iPhone 5 vs. Galaxy S III Mini and Droid Razr M: Pick on someone your own size

How does the iPhone 5 compare to recent Android devices of similar size?

Many of the latest and greatest Android smartphones have something in common besides powerful internals and cutting-edge features -- size. Samsung's Galaxy S III, HTC's One X+ and Motorola's Droid Razr HD and Razr HD Maxx are all big phones, with displays closing in on the 5-inch mark.

MORE IPHONE VS.: iPhone 5 vs. the HTC One X+

While plenty of users appreciate all that screen real estate, others -- particularly those with smaller hands -- might find the outsized devices somewhat cumbersome.

The Android ecosystem's chief rival, the new Apple iPhone 5, is a different design. The Apple device may have been criticized for software issues at launch, but it packs comparably powerful hardware into a substantially smaller design.

We've looked at how the iPhone 5 stacks up against some of the big Android powerhouses in the past, but how does it compare to recent Android devices of similar size, like the Motorola Droid Razr M and Samsung Galaxy S III Mini?

SCREENS

Let's get this out of the way -- for all the attention paid to the Razr M's undeniably attractive design, which stuffs a maximal amount of screen real estate onto a comparatively small phone, the iPhone 5 takes both it and the GS III Mini to school. The Apple device's screen resolution of 1136x640 blows away those of the Android phones, translating into a far higher pixel density, despite the relative parity of screen size. (For the record, the Galaxy S III Mini and iPhone 5 both have 4-inch screens, while the Razr M's display is 4.3 inches.)

Advantage: iPhone 5 (pictured)

HARDWARE

Our contestants are a lot more evenly matched in this category -- while the GS III Mini still loses out thanks to an anemic 1GHz dual-core processor, the Razr M actually tops the iPhone 5 on processor speed, boasting a 1.5GHz unit compared to the iPhone 5's 1.2GHz. Although the iPhone 5's impressive graphics capabilities outshine those of both Android devices, this one's probably a tie between the iPhone and the Razr M. RAM and storage were comparable, given the Androids' expandability via SD card slots.

Advantage: Razr M/iPhone 5

CAMERAS

This might have been an area where the iPhone 5 could be expected to completely outclass the Android devices -- but again, the Razr M delivers a surprise. Both it and the iPhone deliver 1080p video from the main camera and 720p from the front-mounted one, and have almost identical specs. The Galaxy S III Mini, however, lags behind in both categories.

Advantage: Razr M (pictured)/iPhone 5

BATTERY

The Razr M, like its larger cousins, the Razr HD and Razr HD Maxx, boasts impressive battery life, while the iPhone 5 frequently doesn't measure up to Apple's advertised figures. The Galaxy S III Mini's battery hasn't been publicly tested yet (as far as I can see), but its 1500mAh is roughly average for a device of its size.

Advantage: Razr M

SOFTWARE

As easy as the screen comparison was for the iPhone 5, this one is just as clear-cut in favor of the Android phones -- Jelly Bean, or Android 4.1, is easily the most impressive incarnation of Android yet, and it demonstrably outclasses iOS 6. The latest version of Apple's mobile platform isn't as apocalyptically bad as some are eager to say, but it's clearly got a lot more problems than Jelly Bean. (N.B. -- the Razr M currently ships with the previous Android version, 4.0.4 or Ice Cream Sandwich, but an over-the-air update is expected within days.)

Advantage: Razr M/GS III Mini (pictured)

CARRIERS

Sadly for the Razr M, it's a Verizon exclusive, where the other two devices are available on all major U.S. carriers. Given the fact that all three of the smartphones being considered here are 4G/LTE capable, the Razr M's confinement to Verizon -- which does not offer unlimited data plans -- is unfortunate.

Advantage: iPhone 5/GS III Mini

VALUE/FINAL THOUGHTS

In some ways, it's a little misleading to directly compare the iPhone 5 -- a true flagship phone, aimed at high-end consumers -- to the Galaxy S III Mini and the Droid Razr M, which are mid-market devices.

However, while the iPhone 5 is probably the best smartphone in this size class -- it's tough to argue with that display and graphical prowess -- it says a lot that the Razr M is at least close behind, while selling for half as much money. (Samsung hasn't released pricing information for the Galaxy S III Mini at the time of this writing.)

Therefore, I'm calling the Droid Razr M the best choice from this lineup, based on its excellent bang-for-the-buck factor. While the iPhone 5 is more impressive in terms of performance, it's tough to see how it's more valuable at $200 than the Razr M at $100.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.

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Jon Gold

Jon Gold

Network World
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