on July 13, 2012
The GS3's sexy specs and glossy good looks (particularly in pebble blue) won me over. On launch day, I swapped my beloved Droid Razr Maxx, for the Samsung Galaxy S3. Prior to the Maxx, I briefly owned the Verizon version of the GNexus (which I can't recommend at all). Before I get into the nitty gritty details, with pro's, con's and comparisons, at the time of this review, this is the phone you have been waiting for--the phone that will make you use that upgrade or cause you to sign a ridiculous contract with Verizon. After spending ten minutes with the phone, it's an obvious step up from the Razr Maxx and Galaxy Nexus--the former top tier Android phones on Big Red's network.
As much as I loved my Razr Maxx (and its marathon 2-3 solid days of battery life), after spending a few minutes with the GS3, the performance leap is very noticeable. The GS3 is silky smooth, with no lagginess at all. Apps (particulary heavy duty games like GTA III) launch quickly and are game play is flawless. I know many of you aren't going to play anything requiring more than the occasional fling of a few angry birds, but the GS3's ability to handle hardcore mobile games with ease is a sure fire indicator that it will be able to run 99.9% of the apps out there in two years. In other words, this phone has the chops to allow you to make it through your contract without starting a countdown for your next upgrade.
How about some real world examples of the GS3's muscle? The Qualcomm S4 chipset with an industry leading 2gb of Ram can cut through 1080p video files like butter. Surprisingly, it was able to play back a 23.5 mbps AVCHD file using hardware decoding decoding!!! I was even able to take play back the file with the video in screen, while I did a couple of google searches. The average $400 laptop would have a tough time handling that!
The GS3 doesn't disappoint on the audio side either. While HTC touts its Beats Audio Technology, that's nothing more than a brand name equilizer setting with limited value-- unless you're spend $100 or more on a beats headphones (which I personally don't care for). Sammy, on the other hand, dropped in two Wolfson digital to analog converters, which allows the GS3 to pump out lossless high bit rate music with ease. Using a pair of Etyotic HF3 IEM earphones, sound quality was crisp and clean for music playback. Even lossy tracks streaming from Amazon Cloud sounded surprisingly full. Much more so than on some other phones that I own. In terms of music playback, the GS3 is every bit the equal of the iPhone and possibly a little better.
The's GS3's 4.8", 720p HD screen is a stunner! The Super AMOLED panel provides rich color saturation and outstanding contrast. The panel used to make the screen is beautifully fabricated. the slight curve in the design makes it a pleasure to touch. Text is crisp and I see no issue with this most recent implementation of pentile technology. The fuzziness from Galaxy S, GNexus and Fascinate is a thing of the past. Watching videos on the GS3 is a treat.
All is, however, not perfect with the GSIII's screen. While the contrast and color saturation are strong points for the phone, if you like natural color tones, the pumped up saturation levels may bother you. Personally, I would dial back the saturation level if I could. The GS2 had a settings menu that allowed users to tweak brightness, contrast, tint and saturation. For reasons I don't understand, that great feature was some how left behind on this next gen phone, which is a real pity.
While saturation is a matter of taste, the real issue with the screen though is brightness. Even cranked to 100%, the screen still seems to be a few nits behind the curve. I would love to be able to dial up to 120%. The maximum brightness is noticeably less bright than the screen on the Maxx (which Motorola sourced from Sammy). So, what gives? I am not sure, but my best guess is that in the interest of improving battery life and to compensate for the size of the screen (and the power that size screen will suck), Sammy choose to put a software restriction that limits the ability of users to pump of the brightness. Hopefully, this can be cured by a future firmware update.
While the brightness could use a boost, this deficiency is further amplified by awful auto-brightness implementation. When auto-brightness is turned on, the phone makes sudden and drastic adjustments in brightness even in a consistently well lit setting. It seems as if the software has only 3 settings for brightness when it is set to auto--low, medium and high (which isn't that high to begin with). The phone will drop from high to low suddenly, leaving the screen unreadably dark. Until Sammy sends out a software update to fix the problem, I have disabled the auto-brightness feature.
The user interface for this latest version of touchwiz is really very nice. This phone provides IOS levels of comfort and ease of use to a smartphone beginner, but allows the flexibility for the nerds among us to customize the phone to suit our needs and tastes. CNET and Phonedog have done excellent video reviews on the GS3's user interface and software features and highly recommend that you check them out (Amazon won't allow links to outside sites--so you'll have to google them).
I do have a few software gripes, one of which could effect some peoples' buying decision.
One of the purported advantages of the GS3 over its top competitors from the HTC One line of phones is the fact that the GS3's has a micro SD card slot and accepts up to 64gb cards. Android allows must apps to be saved and launched from the micro SD cards. This feature allows low and mid-range phones to be made with limited internal storage because users can add their own cards.
Sammy, however, wants power users to buy the bigger capacity 32gig phones for an extra $50. To force us to buy the step up model, Samsung disable the ability to move apps from internal storage to the micro SD card. I am not sure of the size of the app partition in the phone, but I hope Sammy didn't put too big of a restriction on internal storage or that could be a problem for some people down the road. I understand why Sammy made the decision to disable the feature, but it seems like a low rent Apple type move to me and, in fairness, the HTC One series doesn't accept SD cards at all (nor does the iPhone nor any of the current Windows 7 phones).
