A few weeks with Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone

The rise of smartphones has been a truly impressive trend to watch. Devices that started as PDA/cellphone hybrids have quickly evolved into robust portable computing platforms. They’re still limited by relatively small screens and cramped physical inputs, but those restrictions seem like a small price to pay for the truly pocketable mini tablets we have today.

In the not-an-iPhone camp, Samsung’s Galaxy S III is the new hotness. This ultra-slim handset has a massive screen with a 720p resolution, a speedy SoC fabbed using 28-nm process technology, and user-friendly features like a microSDXC slot and an easily replaceable battery. On top of that foundation sits Google’s Android OS, which has been infused with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface tweaks and support for additional gestures.

We’ve largely steered clear of covering smartphones here at TR. However, as devices become more compelling computers, our interest in them grows. That’s part of the reason why the Galaxy S III has been at my side for the better part of a few weeks now. Also, I was shopping around for a new smartphone and couldn’t resist the opportunity for an extended test drive. Playing around with a handset briefly in-store doesn’t always provide an accurate sense of the thing. Read on to see what the Galaxy S III is like—and whether it’s become my daily driver.

A slick design

Like an increasing number of smartphones, the Galaxy S III combines a big screen with a svelte body. The enclosure is surprisingly slim considering what’s stuffed inside. However, there’s no getting around the footprint of the 4.8″ screen. Add the bezel, and you’re looking at a device measuring 5.4″ x 2.8″. Even at only 0.34″ thick, the Galaxy S III is a handful.

That said, the S III is also a relative lightweight. The handset tips the scales at just 133 grams, or marginally less than the current iPhone. Provided your pockets are big enough, the Galaxy certainly isn’t a challenge to carry around. I barely notice sitting on the thing when it’s in my back pocket, perhaps because it has a much lower profile than the wallet squished under the other cheek.

The unit I’ve been using has a two-tone color scheme that pairs purplish back and bezel pieces with a blue rim around the edge. Don’t let the faux finish fool you. Despite their brushed aluminum appearance, most of the exterior panels are plastic. The whole body is covered by a glossy coat that effectively removes any texture and makes the Galaxy feel almost slippery.

I’m all for low-friction touchscreen surfaces, but the rest of the device should have some grip. The Galaxy S III has almost escaped my grasp numerous times over the past few weeks. You’ll want to add a case, if not to provide something to hold onto, then to cushion the inevitable crash onto unforgiving pavement.

In addition to lubricating the exterior, the shiny surfaces pick up plenty of fingerprints. The pseudo brush strokes mask the smudges a little, but not enough to stop the Galaxy from becoming yet another reminder of why glossy plastic is a bad choice for handheld devices.

You know, I’m not so sure clicky home buttons are a good idea, either. I’ve heard a couple of iPhone users complain about their home buttons flaking out over time, and the same thing happened to my Palm Pre. It’s probably only a matter of time before the Galaxy S III’s home button becomes unreliable.

The touch-sensitive buttons to the left and right should be much more durable. They offer haptic feedback in the form of a subtle vibration, nicely making up for the lack of tactile clicks. This input arrangement allows the S III to cover Android’s basic buttons without cannibalizing precious screen real estate, unlike Google’s most recent Nexus devices.

As one might expect, the Galaxy’s integrated speaker is tiny and hopelessly underpowered. Our sample lacked earbuds, but I was pleasantly surprised by the output quality of the 3.5-mm audio jack. When paired with my Koss PortaPro headphones, the Galaxy produced good, clean sound with more low-end oomph than I was expecting. The rare times I actually used the S III as a phone, call quality was excellent.

Smartphones seem to have replaced point-and-shoot cameras for most folks, and the Galaxy S III works pretty well in that role. The 8MP rear camera produces decent pictures and offers a nifty HDR mode that snaps shots at two different exposures before combining the results, which can then be destroyed via your favorite Instagram filter. Naturally, 1080p video recording is supported. There’s a front-facing camera for video chat, too.

Big screens and back doors

If you’re considering the Galaxy S III, odds are you’re in the market for something with a big screen. At 4.8″ diagonally, the display is just 0.5″ short of the humongous screen on the Galaxy Note and a full 1.3″ larger than the iPhone 4’s Retina panel. Much has been made of the Retina’s 330 PPI, and the Galaxy comes close to matching that pixel density. The Galaxy’s 1280×720 display resolution works out to 306 PPI.

At typical distances, the screen looks great to my eyes. Text is sharp and colors are vivid, although there’s a clear bias toward the blue end of the spectrum. That tint is typical for the underlying Super AMOLED panel technology.

The screen’s individual pixels are difficult to see up close, but I noticed the same screen-door effect Cyril observed on the Galaxy Note, which uses a similar Super AMOLED panel with a pentile subpixel layout. My face has to be about 6″ from the display to see any hint of the associated lattice pattern, though.


The problem with typical smartphone screens, and indeed the full-color screens on most electronics devices, is that their backlights are no match for the raging fireball in the sky. Even the best displays wilt in direct sunlight, and the Galaxy S III’s is no different. Fortunately, there’s sufficient backlight brightness to for visibility in the shade and more than enough to be blinding indoors. You can click the buttons under the image above to see each lighting condition with the screen set to full brightness.

More often than not, I found myself adjusting the S III’s brightness manually. The auto option’s output is simply too dim in most conditions, resulting in a picture forced to share focus with reflections in the screen’s glossy surface. If a smartphone maker’s auto brightness algorithm is going to be that conservative, it would be nice if users were given some freedom to tweak the sensitivity.

At least you have the freedom to expand the Galaxy’s internal storage, which consists of 16GB or 32GB of flash depending on the configuration. All it takes in a thumbnail to pop off the back panel, revealing a microSDXC slot that can accept memory cards up to 64GB.

Our view of the innards also highlights the removable battery, which is a beefy 8Wh unit. Swapping the battery requires neither tools nor a genius.

