Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Galaxy S3: Early Look at What to Expect

While most consumers are going to be comparing the Samsung Galaxy S5 to devices like the iPhone 5s, Galaxy S4, and Nexus 5, others will be comparing it to older and cheaper devices, devices like last year’s Samsung Galaxy S3. As we head into the new year, the Galaxy S3 remains a visible option for smartphone shoppers and it will continue to serve as a budget option well into 2014. Here, we take an early look at how we think it will stack up to Samsung’s latest and greatest, the Galaxy S5.

For those that can’t remember, the Samsung Galaxy S3 was announced in the United Kingdom in May of 2012. It replaced the Samsung Galaxy S2 and introduced a brand new curved design, based on nature, and a number of other specifications that made it a massive upgrade over the previous Galaxy S model. They also helped to make the Galaxy S3 one of the best selling smartphones of all time.

For much of 2012 and all of 2013, the Samsung Galaxy S3 has remained a solid option for consumers, a testament to Samsung’s progressive hardware and its software software that sees its flagship devices get around two years of solid support. With rumors of an Android 4.4 KitKat update flying, the Galaxy S3 may still have some life left in it yet.

When next year’s Samsung Galaxy S arrives, a device that is presumably going to be called the Galaxy S5, it will replace the Galaxy S4 as the company’s flagship smartphone but it won’t replace the Galaxy S4 outright. It probably won’t replace the Galaxy S3 either. Instead, those devices will likely live on as budget options on U.S. carriers and more, attracting those that don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest features.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is starting to show its age but it will remain on shelves and thus, it will be a Galaxy S5 competitor. Here, we take an early look at how we expect the Galaxy S5 to stack up next to the Galaxy S3.

Release Date

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is an old phone. It was first released in May of 2012 and arrived in the United States in June and July of the same year. This means that it will turn two years old next year, ancient for a smartphone. Of course its age and the anticipated arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S5 don’t mean that it will vanish completely. After all, some carriers in the United States still offer the Galaxy S2, a device that is currently two years old.

Once the Galaxy S5 arrives, we could see the Galaxy S3 get discontinued at some carriers, but we imagine that it will stick around as a smartphone that some carriers basically give away at the cost of a contract. For now, it will command a price tag at most places. So when do we expect the Galaxy S5 to arrive and these possible changes to arrive?

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Expect a bug Samsung Mobile Unpacked event on September 4th for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 launch.

It’s clear that a Samsung Galaxy S5 is on the way and it’s looking more and more like it will be released within the January to April window. Both March and April are rumored as its release date which means that we could see it emerge as early as February. With Apple rumored to be introducing a large screen iPhone 6 in the summer or fall and iOS 8 likely arriving in the summer at WWDC, Samsung has a small window within which to operate and maximize sales.

We expect the Galaxy S5 to arrive within the first four months of the year and it’s at that point that anything that is going to happen to the Galaxy S3, whether that’s extreme price drops or discontinuations, will happen.

Design

Samsung’s Galaxy S3 design introduced consumers to a curved form factor that was as elegant as it was lightweight and thin. The device checks in at 8.6mm thin and only weighs 133 grams. Of course, the Galaxy S3 is as Samsung as it gets as it sports the company’s well-known plastic build material.

The Galaxy S3 is durable, comes with a microSD card slot for expanded storage, and a removable back for use with an extended battery but those come at the cost of it feeling cheaper than phones like the iPhone, HTC One and even the Galaxy S4 which uses a better type of plastic.

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Year-after-year, Samsung makes tweaks to its designs. The Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Note 3, both of which are thinner and lighter than their predecessors, are prime examples of this. So, we expect Samsung to bestow some tweaks upon the Galaxy S5 design. In fact, it could be that the Galaxy S5 features the biggest tweaks yet.

For years, consumers have been demanding a metal version of the Galaxy S and rumors have virtually all pointed to a metal Galaxy S5. There are also rumors that suggest that it could be coming in two form factors, one metal, one plastic. Samsung is likely still testing form factors and thus, it’s hard to say what the Galaxy S5 will look like exactly.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 may use a Note 3 feature to slim down further.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 may use a Note 3 feature to slim down further.

