Hey folks, Valkor here. Back on June 21st, I covered a Samsung event, which unveiled their latest smartphone/tablet: the Samsung Galaxy S III. It was a great showcase that highlighted the devices major functions and in my preview piece, I covered some of the phone's social features. Since then I've received the device, spent some time with it in and outside of the cave and now it's time to give it my verdict. Check it out we're going full-on review of the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Before we get to the meat of this review, I have to point out that the Galaxy S III (GS3) will be available on all five major networks – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular. So for this review we'll be looking at the AT&T version (running on 4G LTE), which is my carrier. On the outset the Galaxy S3 has a wafer thin body and lightweight, measuring in at 5.38" X 2.78" X 0.34" and the weight of the device measures in at 4.73 ounces. By comparison my iPhone 4s weighs in at 4.9 ounces, my iPhone 3GS weighs in at 4.8 ounces, and just to toss it in there, the PS Vita comes in at a hefty 9.2 ounces. As far as how thin the phone is, you can get a size comparison by glancing at the image below, however in terms of weight the Galaxy S III is the obvious winner.
There's a notch at the top of the device, which gives you access to the innards by simply peeling back the rear plate. Here you'll find slots for both the SIM and the microSD, plus mess around with the battery. At the face of the device you have your large 720P HD Super AMOLED touch screen with a max resolution of 1280x720, which measures in at 4.8". At the top, on the face of the device there's the earpiece, a 1.9MP front-facing camera and at the bottom you have the back, home, and menu buttons – the back and menu buttons are both touch based and not physical buttons like the "home" button. On the left of the device you have the volume control and on the right there's the power/lock button. At the very top is the headset connector and at the bottom is the micro USB port. Finally at the back of the device there's the 8MP rear-facing camera alongside the flash and a speaker.
Internally, the GS3 is running some serious hardware; first up is the processor, which is a 1.5GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 processor with 2GBs of RAM. For the software, the GS3 uses Androids Ice Cream Sandwich version 4.0.4 with TouchWiz Nature UX interface. The interface is very sleek, user friendly and right out of the box you'll be perusing through the system's menus and apps in no time. To round things out, the device uses a virtual keyboard with predictive and T9 Trace. A lot of the GS3 functions are pretty much share based and I covered them in my preview piece. But for the sake of the review, I'll give you a brief rundown of its sharing functions.
- S-Beam – this is the heart of the GS3's sharing features, which allows you to share your media via Bluetooth by touching the rear of two GS3s together.
- Allshare Play – Share you're media with multiple devices from tablets, PCs, other smartphones, and even smart TVs.
- Share Shot – Share images with friends who also have a GS3.
- Group Cast (not covered in the preview) – allows a set number of participants to share in a presentation such as powerpoint, PDF, or photo collection.
Other GS3 features are:
- You can swipe the side of your hand across the screen to take a screenshot.
- If there's a call you don't want to take, merely flip it over to ignore (love it!).
- You can also place your hand over the device if you want to mute your media (great on airplanes when you need to hear instructions, etc).
- There's a small touch pad at the top of the device, which works when you're in your contact list – if you're mid list, you can tap it to bring you back to the top (wasn't perfect).
- Smart Alert works when you're device is down, you simply pick it up to see if there are any missed calls or messages.
- SmartStay is another cool feature that works when you're reading a book or watching a movie; it checks in on you to see if you're still looking at the screen so that it won't go dim.
One of the biggest features of the GS3 is S Voice, which is an iPhone SIRI like function using voice recognition to perform a series of commands such as asking for the weather, checking out local businesses, find movie times, setting reminders, and much more; neither one is perfect and I'm not hating on either. Still S Voice nailed most of the commands given it, except when I asked it to play a song and it played something entirely different. Also the S Voice has a morbid sense of humor. When asked to tell me a joke it responded: Why did the chicken commit suicide? To get to the other side. Weird.
Finally the GS3 comes loaded with apps for you to play with right out the box such as YouTube, Flipboard, media players, an email client, web browser and much more. Need additional apps? Then access the "Play Store" for all you're app needs. You can even get rid of some of those "unnecessary" apps that come included with the GS3. I swapped out the video player and browser for MX Player and Google Chrome. Why? Because the other apps dim the screen when in use and I don't need that. I'm not an intensive user so I don' mind using up the battery for some clarity.
