me that both features will become increasingly important as smartphone vendors focus on 'media-enhanced' features and user experience," said King. €œSeeing how Apple, HTC and other vendors respond will say a lot about their strategic evolution and the confidence they have in their own product development efforts."

Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies, notes that it's important, when comparing Apple and Samsung, to distinguish between segment domination, where Apple is the clear leader, and phone shipment numbers, where Samsung offers a greater range of price points.

"If you keep your eye on the money, it's still Apple by a couple of lengths. But Samsung is giving Apple a run for its money on technology and integration," said Kay. "So, this intense rivalry should continue for the next couple of years."

Analyst Ken Hyers, with Technology Business Research , told eWEEK he's feeling conflicted about the Galaxy S III, which seems to be a result of Samsung top brass taking the kitchen-sink route, throwing in everything they could imagine, but there's the Galaxy S III's crazy size.

"Anyone who wants to put one in their pockets will first have to sew some oversized pockets onto their clothes," said Hyers.

However, for 2012 at least, he expects it will be the iPhone of the Android community.

"The overly attentive software will probably repel a certain minority of customers, who will be either bugged by the fact that the device is overly complicated or will be creeped out by the way the Galaxy S III watches and anticipates what users want," said Hyers.

"But most folks will love the new software, which will make them start doing things with their smartphones that they never even thought about doing before they bought the Galaxy S III,€ he added.