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Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy S3: the real upgrade comparison

Authored by: Kris Carlon — Mar 4, 2014

When the Galaxy S4 was released there was a lot of criticism leveled at Samsung for dropping a flagship successor that didn't improve significantly enough on its predecessor. That may well have been the reason consumers didn't flock to stores to snap up an S4 in quite the volume of numbers Samsung had hoped for. It still sold a ton of S4s, but that experience apparently left a bad taste in the Korean super-manufacturer's mouth, a taste they vowed to remedy with the Galaxy S5 launch. And yet, the same response has been heard around the world following the unveiling of the new flagship: the Galaxy S5 is just an S4 with some more features. Check out our our Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy S3 comparison.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S5 S3 Teaser
The real upgrade consideration is between the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy S3. / © AndroidPIT/Samsung

Whether you share that opinion is a matter for your wallet and your next smartphone choice, but the simple fact that so many Galaxy S3 owners skipped the S4 upgrade means that quite a lot of those S3 owners are in a prime position to capitalize on the S5 as a real update alternative. While the minimal improvement between the S4 and S5 has many eying the Xperia Z2 or upcoming HTC One 2 instead, if you're committed to Samsung, the Galaxy S5 is the update you would have been waiting for. So let's put the two side by side and see if how they stack up. I'm comparing the Snapdragon-based models only. Update: I've added the Exynos specs, as some readers didn't like the Snapdragon-only specifications being used.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S5 S3
Appearance, experience, performance, hardware: there's a huge leap here. / © AndroidPIT/Samsung
  Galaxy S5 Galaxy S3
System Android 4.4.2 Android 4.3, upgrading to Android 4.4.2
Display 5.1 inch, Super AMOLED, 1,920x1,080 pixels, 432 ppi 4.8-inches, AMOLED, 1,280x720 pixels, 306 ppi
Processor Quad-core Snapdragon 801, 2.5 GHz Dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus, 1.5 GHz / Quad-core Exynos 4412, 1.4 GHz
RAM 2 GB 2 GB / 1 GB (some variants)
Internal storage 16 / 32 GB + microSD 16 / 32 / 64 GB + microSD
Battery 2,800 mAh 2,100 mAh
Camera 16 MP / 2.1 MP 8 MP / 1.9 MP
Connectivity LTE Cat 4, HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, IrDA, NFC, USB 3.0, USB OTG HSPA, 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB v2.0, USB OTG
Dimensions 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm
Weight 145 grams 133 grams
Extras Fingerprint sensor, real-time HDR, 4K video recording, heart-rate monitor, water-resistant (IP67)  

As you can see, if you are looking at making the jump from the S3 to the S5 you're in for a real treat – the Galaxy S5 is a significant improvement on the S3 in many different ways and would be a very noticeable leap forwards in terms of hardware, performance and experience. The same can not really be said between the S3 and S4, or the S4 and S5. Sure, if your S3 is still awesome you can stick it out until the unconfirmed Galaxy F appears later this year, or you can switch teams to any of the upcoming HTC, LG or Sony devices, but the fact remains, the Galaxy S5 is probably the best smartphone out right now even if it will be surpassed in the very near future, but this is almost always the case. The real question is: do you want to sit back with your comfortable S5 and watch other Android devices push the limit more aggressively?

Are you an S3 owner considering the jump to the Galaxy S5? Are the S5's specs making you consider another OEM's flagship instead?

Kris Carlon comes to the AndroidPIT Editorial Team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He joined the Android community while resurfacing in civilization back in 2010 and has never looked back, using technology to replace his actual presence in other people's lives ever since. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.

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  • I've had an S3 for a while now and I just recently upgraded to an S5. One thing that I hate about the S5, is that I think the S5 camera is worse than the S3. It's really annoying as I upgraded because I thought the camera would be better. Does anyone know of any apps or anything that will make it better? And yes. I have removed that little plastic thing off the camera.

  • My s3 is being reset 3 times since this this three years.Although the phone still contain a little bit lag but it is acceptable when using.The second problem is he battery life,it is horrible,whether is the battery getting old or my phone problem,the battery just drop quickly(plus i am not a mobile data user but the batterry still keep dropping when i just shut into my pocket.Just imagine the battery life when you are the daily mobile data user).this phone phone makes me a habbit is to force stop all the app in the application manager and clean all the background apps.So is it a good upgrade for the galaxy s5 from the s3?And the the phone will solve my s3's problems?