So after putting the GS3 through the paces in and outside of the Val-Cave, its time render my verdict…
The verdict is in and the GS3 passes with flying colors. I mean, sure it has it quirks, but overall it's a solid smartphone/tablet that's a must own. I'm digging on how light the phone is as I can just barely feel it in my top pocket. My thinking, because of the size of the screen, was that it'd be cumbersome to manage. But I found working through all the phones features to be a breeze. I loved swiping through the main panels; there's just so much going on even before you click an app; Flipboard keeps me up to date on Twitter, Facebook, and other news/blog sites that I frequent, I have Yahoo news as another widget, plus the weather widget that's there from the jump. My daily commute just got better because I'm up to date before I start my work day. The interface itself is very sleek, very easy to get into, with zero lag as you switch from panel to panel and even switching between apps. Next is the clarity of the Super HD AMOLED, which looks amazing! Images look as though they'll leap right from the screen and a lot of the text you read easily without having to hold the phone close to the face; I get kinda worried because the text is so clear and the screen so big, I think people might be reading some of my messages over my shoulder. And watching videos is a dream. This is my first time using Flixster and watching streaming movies (I have tons of combo pack Blu-Rays with UltraViolet codes), and I thought this would be the opportunity to try some out and to see how this works. The picture quality amazing, super sharp, crisp, clear, nice contrast, excellent darks, and bold colors. Audio quality will is dependent on how well the digital file is produced and so far I like it; audio is crisp and clear and directional sound is handled well. I'm impressed. The camera is a mix bag; I don't necessarily hate it, I'm actually really impressed with it. I need to point out that I'm not a crazy photog – I don't take many pics using my phone. But I did snag a few and the image below represents one of those few; this one impressed me the most because of how well the camera captures detail. My Eva (nickname for my Nikon D3100) is 14MP and takes awesome pics, but it's great that I won't always have to deal with the bulk when I go to an event. Yup the GS3 is my "mistress" camera. What about call quality? Definitely no complaints there as calls come in exceptionally clear and finally there's battery life – again I'm not a heavy user, but from what witnessed thus far is that the battery holds up quite well. Especially when compared to the iPhone 4S (which I only used as an iPod), usually the battery is half drained when I get in. Not the case with the GS3, which I used not only for email, some casual web surfing, and messaging, but also listening to tunes and catching up on my reading. Oh speaking of comics –they look amazing on the GS3. Can I praise this phone any further? How about never having to deal with iTunes when I wanna load my music? How about I can simply drag and drop files directly onto the phone when I need to add something? Right now I use Windows Media Player to "sync" my music, but I don't always have to go that route. Once the music folder has been set, I can go about adding files and folders as I please. What can I say… I'm in love with this phone.
I do have a few gripes with the GS3, though nothing serious. For starters, I'm not hip to the default email client; I find that the iPhone, at the start, handles email better. The thing is, the GS3 can catch my email off my server… but it also catches the spam from the "spam" folder as well. And if I mark an email as read, it will reload and it's suddenly unread, plus it loads other messages I had previously marked as unread. Hopefully future updates can change all that or if anyone knows of a good replacement app, I'm open to suggestions. Next gripe is in the audio department and I've had this issue with past Samsung products (i.e. the P3) – the volume always resets to the default setting. I know this is nitpicking, but I hate having to reset my volume each and every time I wanna play music or a movie. I just want it to stay where I leave it. Next is the camera or I should say the "Flash". It's too bright and gives off a blueish tint. That could be corrected in a firmware update allowing you to decrease the strength of the flash. Finally the touch screen is maybe a bit too sensitive at times. For the most part when navigating the menus, panels, etc, I don't have any real problems. The sensitiveness comes mostly when I use the virtual keyboard as it'll punch in a letter or number I wasn't even aiming for. Or maybe my fingers are too big and clumsy…
Is Samsung's Galaxy S3 the "iPhone killer" I've heard so much about prior to launch? Well that all depends on who's using it and where they're coming from. I'm fresh off the iPhone 3G, so using the GS3 is a major upgrade. But Val you have a 4S? True, but I love the interface of the GS3, I love the big screen, the clarity, sharp images, how awesome movies and comics look, and the sharing features – yea, for me, the GS3 is the better phone. In short, the Galaxy S3 satisfies everything I've ever wanted or needed in a mobile device. Great job Samsung! And out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving the Galaxy S3 a 4.5 and it's been Valkor tested, TOV Approved!