The Samsung Galaxy S III is one of the nicest phones I’ve held in my hands and it’s all thanks to what I consider to be a perfect design. It’s one of the largest sized smartphones, yet when I compare it to my Galaxy Nexus, it not only feels better, but it’s lighter and easier to grip. The outer shell is comprised of a polycarbonate plastic chassis measuring 136.6 mm (5.38 in), 70.7 mm (2.78 in) wide, and 8.6 mm (0.34 in) thick, with the device weighing 133 grams (4.7 oz).
The design of the Galaxy S III is very similar to the Galaxy Nexus, with the same contour, rounded edges, and power/volume rocker locations (power on the right side, volume rocker on the left). If you liked the feel of the Galaxy Nexus, you’ll love the feel of the Samsung Galaxy S III.
AT&T customers have their choice of three colors when it comes to the Galaxy S III: Pebble Blue, Marble White, and an AT&T exclusive Red. We had the Pebble Blue for our review, so that’s what you’ll see.
On the top of the device you will find a microphone and 3.5mm headset jack, while a second mic, as well as the USB port are located at the bottom.
The front of the device features 4.8-inches of tough Corning Gorilla Glass 2, which houses and protects the display elements. At the top of the screen you’ll find the phone’s ear piece, LED indicator, proximity/light sensor and 1.9MP front facing camera. At the bottom rests an elongated hardware home button which is sandwiched between two capactive buttons (menu and back).
The back of the phone consists of a shiny, glossy plastic cover that easily pops off to expose the underbelly of the beast. You’ll also find an 8MP camera, LED flash and speaker, along with your classic company logos.
Under the Hood
Under the hood you’ll find a powerful 1.5GHz dual-core qualcomm S4 processor along with a whopping 2GB of RAM. You’re going to need a lot of juice to power this bad boy, and while we would have liked to see a RAZAR MAXX-sized battery powering the GS3, we’ll have to settle for the 2100mAh battery that comes with the device.
AT&T only offers a 16GB version of the Samsung Galaxy S III, so that’s what you’ll find yourself with. If you end up needing more storage, don’t sweat it, there’s room for expansion thanks to a microSD slot that can handle up to 64GB.
The Samsung Galaxy S III features a 4.8-inch 1280×720 HD Super AMOLED touch screen. It’s one of the largest sized phone displays available (other than phablets) and makes watching movies and playing games a fantastic experience.
You’ll be more than happy with the clarity and color of the Galaxy S III, and while it does have slightly less pixels per-inch when compared to the Galaxy Nexus, it actually looks a bit nicer thanks to better white balance. It’s certainly no retina display, and also falls short of the Super IPS LCD2 screen found on the HTC One X, but it’s still a great display and one that will satisfy any user’s eyes.
The Samsung Galaxy S III has a 8MP rear camera and a 1.9MP front-facing camera. You’re not going to use the front-facing camera for anything other than video-chat and checking your hair so we’ll focus on the rear camera for the review
The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S III is the best I’ve yet to use, and not necessarily because of the improved hardware — more of a combination of hardware and software.
I had an opportune time to test out the camera while on vacation, and I actually ended up shelving all other cameras in favor of using the SG3. The burst-shot mode was by far the feature I used most, allowing me to continuously capture frame after frame. I was able to take dozens of photos in the blink of an eye, ensuring I never missed a trick.
I also made great use of the panorama feature, which I’m happy was included. As for other software features, I tested them all, and they worked as advertised, but I didn’t use them as often (or at all), as I did with Burst and Panorama.
Here’s a collection of photos I took while on a Walt Disney World family vacation.
Burst Shot Mode
The Samsung Galaxy S III records up to 1080p with the rear camera and 720p with the front. Video quality is superb in daylight, not as great at night and indoors, but still fantastic for a smartphone.
Here’s a short vid clip while on the road.
The Galaxy S III runs on Android 4.0 but is heavily skinned with Samsung’s TouchWiz. I personally prefer Vanilla Android and although I appreciated some of what TouchWiz has to offer, ultimately it was too busy and counterintuitive for me.
You’ll find the AT&T Galaxy S III comes with the usual carrier bloat, but the real doozy is the amount of Samsung proprietary apps (aka bloat). There’s nothing worse than have three apps for the same function, and you’ll find plenty of that on the Galaxy S III.
Hmmm, should I use Samsung’s messenger, AT&T’s messenger, or the Stock messenger?”
While you can’t uninstall much of the bloat, luckily you can disable it and hide the icons.
Once you get past that, you’ll find Samsung has quite a few built-in software features that are not only useful, but pretty cool — and then, of course, there are some that are just plain useless.
