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Customer Review

41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Phone but Nothing's Perfect, July 16, 2012
This review is from: Samsung Galaxy S3, Marble White 16GB (AT&T) (Wireless Phone)
Long review so skip to the section you're most interested in if you don't feel like reading the whole thing.

Physical Aspect:
================
I thought the size of the phone would bother me since it's approaching Galaxy Note size, but I've been pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to handle in my hand. Granted I'm a big guy with big hands, but since I bought one for the wife as well I can tell you that she has not had a single complaint about the size. The screen size is fantastic. Even side to side next to a 4.3" phone the difference while watching a video is pretty significant. I don't feel like I have to squint anymore to catch fine details. I kept hearing about the weight being an issue from the perspective of it being so light that it seemed insubstantial, but to me the size/weight ratio seems just right. The wife and I both have the "marble white" color and I must admit the contrast of the polycarbonate white shell ringed in silver is, visually, very appealing.

The biggest complaint I have in this section are the buttons. For one, the home button at the bottom center is slightly raised (as opposed to all i-devices which have them sunken). This means that in some cases if you have the phone in your pocket and a piece of fabric or something else rubs up against the button it could wake the phone up while in your pocket. It will eventually sleep again, but if this happens multiple times it can affect battery life. A couple of times I've reached for it in my pocket only to discover the screen was already lit up as I took it out. My other problem is the arrangement of the power/volume buttons. I get that the "Galaxy" line has the volume buttons on the left side of the phone, but every other smartphone I've had from HTC to Motorola to Apple has had the volume buttons on the right so you kinda get use to that. One of the biggest annoyances about this is that if you're watching a video in landscape mode you tend to have your index finger and thumb "framing" the phone on top/bottom (a.k.a. left/right in landscape mode) and there is a tendency to raise or lower the volume by mistake.

Which brings me to my next peeve with the buttons. A possible solution to my volume problem while watching a video is just to flip the phone 180 degrees thereby having the volume buttons on the top (while in landscape) instead of on the bottom. The problem with this is that they have decided to put the power button on the right side top part of the phone (also a Galaxy trait I believe), but then you can wind up putting the phone to sleep by inadvertently pressing it while in landscape mode.

Performance:
============
I was a little upset when I found out we weren't getting the Exynos quad-core in favor of the Qualcomm dual-core. Although I haven't handled a quad-core at this point I can tell you that this dual core is VERY responsive. I haven't tasked it with much in the way of mathematical computations or heavy gaming yet, but it's handled everything I've thrown at it on a day-to-day basis without a hiccup. I've since consoled myself with the fact that while it's a dual-core, it comes with 2GB RAM while the international Exynos-chipped version comes with 1GB. I'm not sure at what point the bottle-neck of 1GB RAM gives the advantage to the slower CPU with more memory, but from what I've read the differences are not staggering.

Operating System/Features:
==========================
For all the rave about "Ice-Cream-Sandwich" (Android 4.04) I don't see the "earth-shattering" differences. There are improvements, no doubt, but I really only enjoy a couple of things that I didn't have before on Android 2.3.4. NFC is one. I can beam pictures to my wife's phone, but Google Wallet is useless unless you are on Sprint. I definitely like the data-usage metric, but I use to have an app for that on my previous phone, so...no biggie. I like Smart-Stay (where it watches your eyes to see if you're looking somewhere else while standing in front of the phone and turns off the screen if you're not paying attention). But this seems more like a gimmick because sometimes it doesn't detect your face and winds up shutting off the screen. As for S-Voice (the siri competitor). It's been pretty helpful for composing messages or setting calendar appointments while driving, but it doesn't know how to compose emails and it's buggy. Sometimes it understands you and sometimes it thinks your asking about stuff that's not even close to what you said. I've used siri quite a bit on several iPhones and it's not only more responsive, but has a better "bedside manner" when it doesn't know what the hell you're talking about.