The Galaxy S III regularly lasted over 24 hours while I was testing it, but I’m admittedly not a heavy user. When you work from home sitting in front of a combined 137 inches of screen area and have multiple tablets floating around the house, smartphones don’t get much action.

At home, the Galaxy pulled most of its data from my Wi-Fi network. The S III supports the 802.11n standard, and Bluetooth 4.0 is included for the headset crowd. A 4G LTE modem takes care of broadband connectivity on the go.

Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz
Display 4.8″ super AMOLED with 1280×720 resolution
Software Android 4.0 with Samsung TouchWiz interface
Storage 16/32GB integrated
Ports 1 Micro USB 2.0

1 analog audio headphone port

Expansion slots 1 microSDXC slot (up to 64GB)
Communications 4G LTE

HSPA+ 850/900/1900/2100 (up to 21 Mbps)

EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900

802.11n Wi-Fi

Bluetooth 4.0

Camera 8-megapixel rear with LED flash

1.9-megapixel front

Input devices Capacitive touch screen
Dimensions 5.38″ x 2.77″ x 0.34″ (136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm)
Weight 4.69 oz (133 g)
Battery 7.98Wh (2100 mAh) lithium-ion

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 SoC can be found inside Galaxy S III handsets sold in the US. Wikipedia tells me the specific model number is MSM8960, which denotes a 28-nm dually with ARM-based “Krait” cores clocked at 1.5GHz. An Adreno 225 GPU joins the CPU cores on the chip, bringing DirectX 9-class graphics to the party. Samsung adds a monstrous 2GB of RAM to cap things off.

We haven’t run the Galaxy through our benchmark suite, but I can tell you it’s very fast. Applications load quickly, and there’s a snappy feel to the whole user experience. Even without Android 4.1 Jelly Bean’s “Project Butter” responsiveness enhancements, the user interface feels agile. We’ve captured some common tasks on our high-speed camera at 240 FPS to illustrate. For reference, a second clip shows the same actions on the Galaxy Nexus, which has a slower CPU but is running the latest Android release.

Jelly Bean’s optimized UI is definitely more fluid, although it doesn’t necessarily feel much faster in day-to-day use. The Galaxy S III holds its own, and the UI transitions exhibit less hitching than we’ve captured on the ICS-equipped Transformer Pad Infinity tablet, which boasts a quad-core Tegra 3 SoC.

Nobody beats the TouchWiz?

The Galaxy S III will purportedly get its Jelly Bean update soon. Since Samsung layers its own TouchWiz software and UI tweaks on top of Android, time is needed to test the new OS and make sure everything works as it should. Some of the TouchWiz enhancements are better than others, and a few really stand out.

Take something as simple as the battery life indicator in the status bar. Stock Android implementations show just an icon, but TouchWiz adds a numerical percentage that’s much easier to read. Pulling down the notification area reveals loads of handy shortcuts for things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and different operating modes. Too bad the notification area lacks control over the screen brightness.

Instead of the usual five home pages, the TouchWiz UI serves up seven. The ability to flip through these pages continuously should be very handy for people with lots of widgets and shortcuts. By default, Android doesn’t let users jump from the far-right to far-left pages without swiping through everything in between. The S III’s page looping capability does restrict the background wallpaper to a single portrait image, though. Getting the usual panning background to play nicely with the wrap-around looping would probably prove tricky.

Likely because I have XL-sized mitts, I found the Galaxy S III to be relatively easy to use with one hand—slick exterior aside. My thumb reaches the bottom three quarters of the screen without having to stretch, which is more than enough coverage for the pop-up keyboard. Of course, I also have big thumbs, which makes the touchscreen keyboard a little frustrating to use in portrait mode. Typos were much less frequent when tapping the larger keys offered by the landscape orientation.

The keyboard features multiple modes and includes support for Swype-style continuous input. For me, the most useful feature is the swipe gesture that flips the keyboard between the alpha keys and the first set of numbers and symbols. In both portrait and landscape modes, this gesture proved quicker to activate than the on-screen key assigned to the same task.

As far as additional gestures go, keyboard swipes are just the tip of the iceberg. The Galaxy is packed with extra control options, most of which rely on manipulating the handset’s body rather tracing one’s fingers across the screen. Media playback can be paused by placing the Galaxy face down on a surface, and icons can be moved between pages by tilting the device left and right. Want to scroll to the top of your contacts list? Simply tap the top edge of the case.

Apart from the keyboard swipes, I rarely used any of the S III’s advanced gestures. They feel more cumbersome than doing things the old-fashioned way, a sense compounded by the fact that some gestures don’t register reliably. That said, the tilt-enhanced zooming and panning controls are pretty sweet, especially since they offer adjustable sensitivity. It’s nice to see Samsung exploring alternative gestures and input methods, even if some of them are a little gimmicky.

Speaking of gimmicks, the Galaxy S III’s video player has a pop-out function that puts content in a floating window that can be dragged around the screen. The idea is that users can keep watching video while performing other tasks, like reading email, surfing the web, and incessantly tweeting plot details. There’s just one problem: the pop-out window is tiny. If you think watching video spanning a 4.8″ screen is painful, try squinting at a window measuring less than 2″ diagonally. No thanks.

Another questionable feature is S Voice, a Siri knock-off that proved too frustrating to use with any regularity. The speech translation engine built into Jelly Bean seems to do a better job of decoding my voice than either Siri or Samsung’s software. Voice control does have potential. However, the only thing more obnoxious than loudly talking to someone on your smartphone is loudly talking to your smartphone.

Like most folks, my smartphone provides an all-important link to my personal and work calendars. Unfortunately, the Galaxy S III’s default scheduling app is dreadfully ugly. The interface is dominated by a mix of brown and beige tones that in no way match the colors used elsewhere in the OS. Samsung is apparently going for a simulated leather look, as evidenced by the textured panel in the top-right corner of the screenshot above. S Planner is otherwise a nice improvement over Android’s default Calendar app. Too bad the colors taint the experience.

