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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. Galaxy S3

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March 14, 2013

We compare the specs - and other features - of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4

We compare the specs - and other features - of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4

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After selling millions of Galaxy S3 handsets, Samsung has the tech world’s attention. With countless eyeballs fixed on the reveal of the Galaxy S4, the company presented – apart from some cheesy comedy that went over like a ton of bricks – a minor hardware update with tons of new software features. Is the Galaxy S4 significant enough to warrant an upgrade from the Galaxy S3? Let’s see how the specs – and other features – of Samsung’s hottest Galaxies compare.

Size

Not much difference, apart from a slimmer build for the S4

The Galaxy S4’s physical design is hardly a radical departure from the Galaxy S3. Considering the success the company has had with its 2012 model, you can’t blame Samsung for merely modifying the same script.

The biggest physical difference is that the S4 is thinner: by around eight percent (0.7 mm).

Weight

Lighter is nice, but 3 grams isn't a very big difference

It isn’t a monumental difference, but the Galaxy S4 is 3 g (0.11 oz.) lighter than its older brother.

Display

The S4's display is a bit larger and significantly sharper ... but your eyes may not notic...

For all of Samsung’s hyping of the S4’s barrel full of new software features, its display is probably its killer feature. It matches recent Android handsets like the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, and Droid DNA with a large 1080p screen.

This looks like a big advantage on paper, but remember that anything over around 300 pixels per inch (PPI) is going to look plenty sharp. Unless you’re holding your phone an inch away from your face, your eyes may not notice a huge difference.

Processor

Two phones, four different processors (it varies depending on where you live)

Both phones ship in two variations, each with a different processor. For the Galaxy S3, the dual core model ships in North America and the quad core edition ships elsewhere. Will we see a similar split with the S4?

RAM

The Galaxy S3's North America edition matches the S4's 2 GB of RAM

The North American version of the Galaxy S3 matches the Galaxy S4’s 2 GB of random-access memory (RAM).

Storage

All even here

Both phones ship in three different storage models: 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB. You can also add more to either phone with a microSD card (up to 64 GB).

Wireless

Also depending on your region, your phone will max on either HSPA+ or LTE cellular network...

Depending on where you live, you'll get a model (of either handset) that will max out on LTE (faster) or HSPA+ (fast, but not as fast) speeds.

Battery

The S4's battery holds a bit more juice

The Galaxy S4’s battery holds a bit more juice. Many other factors determine actual battery life, though, and the Galaxy S4’s battery powers a display with over a million extra pixels. We’ll have to wait for hands-on time to see how long the S4’s battery holds up.

Cameras

The S4's rear camera leaps all the way to 13-megapixels

The Galaxy S4’s camera gets a big upgrade, jumping to 13-megapixels. In its keynote, though, Samsung heavily emphasized its camera's software-based features:

These include Dual Camera, which combines video or images from the front and back cameras; Drama Shot, a burst mode that merges multiple shots into a collage; and Sound & Shot, which records audio clips along with your still shots.

Wrap-up

Is the Galaxy S4 a major upgrade over the Galaxy S3? Probably not. Much like Apple’s S-series phones (iPhone 3GS, 4S, and possibly 5S), the design doesn’t stray much from its predecessor. The Galaxy S4 does, however, get a larger display, a faster processor (no matter which model ships to your region), and a ton of software bells and whistles.

If you’re in the middle of a Galaxy S3 contract, our advice would be to enjoy the phone you already have – knowing that it’s still one of the best Android phones around. If you’re due for an upgrade, though, the S4 improves on it in nearly every way ... albeit incrementally.

To see how Samsung's arch rival compares, check out our comparison of the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
11 Comments

I'm keeping my S3 and springing $40 for the wireless charger from Monster Watts and wait until the S5 comes out.

Michele Li
15th March, 2013 @ 09:49 am PDT

well that is more like it 64GB and i can add more, that beats the z10 that is for sure. so now i can watch a bunch of movies at the lake without service finally. so now i can add a 32GB card that then can make it a 96GB wow now you guys are talking

Dave Hargraves
15th March, 2013 @ 11:48 am PDT

I'm due an upgrade. Can get an S3 for $50 from Staples at the moment. I'm going that route rather than paying over the odds for something that doesn't seem drastically better.

Richard Hull
15th March, 2013 @ 01:36 pm PDT

I have an S3 and I recommend it to anyone who will listen. I love the S4 but I don't think it's a big enough upgrade to spend the extra cash.

