iPhone Vs. Samsung Galaxy S III: Which Phone Should You Buy?

samsung galaxy s iii customised home screen

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

Samsung’s new flagship Android phone, the Galaxy S III, rolls out this month.It’s a great phone.

But how does it compare to the top-selling phone on the planet, the iPhone?

I took a look at the most important categories for smartphone buyers and broke it down for you.

A quick note on scoring: In earlier stories like this, Business Insider gave each category equal weight. That doesn’t make sense as some features like app selection are way more important than design. From now on, we’ll be scoring each category based on importance.

Design (1 Point)

The iPhone is gorgeous. The Samsung Galaxy S III is gorgeous.

So which one is better-looking?

We're going with this Galaxy S III on this one. The iPhone 4/4S design has been around for two years and it's starting to feel stale. The Galaxy S III is thinner, lighter, and sports that gorgeous giant screen. We're expecting a new look for the iPhone this fall, but the Galaxy S III wins for now.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 1

iPhone: 0

Build quality (1 Point)

Despite its good looks, the Galaxy S III still feels cheap. That's because Samsung made the entire body out of flimsy plastic.

On the other hand, the iPhone is all metal and glass. It feels like a high-end product. It may be heavier, but I'll take that over plastic any day.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 1

iPhone: 1

Screen (2 Points)

A 4.8-inch screen would've sounded bonkers a year ago. But what Samsung pulled off with the Galaxy S III is pretty darn impressive. The phone's designers were to keep the display's bezel super thin, so the device isn't absurdly large. (Unlike the practical-joke-sized Galaxy Note.)

Aside from the size, the quality is amazing. It's a delight to watch videos and play games on a big, bright screen. The iPhone's screen may look good, but in this case, bigger is better.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 3

iPhone: 1

App selection (3 Points)

Despite all the advances Android has made over the last year, the platform still doesn't have the same healthy app selection Apple has on the iPhone. All the basics like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are there, but developers still tend to make the best new apps for iPhone first. For example, it took Flipboard two years to pull the trigger on an Android app.

If you want the best apps first, you're better off with the iPhone.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 3

iPhone: 4

Music and movie downloads (2 Points)

It's tough to beat the iTunes store, especially when it comes to movie and TV show selections. Simply put, you have more options with Apple's store.

Samsung has two content stores: Music Hub and Media Hub (for video). Music Hub's selection is on-par with Apple's, but the Media Hub's movie and TV show selection needs a lot of work.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 3

iPhone: 6

Storage options (2 Points)

The iPhone has three storage options: 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB.

With the Galaxy S III, your options vary a bit depending on your carrier. For example, Verizon sells a 16 GB and 32 GB model. Luckily, the Galaxy S III lets you put in your own Micro SD card for extra storage. You can actually save a bit of money by buying the cheapest model, and using your own Micro SD card if you need more space. That makes the Galaxy S III a winner in this category.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 5

iPhone: 6

Data speeds and network options (1 Point)

The iPhone is available on AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and few other small carriers.

The Galaxy S III is available on AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular.

So you get more carrier choice with the Galaxy S III, but what about speed? The Galaxy S III can run on the fastest wireless standard called LTE. LTE is available on AT&T and Verizon. (It's coming to Sprint soon.) The phone will also run on T-Mobile's 4G network, which can be just as fast as LTE in certain cities.

The iPhone is still stuck on slower 3G networks (don't trust AT&T's '4G' symbol on the iPhone 4S), although that will likely change this fall when Apple launches the next iPhone.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 6

iPhone: 6

Price (1 Point)

iPhone 4S pricing is the same across all carriers: $199, $299, and $399 for the 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB models, respectively. (That's with a two-year carrier contract, of course.)

Galaxy S III pricing varies from carrier to carrier, so it's tough to tell which phone is the best deal. The phone starts at $199 on most carriers. The glaring exception is T-Mobile, which starts the phone at $280.

In general, both phones are fairly priced and a good value. It's a tie.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 7

iPhone: 7

Performance (2 Points)

Both the iPhone and Galaxy S III boast some impressive internal specs. That means you won't have problems running 3D games and multiple apps at the same time. They're pretty much equal in that regard.

What really stinks about the Galaxy S III is its battery life. It's horrendous. You'll barely be able to make it through a day of normal use. Battery life is super important, so Apple definitely wins this round.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 7

iPhone: 9

Camera (1 Point)

I admit that I'm not much a photo expert, so it's tough for me to compare the two smartphone cameras on image quality. They both look good.

What I can say is that the Galaxy S III's camera software is much better than the iPhones. Samsung simply gives you more options like facial recognition, burst shot, panoramic photos, etc. You'd have to download a separate app to get those features on the iPhone.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 8

iPhone: 9

Ecosystem (3 Points)

When you buy an iPhone, you're also buying into Apple's ecosystem. And it's the best ecosystem there is. Between the iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Apple TV, your entire digital life is insanely easy to manage.

Because Samsung pumps out so many different smartphones, TVs, tablets, etc. with different features and software capabilities, it's not as easy to get on one unified ecosystem. It's messy.

Scoreboard
Galaxy S III: 8

iPhone: 12

The final word

At the end of the day, Samsung is very close to catching up with the iPhone, at least with its flagship phones like the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Nexus. But there's still a lot of work to be done.

The iPhone still has a head start, and it shows. the overall iPhone experience is cleaner and more polished than the Galaxy S III experience.

And that's good for most people.

If you're debating between the iPhone and Galaxy S III, the iPhone is still your best bet. However, I understand the iPhone isn't for everyone. Just know the Galaxy S III is the best alternative there is.

Final Score
Galaxy S III: 8

iPhone: 12 (WINNER!)

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