Samsung has another winner on their hands with the Galaxy S III, their latest & greatest Android-based smartphone. Featuring a whopping 2GB of RAM and a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display, this phone has all of the latest offerings from Android 4.0, “Ice Cream Sandwich”. In this review, I’ll be looking at the Verizon version, which is available in white and blue (but not the AT&T-exclusive red version, obviously) for $199 (on-contract) or $599 (off-contract) (Amazon).
Also, don’t forget to check-out the quick video review at the bottom of the post.
First, let’s start out with the basics by going through the specs:
Weight: 4.7 ounces
Battery: 2100 mAh
OS: Android 4.0 ICS
CPU: 1.5GHz dual-core
Display: 4.8-inch 1280×720 HD Super AMOLED
Rear camera: 8.0MP
Front camera: 1.9 MP
Storage: 16GB (expandable up to 64GB via microSD)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, GPU, DLNA, NFC, S Beam, Bluetooth, and more
For the full specs sheet, visit Samsung’s spec page here.
Samsung betters the design of their Galaxy S phones with each iteration. While large, the phone is rather thin, a little more than 8.5mm. On the front, you’ll find the large and beautiful display, earpiece, proximity sensor, light sensor, and the front-facing camera. The volume rocker is located on the right side, while on the left, you’ll find the lone power button. Unfortunately, there’s no fancy 2-stage camera button that is quite common on other smartphones. It would’ve made taking photos a much better experience (as the touch-sensitive buttons are easy to accidentally activate).
Continuing on, the back is where you’ll find the 8MP rear-facing camera, LED flash, and speakerphone. If you take the back cover off, this will reveal the 2100 mAh battery, 4G LTE SIM card slot, and the microSD slot.
Like nearly every other Samsung phone that’s been released within the past few years, this thing is light, light enough to where it feels like a fragile toy. Because of this, I recommend getting a case of some sort to help with the grip level. The phone is also a bit wide, and is a little bit of a struggle to hold (a case wouldn’t help that, obviously, but I’d rather go for better overall grip).
While I received the white version, I personally prefer the blue version (or possibly the red one). While white looks nice, it just seems a bit generic nowadays. Blue (or red)? It’s different, which I think looks better. But anyway…
In terms of loading apps, the 1.5GHz dual-core CPU and an unheard-of 2GB of RAM helps them load very quickly and stay in the background. Multitasking? Not a problem at all. Thanks to that large amount of memory, switching between apps is quick and you’ll never need to worry about actually killing any backgrounded/old processes.
Animations are also very smooth and snappy. What I was most impressed by was how quickly web pages loaded within the web browser. Speaking of the web browser, pinching to zoom into a webpage was silky smooth. It’s still not as good as with iOS’s page zooming, but it’s getting closer.
If you’re someone who still makes phone calls (this is a smartphone), you’ll be happy to know that voice quality is great on both ends of the conversation. The earpiece is clear, crisp, and loud.
While I, for the most part, like AMOLED displays, they just seem a bit oversaturated, and this is most evident when watching videos with humans in it, as their skin tones will appear more red than they should be. This won’t be a problem to most people, especially if the majority of your time is spent browsing web pages, reading text, etc. Viewing angles are great, and the display is easily visible in direct sunlight.
The glass is pretty scratch resistant, however a screen protection film is still recommended. I personally use (and love) the anti-glare variety, although most don’t prefer it because it reduces the quality of the display (in terms of clarity). An anti-glare screen protector will help immensely with the glare as well as with fingerprints (which the glass loves).
While I didn’t test the front-facing camera much, the rear-facing camera performed very well. Colors are quite accurate and the overall picture quality is excellent. The same can be said whilst recording 1080p video, although the audio quality from the microphone could be better. Oh, low-light performance is also above standard.
For being a 4G LTE phone, the 2100 mAh battery will easily get you through a day of the typical usage scenarios (watching some YouTube videos over LTE, checking email, taking a few calls, checking Twitter, browsing some websites, playing some games, etc). I imagine you’ll get more if you use just 3G, however you won’t be able to manually choose which type of network you’d like to use.
The Galaxy S III runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with an upgrade to Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) scheduled to be released later this year. Unfortunately, there are a number of included applications that the user may or may not want, but ICS lets you disable them. A root will let you get rid of them for good (which I recommend; click here for a VERY easy tutorial).
Samsung has their latest TouchWiz interface loaded. Compared to older version, the updated interface has been spruced up a bit to Samsung’s liking. It’s not as intrusive as previous version of TouchWiz and is, overall, a pretty nice interface.
Exclusive to the Galaxy S III (although hacked onto other devices) is Samsung’s “S Voice” application, which is pretty much a direct competitor to Apple’s “Siri”. To activate it, you can launch the application from within the applications list, or you can double-press the home button. One thing I’ve noticed is that, when you have the home button shortcut enabled, single-pressing the home button to go back to your homescreen takes a few seconds. Disabling this function makes going to your homescreen MUCH quicker.
Once S Voice is up, you’ll see a Siri-like interface. Simply talk to S Voice, and you’ll get a response or two back. For the most part, it’s accurate and it seems to work, but it doesn’t have as many commands or features as Siri.
Overall, the Galaxy S III is an excellent smartphone in pretty much every area. My only real complaints are regarding the lack of a dedicated camera button, and the 2 touch-sensitive front navigation buttons. For the latter, they’re incredibly sensitive and can easily be accidentally pressed.
With that said, you won’t go wrong with getting the Galaxy S III. It’s a stellar phone, one that I will seriously consider as my next phone, assuming the next iPhone is a disappointment (which it seems like it’s going to be).