To gear up for the Samsung Galaxy S4, I used the Galaxy S3 and discuss its pros and cons
We are just a few days away from the official introduction of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and we're really excited about it. With rumored specs of a 5-inch 1080p HD screen, octa-core processor, 13-megapixel camera and all the connectivity goodies you'd want, we believe this will be one of the best phones of the year.
In order to get myself ready for the Samsung Galaxy S4, I decided to dust off one of the review units of the Galaxy S3. You should read our in-depth reviews for a better understanding but here are some of my quick takeaways after using the Galaxy S3 full-time over the last week. For the record, I had been using the Motorola RAZR MAXX HD and the HTC One X+ as my primary devices for the last few months.
There are smartphones with better hardware on the market now but I found the Samsung Galaxy S3 to be extremely snappy and stable, especially once I updated to Android Jelly Bean. Apps run smoothly and I think that's a combination of the good hardware and developers making an extra effort to make sure their apps run well on the Galaxy S3.
I still prefer stock Android because of the timelier updates but I'm really starting to appreciate TouchWiz and the philosophy behind it. Samsung is really trying to make Android more friendly and approachable through its design and it's adding features that are actually really cool and useful in real-life situations.
Something like Share Shot may not seem like a major tech advancement but because so many people have Galaxy S3 devices, it does come in handy. This lets you connect with nearby Samsung users and automatically share pictures in near real time. For more on getting the most out of your software, check out our Samsung Galaxy S3 30 tips and tricks.
It's also nice getting back to a solid camera with the Samsung Galaxy S3. It's not top-of-the-line any more but it's miles ahead of the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX in terms of shutter speed and picture quality. I can't wait to see how well the next one will shoot.
Samsung has also done a great job of boosting the entire ecosystem. Things like Share Shot not only work with other Galaxy S3 devices but also with things like the Galaxy Note 2. You also have a variety of docks, covers and cases that you can buy from Samsung or from third-party vendors. That may seem very trivial butI like having a lot of high-quality choices when it comes to accessories. This has been an area that's long been dominated by the iPhone, too.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is also an attractive device to look at. I'm not in love with the build materials (more on that below) but it's a nice-looking device. Am I shallow? Maybe but I like having good-looking phones.
It's tough to really kill the Sasmung Galaxy S3 on many aspects but I'll be frank: I don't like the feel of the plastic materials it's made of. Sure, you get used to it, it still looks nice from a distance and using plastic makes sure that it remains light (and also boosts Samsung's margins) but I still prefer a material made of sterner stuff.
It's been a while since I updated the phone, so I was very eager to get Android Jelly Bean on it. I dove through the setting and checked for updates and had no luck. Then I searched TheFullSignal and realized you can only update to Jelly Bean through the desktop software Kies. It's not super onerous to do but it's kind of lame that there's no over-the-air way, although that's likely an AT&T issue.
I also miss the dedicated multitasking button. You have to hold down the Samsung button which also acts as the home button. Oh, don't double-tap it because that will bring up the somewhat useless S Voice. Again, it's just a minor learning curve but I'm allowed to have my preferences.
The final take
Despite a few quibbles, the Samsung Galaxy S3 remains a fantastic smartphone and the fact that it holds up so well is a great sign for the Samsung Galaxy S4. Samsung will definitely be kicking it up a notch with the hardware and software improvements in the next one, so it's looking like the Samsung Galaxy S4 will definitely be worth the wait.