Today Samsung took the veil off the Galaxy S III, the newest smartphone in the line. The debut of the new device puts more fuel on the fire in the war between Samsung and Apple, but how do these phones stack up against one another?
Each device has fully-integrated voice controls. Apple has Siri, and Samsung has S Voice. With both you can speak to the assistant, and ask it to do tasks like send a text, make a call, or schedule and appointment, and so on. It's too early to say how S Voice compares performance-wise, but Android Voice Actions has already proven demonstrably better than Apple's offering, so color us hopeful.
With iOS 5, Apple completely revamped its alerts into the catch-all Notification Center, where you can see all the recent activity on not only your calls and texts, but also your apps. Texts are also less intrusive, popping up in the top of the screen.
The Galaxy S III, meanwhile, makes some improvements to Android's stock notification functionality. Smart Alert looks especially promising; if you miss a call, the phone will vibrate and flash an LED the next time you pick it up.
Apple's iCloud puts all of your content in its cloud. So if you download a song on iTunes from your phone, it will automatically pop up on in the library on your computer. Samsung's S-Cloud was rumored to arrive along with the SIII, but didn't make an appearance at today's press conference. Google's G-Drive, though, gets the job done for Android devices.
Samsung has a couple of different services that equip you to access your content remotely. AllShare Cast, in particular, pairs to TVs, laptops, or tablets over Wi-Fi and lets you mirror what is playing on the S III. To accomplish the same with an iDevice, you need an AppleTV.
There are a couple of advantages to communicating with a friend that owns the same device. The S III offers S Beam, which pairs other S IIIs together and lets them share photos, videos, files, albums, etc. via NFC over a Wi-Fi connection. Similarly, Direct Call knows to dial someone automatically if you have their contact information open and move your SIII up to your ear.
Two iPhone 4S users can connect via iMessage, a free instant messaging service that is free between a pair of these devices. It also has Find my Friends, which uses GPS to help you locate your other iPhone 4S toting pals on a map. Video chat with other iOS devices is available through FaceTime, but Direct Call is a neat trick that the iOS hadn't thought of yet.
The SIII's camera has a feature called Burst Shot/Best Photo that quickly snaps 20 photos in a row, then recommends the best one out of the series. If you disagree, you can override that option. By comparison, Apple's phone has HDR, which captures three images in one shot, each at a different exposure level. This trio is then combined into one image, which is supposed to have better overall quality.
The iSight camera has face detection, which will display a square around a subject's head. The S III's answer to this is something called Face Zoom, which allows you to select a specific mug and zoom in on it.
The iPhone 4S debuted with deeper Twitter integration, which let you snap a picture and automatically post it to your stream, without ever having to exit your photo roll. On the other hand, the SIII's Social Tag links the pictures of your friends in your photo gallery to their Facebook or Google+ accounts.
On paper? Give the Galaxy S III the edge for specs, but don't count out the power of Apple's popular ecosystem. It's also way too early to make any final judgments; the Galaxy SIII won't be out in the US until the summer, and the next iPhone—one with a whole new suite of specs and tricks—will be hot on its heels. What Samsung's done, though, is put out a great-looking phone with some intriguing features. Ones that we can't wait to play with soon.