Another small grip I have is with Sammy's decision not to incorporate ICS's native ability to generate folders for apps simply by stacking one app icon on top of another . Motorola incorporated this feature on its ICS update to the Razr and its native to ICS, so why force us to have to press the menu screen, select create folder and than drag and drop files? Sammy, that's very Gingerbread of you. A good UI should use the strengths of the underlying Software and improve on the weakness--not just make changes for change sake. This is one of the few areas that the Sammy's "Nature" UI seems to fall short.
Gripes are over for now. :) The batter life on the GS3 seems pretty decent. I have had it off the charge since 8:30 this morning (its 4:47 in the afternoon), and have been using the phone heavily. Screen on time is about 2:53 minutes. I have done some light web surfing--shopped on ebay and amazon for a new case for the sammy. Send about 7 or 8 emails, 10-12 tests, and made about 80 minutes worth of phone calls. Brightness is set to around 90% (auto-brightness is disabled). I even played about 15 to 20 minutes of GTA III, and watch about 20 minutes of an episode of Lost on Netflix. It's now 6:33 in the evening and the battery says it has 62% remaining. I would still be in the mid-80's with the Razr Maxx and the GNexus would have been dead or on the charger a few hours ago.
I would say the battery is good--but it's not close to being in the same league as the Maxx. The fact that it is removable, however, does give it a major step up on phones like the HTC One (X-S), Razr (original), Sony ION, iPhone 4S and Atrix HD. In short, if you are on Verizon and don't need the Maxx's 2 full days worth of battery life, I would take the GS3 over the Razr Maxx (which is exactly what I did).
The camera on the GS3 gets top marks. It uses an updated version of the same 8MP Sony sensor used in the iPhone 4S. Unlike the iPhone 4S, there are options galore for tweaking your photos. I am really impressed with the sharpness of the phones, even in low light. Depending on the shot, the camera on the GS3 (and photo quality in general) is very comparable to photo quality on the Nokia 808 and iPhone 4S.
Video quality is on par with the photo quality. It shoots very smooth 1080p video. Color is good and the video quality is genuine HD quality for most shots. If you shooting a sporting events or other fast paced action, or are pan quickly, there is a lag in time while the camera gets in focus. In fairness, I see the same issue with the iPhone 4S and I have yet to see a smart phone camera do better. Audio quality on the camera is also quite good.
Call Quality and Reception
I have had no problems with reception at all. Unlike its GNexus stable mate, the qualcomm radio and baseband in the GS3 are top notch. I have excellent signal strength on Verizon's network. Call quality is excellent. The people I called say that I sound like I am on a landline--and they sound just as clear to me. Data on Verizon's 4G LTE Network is also strong. I located in the metro NY area. I am consistently pulling 18-24mbps download and 9-16mbps upload speeds on the 4G Network. I get strong reception for Wifi and great broadcasting for Bluetooth as well.
Comparison with Competitors
I have no regrets about trading up from the GNexus to the Razr Maxx and even less regret about trading from the Maxx to the GS3. Despite its plastic build, I think the phone does have a premium feel. It's not as solid as the Maxx, but no one is going to look at the pebble blue version of the GS3 and thinks--that thing looks cheap. It's comfortable to hold. The HTC One X has a sharper, brighter screen and a camera that is on par with the GSC's. The lack of a user removable battery is a big knock against the HTC One series however. The iPhone is, well, an iPhone. As nice as the iPhone 4S may be (and it's great phone), the lack of LTE capability and low data rates on Verizon's CDMA network make it a no go for me. On ATT, however, it can take advantage of higher HSPA+ speeds, but ATT's network has been having some issues lately. For that reason alone, if I am married to ATT or am on Sprint or Verizon for that matter, I am taking the GS3 over the iPhone 4S.
This is a solid phone and a no brainer if you are on the market for a phone right now and have $200.00 in your pocket!
on July 7, 2012
Got my phone the first day it came out. I upgraded to a smartphone so I was not too sure if I would be able to figure it out but this phone was not too hard. First thing is that it is so light and thin I was afraid of dropping it and was not comfortable holding it until I put a case and screen protector on it, but after I did so it was great. The case added just enough grip to make it easy to hold on to. The on/off button is placed in such a way that if you squeeze it, you end up also squeezing the volume button on the other side, so I ended up pushing it while holding in one hand with the other hand, not always convenient. The big screen is wonderful (I upgraded just for this, as I am older with bad eyesight) and everything is large enough that it can be seen without reading glasses for those of us with poor eyesite. All the most frequently used items are right there when you start and you can customize all your screens if need be. Making and answering calls is extremely easy and the dialing screen has large buttons and easy to access controls. Also the buttons are labeled with what they are, such as end call for those of of who get confused by icons so we don't end up hanging up when trying to push speakerphone. Same for texting. The speaker is clear and loud enough so that if your hearing is starting to go you can still understand people. If you are in the car you can easily bring up the voice assist with just a quick tap and instruct the phone what to do, either make a call or to send a text (in this case you would dictate the message). Appointments and reminders can be made the same way. I love that on the very front it has voice assist search for google, something I use all the time (locating a type of store, reviews of products, etc). Apps are easy to download and very quick. This phone with 4G service is as quick and responsive when accessing the internet as my home computer. I am a news junkie and I am able to see all the websites I would normally visit and easily read them without feeling like I cannot see what I would normally be able to see. The large screen means limited scrolling and easy viewing. I did not try the navigation apps included but downloaded one called Waze which works better than my onstar navigation included in my car. This phone has easy access to WiFi so if you want to conserve your data usage it is easy enough to use that instead. The notification bar is informative but the phone also has a small light that flashes so that when your screen is not on you can see that there is something that needs your attention. Battery usage is okay, I would make sure that you charge it every evening if you are a heavy internet access person. It takes a couple of hours or so to fully charge directly from an outlet, longer if charging from usb port. Taking pictures and video is a snap and the quality is wonderful. There are a lot of other features that I have not had a need for (such as sharing files). Overall I am very pleased with this phone.