However, Samsung never takes a step backwards and the Galaxy S5 design should be an improvement over not only the Galaxy S3 design but the Galaxy S4 design as well.

Display

Once upon a time, the Samsung Galaxy S3’s 4.8-inch display with 1280 x 720 resolution and 306 pixels-per-inch was the talk of the town. No more. While it’s still suitable for many users, it’s not on par with the display tech from 2013 and 2014 may only help to further the gap.

The Galaxy Note 3 design could feature thinner bezels like the Galaxy S4 to stay with a similar size.

At the very least, the Galaxy S5 will have a 1080p display like the Galaxy S4. That means 1920 x 1080 resolution and likely, a high pixel-per-inch count in the 400’s. That’s the worst that will happen. There is also chatter about a display with 2560 x 1440 resolution with 520 pixels-per-inch. That rumor comes from information that reportedly came from Samsung itself. Whether it appears on the Galaxy S5 or not is not clear.

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What is clear is that the Galaxy S5 display will probably not only be better than the Galaxy S3 display in terms of quality but size as well. Rumors currently point to Samsung keeping a 5-inch display, but don’t expect that to make for a bigger Galaxy S5. Samsung managed to keep the Galaxy S4 similar in size to the Galaxy S3 and we expect it to do the same with the Galaxy S5.

Specs

When it first came out, the Samsung Galaxy S3 featured a list of impressive specifications which include its 8MP camera, dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 2,100 mAh battery. That was in 2012. We’re now in 2013 and those features have been left in the dust thanks to the insane speed of the development of mobile technology. Funny thing is, these features are probably going to be good enough for a lot of users. That will of course be up to the individual to decide.

The Samsung Galaxy S5’s specifications are going to blow these out of the water, no doubt about it. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was better than the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy S5 will deliver better performance than the Galaxy S3. It’s the nature of the game. So what do we expect from the Galaxy S5?

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At this point, rumors have converged on a 16MP camera with Auto Focus that may come with technology that allows it to shoot fantastic photos and videos in low light environments. This is an area where the Galaxy S3 camera struggles. They also point to a 64-bit processor that, at the very least, will be a quad-core chip. It should have at least 3GB of RAM to help power games and multitasking. And rumors suggest a 4,000 mAh battery. That’s probably not going to pan out but we do expect a bigger battery than the Galaxy S3’s.

What’s important here is that the Galaxy S5 will likely offer better gaming, improved multitasking, and its hardware specs will likely set the device up for the future. Something to consider before going budget.

Software

As of right now, every single major Samsung Galaxy S3 in the United States besides the Verizon Galaxy S3 runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, Google’s update that was released back in July. Verizon’s Galaxy S3 Android 4.3 update should roll out at some point within the next few weeks, making it one of the last in world to receive it.

Samsung hasn’t announced what’s next for the Galaxy S3. Rumors point to an upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat, something that makes sense given that the release of Android 4.4 KitKat fell right around the 18th month of its existence. This is important given that Google recommends companies cease software support after 18 months. Google declined to offer an Android 4.4 KitKat update to the Galaxy Nexus for this very reason.

If Android 4.4 KitKat does arrive for the Galaxy S3, it probably won’t be until later in 2014. And if it does get Android 4.4 KitKat, we expect that it would get some of software features from the Galaxy Note 3 and quite possibly, the Galaxy S5 as well.

Typically, Samsung loves to bring new TouchWiz software features to old devices. We would not expect the Galaxy S3 to get a ton of features from these new devices given its age but Samsung likes to keep its customers happy and devices feeling fresh so we wouldn’t put it past it.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a much brighter future ahead of it in terms of software. It will more than likely launch with Android 4.4 KitKat on board in addition to the new version of TouchWiz UI that will more than likely be on board. Samsung always adds new features of its own and the company has shown an interest in adding smart, touch less features.

