iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S3: What To Buy? (Holiday Shopping Guide)

11 December 2012, 12:52 pm EST By Anu Passary Mobile & Apps

The rivalry between Apple and Samsung is intensifying day by day with the former looking to topple the latter from its smartphone market leader pedestal.

The Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 are vying for consumers' attention and have been raking in sales figures since their respective launches. The best-selling Galaxy S3, however, pipped rival Apple's iPhone 5 to win the award for the best smartphone and gadget of 2012.

Here's a round-up of the features and specification of the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 to help you decide which smartphone to buy this holiday season. Check out how the two devices measure up against each other.


The iPhone 5 features a powerful dual-core A6 processor, which is clocked at 1.3GHz, whereas the international variant of the Galaxy S3 packs in a 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos processor (the North American variant has 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor). 

Display and Design

The iPhone 5 sports a 4-inch IPS LCD Retina display with 1136 x 640 pixels resolution.

The Galaxy S3 has a much bigger 4.8- inch HD Super AMOLED screen with 1280 x 720 pixels resolution. However, the iPhone 5 steals the show with its higher 326 ppi density vis-à-vis the Galaxy S3's 306 ppi.

Apple's aluminum-and-glass iPhone 5 has an all-metal backing with a two-toned design, but with much less glass than its predecessor, which means that the iPhone 5 will likely endure far more drops without shattering. The Galaxy S3 has an appealing design appealing design as well; however, the shiny, glossy plastic casing does not exactly scream high quality. However, the advantage of the plastic back cover is that it will not shatter, but be prone to abrasion.

Weight, Thickness, and Body

The Galaxy S3 measures 5.38 x 2.78 x 0.35 inches, making it taller, wider, and thicker than the iPhone 5 which measures 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches. The Galaxy S3 is also heavier than the iPhone 5 and weighs 4.69oz vis-à-vis 3.95oz, which is likely due to the Samsung offering's bigger size.

Storage and Memory

Both the devices are available in 16/32/64 GB internal storage options. However, the Galaxy S3 has an expandable memory option (an additional 64GB) via a microSD card, giving it an edge over the Apple smartphone. 

 Both smartphones have 1GB of RAM.

Software and Connectivity

The iPhone 5 comes with the latest iOS 6 operating system, whereas the Galaxy S3 comes pre-loaded with Android 4.0 ICS. However, the Galaxy S3 has started receiving the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update on several carriers in the U.S. The software update has also been pushed out in Europe and other parts of the world. What's more, per reports, Samsung has recently started rolling out the Android 4.1.2 update as well, which bring the Multi-View Window feature to the Galaxy S3.

Additionally, the Galaxy S3 is NFC enabled unlike the iPhone 5; however, the latter has its own Passbook feature which has similar functionality. Moreover, Samsung was one of the first companies to market file-sharing over NFC, and the Korean company has been marketing its S Beam feature aggressively as well.

Both phones support Wi-Fi frequencies 802.11n, 802.11g, 802.11b, and 802.11a., Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS.


Apple does not officially disclose the size of the battery, but teardowns of the iPhone 5 have revealed a 1440mAh non-removable battery that supports up to 8 hours of talk time usage on 3G. By comparison, a more powerful removable 2100mAh battery fuels the Galaxy S3 and supports 10.8 hours of talk time on 3G.


The iPhone 5 features an 8-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera (1080p) with autofocus and LED flash and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera (720p). The iPhone 5's camera is one of the best in the business (despite the purple flare complaints) and has automatically adjusting low-light capabilities. The panorama feature allows users to take wider screenshots.

The Galaxy S3 sports an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera (1080p) with autofocus and LED flash, and a front-facing camera with 1.9 megapixels (720p), which has higher pixels than the iPhone 5 one. The Galaxy S3's camera also offers features like face detection, geo tagging, and panorama.


The iPhone 5 is priced at $199.99, $299.99, and $399.99 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions, respectively. The Galaxy S3 costs between $199.99 and $329.99 depending on the carrier.

The Galaxy S3 is available in an array of colors like gray, white, black, blue, red, and pink (exclusive to Korea), whereas the iPhone 5 is available in black or white.

With both the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 offering high-end features, ultimately consumer preference will take precedence.

Which smartphone would you buy this holiday season, the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S3?

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