Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy S III

Introduction and Design

The Samsung Galaxy S III was an absolute smash-hit in 2012. Few were the Android smartphones that dared to challenge it, and even fewer were those that stood any chance at all. However, time has once again proved that nothing lasts forever, as we're now 2013, and the good old GS III is now much less impressive than it was a year ago. But that doesn't mean that another company is to steal the crown from Samsung. Nope. Sammy has been refining and improving its billion-dollar formula, and the results of its efforts are evident in the Galaxy S4 – a handset that seems absolutely worthy of succeeding the wonderful Galaxy S III.

OK, so the Galaxy S4 is an amazing smartphone worth every penny, but there certainly are a lot of folks out there who are still rocking the GS III. Should those guys think about upgrading to the GS 4, or are they OK with their GS IIIs for another year? Enough questions! Let's go get ourselves some answers!


We've all heard people say that the GS III and GS4 are almost identical in terms of external design. Well, this is so not true! OK, the Galaxy S4 is certainly in the same style as the Galaxy S III, but it is significantly better. Not only does it look better, but it is actually a bit narrower and a bit thinner than its predecessor, while sporting a bigger screen at the same time! This alone is an extraordinary achievement by Samsung. And as we said, it actually looks way better with its thinner bezel, more symetric design and better key layout.

Other than that, both devices are made of pretty much the same plastic material, which should be polycarbonate, though whatever it is, it sure isn't very tough, so you'll have to be extra careful with both of these guys.

Samsung Galaxy S4

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm


4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S III

5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches

136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm


4.69 oz (133 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm


4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S III

5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches

136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm


4.69 oz (133 g)

See the full Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy S III size comparison or compare them to other phones using our Size Comparison tool.

Both handsets have the same key layout, and unfortunately, the Galaxy S4's keys do not feel any better than those of its predecessor, so no major construction upgrades here. Samsung has also decided to keep its favorite touch-sensitive Menu and Back keys, positioned to the left and right of the Home button below the screen. We actually tend to like this configuration, as it doesn't take up precious screen space.


Even though the Galaxy S III's display looked amazing last year, it's now somewhat weird compared to the 1080p panels that start to overtake the market this year. That includes the screen of the Galaxy S4, which is so much better than the one of its predecessor. Not only is it higher-res, but it also boasts more natural colors that are still vibrant, but not to the point of being artificial and unpleasant.

It's not like the GS III's display is bad, even by today's standards, but the one of the GS4 is better in every aspect.

Samsung Galaxy S4 360-Degrees View:

Samsung Galaxy S III 360-Degrees View:

Interface and Functionality

At first, it'll be hard to notice any difference between the two handsets as far as the user interface (UI) goes. That is because both are using Samsung's TouchWiz Nature UX, but the GS4 is indeed a bit more refined. The new flagship is also based on Android 4.2.2, so it has all the latest goodies of the OS. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S III isn't far behind, as it's currently running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bea, and it'll probably get updated past that.

For the time being, though, there will be a number of features that you'll be able to use only with the Galaxy S4. Here's a list with all of them:


  • Dual shot – This new camera feature makes for some interesting stories, mainly because it compiles videos by recording content with the front and rear cameras. It’s neat because you can tell a story about what you’re trying to shoot in the video.
  • Sound & Shot – This is simple - it just allows us to record up to 9 seconds of audio when we snap a photo. Therefore, when we preview it in the gallery, it’ll play the recording when we look at it.
  • Drama Shot – Always wondered how professional photographers snap those cool photos of someone diving into a pool? You know, the ones where it shows in the photo the step-by-step moment? Well, the drama shot feature relies on multi burst to take various photos of something in motion, and then complies them together in a single shot.
  • Cinema Photo – Now this one is really cool, it’s like having a photo that you can honestly say you’re “feeling the moment.” Basically, it’s like making a GIF image on the smartphone. As the handset is capturing images, we can select what elements to animate and what others we want to keep stationary.
  • Story Album – The name says it all! It’s a feature that lets us stitch together a story album using pictures, time, place, weather, and more.


  • S Translator – You guessed it folks, the Galaxy S IV makes it super convenient to translate stuff on the fly. Incorporated into a variety of apps, like ChatON, messaging, S Translator app, and email, language barriers will be a thing of the past with this new S Translator feature.
  • Group Play – There are to aspects of Group Play. First, there’s the ability to allow the smartphone to pair with other Galaxy S IVs so they can conjure up a powerful sound system with its new Share Music feature. Come to think about it, the entire thing kind of reminds us of daisy chaining. Lastly, the Galaxy S IV allow for more social engagement when it comes to playing games. Specifically, optimized versions of Asphalt 7 and Gun Bros 2 allow multiple Samsung Galaxy S IV smartphone to play collaboratively.

