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The Best Travel Phone? Iphone vs Samsung Galaxy

in Technology, Travel Blogs

The Samsung Galaxy vs the Iphone is something that I have been considering for the best phone to travel with.  I made a lot of changes for my travels in 2012 including taking less luggage, upgrading technology, and also upgrading the current luggage that I already have.

I’m down to just two bags whenever I travel around the world and live overseas in any specific country, one book bag and one duffel bag.

Since the release of the iPhone five, I have been at a loss in terms of what phone to get since I’m still using the dreaded and outdated blackberry. I will give you a moment to laugh out loud.

There has been new standard set in place and Blackberry has been on the losing end of that stick when it comes to mobile.

I did a lot of research especially with new technologies coming out like 4G would love to hear from both iPhone fanatics and Android users as to what they think is best. I know there are a lot of people out there that are still debating that very question and I’d love to hear from you as well.

iphone vs samsung vs nokia

The Nokia, Iphone, & Samsung next to each other

IPhone

The iPhone is to mobile what Microsoft Windows is to computers. Before Android, iPhone dominated the smart phone market by tearing apart companies like Blackberry and Nokia,  they both used to dominate their niches with Nokia being the once largest mobile phone company in the world.

The standard in the mobile platform is, or was, the iPhone.

With all the rumors of the iPhone 5  coming out I decided to wait until the release to see what was new and improved. I wasn’t impressed by a thinner and faster phone because that happens every year with any technology, I was waiting to see whether Apple would come out with the next revolutionary technology like they did with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Apple decided to drop the Google maps due to their fight with Google’s Android platform that is taking over the majority of the market.  Frankly, I don’t blame them, the new maps are horrible but I’m sure they will get that issue resolved shortly.

Even though I am not impressed with the iPhone 5, I still seriously considered the iPhone because anything Apple in the mobile world is considered the standard. Everyone develops apps for Apple devices and they are considered the standard.

What I find is that even though the new iphone is thinner and faster, everything available on the iPhone 5  is available on any other smart phone, specifically the Samsung Galaxy series from Android.  There is nothing overly new and there are features that the Android has that are actually better than the iPhone 5.

samsungs vs Iphone

The Samsung & Iphone Next To Each Other

Samsung Galaxy S Series  - Android

When I visited Easter island I was able to get my hands on both and iPad and a Samsung S3 Galaxy S3.  I was amazed at how both of them took incredible pictures and the gentleman taking pictures with the iPad said that the pixel resolution is so high on the iPad that humans can’t even appreciate all of it.

I have seen an iPhone, taken pictures with it, but the pictures taken on the Samsung galaxy S3 were more impressive than the pictures that I saw on the massive iPad screen. I was just blown away.

Now that Android controls the majority of market share for smart phone tablets, there app store is growing and eventually will eclipse Apple’s.

The only thing that concerns me about the Samsung galaxy S3 is that they don’t test apps before they release them, it’s like owning a computer and having computer virus problems all over again.  Another few advantages is the massive screen that Samsung offers, it’s quite a bit larger than the iPhone 5.

Honorable Mentions

I’m ashamed to say that I actually still own and use a Blackberry but it worked just fine as I was traveling around the world. Blackberries new torch with a touch screen was excellent but I’m afraid they’ve fallen behind the pack when it comes to available apps and new technology.

Ipad vs Samsung Galaxy Tablet

The Ipad next to the Samsung Galaxy Tablet

I personally don’t like Microsoft because of how they do business.  With Nokia using the windows mobile platform, Microsoft thought they would immediately become competitors in the industry. That idea failed and now they’ve decided to come out with their own phone and tablet to compete in the market.

They are now following Apple’s business model

The BlackBerry did help me with having lower Internet costs when I was on my cruise to Antarctica because it doesn’t use as much bandwidth when surfing the internet but is still time to upgrade.  It seems only Europeans use Nokia phones now and Microsoft Windows is just a failing bet.

Conclusions

Since I do plan on releasing apps via for WanderingTrader the Apple platform, Android platform, and even the Kindle, I considered getting one device from each platform so I could use each. Since I’m not impressed with the iPhone 5 what I’m thinking about doing is buying the Samsung Galaxy S3 and then buying an iPad for tablet.

