Phones Review

Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Galaxy S4, a question of timing

Under: Phone Debates, Samsung
Date: January 27th, 2013

The initial Samsung Galaxy S3 model was released way back at the end of May 2012 with other variants to follow over several months. It has been another major success in the Samsung Galaxy S line and is still selling in big numbers but if you were thinking of purchasing one now you may want to hold back for the Samsung Galaxy S4. This is thought to be due for a release in the coming months so we thought we’d look at the Galaxy S3 vs. Galaxy S4 and the question of timing.

We’ll give you a refresher on the key specs and features of the Galaxy S3 (S III) and then tell you what we’ve heard so far about the Galaxy S4 to see how much extra it is likely to offer. As the Galaxy S4 (S IV) has not yet been officially announced anything we can tell you about this handset is unconfirmed. However we’ve written many posts now about leaked and rumored specs for the S4 and as is often the case in these pre-release rumors, many turn out to be accurate with only the occasional wild one that comes to nothing. At least it should give you an idea of what to expect when the next flagship Samsung smartphone finally appears.

The Galaxy S3 has only been out for around 8 months then but although that sounds very recent it’s quite a time in the world of smartphones and many consumers who were just getting round to the idea of buying the S3 may not realize how close we are to the Galaxy S4. The S4 on the other hand is heading for a spring release and we’ve heard rumors of a Samsung Unpacked Event to be held on March 22 with a release around April 15 although this is unsubstantiated so far. We also saw a leaked image of the Galaxy S4 showing a date of April 22 just to confuse issues further but whether this is a clue to the date of an announcement, date of release or in fact neither, remains to be seen.

Key specs and features of the Galaxy S3 include a 1.4GHz Exynos quad-core processor although US variants of the phone carry a 1.5GHz Qualcomm S4 dual-core processor. It also has a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with resolution of 1280 x 720 and 306 ppi, 1GB of RAM (2GB for US models) and options of 16, 32 of 64GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD. There’s also an 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, autofocus and 1080p video capture as well as a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. Battery capacity is 2100 mAh and the Galaxy S3 released on Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, although this is upgradable to Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean now. It also features the Samsung Touchwiz user interface.

So let’s take a look at what we know, or think we know, about the Galaxy S4 so far. One of the most obvious inclusions is the new Exynos processor that Samsung just showed off at CES 2013 and leaked benchmark results recently appeared to show the Samsung Galaxy S4 using the 1.8GHz Exynos 5 Octa CPU. This processor would be a real step up for the next Galaxy S4 providing a better performance while using less power. It uses two sets of quad-core processors but is not ‘true’ octa-core as only one set is used at any one time. Other likely specs for the Galaxy S4 are a 4.99-inch Super AMOLED full HD display with an incredible ppi of 440, so an increase in both the size and the quality of the display and there should also be 2GB of RAM. We’ve not heard much about internal storage so can only imagine it will probably have the same as the Galaxy S3.

Other widely reported expectations are that the Galaxy S4 will have a 13-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 2600 mAh battery. We had initially anticipated it might release running Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie but it looks as though the handset might release now before the next major Android update arrives. Now it seems more likely that it will launch on Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1. More fanciful additions that have been rumored are wireless charging, a flexible display, use of a stylus (as used with the Galaxy Note) and black or white color options.

As you can see, at this stage it looks as though the Galaxy S4 will have some major upgrades from the S3 such as the full HD display, step up in processor, 13-megapixel rear camera from the current 8-megapixels, increased RAM, larger battery capacity and more. The above photo shows a purported image of the Galaxy S4 against the current Galaxy S3. This Galaxy S4 image cannot be verified though but if this is the real deal the S4 has slimmer bezels, squarer edges and a larger home button but otherwise resembles the Galaxy S3.

If you already have the Galaxy S3 only you can decide if these additions will make it worth your while to upgrade to the Galaxy S4. If you were considering purchasing the Galaxy S3 though, then it seems to us that it would be a good idea to wait a little longer to see exactly what the Galaxy S4 will offer when it is announced. Remember specs for the S4 that we have given here are so far unofficial. Ultimately the Galaxy S3 vs. Galaxy S4 really does seem to be a question of timing but if you’ve waited this long before deciding to purchase the Galaxy S3 it would seem wise to wait a little longer for the Galaxy S4 in our opinion.

