A cool ad sequence blended with an extremely soothing background score and you know that you are being introduced to something special. The phone that single handedly shook the smartphone market by recording a crazy 10 million plus pre orders even before being launched. After the hugely successful Galaxy SII Samsung came out all guns blazing and gave the world a worthy successor in the form of ‘The Samsung Galaxy SIII’. We tell you how and why the most anticipated phone of the year lives up to the hype and why it’s truly a next gen gadget.
There’s a lot to say about the new Samsung Galaxy S3, but starting with the face of a phone, the 4.8inch display on the new S3 is a whopper, just edging out the 4.7in screen we saw recently on the rather excellent HTC One X. Compared to the gigantic Galaxy Note with its 5.3inch screen,the S3 feels smaller and a more comfortable pocket mate. The shape is Slim and curvy, extremely stylish but not groundbreaking as we have seen this before. The S3 measures 137x71x8.6mm,
and aesthetic details like the width of screen bezels are pretty good. It’s a compact handset considering the large display.
Samsung has kept the physical home button which is saddled by two touch sensitive counterparts for Back and Menu. The Home button is thin and narrow. The buttons and ports are spread out around the handset with Power on the right, Volume on left, microUSB on the bottom and the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. The buttons are easy enough to reach and have a nice action, although we would prefer the Volume rocker to be a little larger. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is very thin and light for such a large phone at just 8.6mm and 133g.
It’s stand out attribute is its 4.8in super HD AMOLED screen. This OLED-based display has a headline resolution of 1,280×720 pixels, however it’s not a Plus-branded display. It is also remarkably clean and crisp when using as you would normally expect in a high end phone of this status.
Speaking of power consumption and battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S3 should be a winner. Hidden in the sleek and light body is a whopping 2,100mAh removable and replaceable battery. We applaud the fact that you can get into the phone and switch out a faulty or worn-out battery yourself. Plus at 2,100mAh it’s far bigger than the S2’s 1,650mAh battery, or the HTC One X’s 1,800mAh effort. That’s a relief for extreme users.
As well as the display, the battery is powering an extremely powerful quad core chipset. As expected the Galaxy S3 is powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 4 Quad processor, something we actually knew before the launch event. It is a 32nm chip based on the ARM Cortex A9 quad-core architecture and has a clock speed of 1.4GHz.
Also behind the rear cover is a micro SD card slot, so you can expand upon the 16, 32 or 64GB of internal storage. With SDXC cards you can add in theory up to 64GB of additional storage. As usual with modern handsets, it takes a micro SIM.
Samsung has upgraded the capabilities of its camera from the S2, if not the headline 8-megapixel figure. The main addition is a great burst mode, that can snap up to 20 photos at a rate of 3.3 snaps per second. This gives you the added benefit of selecting the best snap. Camera start up times have also been reduced to under 1 second from switching to the camera to first shot. Now thats fast.
Burst mode and enhanced photo-sharing capabilities are the stand outs from the new camera. Taking good photos is only half the game with a smartphone camera though. The Galaxy S3 also has some powerful-looking functions for getting more out of your photos afterwards. Samsung has added an impressive facial recognition technology. It learns to recognise individuals in your contacts list and offers to share photos with them automatically by MMS or Text. Sharing is ultra modern and quite cool.
The new front camera now shots in HD. The front camera has been beefed up as well, and can now shoot 720p video at 30fps, so you can use it for high-definition video chat – if you’ve got the bandwidth upstream to send it. Both the front and back cameras now benefit from back-illuminated sensors, and so there should be no issues in low light conditions compared to their former counterparts. The new Samsung Galaxy S3 is slender and curvaceous, but despite Samsung’s talk of its Hyperglaze finish, you can’t get away from the fact that this is a very plastic phone. While Apple has its glass-finish on the iPhone 4S, HTC has oxidised metal on the One S, and Nokia uses a polycarbonate lozenge shape on the Lumia 800, it’s hard to get equally excited about the S3’s finish. You will definitely miss the metal feel.
The Galaxy S3 handset is available in pebble blue and marble white. The former has a nice brushed finish while the latter a glossy sheen. Both look nice but blue one is a slight notch better.
A really intriguing feature is the Smart Stay. With this, the front-facing camera prevents the screen from going into standby if someone if looking at the phone. This means you can linger over a particular passage in a webpage, book or email, without having to constantly remind the phone you don’t want it to shut down. And the sweet manner in which the light automatically turns off when you close your eyes as shown is really cool. You can’t deny the fact that features like these makes you feel that the world of technology has reached new levels and you can’t help but wonder ‘what next??’
Another clever idea is Direct Call, this automatically dials people when you raise the phone to your ear. For example, if you’re half way through a text or email, and think it will be easier to call them, just raise the phone to your ear and it will dial that persons default number immediately.
Samsung has also introduced its own Siri-style voice commands with S Voice. This accepts natural language commands in much the same way as the iPhone 4S.
The most impressive part is the fact that Galaxy S3 is almost flawless. Samsung has managed to achieve the kind of smooth performance only reached by Apple’s iPhone.
For example, the phone can play video content in a pop-out window while you do other tasks. Other demanding tasks such as scrolling and zooming on a desktop version of website just happen with no lag; the processor puts up no fuss whatsoever.
Wireless charging is a stand out feature which is not only super cool but very practical too. Other connectivity in the Galaxy S3 includes the standard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and microUSB as well as the latest near-field communications (NFC) technology and support for the digital living network alliance (DLNA) standard.
But in the race to reduce weight Samsung has definitely let go of the feel good factor of holding the phone. On a lighter note another thing that disappoints is the punch line- ‘ designed for humans ‘. Common, previous devices weren’t for aliens, were they? With such an impressive device the line that adorns it could have been better.
Our Verdict: Must have phone if your pocket permits you.