I know a lot of you have probably been through the same decision-making process so if you have any tips or any advice on hesitate to leave a comment, contact me, or let me know how you feel via Facebook or twitter.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Riyko October 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I understand the whole blackberry thing, I still have a blackberry and i’m in the process of getting a new cellphone as well. I’m getting the galaxy s3 and how i decided on that was mainly reading reviews and then the features it has, like what features can i go without and what features can i not go without. I was originally debating between the HTC One S and the Galaxy 3, the deal breakers for me with the One S was the issues with it freezing up a lot and then the fact that it doesn’t have a microSD slot. The only real fault i’ve seen with the S3 is the screen cracking from being dropped, but with ghost armor it can help prevent that.

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John G October 17, 2012 at 7:59 pm

What a bias article. I’ve had an iPhone and have to say my Blackberry Bold 9900 is in a different league as far as communication goes. If you want a toy to play games on then I agree, an iPhone is definitely the way to go. As for Android, it looks great on the surface, but under the hood I find it far to hit and miss.

And when it comes to international travel you are crazy to have anything other than a Blackberry. The data compression on a Blackberry is streets ahead of any other device … Period.

You sound like a sheep who believes all the biased hype coming out of the pro Apple media such as the New York Times. Dare to be different. If your Blackberry works for you, which as an international traveller, it certainly does for me, then why would you want an iPhone or a Droid?

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Marcello October 17, 2012 at 8:24 pm

John G thats why I liked taking my blackberry on my Antarctica trip because it compressed the data and I didn’t have to pay as much for it, but frankly, Blackberry is behind the curve you dont think?

To answer your question specifically it is because I plan on having apps that are on those platforms and pictures on a blackberry are frankly, atrocious. The pictures on a samsung s3 are absolutely amaaazing and I need those for WanderingTrader. Lots more services and features on the other platforms.

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John G October 18, 2012 at 8:59 am

I don’t know what you mean about the apps as I have all the apps I need on my Blackberry and lots I don’t really need. I can’t think of any apps on either iOS or Android that I need and don’t have. I did have an iPhone, but found constantly having to hop from app to app via the little button at the bottom was clunky and tedious. Fine for someone like my wife who isn’t very technical, but for me, I much preferred the instant multitasking between many open apps on my Blackberry.

As for photos, my Blackberry Bold 9900 takes stunning photos, and the great thing is that if I want to share them via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc, I can do so in a heartbeat with just a ‘right-click’ AND I can optimize the image at the same time (e.g. reduce the file size) which is something you can’t do without many keypresses on the iPhone or Android. The latter is MASSIVELY important when data charges are at a premium as they are for me when I travel.

Also, on the Blackberry I can (from the phone itself) choose to receive just subject only on the e-mails, which means I only have to get and pay for the full message if I actually want to read it. Those that are not so important can be read when I have a wifi connection.

I also have an iPad and a Playbook, and have to say that for international travel the Playbook is awesome. I have an HDMI lead (costs about five bucks) to plug it into the TV in the hotel rooms, and so can watch any movies I want AND can control the Playbook directly from my Blackberry Bold 9900 without getting off the bed, which is fabulous when your feet are aching after a hard day.

And with BB10 just around the corner, which is looking AMAZING, I wouldn’t get tied down by an iPhone or an Android at all. Absolutely, definitely not.

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Joel October 19, 2012 at 5:16 am

I consider myself to be smartphone-agnostic, if you will… The Apple fanatics waiting in line for days to buy iPhones are one extreme, and the Apple-haters can be just as extreme. I’ve always had a BB for work and have many friends working in Waterloo, but their corporate culture and lack of developer support has left them in the dust. While Android sells a lot of devices the actual web traffic tells a completely different story of lighter users and niche hackers, and devices that simply need to be replaced more frequently. I use a lot of Google apps and web services, I love lots of things from Samsung/Korea/Japan, and I was adamantly against anything overpriced-Apple for a long time.. until I received one as a gift.

One thing people often gloss over on these gadget comparisons is that specs-vs-purchase-price are not the be-all-end to gadgets, or anything for that matter. Hardware specs actually mean very little to the real-world performance due to bottleneck limitations and software efficiency. There can actually be many benefits to lower specs such as reliability, energy consumption, portability, noise, data usage or whatever. The resale value/lifespan can make a huge impact on the real cost of a smartphone. iOS is free when you buy an iPhone just like Android is free when you buy Samsung… except Google has to make money somehow with what ads or data mining? Apple has something the spec sheets do not show and it is not magic, it’s just more refined software that also happens to be supported much longer. A strong user base that actually pays/supports its developers makes all the difference in the end. All that being said I have carefully considered the Android/Samsung combo several times now, and maybe someday I will make the switch. Chose wisely though because once you’re invested, it may be harder to change.

