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Samsung attacks iPhone 5 in newspaper advert - we take a closer look

S-Beam? Smart Stay? What exactly are all these Galaxy S III features?

Product: iPhone 5 | Manufacturer: Apple
iPhone 5 iPhone, thumbnail 1
This weekend, Samsung ran an inflammatory iPhone 5 ad in US newspapers, in which the South Korean tech giant compares the specifications of its own flagship Galaxy S III blower to the specs of Apple's newly announced smartphone.

According to Samsung, "it doesn't take a genius" to figure out which phone is best - Samsung's device has more RAM and longer battery life, after all, plus it's got NFC and a bigger screen.

But, then there's this curious list of features towards the bottom of the comparison ad. The iPhone 5 spec sheet ends early, while the Galaxy S III one runs on... and on... and on.

But, what the heck are Smart Stay, S-Beam, Palm Touch Mute Pause, and ShareShot? Half of them sound like medical conditions, and the rest sound like Pokemon attacks.

Let's find out exactly what Samsung's Galaxy S III has over the iPhone 5, shall we?



NFC lets your phone connect with other devices when they're placed in close proximity. Real-world uses are limited at the moment. You can turn your phone into a credit card, but not many shops have the contactless payment kit installed.

Apple senior VP Phil Schiller said that Passbook - the new gift card and boarding pass app in iOS 6 - "does the kinds of things customers need today".

Smart Stay

With Smart Stay, the Galaxy S III will stop the backlight from dimming if it can detect you looking at the phone. It uses the camera and face recognition to pull this off.

Samsung's site says "it waits till you're asleep", but we hope you like sleeping in a brightly lit room. When you turn on the feature, you see, the device warns you that Smart Stay doesn't work in the dark.


This one uses NFC to let you share content between two Galaxy S IIIs when they're placed back to back. You can send video, photos, music, contact data, and the like. On iPhone, you can pull off similar feats using the Bump app.


Through ShareShot, friends and family on connected Galaxy S III phones in your vicinity will automatically receive snaps as you take them. Saves downloading them from Facebook the next day, we suppose.

Shared Photo Streams in iOS 6 offers pretty similar functionality on the iPhone.

Group Cast

This one lets you set up a document-editing session between a bunch of Galaxy S III phones. When all the devices are connected, you can simultaneously look at and edit PDF and PowerPoint files.

Handy, but only if everyone in your office has a Galaxy S III. Which means the feature will only be useful in Samsung's headquarters.

Direct Call

If you're texting someone and you decide you'd rather call him / her instead, you can hold the Galaxy S III up to your ear and it will dial his / her number. Magical.

Smart Alert

If the Galaxy S III suspects you've been away from your phone for a period, it will give you a vibrating nudge when you next pick it up to let you know you've got missed calls or messages. Surely, the iPhone's Lock screen notifications are much more useful?

Tilt to Zoom

This is one of the Galaxy S III's motion gestures. Instead of using pinch to zoom to magnify websites and images, you can just tilt your phone towards or away from you.

Except, the feature only works when you've got two fingers on the device - so it's not much of a time saver.

Palm Swipe Capture

This lets you take a screenshot by swiping your palm over the screen. On iPhone, you press the Home and Lock buttons simultaneously to achieve the same result.

Palm Touch Mute Pause

The winner of 'Most Inelegant-Sounding Feature 2012' lets you pause a video by placing your palm over the screen.

Picture in Picture

This one lets you make a video float over the screen in a tiny player so you can continue to browse the web while you watch a film. That's actually quite impressive, though the video player is absurdly small at this point.

Turn Over To Mute

Place your phone face-down, and it will mute all incoming calls and messages. Sounds handy. Just don't do it by mistake, or put your phone's massive screen on a rough surface. On iPhone, there's a dedicated silent button.

Shake To Update

Update your Twitter stream or refresh your inbox by shaking your phone.

Removable battery

Unlike with the iPhone 5, you can take out the Galaxy S III's battery and replace it, in the rare case that your lithium-ion gives up and dies.

In conclusion, Samsung's list of differentiating features is a pretty mixed bag. There are some genuinely useful features, some that have remarkably similar options on the iPhone, and a few that are barely worth the ink to print.

This is not the first time that Samsung has compared itself to Apple. It ran an ad for the Galaxy Note, remember, where it put its stylus-toting device up against the iPhone.

And Samsung executives looked at the features of the iPhone very carefully when it copied all of them and was sued for a billion dollars.

Reviewer photo
Mark Brown 17 September 2012
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