Well, samsung’s latest range of smartphones has arrived and everyone is comparing them with Apple’s top phones, launched last autumn. And the strange thing is, it is difficult to tell the flagship products from these great rivals apart.
Both the Galaxy S22 range and the iPhone 13 lineup have three models: a large one, a huge one and a humongous one. All have brilliant displays, lots of power and superb cameras. 5G is a given. Batteries offer all-day use unless you binge-watch videos.
The styling is a bit different, but they are still basically a computer screen with a phone function you can carry around with you. The screen, what some critics call “the rectangle”, is all you need – the rest is just the gubbins that makes it work, like the engine in a car. Small wonder all mobiles look the same, like all new cars.
Even the cameras no longer really offer a difference in performance. In fact, most people would be hard put to distinguish between a shot taken in reasonable light by a top-of-the-range new smartphone and a two-year-old budget blower.
It will not be long, I personally believe, before smartphones will be commodity items in the same way as TVs and microwaves are today.
But every so often a choice must be made, so here is a brief guide to the latest World Champs for smartphones in the various weight divisions.
Let’s hear it for the rivals: the Apple iPhone 13 and the Samsung Galaxy S22.
They are incredibly well matched – each has a 6.1″ OLED screen (both made by Samsung in fact) in practically identically-sized casings. They even weigh the same, to within a few grams. Inside, they both have enough computer power for all ordinary purposes. They even cost roughly the same (the iPhone 13 is around €820, the S22 some €50 more).
The selfy cameras are totally standard, and both contenders have standard and ultra-wide forward-facing cameras. But the S22 has, wonder of wonders, a telephoto camera with a 3x zoom for getting closer to the action, something lacking in the iPhone.
The contenders in this division are the Apple iPhone 13 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S22+. At the weigh-in, the S22+ comes in slightly larger with an AMOLED screen measuring 6.6″ against the iPhone 13’s 6.1″ OLED screen. The S22+ is slightly larger as a result, but a few grams lighter, strangely.
Again, although Apple’s own processor has a higher spec than the Qualcomm chip in the S22+, this makes little difference in real life. As with the smaller phones, the Samsung scores by including a 3x telephoto lens.
The iPhone Pro and the S22+ will both set you back around a cool €1,179.
The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra form a class that people with small hands love to hate. They are behemoths, with massive screens (6.7″ for the iPhone, 6.8″ for the S22 Ultra), large casings to match, and weighing in at 240g and 229g respectively. But they are the phones you need for watching videos or playing games.
Again, the technical specs are similar – like Rolls Royce used to say in response to impertinent questions about speed, acceleration and so on (performance is ‘adequate’, was all that lofty company would divulge), the computer power in both phones is more than enough.
So, it is in the cameras that the main differences are to be found. Both have regular, wide angle and 3x telephoto cameras, but the S22 Ultra has a delicious 10x telephoto camera as well. You might need a tripod to get the best out of that one.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max also has a lidar unit for accurately measuring distance, but there are few apps that exploit this as yet.
But the S22 Ultra has an ace up its sleeve, literally. A sleeve inside the casing houses a stylus, and not any old stylus but the highly-regarded S-pen. Writing on the screen is a joy and editing photos for social media is simple and quick. For many people (myself included) the S-pen is a major attraction. And, as ever, the price tags are large and similar: S22 Ultra costs €1,400 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is listed at €1,300.
And the winners are…
No winners here – every contest is a draw unless you really like telephoto lenses or the S-pen. In any case, in real life, Apple fans will buy iPhones and Android fans will buy Samsung, because the pain of moving from one operating system to another is like being repeatedly hit on the head with an Accrington brick.
And the same goes for the latest budget offerings from the 600lb gorillas of the smartphone biz – the iPhone SE from Apple and the A series from Samsung, both launched in the past few weeks. They line up nicely against each other, trading blow for blow, but in the mobile phone shop in real life customers will buy iPhones if they already have iOS devices, and a Samsung if they are committed to Android.
Here in Portugal, prices vary – sometimes considerably – from one retailer to the next, so it is always worth checking online to see who offers the best deal.
Words: Chris Partridge