Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE vs Apple iPhone 4S

March 11, 2012
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So, what do we have here – two very popular super phones that have loyal, if not rabid, followings. These are the phones that have helped redefine what a flagship device should be — and what it should be able to bring to the consumer’s table. More than just a reminiscent of past glory, each adds something new to what may seem like an old shell. But haven’t you heard before how looks can be deceiving? Find out how the Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE and Apple iPhone 4S stack up against each other. At this stage in the game, what we are taking a glimpse of here are representative of the absolute best from the wide world of Android, and Apple.

DIMENSIONS

Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE:  129.8 x  68.8 x 9.5mm – 130.5 g
Apple iPhone 4S: 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm – 140 g

The Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE is just a hair thicker than the Apple iPhone 4S, which makes it an even impressive feat given the difference in screen size. The S2 HD LTE is also slightly bigger in length and width. Yet, it is lighter than the iPhone 4S. This can be attributed to the plastic build of the Galaxy S2 HD LTE, as opposed to the more stylish glass and metal build of iPhone 4S. We have to say that both are still comfortable to hold in our hands. Nevertheless, we can’t help to give full marks to the Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE simply for the fact it packs so much power and screen real estate underneath the hood, without making the smartphone unbearably big or thick.

DISPLAY

Galaxy S2 HD LTE on the left, iPhone 4S on the right

Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE: 4.65-inch, 1280 x 720px, 316ppi, Super AMOLED HD, Gorilla Glass
Apple iPhone 4S: 3.5-inch, 960 x 640 px, 330ppi, Retina Display, Gorilla Glass

On one hand, we have the Super AMOLED Plus display of the Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE that produces vivid images with sharper contrasts. On the other, iPhone 4S uses the much beloved Retina display with a slight advantage for its higher pixel density compared to the S2 HD LTE. Folks, these two phones utilize some of the finest display technologies around, so there’s no clear winner between the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE in terms of display quality.

Featuring a massive 4.65 HD display, the S2 HD LTE still fits nicely in the hand

However, the Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE does come with an enormous 4.65-inch of screen, while the iPhone 4S is perennially stuck at 3.5-inch.  When it comes down to making that choice between the two, we’d go with the higher resolution and bigger screen of the Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE. It is simply as good as a smartphone screen gets.

HARDWARE

On paper, the Samsung Galaxy S2 LTE’s dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor is faster than the dual-core 1GHz processor found on the iPhone 4S – whereas the PowerVR SGX 543MP2 GPU on the iPhone 4S has been touted as a better performer than Adreno 220 GPU found on Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE.

It’s worth noting that Apple has specifically designed the OS to run efficiently even when it does not utilize the fastest processor in the block. The UI on the iPhone 4S remains one of the smoothest around, even when the 512MB RAM is half the amount available on the Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE.

Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE has the upper lead in the storage department, because unlike the iPhone 4S, it has an expandable memory slot. The storage problem of the iPhone 4S can fortunately be remedied by taking advantage of the new iCloud feature, which enables you to backup all your data, documents, music and app across multiple iOS devices. Still, for some, the ability to insert a memory card with all of their photos and video is preferable and a nice option to have.

At the end of the day, it is pretty hard to tell apart the real world performance of both phones. What little hiccup you may experience will not ruin the overall experience of using the phones, and will only happen rarely.

Additionally, the LTE component of the S2 HD LTE will translate into a vastly superior mobile experience, as the bandwidth speeds it affords are a huge advantage over the significantly slower radios in the iPhone 4S. At home though, on a Wi-Fi network, the experience should be very similar, but also made different because of the size of the displays.

SOFTWARE

iOS 5.0 on the left - Touchwiz 4.0 on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread on the right

The Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE is not equipped with the latest and most advanced build of Android yet, dubbed Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. If it did have it on board, and out of the box at that, it would have scored even higher in our book. But, if anything, Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread is a matured OS that is still a joy to use, and is considered to be very stable. We do look forward to the promised ICS upgrade for the Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE which will arrive sometimes in Q1 2012.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 4S had to rely on the strength of its software – namely, the long awaited iOS 5 –in order to hide the fact that it’s not an iPhone 5. Yes, there are tweaks and improvements all around, like the introduction of a new notification system and the ability to send messages directly to your iOS buddies using iMessage, but the real star of the show is the intelligent assistant named Siri. Gone is the old rigid way of using a specific set of voice commands to check the weather or to send text messages, the ever-informal Siri can follow natural conversation and understand context, as she obediently obliges to all your requests in a Siri-ous way.

