Monday July 9, 2012 2:31 pm
Samsung Galaxy S III review
The Samsung Galaxy S III is more than just another Android device launch. Arguably, this is the first phone of 2012 that has the right mix of hardware and software that make it a worthy upgrade from any other device. For Samsung, it's the new company flagship device for the year, much more so than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (which is a fantastic phone in its own right.)
This is the device that Samsung has always wanted to make. Based on the latest publicly-available version of Android, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (yeah, we know 4.1 Jelly Bean is right around the corner,) Samsung has built its own custom Android apps to run on the device to bring exlusive features to its handset. We're talking about S Voice, S Beam, S Memo, Direct Call, Smart Stay, and more. Purchasers in the US and Canada even get 50 GB of Dropbox storage for free (Verizon and AT&T buyers not included, sadly.)
That's a lot to take in, and ultimately the question is, does the Galaxy S III live up to the hype? Join us in our full Samsung Galaxy S III review as we answer that very question.
When you open up the pure white box and pull the Galaxy S III from the box, you immediately realize you are holding a premium product that was designed by some of the best minds in the industry.
To our hands, this is the first large-display Android smartphone that feels totally comfortable with one-handed use. It is slim and feels nice and light. The screen fills the face of the smartphone, leave just a thin, white (or pebble blue depending on which model you get) bezel on the sidea, and not much more on the top and bottom.
Included in the box you get: The Galaxy S III smartphone, a microUSB cable, AC adapter, Samsung earbud headphones, 2100mAh lithium ion battery, quick reference guide, product safety & warranty guide.
Okay, let's talk hardware. First of all, you've got the gorgeous 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display. It's a Pentile RGBG panel with a 720p resolution, which is a disappointment only to those who know the capabilities of Super AMOLED Plus. Unfortunately, there aren't any 4.8-inch Super AMOLED Plus panels yet, so the S-AMOLED will have to suffice, and it performs admirably.
We turn off the auto-brightness because we find it to be a bit unreliable, almost always coming off as a bit too dim. Set the brightness yourself and you are good.
The multi-touch display works great, as do the capacitive touch soft buttons below it. However, we experienced some frustration when scrolling the display and having our thumb brush against a soft button, throwing us into another screen (or out of the app) altogether. So watch out for that.
The removeable back cover does feel cheap, for lack of a better word, when compared to the glass and ceramic devices out there, but it's not a dealbreaker by any stretch of the imagination. Beneath the cover you've got a 2100mAh battery, which packs a lot of power in a seemingly small package.
USING THE GALAXY S III
We are using the Verizon Wireless variant of the Galaxy S III for the purposes of this review. That means two things--first, a locked bootloader. We're talking about the phone as it is provided by Verizon, and not with any sort of hacks in place. Second, LTE. Verizon is the only carrier that will be selling the Samsung Galaxy S III with widespread 4G LTE support right out of the gate.
The phone ships with Ice Cream Sandwich, and while it's nice, we can't help but wonder just how long it's gonna take to see a Jelly Bean update arrive for the Galaxy S III.
The camera is an 8-megapixel affair, and the picture quality is some of the best we've ever seen on an Android device. It's just really, really good. In fact, we'd say it's right up there with the iPhone 4S camera, which is currently what we believe to be the best consumer smartphone camera out there in terms of quality. Video from the rear camera looks nice, and is recorded in 1080p. Watch out for the constant auto-focusing though.
You also get a 1.9-megapixel front camera that has great clarity for shooting images, and for video chat as well.
Gallery: Samsung Galaxy S III LTE smartphone
Expect a full day of battery life with normal use of the device, with drain happening faster whenever the display is powered on (as with any other device.) The 4.8-inch HD screen requires some power to operate, and that's why Samsung put in that 2100mAh battery. Well, that, and the quad-core processor as well. The battery also includes the NFC module, so pay attention to that if you plan on carrying more than one battery around with you for those days when you might need extra power. We know that NFC isn't huge just yet, but that could change in the duration of the 2-year contract.
Phone calls were crisp and clear. Again, some of the best we've had the pleasure of conducting on any recent smartphone.
Samsung has included a bunch of motion gestures that you can enable to make using the phone easier and more convenient. Our favorite was palm swipe screenshots. To take a screenshot of whatever is on the display, you just rub the side of your palm across the display from left-to-right or right-to-left.
As we said, we used the Verizon Wireless LTE model of the Galaxy S III in this one, but you can get the device on all four carriers. The AT&T model will connect to LTE if you're in one of the few LTE areas that AT&T supports. Same goes for Sprint, which hasn't launch any LTE areas just yet, so you are stuck on the paltry 3G network. The T-Mobile model gets you speedy HSPA+ along with the best battery life of the bunch. If you are in an area covered by C Spire or US Cellular, you can get in on the Galaxy S III action as well.
The Galaxy S III certainly lives up to the hype. It is a worthy successor to the Galaxy S II, and brings with it a bunch of new tricks that are absent from the Galaxy Nexus. You get a camera that is just head-and-shoulders above other competing Android devices, a super-fast processor, reliable battery life, and a great-looking display. Even better, despite the larger size of the display, you get a device that feels great in the hand.
If you're looking to pick up a new Android device, you really can't go wrong with the Galaxy S III. Just don't expect any quick Android 4.1 update and you'll be happy.
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