As someone who has grown accustomed to largely stock Android implementations, I expected Samsung’s TouchWiz tweaks to annoy me more than they did. There’s more good than bad, I think, and potentially a lot more good with some refinement here and there. Some of the skinning seems entirely unnecessary, though. Do we really need different icons throughout the Android settings menu? I think not.

Conclusions

As a premium smartphone, the Galaxy S III ticks all the right boxes. The screen is huge, the body is slim, and there’s a potent processor capable of handling everything from productivity apps to games. Throw in 4G LTE connectivity, a decent camera, good sound quality, easily expandable storage, and a replaceable battery, and the Galaxy looks very tempting.

The only glaring omission is an all-important update to the latest Jelly Bean version of Android. That’s coming soon, we hear, and I’m inclined to cut Samsung a little slack given how deep its TouchWiz OS enhancements go.

As a brand-new device, the Galaxy S III was pretty much guaranteed a Jelly Bean update. However, older Samsung handsets may not be updated to Google’s latest OS, which makes me question whether the S III will keep pace with major OS revisions that come after Android 4.1. Samsung’s history doesn’t leave much room for optimism; even if updates are released, they may not come in a timely manner. Based on the progress Google made with Jelly Bean, I wouldn’t want to miss out on Krispy Kreme—or whatever the next version of Android is called.

With an on-contract price of $200 through AT&T (or $160 in Canada with a three-year term), the Galaxy S III is unquestionably a high-end device. It would be nice if the lofty price tag came with some assurances about future OS updates, at least for the length of a typical cellular contract.

The uncertainty surrounding upcoming Android updates is one reason I decided against picking up a Galaxy S III for myself. Another is the handset’s slick exterior, which still makes me slightly nervous when holding the device. Then there’s the dim auto-brightness profile and the associated need for frequent manual adjustment. By far the biggest factor was the cost, though. I could justify splurging on a high-end smartphone if I were a heavy user, but working from home surrounded by multiple PCs and tablets leaves me with little desire to use anything with this small of a screen.

Calling a 4.8″ smartphone display “small” seems a little silly, but even a 7″ device like the Nexus tablet is much more usable thanks to its larger screen and input area. The Nexus 7 won’t fit in my pocket or provide Internet access on the go, which is why I ended up with the smartphone equivalent: Samsung’s own Galaxy Nexus. It’s plenty fast, practically free on contract, has no region lock, and shouldn’t have to wait for future Android updates. I do miss some of the S III’s TouchWiz tweaks, but not as much as I enjoy being free of its quirks.

Comments closed
    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]How sweet is the potentially forbidden fruit?[/quote<] Sweet enough that [url=http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2409261,00.asp<]in August it outsold the iPhone 4S, not just in Asia, but in the U.S. market[/url<]

      • Corrado
      • 7 years ago

      NO WAI a nearly 1 year old product gets outsold by something else roughly 1 week before said product’s replacement is going to be announced?

    • Mr Bill
    • 7 years ago

    My take on this is that from now on Apple will have to litigate like crazy to keep what they have. Because they no longer have Steve Jobs to drive any more tasteful design decisions.

    Oh, and check out the coverage at Groklaw. This decision will be thrown out if it manages to get before an unbiased appeals court.

    [url<]http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20120828225612963[/url<]

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    It really is amazing how close of a experience you can get to a Apple iPhone without buying one now. Perhaps even better in some ways. I still don’t have a smartphone and probably wont for awhile as I can’t justify the cost and I’m still waiting to see how they mature a bit more over the next few years. Watching them develop and seeing new ones come out is pretty cool. You have to give Samsung props for navigating the minefield of Apple patents so well, while generating a very nice usable phone.

    “When you work from home sitting in front of a combined 137 inches of screen area and have multiple tablets floating around the house, smartphones don’t get much action.”

    I actually think there is a point to smartphones unlike tablets. If you didn’t have all those tablets laying around you would probably use your smartphone a lot more, but since you have a device without a purpose you have to squeeze it in there somewhere. All the more reason why I think tablets are pointless. A smartphone is an improvement on a already existing device we all have and carry around. It doesn’t need a purpose anymore then you needing to make phone calls.

    I will also say that the hate for the calendar color scheme is personal preference. The hue of beiges and browns is quite pleasant, if you don’t hate brown. If you replaced it with shades of blue you probably wouldn’t have hated it nearly as much, but it would still be relatively the same.

    • fantastic
    • 7 years ago

    Can you get any signal when you hold it like that (first picture)? Or is that patented by Apple too? I couldn’t resist. 😀

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah like that joke isn’t already getting old.

    • Rza79
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t want to be picky but it’s SOC is fabricated in 32nm.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Maybe you don’t want to be picky, but you do want to be wrong.

      (This is the US and Canadian version of the phone which has a 28nm Qualcomm SoC.)

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    Hmmm, saw the picture, clicked the link, thought I was going to an article about the iPhone 3. Turns out to be an article on a Samsung phone.

      • entropy13
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]iPhone 3.[/quote<] Is that a secret Apple product that we've never heard of until now?

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        IT’S THE BESTEST.

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        Oh come on now, surely I don’t have to spell it out for you with Samsung’s subliminal marketing

        OK iPhone [b<]3 GS[/b<] [b<]G[/b<]alaxy [b<]S III[/b<]

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          If you have to explain the joke, is it funny?

          • Voldenuit
          • 7 years ago

          Samsung has done it before.

          Panasonic LX3
          Samsung EX1

          (Explanatory note to unfunnify joke: EX1 upside down reads ‘LX3’) 😛

          I’m glad someone at Samsung has a sense of humor.

    • kitsura
    • 7 years ago

    There should be one done with a Windows 8 and Blackberry 10 device in the future for comparison sake.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      i agree.