on September 27, 2012
Amazon guarantees free 2 day shipping, but I got it in a day (a MAJOR plus). I got the phone and it was in perfect condition. It does not come with a micro SD card (I forgot to read the fine print), but it does come with earphones. The battery life isn't the best, but it's nothing I would complain about. A car charger and extra batteries are probably going to be necessary. Other than that, this phone runs really smoothly and its interface is amazing! I switched over from an HTC Evo (the first one that came out) and I hated the phone with a burning passion. My Evo was slow, heavy, bulky, and frustrating. This phone runs really fast, is super light (I mean like a feather), and is really slim. There are comparisons between the plastic back of the S3 and the nice smooth feel of the iPhone 4S and 5. Honestly, to me, the S3 doesn't feel cheap. It's smooth and shiny. If no one ever pointed out the plastic backing, I wouldn't have even noticed it. Because it's so slim and light, I feel like I can snap it in two, but this thing seems pretty study. I love it so far!
Edit: I've been using this phone for 2 months now and the battery lasts me throughout the whole day. However, I do turn off my mobile data and WiFi when I don't use it. On my average day, the battery is great. On a day where I'm really active with my phone, I bring an extra batery along just in case.
on July 16, 2012
The look and feel of the phone is like none other. It is thin, light, and really really powerful.
It has some really advanced features such as automatic face tagging, turn over to pause, and more but I find that I really don't use those features as much as I thought I would especially since they are they aren't fully mature (ex: I have tagged my wife's face at least 3 different time and it still doesn't work). As a result, I don't use the "cutting edge" features as much as much as I thought I would. However, the phone excels with the day to day features that even gives my tablet trouble (my tablet Asus Transformer reboots almost 2 times/day. My cellphone, none :-)).
My wife has an Evo 3D, we have also owned an LG Optimus, and Blackberry's have all have had 5 bars reception whereas my Galaxy S3 only gets 1-3 bars, mostly 2.
Overall, I really like the phone despite the reception issues. I have never owned an Android phone in which I got to truly experience a seamless Android experience before I had the Galaxy S3. Might I also mention that this is the best looking phone in the market and it feels great to hold.
on July 15, 2012
The US version of the phone differs as it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Processor with 1.5 GHz Dual-Core CPUs, while the the rest of the hardware specs are the same as the international version.
I switched from an HTC EVO 4G to get this phone and so far it's been great! Here are the things I like about the phone:
* The phone is a nice size, it's lighter than my HTC EVO 4G.
* The processor is one of the fastest US released Android phone, and it comes with 2 GB of RAM.
* I played around with the camera and video camera and the quality is great in my opinion. (I'll post some pics or a video later.)
* The ICS 4.0 is really snappy and it opens up applications quickly.
* It comes with Google Wallet. I signed up and got a free $10 to use. (I'm going to McDonald's to test it out!)
* I've only use the S Voice application a few times, but it seems to be just like Siri on my wife's iPhone 4S.
* It comes with a micro SD slot in case more space is needed to save pictures, videos, etc.
* You can change out the battery if needed.
* Battery life last twice as long compared to my HTC EVO 4G.
Now for some cons:
* This is carrier related and not the phone itself, but there is no 4G LTE on the Sprint Network. Other networks such at AT&T and Verizon should be better, but I'm stuck with 3G speeds for now.
* The phone is so nice, that I baby it all the time!
I was on the fence about getting this phone or the HTC EVO 4G LTE aka HTC One X. The main things that I like over the the Samsung Galaxy 3 over the HTC EVO 4G LTE is that it comes with the Micro SD slot and also the battery can be changed if it ever goes bad.
I love this phone! :)
on July 7, 2012
well guys dont listen to the hater applefanboy below i mean seriously why are you comparing to and iphone crap all you did was talk about siri plz next time talk about the phone not one feature
State-of-the-art everything. Advanced call-quality features.
Plasticky body. Really, this lack of clarity on Sprint's LTE rollout is getting ridiculous.
The Samsung Galaxy S III is a top-of-the-line Android smartphone just waiting for Sprint to turn on its new LTE network.
The new flagship smartphone from the world's number-one mobile phone company, Samsung's Galaxy S III ($199.99 with contract) is literally a huge achievement. If you love big phones with lots of options, the GS3 will deliver state-of-the-art performance with bonus sharing and media features that you're likely to continue discovering a year from now. Sprint subscribers now have two solid choices: The Galaxy S III ties with the HTC EVO 4G LTE ($199, 4 stars) as our Editors' Choice for touch-screen smartphones on Sprint.
Editors' Note: The Samsung Galaxy S III models on all four major carriers are extremely similar, so we're sharing a lot of material between our various reviews. That said, we're testing each device separately, so read the review for your carrier of choice.
All of the new Galaxy S III models look the same, except for the carrier logo on the back panel. Each is available in dark blue or white (AT&T also has a red option coming this summer), and they're some of the biggest phones we've ever handled. At 5.4 by 2.8 by 0.34 inches (HWD) and 4.7 ounces, the GS3 is slightly bigger than the already-large HTC One X ($199, 4.5 stars), although it's still noticeably smaller and lighter than the Samsung Galaxy Note phone/tablet hybrid ($299, 3 stars). That said, this is not a phone for folks with small hands.