Life Task

  • Air View – Yup, the Note’s Air View feature has somehow magically arrived on the Galaxy S IV – and boy does it impress on many levels. We’ve already talked about its usefulness and the display’s accuracy, but Sammy has an optimized version of Flipboard that allows us to hover our finger over its tiles to get a preview. Of course, the feature works in many other places – like previewing email and calendar appointments.
  • Air Gesture – Holy smokes! So what’s Air Gesture? Simply, it’s a basic version of Kinect for the Microsoft XBOX 360, but for smartphones (SGSIV in this case obviously). At its core, Air Gesture is touchless commands for the Galaxy S IV and breaks down to three commands – Air Browse, Air Jump, and Air Call Accept. In the browser and email apps, we can wave our hand in a downward/upward motion to tell the phone to scroll up/down. Likewise, we can “swipe” through photos in the gallery by waving our hand over the display in the appropriate direction. Yeah, it’s super neat, but not all apps support it. Instead, most of Sammy’s set offer it, but not others like Chrome or Gmail. Unfortunately though, there’s no air gesture for “pinch zooming.”
  • Smart Pause – It’s hard enough remembering a storyline when watching a movie on a phone, especially when we decide to do something else aside from watching it. Well, with Smart Pause, the handset knows when we’re not looking. Therefore, it’ll automatically pause the moment our eyes are no longer affixed to the display, but it’ll resume once we look back at it.
  • Smart Scroll – Using a combination of looking with our eyes and some tilting action, we can scroll through various content in the web browser and email app.
  • Samsung Optical Reader – No one likes having to manually input business card information into their phones, so that’s why we’re given the Samsung Optical Reader. Snap a business card, it’ll automatically retrieve the pertinent content and convert it digitally for us. Also, it works to decipher QR codes.
  • WatchON – Seeing that the handset is now sporting an IR blaster, WatchON is the one stop hub for all our television program needs. Not only can we control, select, and viewing programming, it also has a cool video on demand feature.

Life Care

  • S Health – Fitness junkies will surely appreciate S Health the most, since it tracks and measures various physical activities – eventually giving us detailed statistics about our fitness regimen. From counting the steps we’ve take to the amount of calories we’ve consumed for the day, S Health is the central spot where we can monitor our healthy lifestyle. Heck, it can even tell us if the temperature and weather conditions are conducive to our health. Oh yeah, did we mention it can also monitor sleeping patterns?
  • Samsung Adapt Sound – In its attempt to be self-aware, the Samsung Adapt Sound will automatically adjust some of the handset’s settings based on what we’re doing. For example, if we’re reading a book in the dark, it’ll adjust the contrast and brightness to make it easier on our eyes. Another scenario pumps up the two so that it provides for an enticing video watching experience. Rather than doing it ourselves manually, it’s nice to see the handset doing it automatically for us.


The built in keyboard of the Galaxy S4 is slightly different than that of its predecessor in that it has an additional line of numbers. This makes it more versatile and practical, but makes the keys a bit smaller than those of the GS III. If you are used to typing in landscape, though, this won't be such a problem. Not that typing with the GS4 is hard or anything, but... yeah, sometimes you might find the keys to be a bit smallish.

One update that we guess the Galaxy S III will eventually get is the new ChatON service which is avialable in the Galaxy S4. Its new key feature is the three-way conferance video call option. Nothing major to miss here for GS III users.

Internet and Connectivity

The Galaxy S4's advantages in this category are mostly due to its superiority in the hardware department. The slightly larger, 1080p screen makes reading a bit better, as everything is just so, so sharp and fine. It actually bothers us because last year we said that you can hardly notice an individual pixel in the 720p screen of the Galaxy S III. Now, we realize how wrong we've been, as the screen of the Galaxy S4 is so much better. But! Of course, that doesn't mean that the GS III's display is bad. Quite the contrary, it's still great for reading, browsing and so on, it's just that the GS4, with its Full HD screen, makes things look even more awesome!

When it comes to features, both handsets have LTE support, but the international GS4 steps things up a notch with its HSPA+ 42.2 Mbit/s support, whereas the GS III only has HSPA+ 21.1 Mbit/s. Another thing that the Galaxy S4 has that the GS III doesn't is an IR blaster.

Processor and Memory

Internationally, the Galaxy S III comes with the quad-core Exynos 4412, which is happily ticking at 1.4 GHz. The Exynos version has the Mali-400/MP4 GPU. In the U.S., the GS III comes with the dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus with two Krait cores at 1.5 GHz with Adreno 225 GPU.

The GS4, on the other hand, has the Snapdragon 600 CPU in most markets. The Snapdragon 600 is a quad-core chipset running at 1.9 GHz, and it also comes with the Adreno 320 GPU, which is much better than that of the GS III. In some markets, the Galaxy S4 will come with the Exynos 5 Octa CPU, which we presume will be better than the Snapdragon 600 version, but that's just guessing right now, because we haven't had the chance to play with it. Anyways, the Exynos 5 Octa is an octa-core CPU with two powerful A15 cores running at 1.6 GHz, and two low-power A7 cores running at up to 1.2 GHz, used for less demanding tasks in order to save power.

