The Samsung Galaxy S3 was released back in May, while the Apple iPhone 5 isn’t due to see the light of day until at least autumn sometime. Of course, we’re all dying to know exactly what technology and features are going to be included in the latest iPhone, but, more than that – we want to know if it’s going to best the Samsung Galaxy S3. The S3 is, without a doubt, Android’s flagship handset, which means it’s got some of the best features to have graced any Android phone. Every year, the latest iPhone goes head-to-head with the best Android handset of the moment, and this year it’s the S3 v the iPhone 5.
If you don’t know much about the Samsung Galaxy S3, now seems like a good time to swot up on it. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has an ultra-powerful quad-core processor, and a spacious 4.8-inch AMOLED display. It also packs in an 8MP camera, just like the HTC One X, and comes with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. You’ll find plenty of Android phones offering individually better specs than this – the Sony Xperia Ion offers a 12MP camera, and the Samsung Galaxy Note has a 5.3-inch display – but, all in all, it’s the best high-end Android package you’ll find on the high street.
It’s no wonder, then, that the S3 is tipped to be the iPhone 5′s main Android-equipped rival. However, we still have no idea just how good the iPhone 5 is going to be. There are lots of vague rumours flying around, and we can guess a few things: keen to keep up with the competition, the iPhone 5 will almost certainly include a quad-core processor, and – looking at iOS 6′s new ‘Passbook’ app – we’re pretty sure that Near Field Communication technology is going to be included in the package. Other than that, the iPhone 5 is anyone’s guess, really.
Having said that, once in a while we do find out some new gossip about Apple’s incoming new iPhone. This week, the news concerns the display of the Apple iPhone 5; a little birdy tells us that the new iPhone 5 display is going to integrate touch with the LCD layer. While most touch-screen smartphone displays need two layers (one for the actual display and another for the touch-sensitive technology) ,Apple’s consolidation of the two may well shave quite a distance off the phone’s total width, making the Apple iPhone 5 a super-slim handset.
The iPhone 4S is already pretty slim as it is; the Samsung Galaxy S3 measures 8.6mm in width and weighs 133g. In contrast, the iPhone 4S – which we must remember is from a generation prior to the S3 – is 9.3mm in width and weighs 140g. This means it’s chunkier than the S3, but hopefully Apple’s new display technology means that the width of the iPhone 5 may truly contend with that of the S3. However, when considering that the 4S has just a tiny 3.5-inch display, it’s also a lot stouter than the S3, whose large surface area means that a slim width is even more impressive.
So, Apple have certainly got their hands full this year. However, this new display technology is what might allow them to best the Samsung Galaxy S-series once and for all. The report, featured in the Wall Street Journal, says that “Japanese liquid-crystal display makers Sharp Corp. and Japan Display – a new company that combined three Japanese electronics makers’ display units – as well as South Korea’s LG Display Co. are currently mass producing panels for the next iPhone using so-called in-cell technology.” They also noted that this new technology “integrates touch sensors into the LCD, making it unnecessary to have a separate touch-screen layer.”
Supposedly, reducing this need for a separate touch-screen layer will mean that the width of the phone can be reduced by half a millimetre in total. This, alone, would bring the iPhone 4S’s width down to 8.8mm, just 0.2mm wider than the S3. We can assume that Apple may well have other width reduction tricks up their sleeves, though, too. Along with allowing the iPhone 5 to be slimmer, this new display technology also means that the phone may cost Apple less to manufacture than previously. Whether these savings will be passed onto the customer in terms of RRP, well, we don’t know – but we certainly doubt it.
Of course, Samsung didn’t achieve an 8.6mm width without any tricks of their own, either. While they haven’t managed to combine the touch-sensitive layer of their phone with the LCD display, they have scrapped LCD altogether – in favour of an OLED display. OLED displays are thinner than traditional LCD displays because they don’t require backlighting. In fact, OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode. In other words, where Apple are saving space by dumping the touch-sensitive layer, Samsung are saving space on lighting.
The Journal reported “People familiar with the situation said that LCD makers are finding the manufacturing process challenging and time-consuming as they scramble to achieve high yield rates.” This perhaps indicates that Samsung are onto a winning idea with their OLED display. If this is true then Samsung, who are one of the current major manufacturers of OLED displays, look set to rake it in. Apparently the company has already had huge orders for its flexible OLED displays – though it’s not known which firm placed the order.
Of course, this is all still rumour, of a kind. A lot of the rumours about the iPhone 5 do seem to be based on something that vaguely resembles fact, and the old saying ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ may well apply here. We’re hoping that we’re right about Apple’s new display, because we’re greedy and frankly we like our gadgets to get thinner and sexier with each iteration. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is a feat of engineering, and, as one of the most streamlined handsets we’ve ever seen, it’s going to prove difficult to best.