Review: Samsung Galaxy S III (Verizon) – Just How Amazing is it?
Samsung has really struck a hold on the Android market. Their market share is growing and its raking in the dough faster than many companies out there. However, this was the case with HTC last year, and it has completely fallen off. Can the Galaxy S III help Samsung retain its stong hold on the market? Read Android Invasion’s full review to find that out and more!
Samsung has never been known for making devices with high build quality, and the Galaxy S III continues that trend. I’ll admit that when Samsung announced the Galaxy S III, I quickly said that it was ugly and I wouldn’t use it as my daily driver. I was wrong. Pictures, no matter how good, really do not do the Galaxy S III justice. When you get it in the hand, though, be prepared to be amazed. It feels really great. It is extremely lightweight at just 4.73 ounces, which is a common characteristic of Samsung devices. The device also has great ergonomics. What does this mean? The Galaxy S III has a large display at 4.8-inches, so you’d think it would be hard to use with one hand, but that’s not the case. I had no issues whatsoever reaching to the top of the screen while holding the device in the same hand. This is due to the fact the space around the display has greatly reduced from the Galaxy S II.
The Galaxy S III is also really easy on the eyes. It has a chrome bezel on the sides which looks really nice and ties everything together nicely. The device is available in Marble White and Pebble Blue. I had both colors in for review and greatly prefered the white model. Both of the devices are complete fingerprint magnets, which is normal with a plastic device. However, both colors also scratched really easily. This is really annoying, as it greatly reduces the resale value of the device. I almost wonder if that is what Samsung wants, as the case it is selling does not protect the back, as it is a flip case, much like Apple’s Smart Cover. On the white though, it was a lot harder to notice the fingerprints and scratches.
The button placement on the Galaxy S III is almost the same as past Samsung devices. On the top is the 3.5mm headphone jack, while the power button is on the left. On the right is the volume rocker and the microUSB charging port is on the bottom. Under the battery cover is the 2100mAh battery and microSD card slot. Below the display is the physical home button, menu button, and back button. One really annoying thing about the Galaxy S III is the placement of the home button. I felt that it needed to either be bigger or shifted up, closer towards the display. I often found myself pressing just above the actual button.
Overall, the design of the Galaxy S III is superb. Like I said before, pictures just don’t do it justice. You really need to hold it in your hand and see it in person to get the real effect.
While not known for build quality, Samsung is definitely known for its displays. Every since the first Galaxy S device, Samsung has been pumping out amazing displays. But they have always had one pitfall: a low resolution. With the Galaxy S III however, that is no longer an issue. The latest Samsung flagship has a Supoer AMOLED HD display with a resolution of 1280 x 800. This is much better than the 480 x 800 resolution found on earlier Samsung devices. You may have heard that the device uses a PenTile matrix, which is true, but does not affect the quality whatsoever. Basically, the Galaxy S III uses an RGBG , or PenTile, subpixel structure, not the more standard RGB layout. Some Samsung devices use the RGB layout and Samsung advertises those panels as Super AMOELD Plus.
Now, what does all of that mean? That the Galaxy S III has one heck of a display. The colors are extremely vivid and accurate, while the text is as sharp as can be. The device also gets very bright and doesn’t seem to affect battery life too much. I did have some issues with the auto brightness setting on the device, as it tended to set it a little darker than it should have been.
How does it compare to other displays out there? It blows them all away. My iPhone 4S looks like a first generation iPhone and the One X just looks washed out.
Many people scolded Samsung when it announced that the U.S. Galaxy S III variants would have a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, as opposed to the quad-core Exynos chip found in the Galaxy S III overseas. Samsung, however, won many people back when it said that it would have 2GB, making it the first device with more than 1GB or RAM.
The Snapdragon S4 chip found in the Galaxy S III is clocked at 1.5GHZ, like the chip in the One X. To put it bluntly, the device, performs like a beast. I rarely experienced any lag. Scrolling between homescreens was smooth as butter, as was web browsing. I was able to set a live wallpaper and stil not notice any lag. That is something I’ve never been able to with an Android phone before. Games performed flawlessly, as well. Loading times were quick and just like in every other instance, I experienced no lag whatsoever.
In the benchmarking app Quadrant, the Galaxy S III scored nearly 5,000, which is an outstanding score and far better than any other phone out there. In Vellamo, it averaged just over 2,100, while in AnTuTu, it was able to consistently pull in scores of over 6,400. In Linpack, the Galaxy S III scored nearly 200MFLOPS.
To wrap up, the Galaxy S III is the fastest and smoothest phone available in the U.S. Why just the U.S? Because I think the international model performs slightly better, but it is nothing major at all.
Alongside the Galaxy S III, Samsung unveiled TouchWiz Nature UX, a refinement of the manufacturer’s Android overlay. Nature UX provides a new nature theme, which doesn’t consist of much. Mainly, it provides some water sound effects and nature themed wallpapers. That’s not all that has changed with Nature UX, though.
- Share Shot – Create a temporary photo sharing network with a group of friends who are nearby at the same party or event; photos can be taken by any member of the group and shared with the entire group
- S Beam – Share pictures, videos, documents and more by simply touching two Galaxy S III devices’ backs together
- S Voice – Featuring natural language recognition, you can control the apps and services used most with words instead of touch
- Pop Up Play – Videos can be played in a small window while customers use the rest of the display to complete other tasks such as typing emails, organizing calendars and updating their social networks
- Evolved camera capabilities – Burst Shot mode instantly captures 20 continuous shots and Best Photo feature selects the best shot to display
Also included in TouchWiz Nature UX is a new launcher.