      WHAT? SSK WANTS WP8 STUFF!?!?! GTFO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • dashbarron
    • 7 years ago

    Holy shit: Seinfeld reference! I just about missed it, +1 for you Geoff.

    And could one root this to avoid Samsung’s OS addons and just stick to Android?

    • StuffMaster
    • 7 years ago

    Yeah, the home button on my SII went soft after 3 months. Now my phone says “WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO” really loudly every 3rd time I hit the button (even when muted). Other than that it’s superb.

    • squeeb
    • 7 years ago

    Meh. I love my GSM Galaxy Nexus.

      • xanagu
      • 7 years ago

      NExuS is Da BeST THiNg EvAR!!

    • OffBa1ance
    • 7 years ago

    Cyanogenmod 10 has the touchwiz enhancements you most liked in the article (including brightness adjustment from the notifications area). Once the stability gets better you should consider rooting and switching to CM10.

      • Darkmage
      • 7 years ago

      I would definitely hold off on Cyanogenmod for a while. I installed one of the nightlies about a month back. By most accounts, it was near-perfect. It had the right amount of features above stock ICS, sped things up noticeably, the Bluetooth features worked flawlessly and was rock stable.

      Alas, it did a number on my battery life. I went from all day to just about six hours. Using the phone made it worse. I’m sure they’ll correct this (previous versions of Cyanogenmod didn’t have this problem), but I would give it a while before doing so.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 7 years ago

    “The only glaring omission is an all-important update to the latest Jelly Bean version of Android. ”

    Actually, one other. Accessories.

    One of the reasons I love my much-maligned Droid Bionic (which has worked great for me) is the standard dock (turns it into an alarm clock/music player) and the car dock that makes it a great hands-free phone, voice activated GPS, etc. While I don’t have it, they have the lapdock option too, and they offer most of these types of accessories for other smartphones as well.

    To do a car dock for the S3, you need to modify the dock for the Samsung Fascinate.

    If Samsung nailed the accessories game , the S3 would be tough for me to resist. Motorola, despite many of their flaws, gets accessories and build quality done right.

    • internetsandman
    • 7 years ago

    One nice thing about having an iPhone 4 is the cases you can buy for it. I have a mophie juice pack pro, and not only is it a freaking tank (dropped onto both hard linoleum and concrete multiple times, not a problem) it gives me 3-4x the battery life; on a full charge, I can go through two full recharges o my phone before the case runs out of juice.

    I’m not sure if there’s any similar cases available for various Android phones, having grown accustomed to this case I’d be wary of getting any android phone for fear of breaking or forgetting to charge one night. I love the versatility of the OS, it is far superior to iOS in terms of its functionality and the hardware available (ESPECIALLY screen sizes, oh how I envy the 5″ screen smartphones out there) but given all that’s available for an iPhone it’d take a bit more for me to make the switch

    • cwditter
    • 7 years ago

    It’s quite odd that the one reason you choose a Nexus over the S3 is because it gets software updates slightly quicker, when ICS is so much more than merely sufficient as an OS for this phone; in fact, it’s a *great* OS for this phone. The Nexus is inferior in so many ways hardware-wise: CPU, RAM, screen, thickness, microSD slot, etc. Samsung’s skin on top of Android is actually pretty nice, so there can’t be any complaint there. I just find it really sad that you compromise so much just for one stupid software update that the phone will get eventually anyways… Your priorities seem off.

      • PenGun
      • 7 years ago

      Just root it and roll yer own. What is this place? A ladies sewing circle of some kind.

      • internetsandman
      • 7 years ago

      Keeping a phone up to date with the latest software can be very important, for usability, features, compatibility with newer devices, etc. This is a problem that runs across all android devices that layer anything over the stock/reference OS, updates take a little bit longer to roll out, sometimes they’re not rolled out at all, and as time progresses the phone becomes obsolete even faster as it falls out of compatibility with apps and other devices being released on the market. A phone/OS pair might be amazing right now, but what happens when a great new app is released, or a new device hits the market, and it requires a version of an OS that you’re unable to update to?

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        Yep, iOS has this nailed down better than anyone else except Windows Phone. I don’t like running the updates treadmill for any device, but Apple has made it tolerable except for the apps data glitches going from 4.x to 5.x

    • Anarchist
    • 7 years ago

    in the wake of recent court decision … I would love to see these “smart-phone” makers ditch the iphone model and think-up something new. For example, I would love to see a quasi-smart/dumb phone that has following future;

    1. very limited 3g/4g capability with maximum 100MB data cap per month. Or perhaps no wireless capability.
    2. Must have wifi capability.
    3. form-factor that is smaller than current smartphones with 3″ by 3″ screen and flip out keyboard.
    4. no built-in browser. But supports android apps.
    5. No data-plan required to use.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      You are heavily confusing the roles the manufacturers and the carriers have.

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        I wouldn’t say “heavily” – the only carrier-related item there was the 100MB/mo data plan, and he later says that it’d be fine without a data plan at all

        He’s talking about what he’d love to have as a consumer. It’s up to various businesses to figure out how to make that happen.. and in this case, Google alone could make that device – AT&T/TMobile/etc not needed.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    Geoff, so you seem to like the phone so far but failed to notice one huge problem! Your site looks horrible on it! And navigation is even worse! Any thoughts on getting a mobile version of TR?

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Gloss plastic. Why are we even still encountering this?

    [i<]Why Why Why Why Why[/i<], you [u<]dumbass idiots[/u<], do you continue to use the nastiest, cheapest material know to the electronics industry on flagship products? [b<]There cannot even be ONE positive comment about gloss plastic ANYWHERE. Not even on the entire internet.[/b<] The Galaxy SII I have at least has matte plastic on the back. It costs the same but it looks and feels great, by contrast. Also, Touchwiz sucks. By the time you've rooted your phone, uninstalled the junk services and adware/trialware/rubbish and managed to double your battery life as a result, you could have installed CM9 three times over.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      I like glossy plastic.