We’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Were you just about to purchase the Galaxy S3 but didn’t realize the Galaxy S4 may not be too far away? Maybe you’re going to stick with the S3 as there’s no guarantee on when the Galaxy S4 will show up? Perhaps you feel the potential of the Galaxy S4 is too good to consider buying the S3 now? Let us know with your comments.

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  • humaid

    was going to buy s3 since im bored to death with my blackberry. guess ill still buy it since it seems ive been waiting my whole life for the next big thing. 1st iphone4 than 5, s3 came along and i held out for iphone5, now sg4…..fuck my life

    • Reshad

      When the Galaxy S4 comes out, I’m hoping to see the S3′s prices shoot down. In that case, there isn’t a better time to go out and buy one, especially coming from a Blackberry. On the other hand the S4 will probably last an extra year without any issues so keep in mind that.

      • hank

        That’s what I’m hoping for: an S3 giveaway!! :-)

        • RL

          Not going to happen, when S3 was released, S2 did not have any major price drop, but the price did steadily decrease

    • rooster

      Blackberry huh? You might want to hang around for bb10…the new QNX OS is going to be nice…trust me.

  • Conflicting decisions

    I’ve been saving up all this time to buy the Galaxy Note 2. I wish I could get Samsung’s opinion on whether it would be wise for me to wait since the answer won’t reveal anything about the upcoming S4 release, but at the same time help me decide. I have a really bad phone right now and barely use it. It’s literally an upgrade from Windows 95 to Windows 7, that’s how bad my current phone is. And what’s going to get me more pissed off is if the S4 specs wasn’t worth the wait and upgrade from the S3. I’ve been reading and watching reviews on the GN2 and I was so excited to get it, but now I don’t know what to do anymore.

    • Michael VanGilder

      It seems like you made up your mind for a NOTE flavor. I figure, (no proof), that a NEW NOTE will be released at about this same time. I’m going to get a NOTE 10.1 but I think it best to wait and get the next gen. I betting on some NEW hardware that none of us could even guess at. Maybe something never seen before on ANY gadget. Or maybe I’m just a dreamer.

    • iPhone sucks

      I say, go for Note 2 and you will be delighted and 100% satisfied with the value of money… we all don’t know when Samsung will actually launch S4 and bear in mind it will be pricy! I say get something that is out there and don’t wait for something we have not seen yet… like I was waiting for iPhone 5 and just kept dreaming until now… so go for it man!

    • hminney

      Go and see a Note II in the shops. It is big – different from your usual Smartphone. I was completely set on getting a Note II until i saw one – went straight back to the S3. Your experience may differ, because the Stylus gives a completely different experience (I also have a Note 10.1, and I spent an hour writing Amazon product reviews last night in handwriting with handwriting recognition – it’s excellent and I wrote 5 good reviews in that hour!)

    • Richard Yarrell

      I owned the Galaxy S3 from June 24th 2012 to November 14th 2012 then purchased the Galaxy Note 2. The Galaxy Note 2 is the ultimate all purpose productivity device the BEST device ever made period. The Galaxy S3 was very nice but nowhere on the level of the Galaxy Note 2 software and features. Anybody not rolling with the Galaxy Note 2 just will never understand it’s power and overall abilities it’s a legendary device nothing compares.

      • Richard Yarrell

        I will be purchasing the Galaxy Note 3 in October 2013.

  • forkbeard

    Problem is it may be months after the release before any of the carriers pick it up so that you can buy it subsidized.

  • sameer somu

    carriers really need to offer a 1 year upgrade time. with the rate phones are releasing, 2 years is almost 2 generations of phones. even if the price goes up slightly, those wanting the latest and greatest will definately benefit

    • Emm

      I agree. This 2 year upgrade time is a crock. Fortunately the other people on my family plan tend not to play musical phones as much as me so I can use their upgrades because I can’t seem to make it 2 years with one phone for the life of me. :-P

  • Mebekili

    I have an original Galaxy S….and am holding out for the S4. I was holding out for the S3 initially, but then they did the US release with a dual-core, rather than a quad-core and I decided to hold out until they got their act together for the US market in quad-core. Briefly considered the Note II, but find it too large and cumbersome …. and so I wait…. I’m hoping they’ll do 4GB RAM in the 4, rather than 2… they seem to double with each model, so 4 would not be out of bounds, since the S3 has 2.

