It is not wrong to say that Samsung Galaxy S III (SGS III) is the most awaited Android phone of the year. Its predecessors redefined the smartphone market. There are expectations that it is going to do the same.
The phone is finally here. We have been using it for the last 10 days. Does it live up to the expectations? Is it the best Android phone — nay make it the best smartphone — ever made?
Shiny but feels little cheap
Samsung has (once again) used lots of glossy plastic in its flagship Android phone. Though, the phone is solidly built. Unlike the somewhat industrial design of Galaxy S II that has straight lines, the new Galaxy has a curvier feel to it (Samsung says the design is inspired by a pebble). Pebble or no pebble, the added roundness does make the phone feel better in the hand. That said, SGS III is a big device and unless you have large hands, you will find it little unwieldy if you use it with single hand.
There is faux metal strip that runs around the device. Unlike Galaxy Nexus, which is also made by the Korean company, SGS III has three buttons under its huge 4.8-inch screen. The ‘home’ is a plastic button while the other two — ‘options’ and ‘back’ — are touch sensitive buttons. The curves on SGS III give it understated but premium looks though we are not sure how the device will fare in the future once the gloss and sheen wears off the plastic.
Samsung’s flagship Android phones are known to pack in hefty hardware. SGS III is powered by Exynos 4412, a quad-core processor built by Samsung using technology from ARM. The CPU runs at 1.4Ghz and its four cores can ramp up or down their speed independently. This helps save the battery. The graphics duty is handled by four chips of Mali 400. It is the same graphics processor that is found in Galaxy S II but in SGS III it runs at a faster speed. The phone has 1GB RAM, 16GB storage with support for a microSD card upto 64GB. The primary camera captures images in 8 mega pixels and videos in up to 1080P resolution. This camera has backlit- illuminated sensor that helps it in low-light photography. The secondary camera sports a tag of 1.9MP.
At least on paper, SGS III is a device that leads every other Android out in the market. But does this hardware make it the best phone?
Let’s start with the screen. Similar to other Galaxy flagship phones, SGS III uses a Super AMOLED screen. It has a resolution of 1280×720 pixels (720P) and is very sharp. But the best feature about the screen is somewhat saturated colours it shows. While for photographer they may seem inaccurate, mainstream users will find colours on SGS III vibrant and pleasing. Brightness, however, is an issue.
At least subjectively we did not find the screen on SGS III as bright as the one on SGS II. The problem was also compounded by the way auto-brightness is handled by the phone. It seems too aggressive. Though a software update should fix it. Still in the grand scheme of things, these are minor issues. The SGS III screen is one of the best we have ever seen on a phone. It is just that it could have been better.
SGS III is very fast and snappy phone. The device is very smooth irrespective of tasks it is running. Multitasking is lag-free. And so is web browsing, whether a user is zooming on to a page or playing embedded videos. Navigating around the phone, playing 1080P videos, applying filters to images and reading PDF documents barely stress the phone. The GPS on SGS III is incredibly fast and accurate. This should appeal to people who like to use their phone for navigation or to find their way in unknown cities.
SGS III runs Ice Cream Sandwich aka Android 4. But the user interface is the next version of Touchwiz, Samsung’s own customized skin. Touchwiz doesn’t look as elegant as the default Android interface or HTC Sense, which is used on One X. But if you can live with the looks, there is a lot of functionality backed in the device. For example the modified notification bar in SGS III gives users option to toggle 10 settings!
Samsung has also put several unique features in SGS III. Some of these, like Direct Calling and Smart Stay are useful. S Voice, meanwhile, just like its iPhone counterpart Siri, is more of a gimmick. Features like Smart Alert, which lets a user know about missing calls and messages, are plain unnecessary because users anyways get to know it through LED notification.