Leaks have been scarce but given the upgrades that we saw emerge on the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3, we would expect the software to come with improvements to features that emerged on the Galaxy S4 along with some new features of its own. The software will be much different than the Galaxy S3’s, the latter of which will likely be stuck in the past, one way or another.

The Samsung Galaxy S5, of course, will also get longer software support thanks to its age. The Galaxy S3’s software support, at best, will stop next year.

Carriers

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is available on all five major carriers in the United States which means AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless. We haven’t seen it discontinued just yet and we expect it to remain on these carriers as we head into the new year. It’s also available on smaller carriers like regional provider C Spire Wireless.

Lifeproof nuud Galaxy S3 case review - 6

Expect the Samsung Galaxy S5 to follow in its footsteps. There is no way any of these carriers back off from a device that figures to be one of the best devices of the year and thus, we expect all five major carriers to get the Galaxy S5. We should also see an assortment of smaller carriers grab the flagship as well, a list that will likely include the C Spire.

Price

We don’t know how Samsung will price the Galaxy S5. No rumors have emerged, unsurprising given that price is usually the last bit of information to show up, and that means that the price is and will be a mystery for quite sometime. That doesn’t mean we don’t have an idea. Samsung has stuck with a $199.99 starting price tag for years and the iPhone 5s starts there right now. We doubt Samsung goes any lower, especially if the device does utilize a metal design.

This is what consumers have come to expect from Samsung’s flagship and we would be shocked to see the company, or its carriers, go any higher than that, even with the upgrades.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 can run S Voice from the Galaxy S4 with S Voice Drive.

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One thing that we know for sure though is that the Galaxy S3 will cost far less than the Galaxy S5. Right now, the Galaxy S3 is extremely cheap wherever it’s being sold. Whether that’s Amazon, Verizon or some place else, this is a device that is extremely cheap. And as we’ve said, we expect the Galaxy S3 price to dip even lower than it is right, once the Galaxy S5 arrives.

Comments

  1. Charles says

    A couple of things. I expect to see more articles like this as the GS5 nears its release date. The GS3 is such an awesome phone that it dampened excitement in consumers when the GS4 came out. This is not good for Samsung. It wasn’t that they were losing customers to competitors though. They just made such a great phone with the GS3 that consumers felt no need to upgrade. I’m one of them. The Note 3 almost got me to upgrade, but to be honest, the practicality of its size in trying to get it in and out of my pocket didn’t make sense.
    The 2nd point is I’m tired of everyone complaining about the plastic casing and yearning for a metal frame. Is anyone paying attention to iPhone owners? Have you noticed how do many of them have cracked screens? Metal makes the phone heavier, thus it hits the ground with more impact when dropped, which, let’s be honest, is a frequent occurence. Also, metal is a terrible shock absorber. Especially around a glass screen. So could we please, finally put that request to go metal to rest?

    • davidm says

      I am also not motivated to switch from my s3, but it has a cracked screen and many people I talk to have noticed or have Samsung devices with cracked screens. The problem in my case is the slippery plastic. I don’t have any complaint with plastic as a material, but they should have put some texture on it. In fact I had an HTC G2, which is a metal phone, and dropped it while I was taking a knapsack off, so my hand was over my head, with my height that’s nearly 7′. It feel face down on concrete and was barely scratched. My s3’s screen cracked after I dropped it less than 2′ while holding it for a moment between my knees. It’s bad luck it cracked, but it would not have happened if the case was not so slippery. I have a hard time forgiving Samsung for such a poor choice (and I also dislike their amateurish UI so I doubt my next handset will be Samsung).

  2. dan says

    i hear ya on the whole metal vs plastic war. i mean how many of us put a phone case on our phones? not like anyone would be able to tell if i have a plactic or metal back casing if i have, say, an otterbox case right? if im paying $700 retail for a phone you better believe im protecting my investment whether its plactic or metal

  3. Tee says

    I heard Cricket wireless just got their galaxy s4 and s3 updates today! Before Verizon? Thats bizzare!

    • Richie says

      if it wasn’t for metro pcs going from cdma to gsm cause of the T-Mobile merger, I’d never change my gs3.

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