  • she

    Too close to timing…i got an s3 for x-mas and now in january 2013 i heard about the s4…not every1 can change celphones from 1 minute to another..so im gonna stick with the s3 until 1 day..

    • AMB

      I have the S3. I got it last summer just after it came out. Before that, I had the HTC Evo 4g. Loved that phone & love this one. When my 2 years are up, I may keep the S3, or if Samsung comes out with the S5, (depending on the specs) I may move to that. The S3 is a brilliant phone. Glad to see someone stick with something instead of running out for the next new-same old thing like apple users.

  • Dave

    I got suckered into the LG Revolution in 2011 here in the United States. It was everything they advertised: blazing fast 4g LTE with dumbfounded Verizon reps and lightning bolts everywhere. Brilliant display. Okay camera. Word processing, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF files (protected and non protected), and lots of free storage space with 16gb internal and 16gb sd card. BUT!

    The battery was terrible. I could barely last the morning without needing a charge. It didn’t matter how much app killing I did either. The phone’s ability to read the 16gb sd card gave out within a year. A lot of the internal has bloatware. Text messages were lost. And the worst part is even when it is on the charger the phone chooses not to charge sometimes, so I would wake up or get ready to go out with the expectation of a charged phone only to see a lifeless black brick.

    The LG Revolution is one of the worst smart “phones” to come out. Ever. It was off the shelves within months after my initial purchase. So as much as I would like to grin and bear it until the 4s hits shelves, I’m not sure I’d trust it without a thorough testing; even with the reputation Samsung has garnered with its Galaxy series of devices.

    I dunno. Maybe if they promise a flawless voice assistant. I can only assume Google’s Phone X will leapfrog to the top of the market once speculation picks up.

  • The HTC Wildflop

    Dilemma… My upgrade has been due for months, but I’ve been stalling for one reason or another. I was quite ready to upgrade to the S3 in the next couple of days, now I read this I’m really not sure. Thing is my phone is the HTC Wildfire, very very frustrating and so slow, not sure if I can stick with it for a couple more months… Help???

    • SKDuseja

      Same situation as yours. Stuck with a blackberry and wanted to upgrade to S3 two weeks back but heard of S4. Well, whether it will be THAT good I dont know but it will reduce S3′s prices. We will know all the features by march so can decide whether to buy S4 at the go or wait for some time.

      I have stuck with this BB for almost two years so two months dont seem that long. Still, there are a number of low budget droid phones that can work well for you like byond B63 or a Huawei G600 if it seems too unbearable. Byond’s phone is better than the Huawei one.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deandre.mcbride.9 DeAndre Blessedbyposeidon McBr

      If you waited this long it won’t hurt to at least see wut the s4 is about. I’m in the same situation but I have the t-bolt and so ready to be done with htc after this phone. I just hope that the s4 is affordable with all the rumored specs I’m seeing but buy time they release the s4 the s3 & gn2 should have a pretty good price drop and 1 of em will be my backup plan.

    • Guest

      I have an HTC SENSATION, and I hate it! I just want to throw it away. It’s so slow, seems like the motherboard is damaged, etc. So imagine! I feel so desperate! I was about to buy the s3, but I guess I will have to sacrifice myself and wait until the s4 comes out… Ugh!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mel.farris.3 Mel Farris

    Of course the S4 is going to be a killer phone and major hardware upgrade. I currently own the iPhone 5. This will be the last iPhone I ever own. Tried the Samsung S3 and had some small issues with using it on my Mac Pro. Decided to return the S3 and stick to iPhone. Do not regret that decision. But could clearly see that Apple lost it’s lead with phones. Samsung has Apple on the ropes with it’s Galaxy S phones. There will probably NOT be any NEW innovation with the new Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. But it will have massive upgrades in it’s hardware. IE 2 X 4 core processors. (Sort of 8 core) More memory. Better screen resolution. Bigger battery. Much better camera. May have inductive charging. All in all, it will be an S3 with a much bigger, badder punch. I do know this, for now I am an iPhone 5 user. But the day, the very FIRST day AT&T Wireless releases the Samsung S4, I will be an S4 owner and user!

  • hank

    Perhaps the S3 can be had at a discounted price once the S4 rolls out. I am banking on that — I don’t need the newest version (although the S4 sounds AMAZING!)

