Samsung Galaxy S III review
After months of speculation, the Samsung Galaxy S III (£500 inc. VAT) is finally here. And Samsung fans need not worry that the Galaxy S heritage has been blemished. The S III is a fantastic handset that can, quite rightly, lay claim to being a category leader.
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Its main rival is the HTC One X and, like the Taiwanese company’s flagship, Samsung’s new baby is powered by a quad-core processor, although there’s no Nvidia action here – it’s Samsung’s own Exynos platform clocked at 1.4GHz. There’s a healthy 1GB of RAM and your storage choices are 16GB, 32GB or a massive 64GB. You can also extend this using a microSD card.
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Despite being a curvaceous, modern looking device, the S III doesn’t quite match the One X for build quality or design. The white version that we reviewed, combined with the rounded metallic trim looks almost original iPhone-esque, although the S III is a lot more slender. Measuring 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.8mm and weighing 133g, the S III feels great in the hand, either when tapping away on the touchscreen or making a call, and the volume rocker and power button are both well placed.
The S III doesn’t have a unibody design, rather opting for a removable back panel that provides access to the Micro SIM, microSD and the battery. Despite feeling a bit flimsy and plastic we are assured by Samsung that this removable part is actually constructed of polycarbonate so it should withstand a bit of a bashing. This doesn’t take away from the fact that it appears a bit lightweight and, dare we say it, cheap.
The front, however, is gorgeous – with edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass 2, only punctuated by the physical home button. Yes, that’s right, Samsung has decided to stick a couple of well-placed fingers up at Google and its suggested Android 4.0 soft key arrangement. It’s a question of personal preference as to whether you prefer Google’s or Samsung’s button set-up. However, we can’t see any meaningful reason to alter it.
Behind that glass is the 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with its 720p HD resolution. While not quite as sharp as the One X’s IPS LCD 2 panel, it doesn’t disappoint. Colours are incredibly vibrant and it even looks good under bright light. The autobrightness feature wasn’t great though, as it underestimated how bright apps needed to be on more than one occasion.
In terms of performance, the S III actually outdoes the One X – at least when it comes to raw benchmarking scores. In reality, the pair are both so ridiculously quick that you’ll struggle to discern a notable difference. The S III is running the latest version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich, with Samsung’s familiar TouchWiz UI skinned on top.
Software is defi nitely the S III’s strong point. Samsung is touting the S III as “designed for humans” and there’s a heavy emphasis on intuitive controls to make the smartphone experience more natural. This means things like ‘Direct Call’, which initiates a call from an SMS conversation after raising the phone your ear, ‘Smart Stay’, which keeps the screen alive when you’re facing it, and ‘Smart Alert’, which re-alerts you should you have received a message while you were away. All simple additions – all great inclusions.
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Media playback is faultless and pretty comprehensive straight out of the box. HD videos are stutter free and silky smooth and music quality is fantastic – especially when making use of the wealth of EQ settings. On board you’ll find Samsung’s ‘Hubs’ for your digital media needs. You can even share your digital media with your S III holding pals using NFC and Samsung’s S-Beam function.
The Samsung Galaxy S II had a brilliant camera and, thankfully, the S III only improves on this. The 8-megapixel camera has a UI that is slick and easy to use – with handy customisable shortcuts – and there are a wide range of shooting modes. Pictures are incredibly crisp with even indoor shots in poor light impressing, particularly when making use of the HDR feature. Video is recorded in Full 1080p HD and, again, is top-notch.
Aside from all of the bells and whistles on offer from Samsung’s latest flagship, it also offers all of the basics with aplomb. The keyboard is big enough to make typing a comfortable process, call clarity is absolutely brilliant and the battery life, for a high-performance smartphone, is surprisingly good. It’s a 2,100mAh power supply and you’ll comfortably get at least a day’s solid use out of it.
The Galaxy S III was the most hotly anticipated Android smartphone of 2012. But while the Korean company delayed HTC delivered a knockout blow with the One X, and rightfully claimed the Android crown.
The question is then, has the S III done enough to put Samsung back on the top of the pile? The short answer is no. The S III is not an outright One X beater. But while it falls short in build quality and design, it wins out when it comes to performance and intuitiveness. And on many fronts it’s impossible to separate the two Android heavyweights.
So, if you’re in the market for a top-end Android smartphone, you now have two obvious choices. And the Samsung Galaxy S III is certainly one of them.
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on Monday, November 25th, 2013 at 1:30 pm under Smartphones.
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Tags: Android, Hot, review, Samsung Galaxy S3, Smartphone