      [quote<]There cannot even be ONE positive comment about gloss plastic ANYWHERE.[/quote<] Assertion disproven. 🙂

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        you’re lying.

          • Chrispy_
          • 7 years ago

          I’m with you. That was sarcasm if ever I saw it… 😉

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      Considering you can texturize the plactic for almost zero cost, WTF, indeed.

      Oh, and to make one positive comment about slippery plastic (which, note, may have a pebbled surface) is that it slips into pockets better than a ruberized surface does.

        • DeadOfKnight
        • 7 years ago

        I never had a problem. I used an Otter Box for awhile until I got sick of the bulkiness of it. No problems fitting it in pockets.

          • willmore
          • 7 years ago

          I’ve used both a silicone case and a hard plastic (smooth) case for my phone and, though I like the grip of the silicone case, I have trouble getting it in and out of pockets as it gripped the fabric of the pocket.

          My point, really, was that there is room between ‘grippy rubber’ and ‘mirror smooth’. Rough enough to get rid of the ‘fingerprint magnet’ effect, but not rubbery enough that the device is hard to get in and out of pockets.

          • PenGun
          • 7 years ago

          I like my Otter Box on my S2. My granddaughter likes some of the apps I have put on it for her and she is not very gentle with the phone. I like it for general use too.

          I can leave it with her without worry.

      • axeman
      • 7 years ago

      Cheapest. You nailed it, unfortunately.

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        It certainly is unfortunate.

        I would attribute 50% of all iPhone sales to the fact that it looks and feels well-made. Plastic never feels well-made but at least if it’s not glossy it can at least [i<]look[/i<] well-made, as other commenters here have already pointed out 😉

    • Noigel
    • 7 years ago

    MMmmmm… Krispy Kreme.

    • entropy13
    • 7 years ago

    Had it been released two months earlier I would have gotten an S3 instead of my S2 right now. Anyway, this is still a great phone too and I got it at a bargain price anyway (albeit I had to go to Singapore lol).

      • Phydoux
      • 7 years ago

      My understanding is that the S3 is not all that different, hardware-wise, than the S2? Or am I mistaken?

        • TravelMug
        • 7 years ago

        Not in the US, but the International version has a quad-core Cortex A9 chip in it instead of the dual-core Qualcomm of the US version.

          • ChronoReverse
          • 7 years ago

          Actually the dual-core Qualcomm of the US version is actually faster than the quad-core of the International version in terms of CPU. It’s a A15-like design as opposed to the A9 chip in the quad. Its capabilities approaches the low end Atoms in any case.

          The S3 actually does represent a sizeable jump from S2 in practically all aspects.

      • entropy13
      • 7 years ago

      Quite weird that this comment is rated the same as the comment that just says “MMmmmm… Krispy Kreme.”

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        How so?

        Krispy Kreme is a prime example of why USA is so good and Europe is so not

          • Voldenuit
          • 7 years ago

          [url=http://www.toppotdoughnuts.com/<]Top Pot Doughnuts[/url<] for me.

          • entropy13
          • 7 years ago

          My personal favorite is Glazed Chocolate Cake. I also like their Double Chocolate Kruffin.

    • gmskking
    • 7 years ago

    I installed the Touchwiz addon for my Nexus. I have all the benefits of both now. Jellybean and touchwiz. I am a fan.

      • DancinJack
      • 7 years ago

      You ADDED touchwiz?

        • Pettytheft
        • 7 years ago

        Like the review notes some Touchwiz features are a welcome addition. The addon packages tend to strip the bad and keep the good.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          DJ’s point is that adding Touchwiz is more than just getting a [url=http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1669238<]ported launcher[/url<] - it's all embedded in updated frameworks. Unless he's got a crazy custom ROM, I guess.

            • gmskking
            • 7 years ago

            Yes, it was flashed on top of my ROM. go to XDA and get it, pretty simple and looks nice.

        • gmskking
        • 7 years ago

        Ummm, yea. What is your question exactly?

      • gmskking
      • 7 years ago

      I like how I get a -1 for this comment. Wow, people. Time to grow up. Just cause you don’t understand something doesn’t mean an automatic negative. Time to leave this site I think.

    • anotherengineer
    • 7 years ago

    Well Geoff, at least you are honest…………….

    “The rare times I actually used the S III as a phone”

    Most people just use them as a toy, take some pics and upload them to facebook.

    Hey here is a pic of the old samsung cell phone my wife has and still works and uses today……a real cell phone, one that you make calls on lol

    [url<]http://img.ehowcdn.com/article-new/ehow/images/a07/aa/1r/retrieve-numbers-old-cell-phones-800x800.jpg[/url<]

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      What’s your point?

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      I gather far more information without voice than with. Voice is slow and cumbersome. Voice is imperfect, even on the best of cell phones. If you are still inconveniencing people with voice calls on your specific schedule, I think you’re doing it wrong.

      • Phishy714
      • 7 years ago

      Your wife is going to be so pissed at you when she finally gets a smart phone, wondering why the hell you kept it from her all these years.

        • anotherengineer
        • 7 years ago

        lol

        She doesn’t want one, and I don’t even have a cell phone or smart phone.

        And my point to Bobbin is why are they calling it a smart phone when barely anyone uses it as a phone. Why not call it a tricorder or something, its closer to that than a phone lol

        edit
        [url<]http://computingforever.com/2011/05/14/x-prize-tricorder-competition-announced/[/url<] [url<]http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tricorder-tr-580/id290579379?mt=8[/url<]

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          Because you can use it to make phone calls obviously.

          • trackerben
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]...Why not call it a tricorder or something, its closer to that than a phone lol...[/quote<] You've got a point there. Most of the time these things are held like a tricorder. Unlike classic featurephone like my old Nokia which I use mainly for calls and a few quick messages.