View SlideshowSee all (5) slides
I'm not a fan of the huge phone. But I've given up on panning them because every time I suggest these handsets are too big, I get pummeled by comments from people who adore them. Huge phones are the thing. I accept it.
The all-plastic body feels a little less high-end than the exotic materials of the HTC One series, but the phone is solidly built, and light despite its size. The front of the phone is dominated by the 4.8-inch, 1280-by-720-pixel Super AMOLED HD screen. Yes, it's PenTile, which can sometimes look slightly pixelated. But, no, you probably won't notice. Below the screen, there's a physical Home button, as well as light-up Back and Multitasking buttons that start out invisible, so you have to memorize where they are or change a setting to keep them illuminated. The 8-megapixel camera is on the back panel, which, thanks to its reflective finish, doubles as a pocket mirror.
The default Automatic Brightness setting makes the screen too dim. Kill it and pump up the brightness and it's fine, even outdoors. It's not as bright as the One X's Super LCD 2 display, but it's fine.
Unlike the competing HTC One X, the S III has a removable 2100mAh battery. Taking off the back cover also reveals the microSD card slot, which supports cards up to 64GB.
Call Quality and Internet
Are you willing for Sprint to pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today? The EVO 4G LTE promises spectacular call quality with HD Voice...sometime in 2013, once Sprint gets the network running. But the GS3 lets you tweak your call quality now.
Default call quality is good. Volume is on the high end of average, with no distortion from loud inputs. The speakerphone isn't quite loud enough to use outdoors, but it's fine for the car or a boardroom. The microphone does a good job of cancelling background noise. Bluetooth headsets work fine with Samsung's S-Voice voice dialing system.
But as with so many things here, call quality gets richer if you burrow down into the GS3's menus. A Volume Boost button throws the phone into a super-loud, quasi-speakerphone mode for noisy areas, but that's just the start. Deep within the settings, there's an option to set custom call EQ. The phone plays you a sequence of quiet high and low tones and you tell it which ones you can hear, and then it EQ's calls accordingly. This is pretty radical stuff. I prefer my calls sharp, with more high-end, and the GS3 delivers.
On data though, the Sprint GS3 is crippled. All new Sprint phones are. Although the phones support speedy LTE, Sprint has steadfastly refused to give us a rollout timetable for its new LTE network, leaving its high-end smartphones on the slowest 3G network in America. We tested Sprint LTE, and it's competitive with AT&T and Verizon, but none of this matters a whit if Sprint won't tell us when anyone is getting it.
This is why Sprint's Galaxy S III is getting a slightly lower rating than the other major carrier models. Sprint needs to get its act together. We will not give a Sprint phone a 4.5-star rating until the carrier gives its subscribers more information about LTE coverage.
You'll have better luck getting your Internet via Wi-Fi on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC are also onboard, and Google Wallet is preloaded.
Our battery test didn't complete because we ran out of time. But that's good; we just about ran down the battery with an 8 hour, 35 minute call. This phone has solid battery life, and considering the battery is removable, you can carry a spare. That's something you can't do with the EVO 4G LTE.
Software and Performance
The Galaxy S III runs Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" with a whole lot of exclusive Samsung extensions. Performance was excellent in my tests. The Qualcomm S4 chip running at 1.5GHz is the fastest one we've seen in smartphones so far, and it's able to take on any app challenge you throw at it, including games on the HD screen. Our benchmark tests proved this, although they were within the margin of error when compared with the One X. Both phones are very fast.
Exclusive new features include S-Beam, the ability to transfer files by tapping two phones together and using a combination of NFC and Wi-Fi Direct; S-Voice, Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri; TecTiles, NFC-enabled accessory tags that can change the settings on your phone, and lots of sharing and tagging options in the camera, such as the ability to automatically tag your friends' faces, and the ability for multiple GS3s within a few feet of each other to automatically share all of their photos.
Many of these features work well, but they're almost all buried. The interface is something of a scavenger hunt. Take Smart Stay, a neat new feature which detects your face and keeps the screen from going black while you're looking at it. I love it! But it's not on by default, and the only way to turn it on is by going to the Display area under Settings. S-Beam is similarly buried, under the Wireless menu.
Samsung helpfully pops up various screens telling you about various cool gestures you can use, like raising the phone to your face to automatically call someone you're texting. But it's a lot of information to absorb, and a lot of gestures that you've never used before. There's a sharp learning curve here.
Compare this with HTC, which has been working to reduce unique UI elements. HTC's recent Sense 4 interface focuses on a few new features and makes them integral: enhanced sound, a faster camera, and solid social networking integration. Samsung offers a lot more, but it costs you a lot more mental energy to figure it all out.
I'll also call out two minor disappointments. The screen rotated unexpectedly more often that I'd like. Also, S-Voice isn't as seamless or as complete as Siri. It's a fine voice-dialing system, including over Bluetooth, but I kept vocally stepping on its prompts when trying to ask it more complicated queries.
Beyond that, there's the usual raft of bloatware from both Samsung and Sprint: I count 17 pre-installed apps, some of which (Samsung's Music Hub store) didn't actually launch, and some of which (Samsung Apps and the S-Suggest app) are frustratingly redundant. Beyond that, there's the 400,000-plus apps in the Google Play Store.