  • Sandman

    There’s only two types of cell phones (or computers for that matter)….. on order…. and outdated. Ya gotta jump in sometime. The S3 has worked great. I will enjoy the remaining 1-1/2 years I have left on my contact utilizing the S3. Who knows… perhaps Samsung will have the S5 when Im ready to upgrade!

  • Steve R.

    I’m so anxious, my head is about to explode.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.online Steve Fischer

    my upgrade from Verizon comes in May – fortuitous timing…

  • badmikiev

    On that ‘picture’ of what is supposedly the GS4 I have a point that probably points it out to be a fake. Probably, though not certainly. The physical home button. I have the Google nexus tab and have been using Jellybean for quite a while now and the Physical button is pretty well a thing of the past it seems. The digital button has been flawless in my operation, and it moves with you from landscape to portrait.

    • AMB

      The nexus is no longer a product of samsung. It is now made by Asus & powered by google.

  • Karthick

    Great… by the time, I get my mind to accept of idea of paying so much for the S4, S5 would be out..

  • Panace

    I was planning to replace my S 2 with an S 3 but now that S 4 is around the corner then I will wait for that time, on the other hand I wanted to replace my BB 9860 with the new Z 10 I cant wait to have bot h Z10 & S 4 in my hand.

  • iPhone Sucks

    I am iPhone 4 user, and have been using this phone from almost 2 years now… I was anxiously waiting for iPhone 5 as I did not find 4s any worth an upgrade… while waiting for a change, I saw S3 passing by like a bullet, but I kept waiting for the iPhone 5 and now, that it shattered off my expectations, I am still stuck with iPhone 4 waiting for S4 to come out.. but there is another point, when S4 will be released it will be pricy of course and then it will take around few months to get back on a reasonable price (in retail market) as I am not on a carrier contract. Trust me, I used my friend’s S3 and after using it for some time, my fingers were trying to find the back touch button on iPhone… this little / Big thing made me realize how BORING iPhone is with only ONE touch button to do almost everything… secondly I am sick and tired of using iTunes, shifting to android is truly a jailbreak for me! Apple has disappointed me big time! no change in user experience is the worst thing… they should have introduced a change in over all software… something that could bring back the charm… but I find it useless until they change the user interface – using iPhone from past several years.. I am sick n tired of it now… in my opinion, if you don’t have carrier restriction, whoever is an iPhone or BB user and waiting for S4, should go for Note 2 and once the S4 is out, you can still sell off the Note 2 in good price as there is no Note 3 coming out any soon…. that’s what probably I am gonna do… Cheers!

  • CraigM

    The S3 is still a highly competitive smartphone. When the S4 is released and once they get good quantities flowing it is highly likely that the prices for S3 will come down quite significantly and for many that might be ideal. There is no doubt that S4 will be a significant improvement over S3 but you have to be a heavy-duty power user who needs the very highest screen resolution and the very highest camera resolution to really get a great benefit from the new device. So if money is of concern then don’t forget that the S3 is currently beating the socks off the iPhone. It is most likely that the S4 will be the socks as well as the underpants off the iPhone.

  • hminney

    The real innovations that Samsung could come out with: unbreakable screen (I know my S3 is pretty robust and I don’t have it in a case and drop it occasionally, but others complain); local voice recognition (so it doesn’t have to send your voice up to a server over a slow and dodgy mobile phone network, and so it can get used to your accent/ preferred abbreviations); stylus is excellent on Note 10.1; wireless induction charging – nope already got that. I bought the Palm touchstone kit and stuck it into the back of my S3, and it works fine!

  • Emm

    My HTC EVO 3D was stolen last week, two months outside of my upgrade window, so rather than go for the overpriced refurb insurance replacement at this point, I figure I may as well upgrade. I am tempted to use Sprint’s early upgrade option to get the GS3 or GN2. My backup phone is a piece of crap that I don’t think I can stand for two months. But with the GS4 possibly so close I really want to try to hold out. A friend donated his old GS1 (Epic4G) to my cause so I do have a tolerable phone activated for now.

    My fiance was one of the first GS3 adopters on Verizon and loves it. Awesome phone. My dad (on my Sprint plan) just got one last month and loves his as well. I was trying to hold out for the GS2 when I got my EVO 3D two years ago but the phone I was using then (Samsung Moment) just wouldn’t make it until the Sprint release so I ended up with the EVO 3D as soon as it released. I will say, I loved that phone and was happy with it for longer than I have been with a phone in a long while. I have barely made it through an entire 2 year contract period with a phone yet, unfortunately. But I think the GS4 is one I could get through with for sure.