            • willmore
            • 7 years ago

            So the question is ‘when will being able to make phone calls be the #1 definition of a device’? Look at the Samsung android camera. Meditate on that for a bit.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            If this funny is any indication, Apple likely already has patents for a device which is a camera first and smartphone second.

            [url<]http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/08/21/new-iphone-5-looks-suspiciously-like-canon-dslr-in-satirical-commercial[/url<] Actually the military already does these sorts of stuff, their "net warrior" Galaxy- and Atrix-based models are app-optimized for battle management first and field comms second.

            • willmore
            • 7 years ago

            That is funny.

    • JoJoBoy
    • 7 years ago

    I have been using my SGIII for over a month now.
    Hardware is really fast, runs circles around my girlfriend’s Iphone 4S on common apps (I have the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 SoC 4g LTE version) GPS lock-in is very fast and accurate.

    Screen is gorgeous, resolution makes it simple to use for on the go web browsing.

    NFC capablitly is great for making changes to the phone’s settings for different enviroments, I have the placed all over…..my keys, wallet, desk, bed etc.

    Battery life is “OK”. Normally get around 26-32 hrs out of a single charge when changing profiles with NFC tags, the cell standby can use a huge amount if your signal is weak.

    TouchWiz is nice for the gestures, the keyboard is fine but the auto-correct is horrific, if you make a mistake spelling a word you can’t just back up to where you made the mistake once the word is completed since it doesn’t realize you are still connected to the first part of the word, instead it thinks you are typing a new word for example: if you misspell “camper” as “canper” it will say “cancer” instead, if you go back and correct it, it will come up with “caper”. The auto-correct has no sense for what was before it.

    Camera is nice but looks hazy at times with pictures, video is the best I have seen from any phone (hear the HTC One X is better with pictures but on par with video).

    I don’t find the S Voice to be very useful for me, Google voice works much better most of the time.

    Overall very pleased with this phone and can’t wait for the new features on Jellybean when we finally get it.

      • Voldenuit
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Camera is nice but looks hazy at times with pictures, video is the best I have seen from any phone (hear the HTC One X is better with pictures but on par with video).[/quote<] If video is a priority, check out the nokia pureview 808: Samples: [url<]http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/07/12/Nokia-808-Pureview-41MP-smartphone-video-recording[/url<] [url<]http://mynokiablog.com/2012/03/06/video-nokia-rich-recording-nokia-808-pureview-vs-nokia-n8-vs-iphone-4s-vs-galaxy-s2-coming-to-other-nokias-soon/[/url<] It's not just the video quality (which is great), the audio quality is superb because of the microphones. Hopefully nokia will announce a WP8 version on Sep 5 (and double hope that WP8 won't suck as bad as WP7).

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    In before this gets BANNED!!!! iPhone rip-off… Just look at that thing! It has a rectangular screen! And a camera! And… you can call people?

      • trackerben
      • 7 years ago

      Don’t worry. It’s not on the proscribed list, Ivanhoe.

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        …yet

        • cjava2
        • 7 years ago

        Apple is now trying to ban the S3 and the Note:

        [url<]http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57504756-37/apple-goes-after-galaxy-s3-note-in-new-court-filing/[/url<]

          • trackerben
          • 7 years ago

          Yea it seems like. But it’s no concern as the S3 is just too big to hold easily. I do hope Google improves their Nexus smartphones to the point that I could confidently buy one knowing I’m getting a droid rather than a transformer.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            You’ll need to hope they don’t contact Samsung for the next one, then.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            I wouldn’t know if Samsung’s setbacks have weakened its design tracks. But once Android’s physical buttons for smartphones are fixed, it shouldn’t matter who gets to do the next Nexus. That said, Motorola seems to be the least burdened in patent and design issues and may be the brand most capable of implementing Google’s best concepts.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            Motorola is probably the best bet – why else would Google buy Motorola Mobile if not to make flagship devices running the latest version of Android?

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            Likely. Motorola is always worth paying attention to. There are so many launches by different firms in the next few momths that it’s easier to overlook them and RIM.

            • cynan
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]Yea it seems like [i<]it to me[/i<]. But it's no concern as the S3 is just too big to hold easily [i<]in my dainty little girl hands[/i<].[/quote<] There. fixed. 😛 But seriously, I just love how people post on forums like their opinion is the only one that matters. Plenty enjoy using the larger 4.6-4.8" HD form factor. This has little to do with iOS vs Android. Just that having a slightly larger screen makes things like typing, reading and web browsing a bit easier - and some just don't mindthe trade off of a bit more bulk. Many of these larger phones are not significantly different in weight than the iPhone and many do not have a problem using them one handed - it seems that Geoff might be included here. I have a dream that... ...my children will one day live in a nation... ...where they can choose between mobile devices of different shapes and sizes to suit their own preferences... [and not be forced to choose between a few designed by a borderline litigious tyrant backed by an all but broken patent system]