Logos and fashion statements aside, everyone may have different needs/personal preferences in a smartphone. What I don’t like most about the iPhone is the lack of a removable SD card, and the lack of some really nitty-gritty options. What I don’t like about Android is the lack of simple OS upgrades on many previous devices, and the resale value/lifespan compared to an iPhone. You can jailbreak an iPhone and you can install a custom rom on Androids, but neither is ideal imo. I’ve sold a few iPhones to upgrade for very little cost, and they can be upgraded/supported for much much longer. I personally prefer its compact form factor for many reasons, such as using it comfortably with one hand and thumb. I travel internationally all the time and personally never had an issue that wouldn’t apply to any smartphone. For me the iPhone was eventually a gateway to more Macs, which I agree may be a downside to others. If you go iPhone, I would recommend sticking with other Macs because the integration is one of its major advantages. The other Macs have a lot of the same arguments and are really gaining a user base lately.

I would actually prefer to buy stealth logo-less Apple products if I could, just to avoid the Apple-hater scowls. Truth is, they are more refined and get used a lot longer and there’s just no way to put that on the spec sheet. I don’t think Macs have to be groundbreaking with every release, I like that the old ones still look new and accessories are easy to come by. I’m a programmer and have used smartphones since they were called palm pilots. I’ve hacked software, overclocked hardware, reprogrammed car ECUs etc so I can understand the allure of Android. I think many Apple-haters would actually enjoy them if they gave them a fair try.

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Marcello October 19, 2012 at 8:29 am

Thanks for that Joel great things to think about

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Lauren D. October 21, 2012 at 12:54 am

I began using iPhone by default; my mom bought me one. I had initially wanted an Android, however I could not say no to a free smart phone. A month later we left for Hawai’i. Yes, still the United States, but it worked seamlessly. A year later, we left for Italy and Greece. Eager to try using a phone overseas since I hadn’t had that option when we traveled to England in 2000, I purchased a small data and texting plan to try it out. My phone worked pretty well, I mostly wanted it to go Geocaching. It worked OK in most places, but I assume that the difficulties I had were related to service availability. A friend of mine has used the HTC EVO 3D for the past year. My roommate has a Galaxy S2 (I believe). My iPhone 3Gs has outlasted them both. My roommate had to use her insurance to get a new phone because it went completely on the fritz and the speaker went out. My friend has had problem after problem with his HTC. I recently upgraded from my 3Gs to the iPhone 5. I love it. Both my roommate and my friend have now ordered the iPhone 5 and they’re ditching their Androids. My roommate is sick of the problems and my other friend (who’s more techie than I) likes the integration and streamlined Apple software. In fact, he’s getting rid of his Android before his 5 delivers and he’s going to use my 3Gs until it arrives. I honestly think it comes down to longevity and reliability. My 3Gs still works GREAT. My iPhone 5 holds a charge like no other smart phone I’ve seen (and it charges very quickly, on top of that). The Galaxy does have a great camera (I’ve been jealous of the pics my roommate has captured with hers), but that has changed since I got my iPhone 5/ The panoramic capabilities of my 5 are AWESOME! Hands down the best panoramics I’ve seen produced by a Smart phone. Clear, crisp, bright and no funky morphing/waves at the edges. Apple has slowly taken over my life, but I’m not complaining. My products work so well together and they are all lightweight and super portable. I’m probably a fangirl by now, but part of that distinction has come from my observations of long-time Android users and the problems they have encountered.

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Ryan October 21, 2012 at 7:53 am

Hey mate! Good article, good read. To me it does seem like some of the points mentioned were though were a tad bit off. Yes, each year technology gets thinner and lighter, but I was EXTREMELY surprised at just how light the iPhone 5 was. If considering that they iPhone 5 wasn’t a big upgrade because of the thin and light, plus the taller screen, improved optics chip, and the insanely fast innards, then Android isn’t doing much either. Basically, the only thing they keep doing is enlarging the screen, and if you are getting a tablet, a nearly 5″ honking screen might be overkill.

