Samsung Galaxy S3 vs S4: Is The Upgrade Worth It?

By Pierre Dumont , Mar 18, 2013 05:22 PM EDT

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is finally here. But now that it is, should S3 users really shell out all that dough for the new device?

We think it's time for a little comparison between the S3 and S4 to help you decide whether or not you should take the leap and purchase Samsung's new smartphone.


The design of the Galaxy S4 is actually quite similar to the S3. Samsung decided to stick with the plastic body this time, as opposed to the ceramic and metal types present on many other devices. There are some improvements, however, to the S4's design. Specifically, Samsung was able to fit in a larger screen while keeping a smaller body. While the S4's height is the same as the S3, it is a little less wide and about eight percent thinner. It's also three grams lighter. So the design of the S4 is slightly superior to that of the S3.


The display on the S4 is also improved over its predecessor. It offers a five-inch 1920x1080 display with a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch, compared with the S3's 4.8-inch 1280x720 display with 306 pixels per inch. This makes the S4 akin to smartphones like the HTC One and Sony Xperia Z. It's definitely an improvement, but given that both displays are over 300 pixels per inch, you may not notice a big difference between the two.

Processor, RAM and Storage

In terms of hardware, both the S3 and S4 come in two different versions. The LTE version of the S3 came with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC with a 1.5GHz  dual-core Krait CPU and 2GB of RAM, while the 3G version came with the Samsung Exynos 4 Quad SoC with a 1.4GHz quad-core A9 CPU and 1GB of RAM. The North American version of the S4 comes with a Snapdragon 600 SoC with a 1.9GHZ quad-core Krait CPU and 2GB of RAM while the international version has an Exynos 5 Octa (a 1.6GHz quad-core A15 CPU and a 1.2GHz quad-core A7 CPU combined) with 2GB of RAM. Storage options are essentially the same, offering 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options with up to 64GB of additional memory through a microSD card.


This is where the S4 may seem to have its greatest advantage, arriving with a variety of new features like Air Gesture, Smart Scroll and S Translator. These extras let you do things like scroll through the phone without touching the screen and translate emails and texts easily. However, most of these features will be coming to the S3 in time, so the advantage may not last long.


The Galaxy S3 has an eight-megapixel rear camera and a 1.9-megapixel front camera, while the S4 packs a 13-megapixel rear camera and a two-megapixel front camera. This is certainly an upgrade that will allow the S4 to snap more detailed shots than the S3 in good lighting. But like most phones it will still struggle in low-light scenarios. The S4 does, however, include a dual-recording mode for improved capability.


The S4 definitely sports an improved battery at 2,600mAh compared to the S3's 2,100mAh. However, the S4's larger, crisper display will drain more power. More hands-on time with the device will be needed in order to tell if the S4 actually lasts longer compared to the S3.


The Galaxy S4 is definitely an improvement over the S3 in almost every way. However, these improvements don't make for a huge upgrade. Unless you're determined to get your hands on the latest gadget, you may just want to stick with your S3 for a while, especially since it will be getting many of the new software features available on the S4.

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