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]But seriously, I just love how people post on forums like their opinion is the only one that matters...[/quote<] Be it far from me to present claims on more than grounded reasoning and experience. My hands are probably smaller than average, my usage patterns probably broader. I've posted a lot about my experiences and don't expect my preferences to be influential as I don't presume they are universal. [quote<]Plenty enjoy using the larger 4.6-4.8" HD form factor. This has little to do with iOS vs Android. Just that having a slightly larger screen makes things like typing, reading and web browsing a bit easier - and some just don't mindthe trade off of a bit more bulk....[/quote<] I have a history going back to early Motorola, NEC, Nokia, and Handspring mobiles, and before that ICOM CB and trunked radios. I see these as critical devices and prefer these with positive controls optimized for reliable voice comms. From long experience with accidents and disasters and civil wars, my primary device is always a rugged bar which can be secured on my body and yet be grabbed easily, a handy bar which operable one-handedly on touch alone even in the dark, in spite of obstructed eyesight or hearing. These may seem overly tough criteria but such thinking has served me and others very well. Huge smartphones with finicky screens are not as highly available operationally as they are more entertainment than lifeline devices. In most any non-phone case where supersized smartphones do well, super-duper-sized ipads do better anyway. I'm not too ideological in evolving my carry style. My 3-screen days on the road have me carrying an ipad as second screen. This allows dedicated comms on the primary phone while I do lookups and browsing optimized on the tablet. An ultraportable screen is packed in the car for when I am at a worksite and anything else brought along is there to fill functional gaps. This distributed way of carry and tasking is not for most people, which is ok. Your circumstances differ from mine and others, your preferences and needs moreso. Some people like all their mobile functions centralized and compressed into one device, and superphones are conceived for them. More power to you if a single computing /battery /access /comm point satisfies your desires and meets your contingencies. [quote<]...I have a dream that... ...my children will one day live in a nation... ...where they can choose between mobile devices of different shapes and sizes to suit their own preferences...[/quote<] In a world of 8billion people and dozens of telecomm makers and networks catering to every segment and platform, you are not going to lack for choice normally. Unless government backing for monopolistic /cartelized markets has grown monstrous in your region? I'm mostly in south/east Asia these days and the marketing and regulatory environments can be encouraging to carrier evolutions (except for cartelized South Korea). Even more so than in the markets of the US west coast where I return occasionally and try things.

      • anotherengineer
      • 7 years ago

      Did you get permission to use the word ‘iphone’ ?? It’s patented don’t you know.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        trademarked.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          But a patent of a system to name products by placing a lower case i followed by a capitol letter which then spells out a common word so as to create a proper noun.

            • willmore
            • 7 years ago

            Good point.

        • BIF
        • 7 years ago

        More importantly, did he get permission to use the phrase “I have a dream…”

    • flip-mode
    • 7 years ago

    Touch sensitive edges is a neat design thought … until you put a protective case around them.

    And the reign of shiny plastic continues. When will the Asians wake up to the advantages of a more gripable, less slipable, and less fingerprintable finish?

      • DancinJack
      • 7 years ago

      When it costs less than plastic.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        For the most part I agree, but the SIII is meant to be a high-end phone. it should use high-end mats.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          Ugh. First ‘apps,’ now we are going to abbreviate ‘materials’ as ‘mats’?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            Force of habit, been WTB mats for various recipes in WoW.

            So no, we’re not going to abbreviate it now. We’re going to abbreviate it 8 or so years ago. And truth be told, that probably came from Everquest or Ultima Online so let’s just call it 15 years ago.

            • Meadows
            • 7 years ago

            As derFunk pointed out, it has been happening for years already.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            I am a little surprised you of all people are ok with it since you’re usually pretty quick to go grammar nazi on people. I know this isn’t grammar exactly, but it’s in the same area.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            wtb: mats for a [Grammar Nazi]

            • Meadows
            • 7 years ago

            selling GN mats, /w me

        • flip-mode
        • 7 years ago

        Textured plastic = free upgrade.

      • Jakubgt
      • 7 years ago

      $10 for a case off amazon and you’ll never have to see that inferior plastic again.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        That’s a good point, but some folks don’t want to pay for the thinnest phone around only to make it half-again thicker by putting a case on it. Personally I’m a case person but I can see why some wouldn’t be.

          • BIF
          • 7 years ago

          I have a thin hard-shell back on my Droid-X and even though my phone still looks thin, it’s thicker than I would like. But it still looks brand new so I keep the case on.

          Everybody I know who has an iPhone has it hermetically sealed in what might as well be a Pelican flight case. You’d never recognize their phones as Apple devices because they’re like 3/8″ thick! If they were any thicker, it would look like they were carrying medical equipment or [url=http://www.pelicancases.com/1470-p/1470.htm<]this[/url<]!

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            All the Apple cases I’ve seen have a hole in the back to show the Apple logo, so there’s that at least.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      Depends on how it’s done. If they’re looking at sharp spikes from the accelerometer, then the case wouldn’t matter much. If they’re doing some kind of capacitive button, then, yeah, that’ll not work well–unless they put something conductive in the case.

      • shank15217
      • 7 years ago

      both galaxy nexus and nexus 7 have muted plastic and backs that are easy to grip without extra protection. I am against cases for these devices, you don’t put your car or tv or computer in a plastic bubble and they are usually several times more expensive.

    • donkeycrock
    • 7 years ago

    I have had my GS3 since day one.

    Make sure you get Swype, it is way better than touch wiz keyboard swipe app

    Get the cover that folds over the front. That way you dont have to get a screen protector. And when you open the flap, the phone automatically turns on, and when you close it, it turns off. Best feature ever. and the phone isnt slippery when you have the cover folded over.

    The battery life sucks. i can only make it until 6 pm before i have to charge my phone, i use my phone pretty heavily each day but come on man, it’s 2012. Time for some battery technology upgrade.

    Other than that they phone is great. Google maps is awsome, and as a back up i use Waze.

      • End User
      • 7 years ago

      You did not read the full article. He went with a Galaxy Nexus.

      • TheMonkeyKing
      • 7 years ago

      Got an Amazon link to the cover?

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        The only one I can find is this, which replaces the battery door.

        [url<]http://www.amazon.com/Flip-Cover-EFC-1G6FBE-i9300-Galaxy/dp/B0080CXR8M[/url<] It makes no mention of auto-unlock/auto-sleep magnets, though. The case for my Nexus 7 has them and they're AWESOME. Flip open the front and the tablet wakes up. It'd be nice for a phone, too, particularly if it snapped shut.

      • djayjp
      • 7 years ago

      I suspect the reason your battery life might be so horrendous is that it may be your phone is not going into a deep sleep mode as it’s not truly in a lock state so it never really powers down. Try manually locking it from now on rather than relying on the proximity sensor. Hopefully it works!

      • Kaleid
      • 7 years ago

      This isn’t odd at all. Everything latest and they will always require tons of energy.