    • My S5 is alot faster than my S3. The battery on my S3 was terrible (3 years old though). The S5's battery lasts a lot longer for me, I can go two days without charging it. If you want a nicer camera though, I wouldn't recommend the S5. But for battery I recommend it. There are a few changes that might take a few days to get used to, like the button on the left being changed into a recent apps button. You can put the phone on Ultra Power Saving mode and it will last a long time. About 8 days on full charge I think for mine.

  • Joacchim 5 months ago Link to comment

    I've had an S3 since July 2012 and have been very happy. Today I see Best Buy offering S5's for $1 (plus 2 year commitment) and am seriously tempted to make the upgrade, despite the recent S6 release, which doesn't appeal since there's no memory card slot and no replaceable battery. Any advice???

    • Paulie K. 3 months ago Link to comment

      I bought my S5 yesterday. Like you, I'm not buying a phone on which I can't change a battery or add memory which I can do by buying a $30 card rather than paying an extra $100-$200 for the privilege of having more space. Mostly I was going to buy a new phone if I just couldn't take the poor battery performance of my S3 any longer. Yesterday, when I ran out of two batteries before the workday was over, I'd had it. I had already decided that more than likely I would buy the S5 and wait for Samsung to get a clue, listen to its Android users, and remove the IPhone-like features from the S7, then I'll be on board. I also figured if I paid must less now for new phone, I would feel better about buying a new model, probably even more expensive than the S6 phone in about 18 months or so. I can't say I'm thrilled, thrilled, thrilled. Right now both phones are on and pretty much neck and neck with battery draining. Hmmm. Here's the biggest complaint - I've already run out of memory on my S5. I have about 250 apps on my S3 with plenty of room for more. I had a few apps on the S3 card and I had moved those when I ran out of space because of pictures. I eliminated that issue by making sure they all went up to the cloud and I keep maybe 7 pictures on my phone at a time. So where is all my space on the S5? They are both 16GB. Why can't I download one of my apps that is currently missing and I'm getting an error message that i'm fresh out of memory? How many of my old apps haven't downloaded yet from GooglePlay? Right now I'm in the process of moving as many apps as I can to the SDcard, which is tiny at 1GB and I'm on Amazon, reading bad reviews about counterfeit SDcards from China corrupted information. I guess I'll have to find the last remaining Radio Shack to pay double the price for SDcard that at least I'll is not bogus. I spend much more than as TMobile is still selling them for $550. If Best Buy is selling for a dollar. I'll take mine back pay the $50 restocking and be out only $51 dollars for the S5. And maybe $50 for a 64gb SDCard. Let us know what you decided.

      PS The S5 is faster that the S3 to be sure -when it's not freezing, turning itself off, moving apps randomly around, not dialing out, ie being charged (albeit very fast), or constantly moving apps from the SD card when they update.This is a glitchy, glitchy, glitchy phone. You've been warned. Never had these problems with the S3. Now looking for reliable root so I can move games to SD card. Never hag to work the S3.

  • MonC 8 months ago Link to comment

    I have had my S3 gi300 since June 2014. Was very impressed with it to begin with but now I find it lags quite a bit whether it be going from one app to another or turning camera on it can take what feels like forever to do so. Very annoying particularly if you're trying to take a photo and you have to tell the people in the photo to wait! I also find the battery life very poor. I have to charge my phone during the day.Why is this the case? And is the S5 going to be any better in these two areas? I am considering the IPhone 5s instead?

  • Tabjones 11 months ago Link to comment

    @Kris Carlon, which phone do you have? Just curious?

    I have an S3 and I do love it so I won't be making the change to another company's phone. Just call me a samsung stalker, it's okay with me. I am not nor do I ever plan to be an apple user, for the record. Just too much for I'm not a fan of the very un-universal charging system they have. I think, as smart and amazing as they may be, they are too big for their little britches. Anywho, my other real question is what are your thoughts on the water-resistant feature? With a toddler who likes to grab my phone and run away with it sometimes and has come dangerously close to dropping it in watery type this a feature worth my time?

  • i still using an s3 and running cm11 base on kitkat 4.4.4 it does everything i need so i dont see the need to upgrade now my next may be htc m8 or lg g3 or the new nexus

  • Steven Oct 4, 2014 Link to comment

    samching does only one thing well .. hardware

    I will never get a samching (tablet, phone, microwave, tv, toaster) unless there are stable custom roms available for that device so that I can immediately remove the garbage that is touchwiz and samching software

  • Is there any benefit to the S5 vs. the S3 regarding battery life?