One of the things that was highly touted about Android 4.0 on the SIII (or was it the Samsung GUI that sits on top?) is that if you are texting someone, get tired of texting and want to call them instead you can just put the phone up to your ear while their text is on the screen and it will call them. I've only been able to get it to do this for me when I'm on that person's "contact page". I can't get it to do it while reading one of their texts.

I've never been much of a photographer so for me the pictures most smartphones take are "good enough". To those people who are looking for all the controls and adjustments that the phone has to make them "crisp and clear" I say: If the pictures that you take on a daily basis are THAT important to you, you need a good $600+ Digital SLR (Nikon D5100 or Canon EOS T3 come to mind). In the case of smartphone pictures my biggest problem has always been shutter speed. I could never take a shot of my son doing something funny before he went on to something else. With the SIII though, the shutter REALLY is that fast. It is instantaneous and with the burst shot (20 pictures in quick succession) I haven't missed a shot yet. this aspect of the SIII is awesome. I especially like the "Best Shot" feature. During family cookouts now I don't have to ask 12 people to just stand there and smile for 45 seconds while I take a picture and check it to make sure everyone's eyes were open before I let them all go their separate ways. I can just press the button, the phone takes 8 pictures in rapid succession, analyzes them and offers me the best shot where everyone is smiling and looking this way. I can disband the "Fellowship-of-the-ring" before I look to see if I got a good shot, because I usually will get at least one out of the 8.

Hands down I think my favorite feature on the SIII is the facial recognition security. I like to secure my phone, but I hate jumping through the "enter pin" or "connect the dots" hoops to unlock it. The facial recognition just works (in good light) and I set the pin method as a backup in case it can't see me or doesn't recognize me. I love it.

I do hate, however, the music player that comes with the phone. It's very simplistic and I prefer the sweeping carousel of cover art prevalent on i-devices. Although the speaker volume is loud enough to play music without earphones, unlike on my first-gen iPhone.

Data/Call quality (Carrier: T-mobile):
======================================
The T-mobile version seems to be the red-headed stepchild of the different versions because it's the only one that will not support LTE 4G when it does roll out on T-mobile. The up-front costs are also a little higher. The reason I chose it was because I did some research on Root Metrics ([...]) and found that although T-Mobile is the smallest of the nationwide carriers (by subscribers) they have been quietly upgrading their data network. It's HSPA+ so it's not truly "4G", but frankly, what I care about is data throughput, and 4G data doesn't carry a special badge that says it's 4G so who cares what network it's on, as long as it's fast. Thus far, I average between 8-15Mbps downstream and between 1.2 and 3.3Mbps upstream on 4G in most areas around Miami. That's on the order of several times faster than the DSL I had coming into my home till a few weeks ago when I switched to Comcast. The fact that T-mobile is last among the major carriers means that they offer great prices. I know Verizon is considered the fastest in data, but at the end of the day, how much better quality can an HD video get from watching it on 15Mbps connection than on a 22Mbps connection? 1080p requires between 8-10Mbps so it's like shooting a chicken with a bazooka. As for the phone not supporting LTE...The way I figure it by the time LTE is as ubiquitous as 3G is today this phone will be obsolete and I'll be on to the next greatest thing...so who cares that I won't be able to use it with the technology of 5 years from now? If Google glass is any indication by that time we'll be wearing our wireless devices instead of carrying them around in our pockets.

Lastly, T-mobile's data plan is 2GB of 4G data per device versus Verizon's "share everything among all your devices" plan. And you don't incur overages because once you go over your 2GB limit they slow you down, but you still get data and no additional fees. Oh and call quality is quite good also...but who uses phones to make calls now-a-days anymore? Pfft!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 6, 2013 2:25:08 PM PST
Did you buy this att phone & put a tmobile chip in it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2013 9:16:11 PM PST
I bought it from TMobile, but that version was not available for me to review on Amazon at the time.
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