The Galaxy S III is the first phone from Samsung in the Galaxy S line that is the same across all US carriers. My previous phone was a Samsung Galaxy S Epic 4G and my wife picked up the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch last year. I’m glad Samsung was able to wrangle their way with the carriers or else the next name would have been quite a mouthful.
The Epic 4G gave me a physical, slide-out keyboard but it was very thick as a result and the sliding hinge always felt like the phone’s weak spot. Seeing the Galaxy S II up-close, I saw the thin/light aspect of the phone was a reasonable trade-off in place of a physical keyboard. The battery life and internal storage was also much higher with each next generation. I had been turning the data connection off to help the battery last longer and had to limit apps or move them to the SD card. While the Epic 4G, my first Android phone, was streets ahead of the Palm Pre I had previously, the Samsung Galaxy S III seemed like another good opportunity to upgrade and get the latest features.
I pre-ordered the Galaxy S 3 from Sprint and I’m glad I did since the high-demand of pre-orders delayed the launch day shipment and the closest Sprint store just closed. Being a Sprint customer has been a frustrating experience but it gives pretty good coverage at the lowest price of any of the carriers with unlimited data. To really narrow it down, Sprint’s gamble with WiMax and resulting delay of a 4G LTE roll-out directly affected customers. My previous phone was capable of connecting to WiMax but the closest installation was over 3 hours away and the last time I was there, it didn’t even work.
The 4G LTE roll-out sounds promising though I agree with analysts that Sprint sold their soul at a high opportunity cost to finally get the iPhone. Since the WiMax roll-out stopped, getting an LTE-capable phone sounded like a better move than paying the monthly premium data charge for nothing.
I hope I have framed the review properly. I believe my previous phone experience tells a lot about what I like, dislike, and am looking to improve. The Samsung Galaxy S III is light, thin, and has a large display. I picked up the Pebble Blue 16GB phone from Sprint.
Boasting a 4.8″ HD Super AMOLED display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16 or 32 GB of internal storage with expandable SD card storage (not included), NFC, 802.11N WiFi, and an 8MP rear camera while being 4G LTE capable, the hardware is certainly an improvement all around. It is shipped running Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich at version 4.0.4 (a good number).
Included in the box is the phone, battery, USB cable, wall outlet charger, earbud headset, and documentation. The box is packaged nicely and very compact. You will have to pop open the back cover of the phone to insert the battery and an SD card if you have one first thing. The back covers are never easy to get off and feels like a weak point with it being so thin. Fortunately, when it is snapped into the phone, it feels secure and tightly connected.
The phone is a little bit big to be honest. The screen size has been able to be increased by reducing the bevel but I think they are certainly at the limit for creating a phone any bigger. While the phone looks big, it still fits nicely in my hands but others with smaller hands may not feel the same. I like having the larger screen to fit more on the screen with a higher resolution. Everything looks crisp and clear and the utility of the phone is better for everything from browsers to Draw Something to LogMeIn. The phone also feels comfortable held up for a phone call. Its smooth back and good size gives more to hold onto.
The faster processor and more RAM certainly makes for a snappy experience. Apps are launched faster and multitasking has not been an issue. I also like that now running ICS, I can run the Chrome browser for Android.
The 8.0MP Camera is a step up from my 5.0 MP but has not changed since the Galaxy S II. I took the phone with me hiking this past weekend and took some great shots. The zero-shutter lag was great for taking multiple shots quickly. There is still some delay if you want to manually focus but it is a great overall experience. I used the panorama shot and the burst shot features and loved the experience.
As you can see from the picture, the hiking was a bit rocky. It made me a bit nervous to take my brand new phone with me but everything turned out just fine. The fact that the phone has Gorilla Glass 2.0 for the screen let me relax a little bit more.
I love the whistle sound for notifications. It makes me laugh every time I get an email.
The simplification of the buttons on the front are a big improvement in my opinion. I like that they have gotten rid of the search button and focused on the Menu, Home, and Back buttons. It makes it less cluttered and easier to hit.
I am still trying to manage taking screenshots which should be the Power + Home buttons together but so far I haven’t had any luck. That is definitely one feature I was looking forward to.
The Samsung keyboard is different than the native Swype keyboard. The jury is still out on it. With the higher resolution and more spread out keys, it is easier to swipe the right word but some of the extra spaces came at a cost, like putting the comma a few clicks further away.
About the only change that I don’t like with the Galaxy S III, which may be an ICS thing, is that the lock screen still allows some access. With the lock screen in place, you can still pull down the top-menu or hold down the power button to get the power off, reboot, airplane mode, and other options. With a holster for the phone, I have managed to turn the phone off unintentionally already. I don’t like the idea of being able to turn the phone off without knowing and be unreachable for hours until the next time I check it.
Overall, I really like the phone. It’s a substantial upgrade from a Galaxy S. The bigger display, longer battery life, and 4G LTE connectivity gives it promise for its two year contract. Moving from half a GB of internal storage to 16GB means moving away from the pains of apps that get larger with each update. I’m still getting used to everything and getting it all set up similar to how I had it before. I would definitely recommend it for those with a Galaxy S but would not see it as an urgent upgrade if you have a Galaxy S II. I went with the Galaxy S III over the HTC One X because of good experience with Samsung devices and it seems like that is going to continue with this generation of smartphone.