The 16GB Galaxy S III we tested had 12GB of available memory plus support for microSD cards up to 64GB, which fit under the plastic back panel. There's also a 32GB model for $249.99 with contract, but given the phone's microSD support, I don't see the point of buying the more-expensive model. It plays all the usual music and video formats, including MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, MPEG-4, H.264, DivX, Xvid, and WMV at resolutions up to 1080p.
Samsung has customized both the music and video players. They aren't as good-looking as HTC's, but they're functional. Along with the typical music navigation, there's a frill called Music Square, which grades all of your music on a 2D scale from "calm" to "exciting" and "passionate" to "joyful," creating custom playlists by mood. There's also an epic number of EQ presets, which change the sound in effective, if gimmicky ways.
The picture/video gallery integrates Google and Facebook albums, and lets you sort your videos as a list or with thumbnails. The flagship feature here is Pop-Up Play, which can float a video playback window over other apps; I found it to be fairly useless. Netflix and YouTube both look good and run on LTE without any visible buffering. The phone also comes with Samsung's Media Hub music and video store, which has a solid lineup of recent movies and TV shows at industry-standard prices of $4 to rent and $15-$20 to buy.
If you want to play your video on a big HDTV, you need to use Samsung's AllShare system, which like most other wireless video systems rarely works because your home network doesn't have the bandwidth, or a new-style 11-pin MHL adapter. Our old MHL adapters didn't work.
The 8-megapixel camera takes good-looking, saturated photos that are sharp with little noise, at least in decent light. In our low-light test, the shutter speed dropped to 1/40 second, which will cause some softness if you don't have a steady hand. That's still better than many cameraphones. The 1-megapixel front camera also showed solid low-light performance. The video mode captures 1080p videos at 30 frames per second indoors and out with the main camera, which is more than we could say for the HTC One X.
You get tons of gimmicky camera modes. HDR is considerably slower than on either the iPhone 4S ($199, 4.5 stars) or the HTC One X, and showed a tendency to create "ghost" images when I tried it. Smile detection worked well, and Share Shot lets you automatically stream photos to other GS3s in the area. Buddy Photo-Share tags faces with names based on the images in their social-networking profiles. Those last two are buried in the camera settings and while cool, you're not likely to stumble upon them easily.
The Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC EVO 4G LTE are both state-of-the-art phones. In our scoring system, they tie, each with unique features. The Galaxy has a removable battery, better video recording quality, and no hiss in quiet audio output. The EVO 4G LTE is made from higher-quality materials, has a brighter screen, a kickstand, a physical Camera button, better home-screen widgets, and HD Voice in the future. You can't go wrong with either.
If these phones are just too big for you, go for the LG Viper 4G LTE ($99, 4 stars) packs dual-core power and the LTE future into a much smaller body. And if your upgrade isn't urgent, you may want to consider hanging on to that old WiMAX phone for a while, at least until you can find out when Sprint LTE is coming to your city.
on November 2, 2012
It does everything the iphone does and about 27 more other things. Android Jelly Bean and google now kick Apple's ass in the innovation department. price is out of this world at $99 dollars w 2 yr contract. Just added 64gb micro sdxc card ($60) for a total 80gb storage space. need more battery power? How about a 4400mAh battery. How about wireless battery charging? Yes it's coming in the next few weeks. Outselling the iphone 4 to 1. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is the best phone of 2012.
on January 3, 2013
After fiddling with both a Blackberry 9800 and Nokia Lumia 720 (on Windows Phone) for the past two years, I had finally had enough of using a mobile operating system (OS) without a good ecosystem of applications and superior specifications, so I prepared - like many people have - to make the switch to an iPhone. I would be lying if I said that price point and good advertising didn't make me consider the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Android, but in retrospect, I'm very happy I took a second look. Simply put, being very familiar with each of the major mobile OS' - Google's Android, Apple's iOS, RIM's Blackberry, and Microsoft's Windows Phone - the Samsung Galaxy S3 is the BEST smartphone money can buy and is overall superior to the experience Apple offers on the iPhone.
DESIGN & FEATURES
The first impression I always get when people look at my phone is, "Wow, that's a big phone" - and until you own one, it is. The Galaxy S3's 4.8 inch screen dwarfs my 3.2" Blackberry 9800 and 4.3" Lumia 720. But, it honestly doesn't feel like such a big step up. The phone has a sexy form factor (Samsung and sexy have rarely been uttered in the same sentence before the S3); it's incredibly light, thin, and the screen size feels just right. Since I have become adjusted to the Galaxy S3, using my friends' iPhones have become a pain. While the iPhone 5 was too small and cramped to type on with confidence, the Galaxy S3's screen size was just right. Even when using the phone horizontally, typing and navigating the Galaxy S3 still feels natural.
Some argue that the Galaxy S3 feels "cheap" compared to the iPhone 5, but I actually found Samsung's use of hard plastic to be much better than Apple's premium finishes. The iPhone 5 felt incredibly light and fragile (for someone like me, who drops portable devices like no tomorrow, this was a big game-changer), while the Galaxy S3 actually felt solid and durable. The hard plastic on the Galaxy S3 is incredibly deceiving, because it feels sleek and looks relatively good - Samsung did a good job on the chrome fitting that lines the sides of the phone. The only thing that's flimsy is the removable back cover, but it's no biggie.