S-Voice is Samsung’s voice-assistant Siri alternative. I haven’t personally used Siri, but I’m told that S-Voice is no Siri. You can ask S-Voice all sorts of questions and perform various tasks by using voice actions, which can sometimes be helpful. To activate S-Voice, simply double tab on the Home button and ask a question. If you’d like a list of actions you can perform, just say “What can I say?” and you’ll get a long list of results.
If you’re into talking to inanimate objects, then you’ll find S-Voice fun, but I feel it only adds to muddle up Google’s own voice-assisted software (introduced in Jelly Bean), and again, I hate having multiple programs doing the same thing. I’m going to go ahead and say Google will do a much better job, so hopefully Samsung will abandon its S-Voice project from here on out.
The Galaxy S III comes equipped with a plethora of Motion Controls, which help cut down on the amount of taps and swipes you would normally need to perform certain tasks. Instead, you can use motion as well as certain hand gestures, which is both cool and gimmicky.
Motion Controls include:
Direct Call – Direct Call motion control allows you to call a contact whose details were on screen by simply pulling the phone up to your ear.
Smart Alert – Smart Alert motion control will help remind you of those missed calls and messages by vibrating when you pick up the phone.
Tap To Top – Tap To Top motion control allows you to double tap the top of your Samsung Galaxy S III to go to the top of certain lists such as contacts, emails, and email messages.
Tilt To Zoom – Tilt To Zoom motion control allows you to tap and hold the screen at two points and then tilt the device back and forth to zoom in and out.
Pan To Move Icon – With Pan To Move Icon motion control, you can easily reposition homescreen icons by simply holding on them and tilting your phone left or right.
Pan To Browse Images – You can use Pan To Browse Images motion control to quickly and easily pan around an image by simply moving the device up, down, left and right, while zoomed in.
Shake To Update – Shake To Update motion control allows you to scan for certain devices by simply shaking your device.
Turn Over To Mute/Pause – Turn Over to Mute/Pause motion control gives you the ability to quickly mute audio or pause media by simply placing your phone face down.
Palm Swipe To Capture – Palm Swipe To Capture motion control is a neat way to quickly take a screenshot by simply swiping your palm across the screen.
Palm Touch To Mute/Pause – Palm Touch To Mute/Pause is similar to Turn Over Mute/Pause motion control, as it’s a quick way to mute/pause audio and media; only with this method, you cover the screen with your palm.
S-Beam takes the already awesome Android Beam and cripples it by making it locked to Samsung. Combining NFC and WiFi Direct, S-Beam allows users (Samsung Galaxy S III users) to share large files, photos, videos, as well as the usual contact info, maps, and urls by simply tapping the backs of their phones together. Unlike Android Beam, you can bump it and forget it, rather than needing to hold the devices together until the transfer is complete.
Samsung boasts fast transfer speeds but real-life tests beg to differ. Overall, S-Beam seems to be a useful and welcomed addition. It’s only plagued by its proprietary nature, making it difficult to take advantage of — unless everyone else has it.
Pop Up Play
Pop Up Play allows you to watch an onboard video while performing other tasks by simply minimizing the video into a pop-up window that can easily be moved around your screen. It’s definitely a stand out feature of the Galaxy S III, and one that’s sure to make your friends a bit jealous.
The Samsung Galaxy S III has many other features, including:
Buddy Photo Share – The Galaxy S III recognizes the faces of your friends, so it can share photos with them right away.
Share Shot – Send photos to all your party guests so everyone leaves with snapshots of the event.
AllShare Play – Share files with other devices and access those files on various devices, such as documents or multimedia files between your Galaxy S III phone and a tablet, PC or television.
AllShare Group Cast – Share and collaborate on documents, presentations or images in real-time with multiple friends or co-workers without loading the file separately.
Smart Stay – The screen display will remain bright as long as you’re looking at the phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S III is full of little things that irk me (TouchWiz, hardware buttons, proprietary apps, bloatware, useless features, no Google Wallet, etc.), yet I absolutely love it. It’s the fastest, smoothest phone I’ve used and to have a phone of this size feel so comfortable in my hands is amazing. I love the size of the screen, the design, the camera, a few of the unique features, but most of all — I love that it’s available on all of the major carriers!
With the Samsung Galaxy S III, you’re no longer letting a phone dictate your loyalty to a provider. You get to choose the carrier that’s best for you and still get the phone you want. That fact alone easily has me recommending it as the phone to get. Sure, it has some things that irk me, but it’s Android, and most annoyances can be taken care of.
In my opinion, the Samsung Galaxy S III is the best phone currently available. If you’re looking for a new phone, this is the one to get. The fact that something better will replace it in the next couple of months is inevitable, but right now, my recommendation is the Samsung Galaxy S III.
BTW: Call quality was fantastic, but who’s making phone calls nowadays anyways?