    • Kris Carlon
      • Admin
      • Staff
      Jul 22, 2014 Link to comment

      Tons. The S5 obviously has general battery improvements beyond the size increase and general optimizations, but the two biggest changes are the presence of Lucid Logix tech in the S5 which does an amazing job of stretching the battery out and the excellent Ultra Power Saving Mode, which can drag out even more when you really need it. The S5 has one of the three best batteries around right now.

  • Rhott25 Jun 24, 2014 Link to comment

    I have had the Samsung Galaxy 3s since it has been out on the market.It has been the best phone i have ever owned. I have never had a problem with the battery life, hardware issues or any other stuff. The only problem with the phone is sun light. If you are outside in the sun you are not able to see the screen at all unless you move to a shaded area. As far a the network connection (Verizon) or able to get clear phone calls it is completly perfect. I have dealt with the Iphone (restrictive) in which case find them to be lower quaility the Samsung devises. I don't know what the aveage user is looking for in a phone, it seem as through if you throw a 8 core processor it would be too much or people would complain that it sucks the batterey too fast.
    I think Samsung does a balancing act tring to create that satisfies all with out completly make the phone and battery sucker or too slow to use effectivily.

    • Kris Carlon
      • Admin
      • Staff
      Jun 25, 2014 Link to comment

      You're absolutely right. I've spoken with execs (from other companies) that have told me just how little money is made by the uber-expensive flagships. It's the huge volume of mid-range stuff that brings in the real money. As a tech publication we are of course in the business of bigger, better, faster, but the average person (including us, really) simply don't need octa-core, 64-bit, 4 GB RAM pocket-sized mainframes. Candy Crush and WhatsApp are simply not that demanding!

  • For me it's time for an upgrade. I really like the S5. I have seen several reviews on YouTube. TouchWiz seems to be better than ever. I have rooted my S3 to get rid of TouchWiz but on the S5 it seems to be running very smoothly indeed. Plus I like the fact that it is water and dust-proof. I dropped my S3 in a deep bucket of water and almost killed it. But me being an East-German, I solved the problem myself. I disassembled it myself and let it dry and put it back together.

    But now it's time for a change. But I will stay with Samsung for now.

    • Kris Carlon
      • Admin
      • Staff
      Jun 11, 2014 Link to comment

      I actually like the Galaxy S5, within reason. I think there's better improvements on other devices and so on, but it's still a great phone. The point a lot of people miss is that if you are releasing the S5 and S3 owners are not impressed enough by two generations' worth of upgrades, that you must be doing something a little bit wrong. Of course, not everyone feels a burning desire to upgrade every six months, but a two year old phone putting up a winning competition in the minds of many S3 owners should a bit of a wake up call to the R&D dept.

  • I still have a S2 that does everything i need perfectly well and still plays almost all games on the play store (even tegra games using chainfire 3d), I still dont plan on upgrading untill maybe next year. almost everyone i know that has an s4, htc one, z1 ect can hardly notice the lower res screen unless they are holding the phone stupidly close to their face and with custom roms it is still pretty fast. At this stage I see next to no reason to upgrade.

  • HendrikJB Mar 11, 2014 Link to comment

    Check out the poll on Android Police where 75% indicate that they will most definitely NOT buy the S5. Only 9% say that they will stay with SamGONE

  • krishna Mar 9, 2014 Link to comment

    The funniest feature of s5 is heart rate sensor.

  • I actually hope Samsung choke on the S3,S4,S5, issue. They are bringing models out in dribs and drabs,purely to sell,without consideration for most consumers. I would guess that these guys already know what an S10 will look like and do;their research has to be way ahead of the game.But bucks is bucks and if they trip a little out at a time,i.e. from S3 to the theoretical S10,then we just sell more produce and pretend to keep the customer satisfied. I have given up! My S3 is more clever than I am,so why should I keep on shelling out the bucks in drips and drabs,just to keep Samsung's books in the black.Samsung (and to be fair--the whole damned lot of them) are just gold-digging and we are fool enough to carry the waste away from them.Without sites like yours,the lights would go out,cos our Makers and Shakers tell us buggerall--except buy buy.So bye bye.

  • The big question we really need to upgrade that often? I've had my Motorola Defy for 2 years now. It runs CM 10.2 (OS v 4.3.1) really smooth, and plays games very well.Not really looking for an upgrade.Guess what, its a single core 1 Ghz and 512MB phone. I am pretty sure the S2, despite its low resolution screen, will run any version of android perfectly for 2 more years with its 1.2Ghz dual core and 1GB ram.
    Still looking to upgrade to(from) the S3?

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