On another note, I think the camera on both devices are awesome and reviews have been pretty even about picture quality on both. But, the new iPhone 5 takes awesome photos and videos and actually saves them as a smaller file so they take up less space.

The kicker for me is the fact that when I take a photo with my iPhone, it’ll be on my Mac and iPhone almost instantly for me to edit and post on the blog because of photo stream. That alone was an unbelievable time saver and a major convenience given I didn’t always carry my other camera with me.

Both phones are top notch in the smartphone world right now, and if the ginormous screen on a phone is what you dig, then all means go for it! It’s just unwieldy for me.

(Note) If anyone knows me, ya know I like Apple tech, but I have used both and just thought I’d give my opinion on the comparison though!

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KT Jison October 21, 2012 at 8:49 am

Personal grading for a: iPhone- one of the easiest to learn to use and has lots of apps that are so functional. Downside: memory not expandable, battery life 6-8hours for continuous internet usage (lot longer if plain sms/calls and internet off).
B: samsung (a galaxy note) – wonderful pictures/ expandable memory/ battery replaceable/ i actually bought it for the S pen ;-); i like that i can watch saved movies in my memory cards. downside: even faster battery drainage on internet usage, as in, but many battery saving apps can make it last longer. It might still leave you out when you actually need it most.
*on both, i still work better with my internet usage on my iPad when traveling.The bigger screen is such a relief to work on when you want to upload your blogs/buy the promo fare which can be gone in a few minutes/ browse on multiple windows at the same time/edit documents in full size. What do now is bring the iPad for business/study travel and my regular phone (which by the way is an iphone haha) while for sightseeing/”getting away” trips i bring only my android. All the rest of my “VIP” documents, i leave it to Cloud. :-)
Hope this helps. I am an avid fan of your blog.

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Marcello December 31, 2012 at 8:56 am

Thanks KT I appreciate it!

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esther October 22, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Been through 2 iphones, 4 blackberrys, and now i am on the s3. Best phone in my view. Since i got this phone, i dont use my camera anymore, and i am an avid picture taker. I use my ipad about every three days. And its great to have a removable sd card. Dislike is the short battery life, but thats also because i have every app and feature open. Even though the s3 is wider, its super light weight.

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Chantal October 25, 2012 at 2:58 am

Coming from a lifetime apple user, I would say to go with the Samsung Galaxy S3. All too often when I try to log onto certain webpages with an iPhone it does not load images, video, etc. You can’t record copyrighted days with the i phone camera. For instance, if you go to record a song at a Rolling Stones show it would not allow the data to save…and honestly it’s not something that effects me that often, but nonetheless it annoys me a bit. One HUGE advantage of the android is tethering. You can connect your Android to your laptop and use the 3G or 4G to connect to the internet. For free.

Apple devices do feel more luxurious but they lack simple features that I can’t live without.

Not to mention, Apple is pretty horrible to both their workers and their customers…and even the economy as they hold an insane amount of dough not circulating in our economy.

On the other hand, Google’s unofficial motto is “don’t be evil”, and as thd treat their employees well and put out a ton of free products, I’d say they live up to it.

For limitless travel I’m not sure either phone is great though…

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Marcello October 26, 2012 at 8:24 am

Thanks for the comment Chantal, I think Google’s motto is give everyone everything for free so we can control it and make money off of ads. lol. I definitely decided on getting the S3 and an Ipad! Thanks for the tip

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Sam and Nic October 27, 2012 at 3:01 am

I used to have that same dilemma. I was between which phone to buy – Iphone5s or Samsung Galaxy S3. I ended up with Samsung Galaxy S3. The same reason: cheaper and same good features with the Iphone5s.

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Jeremy October 27, 2012 at 8:08 am

As I’m a travel blogger as well, I came to this crossroads myself. I switched from my droid 2 to an iphone, and to be honest, I wish I could go back but once you switch over, Verizon won’t let you change back (without paying big time). For me Google Maps was a crucial program. It works amazing on Android (obviously), has the ability to rotate maps with your fingertips, as well as cache (download) them when you don’t have service or turn off data. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that in addition to the free GPS when I’m trying to find a hotel at night when I couldn’t communicate in the language of the locals. The camera was also better than my Iphone one.