Beyond screen size, the Galaxy S3 shares just about every top-of-the-line, cutting-edge feature of its major competitors: an 8MP camera that produces gorgeous quality photos (my iPhone 4/5 friends are insanely jealous at how well the camera holds up in low-light); a front-facing camera perfect for shameless self-portraits and Skyping; a reasonable 8GB of on-board storage; very generous battery life; and superb call quality.
But here's where the Galaxy S3 simply outdoes its flagship counterparts - the iPhone 5, Google/LG Nexus 4, and Nokia Lumia 920, to name a few: Samsung did THE CONSUMER a favor by including a removable battery & microSD card slot for expansion.
Some claim removable batteries are incredibly overrated, but this was a godsend for me. My first Nokia Lumia 720 sustained water damage and while the phone itself was alright, the battery was destroyed. Having a removable battery allowed me to buy a new battery without having to get a new phone. Yes, insurance plans cover replacement, but require pricey deductibles for water damage. None of the Galaxy S3's competitors - not the iPhone, Nexus, or Lumia - offer a removable battery.
The microSD card slot means expandable storage, which was also a game-changer. That means I can use my Galaxy S3 not just as a smartphone (for calling, texting, browsing, and using apps), but I can use it as a portable media device for all my music, movies, and photos. Carrying around a phone, mp3 player, and digital camera is simply not feasible in this day and age, so expandable storage allows me to add up to 64 GB of storage on top of the on-board 8 GB. 64 GB microSD cards run for about $60 on Amazon (I'm using a 16GB microSD card I bought for $12). The iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 don't offer expandable storage, meaning their base models are capped at a lousy 16 and 8 GB, respectively. To get 32 GB of storage on a 16 GB Galaxy S3, you only have to put out an additional $12-20. With the iPhone or Nexus, you need to put out an additional $100-$150 to even come close.
THE GREAT DEBATE: ANDROID vs. iOS
Android has come a long way since its early days; Google has done tremendous work making its mobile OS more refined, buttery fast, and - dare I say it - beautiful. With the latest build (version 4.1+) shipping with the Galaxy S3, you have an OS that is incredibly beautiful and easy to use. Apple's iOS may be beautiful in its own right, but it's hardly customizable. The iPhone 5 has a stagnant home screen where you can move apps around and organize them into folders, but you can do little else. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S3 has beautiful widgets, which can do things like display a list of appointments from your Calendar app on the home screen, give you real-time weather updates and large time information all from the home screen. Android is fully customizable, whereas with Apple, you get a very stagnant experience.
Apple aficionados tout that iOS is more "user-friendly" than Android, but seeing my entire family (including my self-professed 'technologically-challenged' mother) switch to Galaxy's, I beg to differ. Although Android itself is incredibly easy to use, Samsung makes it even easier with TouchWiz, a special version of the OS exclusive to Samsung's line of Android phones. The pull-down notification bar not only displays new notifications from all of your applications, but it also displays key aspects of the phone (e.g. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Airplane Mode) that you can toggle on and off with ease. It's great to be able to toggle these features on-and-off, especially when dealing with a low battery (Wi-Fi can be a killer).
The only discernible advantage iOS has over Android is in the app world, but it's not significant enough to make a difference for the average user. New apps tend to make it to iOS months before Android. Still, with the vast majority of popular apps - Facebook, Instagram, Angry Birds, Skype, etc. - on both platforms and broadcasting updates to both near-simultaneously, you can hardly tell. Google offers applications, movies/TV shows (for rent and purchase), e-books, and magazines via the easy-to-use Play Store, which has been a blast to use.
Google offers services Apple simply can't compete with. The silky-smooth Chrome browser, GMail application, and a host of Google apps - Google Drive, Google Maps, etc. - are built-in and fully integrated with Android. Given that Apple can't even seem to make its own Maps application right (prompting millions to flock to the new Google Maps application for iPhone), having a Galaxy S3 is a total win. Now, Microsoft's Windows Phones offer incredible integration with Microsoft's services as well, but very few of us use Bing to search, SkyDrive for cloud storage, or Outlook for mail. Google Now comes right out of the box, a beautiful voice command experience that uses the power of the Google search. Google Now is not only better at picking up voice commands than Siri, but it is fully integrated with Google search in the event that your voice companion is clueless. Samsung includes the similar S-Voice on the Galaxy S3, which I've found to be relatively useless (and now, unnecessary, given the power of Google Now).
THINGS TO NOTE
* Having come to Sprint from T-Mobile, where wi-fi calling/texting was a savior on my Blackberry and Nokia Lumia, I realize that Sprint doesn't seem to allow for wi-fi calling/texting. It may be device-specific, but this was a letdown.
* Google and Samsung have been pretty hush-hush about syncing Android devices with iTunes for easy music transfers, but it exists! Easy Phone Sync, Samsung Kies, and Google Play Music Manager are all incredible options to sync music/content from iTunes without a hassle.
* The Galaxy S3 is offered on essentially every major carrier, so if you get spotty service with Sprint (or notice poor coverage in your area), I'd recommend the S3 on a different carrier.
* Androids don't have group messaging enabled out of the box, which is a pain when communicating with your iPhone-obsessed friends, but apps like Go! SMS fix the problem and even let you use 'emoji,' which are apparently a big hit.
This is just an amazing phone and in my opinion, the best smartphone money can buy! Samsung has finally made an Android phone worth obsessing over; this is truly a game-changing phone and it's setting the bar for technological advancements in slim packages in the future!