The new TouchWiz Launcher isn’t anything drastic. It pertains to the same look as before; a five icon dock, with the application drawer located to the far right. Inside the app drawer, you get your standard ICS layout, with the application and widget tabs hovering on top of a 5 by 6 grid. The new launcher also brings in the carousel effect that was initially introduced in Honeycomb while switching homescreens. Along with Ice Cream Sandwich comes a new variety of widgets, as well as resizing capabilities.
One of the most notable changes in TouchWiz Nature UX is the lock screen. You now unlock the device by swiping left or right on the “water.” Much like Sense, there are now 4 customizable app icons along the bottom of the lock screen that allow you to launch directly into an app. You can also now add weather and news to the lock screen. Finally, you can unlock the device with your voice by setting a wake up command in the settings. All of this is great. It use to be that you had to use a third-party app such as WidgetLocker to add any sort of functionality to your lock screen.
The biggest feature, though, is S Voice, which is Samsung’s Siri. The thing is, it sucks. I found myself having to say the same command over and over to get it to be picked. Another problem is that S Voice does not integrate with Google Apps, such as Play Music. That’s how I store all my music, so asking S Voice something like “Play Coldplay” is pointless, as it does not index music from Google Play, only music in the Samsung Music App.
In TouchWiz Nature UX, you can also now take a screenshot by swiping you palm across the screen, which is really cool.
To bring up the multitasking menu, you simply long press the home button and a menu nearly identical to the one found in stock Android 4.0 will pop up. Simply swipe left or right to delete an app from the list.
I’ve actually found that Nature UX does not cause nearly as much lag as previous iterations of TouchWiz did. It’s definitely a lot lighter and smooth now.
Overall, TouchWiz Nature UX is nice. It’s smooth and offers a few nice features. I’d still take stock Android over it any day, but you have to give credit to Samsung for really toning down its skin and making it decent.
When announcing its Galaxy S III, Samsung went to great lengths to tell us how good the device’s camera would be. And it delivered. The Galaxy S III has an 8MP rear facing camera and 1.2MP front-facing shooter.
I found pictures taken with the device to look really great. Colors are crisp and clear and the camera focuses and snaps very fast. Pictures taken with the Galaxy S III also have a much higher resolution than those taken with the One X.
Video on the Galaxy S III was good, as well. It records in 1080P and is very smooth.
With Nature UX, Samsung also made some great improvements to the camera app. On the Galaxy S III, there are now built-in options for burst shot, HDR, smile shot, beauty, cartoon, and panorama shots. The panorama option is really good, as it is intuitive and fast. The face detection feature, however was not all that good and I found HTC’s to be much more accurate.
The Galaxy S III is compatible with Verizon’s blazing fast 4G LTE network. Currently, this network is available in more than 330 markets, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and covers more than 400 million Americans.
Using the speedtest.net app, I was able to consistently get 20-25mbps up and 5-9 up. ESPN’s mobile site loaded in a speedy 6 seconds.
Speaker was decent as well, though I did notice quite a bit of crackling when I would turn the volume up all of the way.
Microphone quality was great and people often couldn’t tell I was on a cell phone while using the Galaxy S III.
I was very impressed with the device′s GPS performance as well. In a pair of commutes, it stuck onto satellites and updated my position more quickly and accurately than other phones I’ve used.
One thing that has been disappointing on nearly every Android phone is the battery life. Sometimes, I can make it through a day, but others I can’t. With the Galaxy S III, however, I could always make it through a day with the 2100mAh battery in the device. Battery life was truly excellent. A day for me consists of web browsing, music, Twitter, Google+, and some texting. I usually kept the display at 75%, though I didn’t notice that much change when cranking it up higher.
Usually with a device that has LTE, you experience a pretty significant battery drop of over other HSPA+ deviecs, but that was not the case with the Verizon Galaxy S III. I didn’t notice much, if any difference in battery life between the AT&T and Verizon variants.
The Galaxy S III, like many other Android phones, features NFC. Samsung, however, gives some added functionality. The company, alongside the Galaxy S III, unveiled TecTiles.
TecTiles are NFC tags that can be programmed to perform certain tasks. First you have to download the Samsung TecTile app from the Play Store, then you tap your device on one of the tags to program it. You can have it change phone settings, launch an app, join a WiFi network, or show a custom message. The TecTiles cost $3 a piece and can be bought in packs of five.
- Beautiful display
- Excellent performance
- Good Camera
- TouchWiz Nature UX adds some great features
- Removable Battery
- MicroSD card slot
- S Voice is just awful
- Back of the device scratches and attracts fingerprints easily
- Home button is shifted down too far
The Galaxy S III is an amazing device. There’s no doubting it. Just like any other device, it has its downfalls. Samsung’s Siri knockoff, S Voice, is just awful. The back of the device is also rather annoying, as it attracts both fingerprints and scratches easily. Those are just little things, the strengths of this device easily make up for its weaknesses. The display is just stunning. It easily beats out the One X by HTC. The performance is also great. It’s smooth and fluid and rarely stutters at all. There are also a few little things that help it beat out the One X. The Galaxy S III has both a removable battery and microSD card slot. The One X has neither of those. The Galaxy S III is truly the best smartphone out there, especially at just $199 for 16GB or $249.