As you can guess, the Galaxy S4 is much faster than the GS III, it absolutely crushes the benchmarks and is as fast as you can get right now. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S III has a similar performance most of the time, as long as you aren't making it run tons of stuff at the same time.

System memory-wise, both the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S III come with 2GB of RAM, but the international GS III is an exception here as it only has 1GB of RAM, so keep that in mind if you are planning on getting the GS III right now – it may not be the best handset for multitasking.

The internal memory options are the same for both smartphones – they both come in 16, 32 and 64 GB variants, and both of them have microSD card slot, allowing you to easily expand your phone's storage, if need be.

QuadrantHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S412078
Samsung Galaxy S III5335
AnTuTuHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S424701
Samsung Galaxy S III15152

Camera and Multimedia

Samsung has attempted to improve the camera of its flagship series, but has it succeeded in that? Well, the GS4 does have many new features, like Drama shot, Sound and shot, Dual shot and What-not shot, but really, we're sure that most folks out there will just stick to using the Auto mode.

There's an old saying that megapixels aren't everything, but they certainly help. That's indeed the case here with the Galaxy S4's 13MP camera, which manages to pack so much more detail into its shots, compred to its predecessor's 8MP camera. Not only does the GS4 take sharp photos, but it also manages to remain relatively noise-free. Other than that, the images will look somewhat identical most of the time, but we notice that the Galaxy S4 does tend to capture a bit more lively and well-exposed photos in certain situations.

Strangely, we find the Galaxy S III's 1080p video footage to be a bit better than that of the Galaxy S4, as it is somewhat sharper-looking. The other things like colors and exposure seem to be identical, but the video from the Galaxy S III feature a bit more detail. Of course, there's still time for Samsung to issue a software update and try to fix that, but for the time being, the GS III seems to have a slight edge here, though the difference isn't really big. On the other hand, the microphone of the GS4 does a better job recording the sound, so you can be sure that your videos will sound better if they are recorded with the Galaxy S4.

Taking a picLower is betterTaking an HDR pic(sec)Lower is betterCamSpeed scoreHigher is betterCamSpeed score with flashHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S43.4
Samsung Galaxy S III2.5
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Samsung Galaxy S4 Sample Video:

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Samsung Galaxy S III Sample Video:

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Indoor Sample Video:

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Samsung Galaxy S III Indoor Sample Video:

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Call quality

Both handsets fail to impress us when it comes to sound quality during calls. In fact, the Galaxy S III may be sounding just a tad better than its successor, with slightly more natural voices coming through its earpiece, but of course, that depends on a lot of factors. The microphones of both devices aren't anything to write home about, as they simply manage to deliver a strong, but high-sounding signal.

Pretty much the same goes for their loudspeakers. This is one area where Samsung hasn't bothered to upgrade much, as both the GS4 and GS III have decent loudspeakers, with good strength, but nothing close to something like the stereo front speakers of the HTC One, for example.

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script,designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage.All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.
hoursHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4
4h 59 min(Poor)
Samsung Galaxy S III
4h 8 min(Poor)


OK, so the Galaxy S4 may not be a tremendous upgrade over the Galaxy S III, but it sure is a better smartphone. The new flagship excels in many areas, including its exterior design, the screen, which is now 1080p, the updated UI with latest Android version, 13 MP camera and a host of new software features.

All of these feature upgrades make sure that you're having a a better experience while using the handset, not only in specific situations, but also while doing completely basic things like calling, messaging, getting notifications and so on. We gues this is why Samsung continues to get more and more influential in the smartphone market, as the company's high-end phones not only have state-of -the-art hardware, but also an increasingly better user experience, which you can never get with specs alone.

But let's get back to our comparison and try to answer the question that we asked at the start – should Galaxy S III owners think about an upgrade? Well, it sure isn't a simple question, which means there isn't one ultimate answer. If you have spare money, and having the latest gear is always a top priority for you, then just go ahead, sell that aging Galaxy S III and get the GS4! In any other case, we think that the Galaxy S III is still competent enough – from hardware to software. The screen is big, the processor is fast, the experience is wonderful... plus it will probably get an update to the next version of Android, so for the time being, it looks like you won't be missing much at all, should you stick to the Galaxy S III.

And that's certainly not the case if you happen to be rocking something older, like the Galaxy S II, for example. In that case, don't hesitate – just do yourself a favor and grab the Galaxy S4. It's tons better!

Software version of the Galaxy S4 unit: Android 4.2.2, Build: JDQ39.I9505XXUAMCB_CSB
Software version of the Galaxy S III unit: Android 4.1.2, Build: JZO54K.I9300XXEMB5

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Samsung Galaxy S III:

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