    If my phone hadn’t taken its leave of me, I would be happily awaiting my contract date and the release of the GS4 with my EVO 3D in hand. As it stands I’m practically twitching trying to decide if I can make it a couple more months or if I should spring for the Note 2 and be done with it. Can I make it to the beginning of April? Probably (barring any more loss or theft)… Can I make it much past that if Sprint doesn’t release immediately? Not likely. But there is nothing else I’m even remotely interested in upgrading to and if I have to pay $200-300 for a GS3 right before the new one releases I’m going to be very unhappy.

    • acvisionace

      why didn’t you get the Lookout App for your 3D? It has a find feature & a screamer option that you activate that cannot be turned off without a passcode !

  • nikki

    I’m still so confused im due for an upgrade any day now and im so overwhelmed with options. I have waited for my opportunity to get an s3 forever (pressed against verizons window as i write this)…but now im looking at the note 2 and potentially s4 after all the droid (x2-4) phones i’ve been through it would be nice to have something sturdy and fast (Octa -duh im drooling) such as the rumored unbreakable s4 and although i like that my droid 4 has gorilla glass i also like the current multitasking and allshare features (most of my tv watching is online) of the note 2 I could definitely visualize myself having fun with that stylus and camera burst options however I’m petite so i think the size of the note 2 would overwhelm me which is why i was looking again at the s3 but who likes buying products knowing they have problems (i have a mac) when the “next best thing is here” or around the corner lol But seriously can someone please help me decide because like many others i can only afford one 1 phone every two years and i want it to be good investment to help me through another 2 years and i dont want to get caught up on all the hype but its hard considering samsungs history vs a lonely fallen fruit once upon a time its hard to ignore. Either way samsung is getting my money but i need to know when and what product Help me???!!!??

    • acvisionace

      SG3 has gorilla glass, muli-tasking and allshare features, on contract you can get one for $99 @ Sprint with unlimited data !
      I love mine since before xmas ! I had an HTC Evo 4G & had to get this super slim light phone !

  • Jimmy Drew

    I love my Note 2 and trust me when I tell you that the size does not matter…everyone that uses my phone loves it. I don’t need the S4 but a Note 3 with improved battery life would be terrific…that phone is plenty fast and plenty of options..the only improvement I would like to see is a full 24 hours battery life. I get 12 hours of use now..and that isn’t bad but can be improved upon. We don’t need faster phones..and we have plenty of memory…battery life is the only real improvement we need.

  • badmikiev

    I can see the (question of timing) thing to be a problem for
    distributors, but not for the end consumer. Personally, I would love to see a
    new version of the phone available every month. As fast as a phone can be
    approved from BETA to sellable state I would like to see phones released. That
    way the newest technology is always in hand, and not held back till the ‘NEXT
    GENERATION’. Of course, I see this being a BIG problem for the distributors.
    They would be sitting on a stockpile of ‘OUTDATED’ merchandise. So, after a
    little bit of thought I came up with the plan that. All phones would have to be
    pre-ordered, and then made to order. Instead of a version number a date would
    be the replacement. A.k.a. I have a February 2013 galaxy phone.

  • Travis Williams

    I’m hoping that they offer some kind of trade in value to upgrade to this new badass of phones. I’ve been using the s3 since it released on Att last year, but I am a phone nerd and will “have to have” this s4.

  • afy

    s3 is the best smart phone till know waiting to see s4 . i am using a iphone know i am fed up with it lack of bluetooth and syncing

  • Mike Kister

    Actually, being on a budget I am hoping to snag an S2 for a great price once the S4 is released. Maybe, just maybe even the S3 if it plummets in price.

    • badmikiev

      I think that you will be able to get the s3, beings as how the price has dropped substantially over the last 3 months. But have you seen the ‘BUBBLE UP KEYBOARD’? I ‘think’, it’s my own personal belief, no rumors. But the keyboard will probably debut with the s4. I saw a video, and I like the bubble up keyboard. I’m thinking about going up in the world. From s2 to s4, maybe, $$$.

  • fdjtfgjhtguyh65754tjd

    а сколько с4 будет стоить примерно. в начале выпуска и скажем через год…………………………………..

  • armaan

    s4

  • armaan

    s4 is better

  • armaan

    i mean samsung’s are better

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