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Golfzoo October 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

this post really help me, Marcello. I’ve been thinking on what mobile has an impressive camera so anytime I stumble into something worth taking a picture, I can use a very good mobile camera. I’m not a fan of Android. I’m a loyal Apple product user. But I think, it’s not bad of trying something new.. Maybe Android won’t disappoint me if I buy a mobile operated with it.

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Marcello October 29, 2012 at 7:00 am

The camera on the Samsung is more impressive than the camera on the ipad, I was blown away with the samsung s3

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ANILA NAIR November 6, 2012 at 6:21 am

This review is really helpful to understand more about these different types of mobile phone. Thank you very much. I like Iphone more because it helped me a lot in my way back to home once. So I prefer Apple. :)

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Jess @ travel 2 where November 15, 2012 at 4:37 am

Iphone all the way for me sorry. I just find the interface so intuitive and user friendly. That said I’ve never had a Galaxy but have had an Android HTC Sensation XE phone and just found it cumbersome to use.

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Marcello December 31, 2012 at 8:23 am

Now that I decided on a new Samsung Galaxy S3 I can say Jess that its an amazing phone and very easy to use :-)

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Jason November 26, 2012 at 12:49 am

If you haven’t decided yet, you might also want to consider the Droid Razr M. It looks like the perfect travel phone. I looked at the Samsung S3 today and it didn’t feel all that durable with its plastic back and regular glass cover. The razr m has gorilla glass and a kevlar back, it feels solid. It’s also GSM and CDMA. I haven’t seen pics from either to compare that aspect. But I think it strikes the perfect balance between the iPhone5 and the Samsung–it’s android, a global phone, microSD, solidly built like the iPhone, and has a screen size equal to or bigger than the iPhone5′s while still not being a big phone because the screen is edge to edge.

I’ll be curious to hear what you end up getting!

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Marcello December 31, 2012 at 7:33 am

Jason I dont like motorola and I don’t like any razr phone at all.. when they became popular I absolutely detested them. Im going to stick with either Android with Samsung or the Iphone. There is a new blackberry coming out that looks very impressive as well. I ended up buying a Samsung Galaxy S3

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Anastasia November 28, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I’m not going to bring my dlsr with me on my vacation but I’m pretty confident that I can still capture all the good scenery in Stonehurst since Samsung S3 has an impressive camera.

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Alexander Collins December 11, 2012 at 8:15 am

My two cents are going to Samsung S3

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Marcello December 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Im very glad I made the decision to switch to the samsung s3 Alex.. the phone is amazing

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Alexander Collins December 18, 2012 at 2:29 am

Hope, S4 next year will be even hotter.

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Harish @ Hostel Smyle Inn December 26, 2012 at 11:52 am

I currently own iPhone 5 and have used Nokia Lumia 800 in the past. I still prefer Nokia Window platform. The only drawback is the number of applications available in Windows market place. The windows phone is very responsive and very easy to operate. The feel of Lumia phone in your hands is amazing. Not even an iPhone can beat that. I personally feel that in the war of Smart Phones, it will be a fight between Apple and Windows. Android works better if it is only on high end hardware or phone like Galaxy S3, or Note 2 etc. In any other hardware it lags. Only in Nexus series does Android shine rest everywhere else after 1 year you feel as if you are riding a bullock cart. (Just my 2 cents here)

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Saurabh Nagar January 24, 2013 at 7:32 am

Android all the way! and with S3 its the right choice bro, I have been using one since an year almost, no problems at all. iPhone5 disappoints me.

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Margery March 10, 2014 at 3:48 am

I need an easy phone to use. Looking at Galaxy 4 mini. I am not very good with computers and mobils. Going over seas soon. What should I look at. Something easy to use and good photos.
thanks M

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Marcello March 16, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Most smart phones are very intuitive and easy to learn Margery

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RA May 29, 2014 at 6:55 pm

BEWARE: YOUR SAMSUNG WARRANTY WON’T COVER YOU IF YOU LEAVE CANADA. I learned that the hard way when I travelled to Brazil only to have my brand new Samsung crap out on me, and Samsung refuse to repair or replace it. Iphone however would do so, as long as it’s under warranty. Boo Samsung!

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Marcello June 2, 2014 at 12:25 pm

They are never going to know that you took your phone outside of the country unless you tell them.

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