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Smartphone Wars: Apple iPhone 4S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II

Leading up to Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone event last Tuesday, rumors of a redesigned iPhone 5 had been causing frenzy for weeks.

So when Apple announced it was offering the iPhone 4S – which is merely an upgraded device with the same design elements – investors weren’t thrilled with the news. And shares plummeted 5% in short order.

Then the company sold a record-breaking one million devices on the first day of preorders. Investors realized that consumers are happy to have anything with an Apple logo on it and shares quickly rebounded 8%.

But is the iPhone 4S really worthy the hype?

To decide, let’s see how Apple’s newest smartphone stacks up against Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android contender, which has already sold 10 million units – the Samsung (SEO: 005930) Galaxy S II.

Smartphone Contenders Duke it Out

~ Carriers: Apple now has access to the three big mobile carriers in the United States – Sprint (NYSE: S), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: ATT).  

The Galaxy S II isn’t supported by Verizon, but it’s available on T-Mobile. With low-priced plans offered on T-Mobile, I’d say it’s a win for Samsung. Still, many prefer Verizon’s excellent nationwide coverage. So let’s call it even.

Advantage: Tie

~ Dimensions: Despite rumors that Apple was beefing up its screen real estate this go-round, the company decided to stick with its standard 3.5 inches. Samsung’s phone sports an enormous 4.3 inch display.

What really stands out, however, is that Samsung’s larger-screened device is thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S. So Samsung clinches the win in this category.

Advantage: Samsung

~Display: A recent study conducted by Strategy Analytics indicates that users prefer Samsung’s display technology over any other smartphone 2-to-1. But Apple’s superior pixel density – 960×640 vs. the Galaxy’s 800×480 – should make for sharper graphics overall.

Advantage: Apple

~ Processing Power: When it comes to electronics, we all have a need for speed. And since both phones come with dual core processors baked in, neither phone disappoints in this regard.

Samsung’s device checks in at 0.2 gigahertz faster than Apple’s, though. That might not seem like a lot, but as Android Authority says, “The additional fifth of a gigahertz in the Galaxy S II’s processor makes a lot of difference in the overall speed and performance of the device.”

Not to mention the Galaxy packs almost two-times the RAM, meaning it can deliver better performance when multitasking. So Galaxy inches past iPhone in this round.

Advantage: Samsung

~ Voice Control: This is by far Apple’s most promising addition to its iPhone operating system. The company has finally introduced voice controls from Siri, which Apple acquired in April 2010.

Basically, Siri acts as a personal assistant, allowing you to speak to the phone naturally (i.e. – not like a robot). And the program is intelligent enough to answer questions and perform actions in context. So you can ask the phone if you have any meetings scheduled at a particular time. Siri will respond after it glances at your calendar.

Although Android has boasted voice command technology for over a year, it’s rather limited compared to Apple’s new service.

Advantage: Apple

~ Camera: Both phones feature an eight megapixel camera. But Samsung’s two megapixel front-facing camera for video calling beats Apple’s 0.3-megapixel alternative hands down.

Advantage: Samsung

~NFC: Despite previous rumors to the contrary, the new iPhone doesn’t feature a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, which would allow it to perform advanced functions – like transforming your phone into a mobile wallet. The Galaxy S II on the other hand, is NFC-enabled.

Advantage: Samsung

And the winner is… Samsung Galaxy S II!

Even though the iPhone 4S represents a solid upgrade from the previous model, don’t expect it to be the most feature-rich smartphone on store shelves. As you can see, the Galaxy S II edges it out in several major categories.

Unfortunately for Samsung, though, 10 million units sold in five months may not be good enough to keep pace with a device capable of selling one million units in one day.

Perhaps if Samsung put an “i” before the phone’s name, consumers would have been more eager to scoop up the impressive Android device.

Good investing,

Justin Fritz

Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

View More By Justin Fritz