CAMERA

Galaxy S2 HD LTE on the left, with the iPhone 4S on the right

The Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE has an 8MP rear shooter that takes superb pictures with lifelike colors and great contrast.  However, the quality suffers a bit when shooting in low-light condition. As for the iPhone4S, it boasts an 8MP camera that can take some crisp photos with better sharpness, color and noise performance. Both phones can capture 1080p video.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the two phones can replace point-and-shoot camera, with the iPhone 4S being slightly in the lead. We’ll let the sample photos taken by the two smartphones do the convincing. Bottom line, both are market leaders, and take some of the best pictures out of any devices currently available on the market today.

BATTERY LIFE

The iPhone 4S comes with a non-removable Li-Po 1430 mAh battery, while the Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE uses a removable Li-Ion 1850 mAh. A clear advantage that the Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE has over the Apple iPhone 4S is that you can get relatively inexpensive spare battery or a larger capacity one for those extended business trips. The battery life on the iPhone 4S has been rated at 5-6 hours for heavy, constant use, while you can typically get between 7-8 hours on the Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE. This is, essentially, a worst-case scenario for both devices. As they are both quite powerful, if you use them to their full capacity, you will be able to run their batteries down quite quickly. That being said, with moderate to heavy usage, both should get through a full day with no problems.

Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE

Pros

  • 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED Plus display with a resolution of 1280×800
  • Captures fantastic images and video
  • LTE connectivity
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Replaceable battery
  • Significantly more durable than the iPhone 4S

Cons

  • Outdated OS
  • Less powerful GPU
  • A bit big for those with smaller hands

Apple iPhone 4S

IntoMobile

Pros

  • One of the best looking smartphones around, still
  • Takes excellent pictures
  • Powerful GPU
  • Easy to use
  • Siri

Cons

  • Diminutive 3.5-inch display
  • Non-expandable storage
  • Non-replaceable battery
  • Easily breakable, and usually only takes one drop

Make no mistake – these are two of the very best smartphones in the world. On one hand, it’s an easy choice for those already invested in the Apple ecosystem, and for those that prefer their mobile devices to more diminutive in the hand to op for the iPhone 4S. While it features little in the way of aesthetic difference from its predecessors, it is packing quite a few upgrades internally.

On the other hand, we have the Galaxy S2 HD LTE, which is a cross, essentially, between the Galaxy Nexus, and Samsung’s highly anticipated upcoming flagship, the Galaxy S3. While the SoC (System on Chip, aka processor) is not bleeding edge, it is more than powerful enough to get the job done. For those that love exploring the web or watching movies on their mobile device, they will love the radiant glowing colors, and bottomless blacks that the HD Super AMOLED display affords them. Additionally, the Galaxy S2 HD LTE is set to arrive on AT&T in the coming months, which is an exciting development, and will come as an LTE device. For anyone that’s ever experienced LTE speeds, they always find it difficult to return to snails-pace HSPA, HSPA+, or worse yet (gasp) 3G. With this in mind, LTE is absolutely terrible on battery life, if used constantly and to its full capacity. As we have seen with Motorola’s groundbreaking DROID RAZR MAXX with it’s 3300mAh battery, other companies are going to have to step their games up and offer ever larger batteries, all while maintaining the sub 10mm profile that consumers demand.

Finally, we must appreciate that there really is so much sensationalism over Android vs Apple, and it’s not a lost cause. People are very passionate about both, and for good reason. Never has there existed such intense fervor and competition between two mammoth companies, vying for our attention, our time, our loyalty, and our dollars. The smartphone race has just begun. As it stands right now, less than 10% of the planet has a smartphone. As we enter into 2012, this figure is likely to change dramatically. What we are now on the verge of is a true revolution in mobile computing, where we can finally begin to see that our mobile devices will soon have the capability to truly do everything we desire. Stay tuned for more!

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