Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Samsung Galaxy S3: What We Know So Far

In May, the Samsung Galaxy S3 will turn two, ancient in smartphone years. Around that time, many Galaxy S3 owners will be coming off-contract, looking for a brand new smartphone. There will be plenty of choices but one of the standouts is sure to be the next Galaxy S, a device currently known as the Samsung Galaxy S5.

All the way back in May of 2012, Samsung took the stage in London, England and announced a brand new smartphone in the Samsung Galaxy S3. The now iconic device replaced the Galaxy S2 and did so with a number of improvements including a new design, upgraded hardware features and brand new software.

The device was immensely popular ahead of its launch and it remained popular throughout the year. In all, the Samsung Galaxy S3 has sold millions of times over, becoming Samsung’s most popular smartphone of all time. It’s also a device that remains on shelves, to this day, even after the Galaxy S4 replaced it as a flagship.

While it’s indeed still ticking, there will be plenty of Galaxy S3 owners coming off contract that will be looking to replace it. One of the devices that will almost certainly be on shelves this summer is the new Samsung Galaxy S, the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Samsung still isn’t talking about its brand new Galaxy S smartphone but it’s clear that the Galaxy S5 will be coming to replace the Galaxy S4 as the company’s flagship and push the Galaxy S3 further down the totem pole.

Thanks to rumors and leaks, we are starting to get a more detailed Galaxy S5 picture and it certainly looks promising, promising enough that Galaxy S3 users around the world are likely looking at their aging smartphone, wondering how it might compare to what comes next.

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Here, we take a look at what we know so far about the inevitable battle between the Galaxy S3 and Samsung’s brand new Galaxy, the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Release Date

Those who are weighing either the Galaxy S3 or the Galaxy S5 or are thinking about replacing the Galaxy S3 with the Galaxy S5 need to know that a launch is getting extremely close. We still haven’t seen Samsung send out invites to an Unpacked event but it’s pretty clear that we’re fast approaching a Galaxy S5 announcement.

Rumors have centered on two different windows. The first, a launch in and around Mobile World Congress which is set to take place at the end of February in Barcelona, Spain. The second, a launch in March, possibly mid-March just like the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch last year. Both rumors picked up steam in recent weeks but at this point, only one is believable.

While February is still a possibility, March is looking more likely. Eldur Murtazin, the Russian blogger who claimed a February 23rd launch for the Galaxy S5, backtracked on his statements saying that Samsung still hasn’t decided on a specific launch date.

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Italian blogger Flavio, who accurately leaked last year’s HTC One launch date, claims that the Galaxy S5 launch will take place in London in mid-March. This lines up with early Galaxy S5 rumors and currently, it’s the window that Galaxy S3 owners and those looking to upgrade should have their eye on.

As for a release, Samsung historically has released its devices about a month after launch. Murtazin and a report from Bloomberg peg the Galaxy S5 release date for April. This lines up perfectly with the supposed mid-March launch date so at the moment, it’s the most credible Galaxy S5 release window.

What’s important here is that all Galaxy S5 rumors are hovering around a February to May time frame so it’s pretty clear that the device will be emerging from the shadows in just a few short weeks.

Design

When Samsung’s Galaxy S3 arrived, the public was wowed by the device’s curves. Sure, there were cries for a premium design but many consumers were able to look past the plastic thanks to the overall form factor, the durability, the removable back, and the microSD card slot for expanded storage. It was when the Galaxy S4 arrived that the pleas to move beyond plastic really started to pick up.

The Galaxy S3 sports a plastic design.

The Galaxy S3 sports a plastic design.

Every year, Samsung tweaks its Galaxy S design. While the Galaxy S4 remained plastic, it was slimmer and lighter than the Galaxy S3′s form factor. The changes made the Galaxy S4 much more manageable, even with its larger display.

Early Galaxy S5 rumors pointed to design changes. Initially, they centered around a metal design, then a plastic design, then they returned with a vengeance claiming that Samsung would release both.

A report from the credible SamMobile mirrored this assertion. The publication claims that the Galaxy S5 will arrive in metal and plastic. The metal version will supposedly have a metal back, though nothing else was revealed. This seemed to close the book on the Galaxy S5′s build, that is, until respected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Cho Kuo spoke up over the weekend.

Galaxy S5 concept.

Galaxy S5 concept.

Kuo, who accurately predicted many of the iPhone 5s features, claims that the Galaxy S5 will come in two models, one premium and one budget, but that both will be made out of plastic. This has thrown everything into flux.

Sadly, the design may not make itself known ahead of launch. Samsung does a fantastic job of keeping its devices under lock and key prior to launch and so we may not know how the Galaxy S5 truly differs from the Galaxy S3, design-wise, until Samsung takes the stage.

Display

The Galaxy S3 sports a 4.8-inch display that offers 720 x 1280 resolution. The display, simply put, is considered a fossil in a smartphone world dominated by 1080p resolution and high pixel-per-inch counts. The Galaxy S4 elevated the Galaxy S display to new heights and its looking like the Galaxy S5 could separate the gap even further.

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The rumor mill proposes that at least one version of the Galaxy S5 will rock a QHD display with 2560 x 1440 resolution on board. Both SamMobile and Kuo agree that it will be the premium model that utilizes the brand new display. Kuo takes it a bit further though. He claims that the budget Galaxy S5 variant will offer 1080p resolution, something that benchmarks have seemingly backed up.

Samsung itself has thrown fuel on the rumors, telling Bloomberg that “for the S5, we will go back to the basics. Mostly, it’s about the display and the feel of the cover.” The executive failed to elaborate but it’s clear that there will be something different about the Galaxy S5 display, even if the changes only apply to one model.