Tyler Kirwan
15th March, 2013 @ 05:49 pm PDT

I just purchased the Galaxy Note-2 about 21-Days ago because of it's larger size like that of a Mini i-Pad and was hoping the new S-4 would come in a larger size like the Note-2, which i still have time to trade-in

and take advantage of it's improved technological improvements & capabilities above that of the the Note-2...

(Will i "Ever" be satisfied...???...Probably Not...!!!)

UFOBill
16th March, 2013 @ 07:15 am PDT

"Both phones ship in two variations, each with a different processor. For the Galaxy S3, the dual core model ships in North America and the quad core edition ships elsewhere. Will we see a similar split with the S4?"

Doubtful. The reason for the 2 versions of S3 was the quad-core processors and the LTE radio chipset didn't work nice together (at first). That's why the LTE versions of pretty much all the phones were dual-core.

Since that's been corrected, there'd be no need (or reason) really to use two different processors.

Ron Rossman Jr.
16th March, 2013 @ 08:15 am PDT

We have an S2 and S3 with over a year on their contracts. Since there is no trade-in policy it would be very expensive to change to S4's. I think a lot of people are in the same position. I would like to see all the Samsung phones have the availability of running the newest versions of Android for at least 2 or 3 years after they are sold. It is crazy to have to have to buy a new phone every year. Many of the new features of the S4 are in software. It sould not be to much to expect to have expensive smart phones have a usefull life of 2 years. Look how long Windows PC last and how many upgrades of Windows they can usually run.

Jeff Goldstein
17th March, 2013 @ 09:01 am PDT

The "plastic" is quite durable. Infact so much so that my Bushmaster M4 Carbon15 has its upper and lower receiver made of the same material. For tekies, its the NATO 5.56x45mm carbine.

boxer
18th March, 2013 @ 12:48 pm PDT

"Is the Galaxy S4 a major upgrade over the Galaxy S3? Probably not. Much like Apple’s S-series phones (iPhone 3GS, 4S, and possibly 5S), the design doesn’t stray much from its predecessor."

We can stop with false reasoning since how a mobile device looks is not telling of it's enhancement. The S4 IS A MAJOR UPGRADE over the S3 and is in no way comparable to Apple's incremental upgrades to their iPhone. There is a strange belief that number of cores has little benefit to an end user, as if geeks are the only ones who know how to implement multiple cores. When you compare an S3 (Dual Core in the U.S.) to the Galaxy Note II (Quad Core) in terms of operational speed, gaming and video playback, the Note II destroys the S3. In terms of ease-of-use, the Galaxy Note II outperforms the Galaxy S3 due to the S Pen and it's hover functions. Now the Galaxy S4 has the same functionality without needing the S Pen while adding the ability to manipulate the home screen with the wave of your hand. And there are even more bells & whistles I would like to see in the Galaxy Note III such as a 1080p high-res screen.

Don't fall for Tech Pundits and their mass hysteria when it comes to any smartphone vs iPhone comparisons. They went after the Galaxy S3 and lost. Then they went after the Galaxy Note and lost again. They went after the Galaxy Note II and guess what? They ate their words yet again. Not learning from past mistakes they are making the Galaxy S4 sound like the iPhone 5 while praising the S3, the very smartphone they thought was no comparison to the iPhone. I have watched these people scramble to find any and all excuses to defend Apple and perhaps their mutual funds are the real reason.

Milton Pozo-Mazzini
22nd March, 2013 @ 08:36 am PDT

Corrections to be made to this article assuming this post is even approved.

The S3 only ships in 16 & 32gb models despite statements to the contrary.

The S4 has 4G LTE, FTD LTE, KDLT & HSPA+ making it the first true global 4G phone.

The S4 features improved sensor arrays with two new sensors for IR and Temperature which allows not only hand gestures and eye scrolling but also a universal remote replacement as well as an array of accessories for the health freaks.

The S4 has an improved touch screen that allows contactless screen control and hover functions similar to the Galaxy Note II.

Milton Pozo-Mazzini
22nd March, 2013 @ 08:55 am PDT

Just to let you guys know, who needs octa core for their PHONE. Most people don't even have quad core for their PC. Their getting more and more powerful, and someday, there gonna be more powerful than a computer..... all in your pocket.

Kyal Fitton
18th June, 2013 @ 01:51 pm PDT
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