      4 cores…for a PHONE?

    • jjj
    • 7 years ago

    Good idea with the 240FPS cam but no benchmarks is no fun,not that it matters in this case since the device has been out for some time and with quad Krait devices about to show up ,it’s already outdated.

      • yokem55
      • 7 years ago

      Benchmarks would be a little tricky. The version of the GS3 for US carriers uses the Qualcomm S4 SOC, while the rest of the world uses the Exynos 4. Not sure which version Geoff tested here, but while both SOC’s are plenty fast, the numbers wouldn’t be perfectly lined up to what a buyer might be expecting.

        • JoJoBoy
        • 7 years ago

        This is true that there are two versions of the phone but Geoff makes it clear he is using the North American 4g LTE with the Qualcomm S4 SOC. Benchmarks would have been nice but may have been difficult to compare with a limited number of handsets available to Geoff.

      • Darkmage
      • 7 years ago

      I disagree. Benchmarks are effectively arguing about minutiae. Does it really matter if you score 5433 using Smartphone Xtreme Tester Suite 1.3 versus only 5122 on an HTC One? For a multifunction consumer device where you don’t compute much more complicated than the tip at a restaurant, does it really matter how many operations per second you’re completing?

      He rightly concentrated more on the experience than on the numbers. If Krait gives a better experience, spiffy. But if all it does is increase a benchmark score… meh.

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]an all-important update to the latest Jelly Bean version of Android. That's coming soon, we hear...[/quote<] I can't help but wonder if Samsung will be able to justify the work required to complete and do that in the face of an all-out embargo on Galaxy phones in the U.S. And on that topic, I trust you've sent your apology check to Apple for buying a rip-off product?

      • trackerben
      • 7 years ago

      It’s the manufacturer and/or seller not the consumers who is at fault in these kinds of cases. You might have been thinking of consumers convicted of possessing banned drugs.

        • dpaus
        • 7 years ago

        Hunh? No, my thinking was simply this: Apple has asked for an outright ban on the sale of (most) Samsung Galaxy smartphones in the United States. I’d like to think the actual chances of that happening are small, but then, that’s what I thought about the chances of a sweeping ‘guilty’ verdict in that patently absurd lawsuit.

        As has been discussed elsewhere recently, issuing an update to Jelly Bean isn’t a small undertaking, and will require considerable time and money from Samsung to support the carriers, all of whom will insist on doing their own testing.

        So, if the unthinkable happens, and Samsung is effectively banned from selling their (best) smartphones into the U.S., how could they justify the cost of putting any effort into updates for existing U.S. -market phones?

          • trackerben
          • 7 years ago

          Ah, ok. I thought you were somehow imputing to Geoff some measure of shame or even guilt for his choice of droid.

          Funny thing is, the Galaxy Nexus is what I recommend to those looking for a droid smartphone as it has the best upgrades path, especially now that Samsung’s marketing and support strategies have been derailed by Apple’s legal win. As it is I’m again back to looking at Lumias and even the Blackberry Curve to replace my old 3GS for a second cell and for hotspot and GPS navigation duty. Apple still makes the best premium smartphones but I can’t imagine owning only iOS devices, it would get boring.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          The SGS3 wasn’t part of the recent lawsuit because the suit was filed well before it came out. Apple may ask to include it but I imagine there has to be some kind of ruling showing that it too infringes. Finally, the hearing for embargoes isn’t until December, so that leaves plenty of time to adjust any software infringement.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            Then Apple will file to include it among the infringing products. Not that I’m really concerned. It sure looks sleek and thin and many truly like it, but the Galaxy S3 is just too big for me to casually hold and use it. Hopefully Google will design future Nexus models around Apple’s objections because I can see myself getting one if I decide against a Lumia.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            Sept 5th is the day to watch for the new lumias.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            Oh yea, Nokia salespeople told me about coming models. I was shopping around the other day and almost bought a Nokia Asha 300 Type and Touch on the mistaken impression that it had wireless-N. It would have been my ideal handy device – efficient keypad + large battery + standard SIM, with WLAN survey and hotspot added. Sigh.

            Lumia 710 would do the job except it won’t have the cracking S40 UI I rely on. I’m hoping that Nokia will release new S40 devicse along with the coming Lumia x20 models.

      • dpaus
      • 7 years ago

      Can one more person down-vote me for my innocuous-but-true comment, please? – I’m trying to reach a new personal low…

      EDIT: quickly, please. Assuming the site admins grant my request for a ‘most down-voted post’ to match the current ‘Top Comments’, I only have a day or so to hold the #1 spot on both lists simultaneously.

        • chuckula
        • 7 years ago

        DONE!

          • dpaus
          • 7 years ago

          Thanks, buddy! Hey, Scott, does that new site code include the ‘Bottom Comments’ list? If so, let’s put it on-line this weekend, OK?

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        hey, smarty pants, did you see this? [url<]http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/09/apple-asks-court-to-ban-samsungs-galaxy-note-and-galaxy-s-iii-from-us/[/url<]

          • trackerben
          • 7 years ago

          Looks like the “secret talks” between Google and Apple didn’t go too well. These developments rule out the Galaxy S3, the Nexus, and all other Google superphones. Too much uncertainty remains about what a Droid can and can’t be and that’s a killer for what’s supposed to be a critical comm device. For those who mostly toy around with their droids it probably won’t matter much.

          Which for me leaves only Lumias as reliable candidates. Sooner or later an iPhone 4S will be mine, but after three years of (admittedly reliable and polished) iOS stuff, one starts to feel a need for something new.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            windows phone is pretty fun. it’s different, and wp8 should have a lot of attractive features, as well as some great hardware. 720p screens, lte, expandable storage, solid camera’s, sexy UI, etc.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            A Nokia wp8 would be the obvious choice unless the 710’s price drops nicely. But I will always be hoping for a classic S40 candybar/keypad with wifi/hotspot.

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