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Rumors point to a 5.25-inch display on the Galaxy S5, just a tad larger than the Galaxy S4 display, and around half an inch larger than the Galaxy S3′s display.

Camera, Processor, Battery

When the Galaxy S3 first arrived, it boasted some of the best hardware in town. Its 8MP camera was a big step up from the Galaxy S2′s camera. It remains a solid camera though technology has certainly surpassed it. It also boasted a Snapdragon S4 Pro dual-core processor in the U.S., a chip that was considered one of the best at the time. And it also came, and still comes, with a 2,100 mAh battery that supplies good battery life.

That was then, this is now, and the Samsung Galaxy S5 hardware specifications are poised to blow the Galaxy S3′s hardware out of the water.

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Galaxy S5 rumors have all but confirmed a 16MP camera sensor that should feature some improvements over the Galaxy S4 camera. The Galaxy S4′s camera was better than the Galaxy S3′s so it’s safe to assume that we’ll see drastic performance differences between these two.

Rumors have also hinted at a battery around 2,900 mAh in size. Kuo thinks the battery will be 2,850 while a report from PhoneArena says it will be 2,900 mAh and feature fast charging and 20% more charge than other batteries its size. Whatever the case, it’s looking like it will have a bigger, and better, battery. How that translates into the real world remains to be seen.

The Galaxy S5 will utilize a processor that trumps the Galaxy S3′s. It’s just not clear what processor it will be. SamMobile claims that it will either be a Snapdragon 805 from Qualcomm or a Exynos 6 from Samsung. Early rumblings pointed to a 64-bit processor and they seem to think that this will happen.

Galaxy S5 spec sheet from Ming-Kuo Cho.

Galaxy S5 spec sheet from Ming-Kuo Cho.

Kuo on the other hand thinks the processor will be 32-bit across the board with the Exynos 5 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 on board the two Galaxy S5 variants. The processors still haven’t been decided but one thing is clear. The Galaxy S5 will almost certainly deliver increased performance from the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy S3 currently runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Rumors suggest that it will be getting an Android 4.4 KitKat update with release rumors pointing to March. The version of Android of course matters little to Galaxy users due to Samsung’s user interface that the company deploys along with it.

Samsung’s TouchWiz UI dominates the Galaxy S3′s experience, as it does on all Samsung Galaxy devices. The Galaxy S3 is currently running a a piece of TouchWiz that blends some of its original features along with tweaks and additions it picked up from the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S4.

Thanks to a number of leaks, it’s becoming clear that the Galaxy S5 version of TouchWiz will not only perform differently than the Galaxy S3 version but also look different as well.

The most current Galaxy S5 software rumors point to improvements to the device’s touch less gestures, a new interface with touchpoints in the corners that the allow users to activate shortcuts to apps and settings, and a brand new look for TouchWiz. None of these things are confirmed but they appear likely.

At CES 2014, Samsung debuted a brand new look to TouchWiz and dubbed it its Magazine UI. The UI can be seen running on the company’s new Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 in the video below.

Samsung’s Magazine UI looks quite a bit like the new UI that is supposedly going to be coming to Samsung’s new smartphones, and thus, it could greatly resemble the software found on the Galaxy S5.

Android 4.4 KitKat did not bring the new Magazine UI to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the leaked Galaxy S4 update does not have the new UI on board either. In other words, it’s not clear if the Galaxy S3 will get the new look.

Carriers

Like the Galaxy S2 before it, the Galaxy S3 arrived on the five largest carriers in the United States including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. It also landed for a number of smaller, regional and pre-paid carriers. Samsung, like Apple, flooded the U.S. market with its flagship device. The Galaxy S4 followed in its footsteps.

The Galaxy Note 3 could feature an improved camera with a 13MP sensor like the Galaxy S4.

The only Galaxy S5 carrier rumor we’ve seen points to a launch on AT&T, a close carrier partner of Samsung’s. Despite the lack of rumors, the Galaxy S5 should be considered all but confirmed for the other four major carriers and a host of smaller carriers as well.

Samsung will need to keep pace with the iPhone 5s which means consumers should have a number of carrier options come launch day.

Price

Thanks to the Galaxy S4, the Galaxy S3 price plummeted last year. Since then, the device’s price tag has continued to tumble and it can now be found for cheap through its remaining carrier outlets and through third-party retailers.

Due to its age, the Galaxy S3 is going to cost much less than the Galaxy S5 does. New devices always command higher price tags at the beginning before they too start to drop.

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The report from SamMobile claims that the Galaxy S5 will come in at two different price points, mirroring Apple’s iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. The publication says that a premium Galaxy S5 will cost about 800 Euros while the budget model will cost around 650 Euros. When converted to U.S. dollars, the premium model would be over $1000. It’s hard to think that the Galaxy S5 to cost $1000, on or off-contract in the United States.

Comments

  1. Robert Stevens says

    As long as Samsung maintains the removable storage and battery I should be on board. It would be nice for them to get away from the plasticky feel of their devices. My S3 is like holding onto a bar of soap. How ever a dealbreaker for me may be their new knox software encryption platform. It’s making for serious issues when wanting to root your device…..

  2. John S Jones says

    The S3 has one of the most crappy speakers I have ever heard. Even old small Samsung phones boasted loud, musical speakers that would knock your ears out. If the S5 has a shitty speaker I will switch brands. I also insist on the 2180×1440 display. The removable storage is the iphone destroyer.

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