+ Large, beautiful screen in a thin, sexy form factor
+ Durable, solid phone that doesn't feel cheap
+ Expandable storage (microSD) and a removable battery - unheard of on comparable flagship phones like the iPhone 5
+ Gorgeous camera that is a pleasant surprise in low light
+ Fully integrable with Google's awesome services - everything from GMail and Chrome to Drive and Maps
+ The smoothest, most beautiful, user-friendly Android phone to date
+ Great voice search on Google Now & the power of the Google Play Store for apps/multimedia
+ Unbeatable price point (retails at $50-100 cheaper than the iPhone, sometimes $200 cheaper than the Google Nexus 4)
- No wi-fi calling/texting on Sprint
- No group messaging options
- Flimsy back cover
- The size can take somewhat of an "adjustment period" for some users
on October 22, 2012
I Bought The S3 with a new Verizon contract. 1st it was $50.00 cheaper to buy on Amazon than any retail store or Verizon store. the rest of my family got the Iphone S4 which just by looks alone I made the right decision and I am so happy with the size and weight I love the apps.(hubby thought so too) I love that the S3 has incredible camera and video 1080hp. I love the accessories on amazon store so much cheaper than Apple. Samsung has video clips on playshare to help learn how to use the phone ♥
There's something to be said for plans with phone upgrades. If you like the phone that you have and its features meet your needs, then you can keep it. But if it's not doing what you need, then you can dump it and move on to something better. In my case, the old one was locking up every few days, and it was time to move on.
I've owned this Samsung Galaxy S III 4G Android Phone for almost three months now, which is plenty of time for someone to get used to it and explore all of what it can do. This choice was a result of doing a lot of research over the months to upgrade time, research that paid off as this has turned out to be a good one. Had looked at about a dozen possible upgrades, from the iPhone 5 to the HTC EVO, and doing actual hands-on usage locally. In the end, it was the Galaxy S3 that worked best for my particular needs. Here's a short synopsis of the highs and lows for those who just want the key points, followed by a more in-depth look.
+ Excellent design & display; 4.8" Super AMOLED touchscreen is noteworthy, brilliant
+ Superb performance; 1.5GHz dual-core processor performs well, even on 3G speeds
+ Excellent battery life; 2100 mAh Li-ion battery lasts throughout the day; long talk time
+ Memory expandable; microSD card slot, supports extra cards up to 64GB
+ Rear facing digital camera; 8MP burst mode plus full HD 1080p video capture
+ Full customization; set it up the way that you like, to fit your needs
+ 2GB of base RAM; adds overall speed as the new S4 chipset uses dual-channel RAM
+ Removable battery; replaceable Li-ion batteries with NFC antenna are readily available
+ Excellent media management; media and Android apps are readily available
+ First rate email options; Samsung and Gmail clients installed out of the box
+ Very good text messaging; configurable in a number of ways
+ Excellent availability of apps; Appstore for Android & Google's Play Store have them all
- Samsung's Siri competitor, S Voice, could stand some work
◆ First Impressions:
When I ordered this phone here on Amazon, I called Sprint to see what their deal was as an upgrade. The funny part was that the Amazon price was better than the Sprint price direct, but the service rep stayed with me online for a number of minutes, stepping me through the details of the order, my plan, etc. Should note that I've been a Sprint subscriber for over nine years now, and only once did I have a disagreement with them over a minor billing issue, which they corrected in my favor. That's service, and why I'm still with them.
The phone arrived about two days later, and when un-boxed, there was the Galaxy S III handset, a 2100 mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery, the charger, a USB cable, and a quick start guide. Immediately charged the battery following the directions, then turned it on and began to explore. Within the first half hour, I came first to the Appstore for Android here and downloaded the Lookout Mobile Security based on experience with the similar product for the Kindle Fire. With all of the spyware and malware out there, even on Android devices, this was the first app loaded, and it took under 60 seconds to download and about two minutes to set up. There were others, but this one had priority.
◆ In Use:
Though it has a large 4.8" Super AMOLED touchscreen, at barely ⅓" the phone is deceptively thin, and subjectively felt even a bit fragile. That was cured with the addition of a sturdy OtterBox Prefix Series Hybrid Case in carbon, which added enough thickness and rubberized protection to make it a good feel. The addition of a SanDisk Ultra 16GB MicroSDHC Class 10 UHS-1 Memory Card instantly doubled the memory, and at a far greater savings than getting the 32GB version of this phone. And although I've found this phone to be highly efficient as far as battery life goes, after surviving Hurricane Sandy in NYC last October, getting a pair of backup Galaxy S3 2100 mAh replacement batteries here also made good sense.
It's hard to not talk about the screen, as even after a few months of use, it's still beautiful and very functional. It's as good as those in the Galaxy Note and HTC One X, and a big jump above the Galaxy S2. Mine came with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) embedded out of the box, with its new improvements, so there's a range options when it comes to notification management and such. One can easily get rid of anything that isn't wanted by simply swiping the alert left or right. But keep in mind that my remarks here are based on the current configuration, and Android updates happen.
The Smart Stay feature is a good one, as the screen remains bright as long as you're looking at the phone, then dims instantly when you're not looking at it, saving the battery. It does this by using the front-facing camera in the Galaxy S III. But S Voice, which is Samsung's answer to Apple's Siri feature, is nowhere near Siri level for those who have used it. It's fun in some respects; you can do simple tasks, such as going to Facebook, opening the calendar, making an appointment or playing a specific song or playlist, but it still needs a bit of work.
