The Galaxy S series of devices are not cheap. They are cheaper to the consumer than the iPhones, but, if you take a look at the Bill of Materials (commonly called BoM), the Galaxy S3 actually has a greater BoM than the iPhone already, with the S4 costing even more. This sparks the curiosity of whether Samsung is hurting its profit margins by selling this device (at least the S3, as we don’t know the pricing of S4 yet) for less than the iPhone, but that is not what I’m going to explore here.
So many articles have been written about the differences between the Galaxy S* devices and the iPhone. At the end of the day, it comes out as a draw or sometimes even as the Galaxy S3 or S4 being more feature packed. All true, if we take the totality of features into account. But, it is useful to look at this more closely, especially to answer the question “if price was not a factor, would the Galaxy S4 still win”? Because, if Samsung’s goal is to become known for making the best smartphone that exists, period, it has to win out on the features beyond the price. Here are a couple of examples where Samsung (and in some cases, Android) needs to think harder about bridging the gap.
- Camera – Photo Quality
Moving to a 13MP camera is not what is really needed here – great marketing stuff, but what about photo quality? So many studies have been done on how the camera does in the two devices and some end up concluding they have comparable quality, but my own experience has been that the sharpness of the image and colors is simply better on the iPhone. I frequently find myself asking my friends with iPhones to take the same pictures I’m taking and send it to me (that’s embarrassing, but true!). Data gets sliced in different ways, but photography remains one of the top uses of the smartphone for users – even if it doesn’t top the list in terms of time spent.
So, Samsung, I hope you are paying attention and really trying to up the bar on image quality with the next device!
- Call (And Voice) Quality
This has never been Samsung’s strong area – in the past, I’ve refused to own a Samsung phone because I didn’t tolerate its poor voice quality. Granted it has improved a lot and I currently use phones made by Samsung (and would even think about the S4!), the voice quality is still a bit frustrating. This study seems to claim that the iPhone call quality is good – perhaps Apple got its act together with iPhone 5 (I will admit that I haven’t used it all that much, other than times when I’ve borrowed it from a friend), but, I remember a time when the iPhone sucked in call quality (note though, that call quality and voice quality are not necessarily the same thing!).
Even though phone calls are not the coolest thing these days, when we have to make a call, it is critical. We cannot ignore call and voice quality just yet!
- Battery Life
I wrote about how the biggest fear of a smartphone user these days is running out of juice. It is true. Smartphone is undoubtedly my primary device at the moment. I don’t want to have to set up smart power management apps. I don’t want to have to moderate my use. Admittedly, I’m a power user and I know it will take a while before I can stop worrying about my phone’s battery life. But, my HTC Incredible II had a much better battery life than any of my Samsung phones. And 4G is just one of the reasons. Further, I don’t care that 4G is a reason – it is not my problem as the consumer!
There may be more to this list, but these three aspects will remain critical to making the best smartphone on the planet!