Much to Apple’s annoyance the Galaxy S2 has been a hugely popular Android handset, and has been the first smartphone to knock the iPhone range from its prized spot as bestselling smartphone in many markets. This is probably one of the main reasons that Apple have targeted Samsung so much in their proxy patent war with Google, launched after former Apple boss Steve Jobs vowed that he would ‘destroy’ Android.
The Galaxy S2 has been more popular than the iPhone 4 for many months now, but the iPhone 4 was already nearly a year old when Galaxy S2 contracts were released. With a new iPhone now available, has the S2 lost some of its shine? Or is the iPhone 4S too similar to the iPhone 4 to really cause much of a dent in the Galaxy S2’s popularity?
It has recently come to light that Apple had planned to launch the iPhone 5 this year, alongside the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5 was to have a larger screen, making it comparable in size to some of the leading Android phones such as the Galaxy S2 – along with a slimmer, curvier design and a 12 megapixel camera.
The iPhone 5 was reportedly scrapped at the last minute for unknown reasons, and Apple just launched iPhone 4S contracts instead – and the 4S was originally just a sideshow to the iPhone 5. Initial critics were quick to point out that the iPhone 4S was very similar to the iPhone 4, but is this the case? The iPhone 4S has plenty of new improvements made to it, but most of them are in the software department and are not so easy to spot just by looking at photos. But there are a few differences made to the hardware too.
For starters, the iPhone 4S now features the dual core A5 processor that was found in the iPad 2. From reading the spec sheet of the iPhone 4S, it does not sound so impressive coming several months after the dual core 1.2GHz, 1GB RAM powered Galaxy S2. The iPhone 4S is dual core, but the processor is only clocked at 1GHz. Furthermore, its RAM is still just 512MB – exactly the same as the iPhone 4.
Even though this processor and memory combo may not sound that impressive, Apple has done a lot of work with making their A5 processor a great deal more efficient. While it may have a lower clock speed than the Exynos processor found in the Galaxy S2, it does seem to offer greater performance in independent benchmark tests.
All this is a bit irrelevant though, as for both phones there is very little that will actually push these processors to their limits. Both devices offer an exceptionally smooth and speedy experience when using them. One other hotly contested area between the two phones is their screens. The screen of the iPhone 4S has not changed at all from the iPhone 4. It still measures 3.5 inches and has the same Retina resolution as the former iPhone.
But while the screen has not seen any improvements, it was already one of the best in class – and didn’t really need improving. The Galaxy S2’s 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus screen is the biggest competitor to Apple’s Retina Display. It may have a lower WVGA resolution, but this is still exceptionally sharp for such a small device.
Both are exceptionally high quality screens that offer great colours and detail. The real contest here is between screen sizes. The iPhone 5 was supposed to have a larger 4 inch screen, and many people are suggesting that the reason the phone was binned at the last minute is that Steve Jobs felt that having a different screen size would fragment the iPhone experience – in a similar way that Android is fragmented between different phones, screen sizes and hardware. While this is great for Google’s plans for an open system, it does cause problems for app developers – which may go some way to explaining why the Apple App Store has so much more apps and games available than Android Market.
If this rumour about the iPhone 5 is true, it would mean that all future iPhones will feature a 3.5 inch screen regardless of the competition. The larger screen of the Galaxy S2 is one of the main reasons for the phone’s popularity – as it provides a great user experience for things like video and web browsing. On the other hand, the smaller screen of the iPhone 4S makes for a more pocketable device. The trade-off here is one of personal preference. If you want more space on your screen then the S2 may be your best bet, but if you have small hands maybe you should pick the iPhone 4S.
The central feature of the iPhone 4S is Siri – the voice activated personal assistant. Siri does have problems with thick accents, and location based services don’t work so well outside of the United States just yet – but Siri certainly is the most advanced, and witty, voice control system to yet feature on a phone. The Galaxy S2 has voice recognition software of course, and this can provide you with all the functionality that most people would actually want from such software (i.e. searching for things, making phone calls and sending messages).
Many people are a bit skeptical about Siri and how much people actually need voice controls. Sure, Siri is great for people with poor eyesight, but most people with 20/20 vision, or thereabouts, will most likely revert to a more familiar method of interacting with their phone within a few months.
One downside of the iPhone 4S is that even though it has a bigger battery than the iPhone 4, it has quite poor battery life. This seems to affect some iPhone 4S owners more than others, with many owners of the new iPhone saying they have no problem at all. Apple is releasing patches to try and sort this problem out, as it seems certain that it is a flaw with the iOS software.
Speaking of updates – with the Galaxy S2 currently being the king of Android phones it is probably likely to see an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich much sooner than many other handsets – although this still may be quite a few months away. Ice Cream Sandwich will add some excellent new features to the Galaxy S2, including Android Beam and Face Unlock. With the S2 being nearly a year old there is also one other thing worth mentioning – it will not be long now until we can get our hands on the Samsung Galaxy S3.