The contacts feature is good, where each becomes tagged with a photo from either Google, Facebook or one that you've added in yourself. You can assign a dedicated ringtone plus a dedicated buzz pattern, so each person or company is recognizable in your pocket. And calling on the Galaxy S III is exceptional. It's noise reduction is top notch, and even walking on a city street while talking, it's one of the best that I've encountered. It has an 'extra volume' setting that really does boost the volume from the earpiece.
Bluetooth connectivity is excellent, and both my Plantronics Voyager Legend and older Voyager PRO Bluetooth headsets have produced some of the clearest sounds from a headset yet. I've walked down a hallway and into other rooms while the Galaxy S III was still at my desk, and the caller on the other end had no clue.
For email, there are two options out of the box: the standard Samsung client where you add your email address, or Gmail. The Samsung client has a decent layout, and offers the option to see your email standard chronological order, or grouped together as conversations. Moving from one email to another is done by swiping, and works quite well once you're used to it. But HTML files don't display automatically. The Gmail client offers more options, such as labeling (tagging), archiving and sync options. Luckily there's a choice.
Regarding Internet access, the Galaxy S III is great, especially if you're in an area running 4G LTE, yet performance isn't lacking in 3G areas. Web pages show up in clear and crisp formations. The Chrome browser is enabled on this phone, so that means that synchronized bookmarks from your PC or Mac work provided you're signed into Google, and this works very well. You can browse using incognito mode in the same way as Chrome on the PC or Mac, and you can also save pages for off-line reading in those areas where you'll be stuck without a signal, such as a subway. All things considered, the Galaxy S III has to be one of the best Internet phones on the market, and from personal experience, is even better than the iPhones. Your experiences may be different in your geographic area.
The Galaxy S III has to be one of the best messaging devices around, and offers a large number of ways to talk to communicate the way Android phones have been doing for years; you can email, SMS, message and IM all from within the phone. The messaging system offers yellow and blue conversation text bubbles (which can be changed), and you can also check to see if your Android-powered friends are online through a little green dot next to their name in the contact list. There's also the ChatON app as standard, which is Samsung's version of BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) and is designed to allow you to communicate to others on Samsung devices with the app installed in a secure and private fashion.
The rear-facing 8MP digital camera offers burst mode plus full HD 1080p video capture, and the speed with which very sharp can be taken came as a surprise. There's zero shutter lag, and the burst allows you to take about 20 sequential photos in a row at around 10 per second, which is great for action sequences. There are a number of options that should be explored, such as the Best Shot option, which lives up to its name. If you're a photographer, this one will surprise you with the picture quality, and there are many excellent apps that work superbly with the Galaxy S III's 8MP digital camera. The front-facing camera has a decent is closing in on being a decent 1.9MP sensor, and is capable of taking reasonable self portraits for those so inclined.
Video recording is quite streamlined and easy. It defaults to 1920 x 1080 video, better than many others, and there are plenty of options to play with. It will record at 30fps, and you can adjust other options, such as white balance and vibration reduction. There's no option for slow motion video, but that wasn't surprising. It still gives you a good tool for video recording. Zooming in and out is there; just pinch to zoom to get a larger or smaller image.
The Galaxy S III is quite an impressive media mobiles you can find, but the 16GB version may cramp your style if that's your orientation. Luckily it's not a huge issue because of the microSD card slot, which supports extra cards up to a total of 64GB. This is where the iPhone and and others fall woefully short, so check the specs on others that you may be considering. Expandable memory is a good thing. Add to that, Samsung has jumped most of the competition by offering 50GB of Dropbox storage, so if you're running out of space, you're probably doing something wrong.
The music player offers first rate quality of sound, with even tonal quality. The range of equalizer settings is quite impressive, though one needs to experiment a bit to find which is best. Some seem quite similar to other, but the differences in quality between 'rock' and 'dance' are probably a good place to start, especially with a set of headphones.
This Galaxy S III was bought here on Amazon as an upgrade. My previous phones had been from BlackBerry, but my last, the Curve 9330 had turned out to be a mobile disaster, with constant resets, shutdowns and a myriad of other issues. Sprint support had been very good throughout the time that I had it, but jut when things seemed to be right, something else went wrong. The Galaxy SIII had been recommended by not just other users, but a couple of internal Sprint techs as being one of the best choices in terms of overall reliability, performance and user satisfaction. They were right, as were most of the better reviews that I had come across. Results and experiences may vary from one person to another, but one reason my satisfaction with this Android device may be due to the fact that I took the time to read the manual completely, and from that I learned a lot.
Currently this phone isn't getting 4G LTE service in my area, but the 3G connectivity has been exceptionally good and very reliable, with fast 'Net access, excellent voice call quality and top-notch performance across the board. Will be looking forward to 4G LTE connectivity when it's turned on in my area later this year.
This review will be 'dynamic' and by that I mean that it will be updated from time to time as may be warranted. Good finds in apps and accessories will be noted in the comment if they're worth sharing.
◆ Bottom Line:
This Samsung Galaxy S III 4G Android Phone has been an excellent choice, and the fact that it's running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), which has been an first-rate operating system paired with the 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor. The overall design is quite good, and some have called it the best Android smartphone on the market. It offers every kind of feature this picky user could ask for and more. Battery life, processor speed and media management are first-class, and the ability to upgrade memory with microSD cards bumped it to the top over the iPhone and other competitive phones. In terms of power, functionality and usability, this one is a 5-star winner. Highly recommended, as it lives up to the hype... and more.