Samsung Galaxy S2 vs. Apple iPhone 4S: Style Meets Substance

ANALYSIS

  @redletterdave on October 05 2011 12:05 PM
An South Korean mobile carrier employee holds an iPhone 4 and a Galaxy S II next to each other. Both phones feature better graphics, faster processors, voice assistants, and incredible cameras.
An South Korean mobile carrier employee holds an iPhone 4 and a Galaxy S II next to each other. Both phones feature better graphics, faster processors, voice assistants, and incredible cameras. Reuters/Jo Yong Hak

The war of the S smartphones is upon us.

Samsung's Galaxy S II finally lands in the U.S. Wednesday at AT&T. A hit in Europe, Samsung's follow-up to the Epic Touch 4G features a thin and light body, a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, an 8-megapixel camera, and a powerful dual-core Samsung Exynos processor.

Samsung chose an excellent time to release its new smartphone. Some are still mourning Tuesday's announcement from Apple HQ that there would be no iPhone 5 just yet, and that consumers would have to settle with an iPhone 4 follow-up called the iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 4S may look the same as the iPhone 4, but don't be deceived. Apart from the screen and the industrial design, the phone features completely new hardware, including a new dual-core processor, alternating antennae, a larger 64 GB capacity option, a new chipset, baseban, and more. Furthermore, the phone features a new intelligent assistant called Siri, a dictation system, and support for CDMA users and GMS global roaming.

The two phones are comparable in a number of areas, including price, processors, wireless syncing and sharing to other devices, and HD video capture. But a slew of independent companies, as well as Samsung, have drafted comparison sheets to show users the various ways that the two new smartphones trump each other.

Here are the results:

Where Apple's iPhone 4S Wins:

  • High-resolution display: The iPhone 4S's Retina display has 960 x 640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi (pixels per inch), while the Galaxy S II is less: 800 x 400 at 218 ppi.
  • Global roaming: The iPhone 4S has CDMA and GSM chips, negating the need for global users to use another phone outside the country. The Galaxy S II only has a GSM chip.
  • Rear camera: The iPhone 4S has an 8-megapixel camera with flash, autofocus, and a state-of-the-art hybrid infrared filter. The Galaxy S II also has an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, but there's no such filter.
  • Storage options: iPhone 4S is available in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB. Galaxy S II comes with 16 GB with potential to expand to 48 GB.
  • Voice-to-text support: Anytime a keyboard appears on the iPhone 4S, the user can press a microphone button, speak their message, and send it to Apple. In a matter of seconds to minutes, depending on the length of the message, Apple will send you back a fully-dictated message.
  • Personal assistant: Apple's newest and most exciting feature, Siri, is a smart personal assistant that can schedule meetings, set reminders, send texts and e-mails, call friends, tell you the weather, and even answer complicated questions, converting types of currency or figuring out the number of days until Christmas. Better yet, Siri understands context, so the user doesn't need to adjust to the system; the system adjusts to the user. Samsung also its own voice solution for the Galaxy S II, but the system's vocabulary is limited to calling, music, messaging, scheduling and launching apps.
  • Dimensions: While the Galaxy S II may be slightly thinner than the iPhone 4S, the 4S has a smaller length and width. The Galaxy S II measures 129 x 66 x 8.9mm, while the 4S measures 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm. However, it's important to note here that neither phone is really gigantic.

Where Samsung's Galaxy S II Wins:

  • Screen size: Samsung's 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display beats out Apple's smaller 3.5-inch Retina display.
  • Data speed: Thanks to its 4G capabilities, the Galaxy S II can download data at speeds up to 21 mbps; Apple's iPhone 4S, while not 4G, is running low-end 4G-type speeds at 14.4 mbps. This speed is comparable to 4G phones available today, but just doesn't stack up to Samsung's brand-new smartphone.
  • Front camera: Rear cameras are one thing. Apple's front screen features a different VGA camera, while the Galaxy S II has a much more detailed 2 megapixel camera.
  • NFC: The Galaxy S II can wirelessly transmit payment information to make credit card payments easy and contactless. Simply swipe your phone to purchase items, make reservations, enter buildings, and even scan smart tags on posters or billboards.
  • Weight: Samsung's 117-gram smartphone is 23 grams lighter than the iPhone 4S.

The Verdict: Both companies' tablet and phone devices do look and perform comparably, with remarkably similar features like voice assistants, newsstand apps, and wireless syncing. Samsung and Apple have cried patent infringement against each other for several months leading up to October, and while Apple has won a majority of these legal battles, has it won the war?

With top-line features, brilliant displays, and comparable pricing options, both the Samsung Galaxy S II and the iPhone 4S are incredible phones, clearly two of the best (soon-to-be) available. But with full integration with Apple's award-winning family of products, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets and music players, the iPhone 4S is the real deal.

The biggest difference between the two phones, which has not yet been mentioned, is the operating system. The Galaxy S II will initially run on Android Gingerbread, which is a fantastic OS, but the iPhone 4S will come pre-loaded with iOS 5, the latest Apple mobile operating system with more than 200 new features like a better notification system and deep Twitter integration. Android Gingerbread is slick, but iOS is intuitive. One new feature in the iOS 5 is that it makes the device PC-free, so the phone doesn't need to connect to a PC to set up, making it much more accessible.

And that really is the overall difference between the two phones. The iPhone 4S is simply more accessible all-around. It makes it easy to share documents, photos and information with other devices, it has a new app to find your family and friends, and Siri could be the most revolutionary change by making the iPhone 4S almost completely a hands-free device.

The iPhone 4 is currently the best-selling and highest-rated smartphone and the iPhone 4S improves upon every single feature. The Galaxy S II will certainly make a dent in Apple's sales, but it will need to prove itself first.

The Galaxy S II is currently available from AT&T and Sprint, and will debut on T-Mobile on Oct. 12. Apple will begin taking pre-orders for the iPhone 4S on Oct. 7 and will sell the phone in stores on Oct. 14. Both phones start at $199.

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