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). [Edited 7/26/12: I ordered two 2300mah batteries with a wall charge from QCell for $24.00 from Amazon last week. These batteries performed as good or better than OEM and had NFC capabilities. This eliminated the need for a huge internal battery from my perspective, although there are plenty of 3500 and 4000mah extended batteries available for the GS3. If you're coming from anything other than a flip phone or Razr Maxx, you will have no complaints about the battery life--This phone absolutely smokes my old iPhone 4 in terms of battery life).
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 August 2, 2012
The Galaxy S3 is a 4.0.3 Android ICS 4.8" AMOLEDHD 720P 2GB of RAM, fantastic device.
The features that this phone has are top-tier and the gesture control (while gimmicky) is amazing to show off. I still keep a few on cuz they come in handy.
The device is also incredible fast and smooth, and the screen looks perfect. People will complain that this has a PENTILE display, which has faced very harsh reviews on other phones. However, due to the high-resolution display there are so many pixels that the PENTILE isn't noticable at all. The saturation really adds to the screen and all of the colors pop.
The quickness is partially due to Verizon, but mostly due to the S4 processor inside which easily matches the Tegra 3 quad-cores in tablets and the overseas version of this.
In short, for $200 you won't find a better new phone. The speaker on the back is loud, the sound is amazing, the earbuds this comes with are actually pretty good, the processing power is phenominal.
The camera is also the best of any phone...its essentially the iPhone 4S's camera...that Samsung made for them...but tweaked to use more cool features.
The front camera works wonders with Tango and Google+...both are Android/Google's "Facetime" and work with anyone who has a front camera, unlike Facetime, which requires iOS.
The people that give this bad reviews are doing so because of Verizon, not the phone itself. Verizon decided to opt out of a lot of things that people want this phone for:
1) NFC...payments made from the phone using a wireless connection and Google Wallet were switched off by Verizon, all other carriers get it.
2)Dropbox--a cloud based storage system. This phone comes with 50GB of dropbox storage...25GB on some carriers...Verizon's gets 0GB
3) The bootloader, or way to easily root the device and get inside to tweak everything about the device (what Android is best for since everything is open-source) is locked and encrypted...Verizon is the only one refusing to open it.
4) Onboard apps--Verizon's tools like backup wifi detection always turn on and interupt what I'm doing. In fact, when opening ANY app that uses data, Verizon has a big pop up that asks you to switch to an open wifi so you dont use their data...you have to physically hit the "no" every single time...even when checking facebook you have to. It's sooooo anoying.
So, in summary, this is the best phone in the world..no exaggeration, literally every website, including Mac World, rave about this thing...Verizon's version is severly limited due to them being greedy, arrogant, idiotic...well you get the idea.
If you want easy access to rooting, hacking(which is encouraged with android devices...google even awards people who hack into their devices to improve them...the Nexus Q being the best example...during the reveal of the device at their conference they stopped to tell people how hackable it is)...get the Galaxy Nexus or wait until this Christmas when the next "Nexus" device is out. I for one, was just tired of waiting and this device was the last one to allow me my unlimited data.
If you have questions, ask.
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 the 4G LTE is not all in all areas so be sure to check your carrier if internet speeds is a deciding factor in purchasing this phone. If not you'll be stuck with 3G speeds.
* 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 November 6, 2012
I have owned this phone for 6 months. It is far and away the best smart phone I have used. I traded up from a Samsung Rogue but have used several different smart phones including the iPhone. The first and best feature is the screen. It is huge and the image is beyond clear. As I grow older I find being able to see and read the screen becomes more important to me.
As a phone, it does everything I need. I would prefer a slide-out keyboard but I am adapting to the on-screen typing. I am also finding that I LOVE the speech to text feature. I use it constantly for everything from filling out forms in the internet to entering address into the navigator. The 4-G connection is very fast, even in the rural area where I live and work. I had read reviews complaining about the battery life when using the smart phone features but I am having no trouble using the phone all day without recharging and I USE all features of the phone.
On the negative side, the phone as shown a tendency to lock up with certain apps, mostly from Google. Since it is easy to reboot or remove the battery I don't view this as a deal breaker but it could become annoying. Fortunately it does not do so very often. That is the only gripe I have with it.
I would highly recommend this phone to anyone, even an iPhone junkie like my wife.
Update: 6/25/2013: I have owned this phone for one year now and it just keeps getting better. I have taken it on numerous trips to cities I have never visited before and the navigation and search features function flawlessly. It knows where restaurants, entertainment venues, gas stations, and any other service are located. In other words, "the phone is wise". The battery still lasts a full day even under what I would call heavy use. It works as a geo-cache tracker, GPS unit, and tracks my bike rides and jogging progress flawlessly. I have yet to find anything that this phone won't due.
on July 16, 2012
This review is for the 16GB, blue, Verizon S3.
Owned for 5 days now, and played with extensively, but not rooted. Fantastic upgrade from my Droid X. ICS by itself is worth the price ($199 from the Verizon store, btw). Hardware seems plenty fast despite not being the quad-core international version. 16 GB + a 32 GB sd card gives me plenty of storage. 4G LTE is blazing fast at my location (SE Michigan).
ICS, how do I love thee? I can finally disable all the annoying Verizon (& Samsung) apps w/o rooting (though you need to root to fully uninstall them). Multitasking is greatly improved (hint: long-press home button). Stock apps are almost good enough to stick with (almost, not quite, esp. the keyboard & browser).
Hardware: good camera, fantastic AMOLED display. Pentile, sure, but can you really tell? HD movies look gorgeous and play smoothly. Decent speaker for speakerphone or listening to podcasts. The display is huge, and the phone is a bit big for one-handed operations, but it's also thin and fits in your pocket no problem. Oh, and it looks great. Almost a shame to put a case on it.
Good battery life. I've been going a full day on a single charge with medium-heavy usage with plenty to spare. Not watching movies or anything that requires the LCD to be on for hours at a time, obviously, but for most usage, you should be fine just plugging in at night.
Major 1 - Power button placement on the right, usb port on the bottom. I'm hitting the volume keys on the left far too often when turning on/off the phone. Could just be personal preference as I'm used to the power button on top on the Droid. USB port on the bottom makes no sense though.
Major 2 - No MSC (Mass Storage Control) transfer, only MTP & PTP. Less flexibility in dragging & dropping files, folders, etc from your computer. Sure, there are ways around this, but is annoying nonetheless.
Minor - so, yeah, big display, and if you have small-ish hands, 1-handed operations are risky, esp w/the somewhat slippery case. I don't actually mind the plastic construction--doesn't feel "cheap" to me at all--but I'll likely get a TPU case for the grippiness.
Shortcuts on your lockscreen is a great feature! Except you have to unlock the phone to actually launch the apps. Why can't I turn on my flashlight or calculator (zero security risks) on demand? No ring/vibrate switch from the lockscreen either.
Anyway, plenty of software nits that can be fixed by downloading replacement apps or rooting. Really, it's the MSC & power button that might tempt me to leave the G3 a 4* review, but honestly, I just love the phone to death right now, which is kind of the bottom line. Maybe it was just the degree of upgrade after 2 years, but whatever, it's a fantastic phone that I was happy to pay full price for at launch, instead of waiting a month or two for it to get discounted.
Edit: 7/26. Added thoughts after 2 weeks of ownership and experience of travel (air & driving) with the phone (because this review wasn't long enough!).
Pro - GPS locks very quickly. The DX took a long time to lock onto GPS signals, but the SG3 is almost instantaneous when outdoors (or inside of a car that is outdoors). Gets rid of a huge peeve for my previous phone.
Pro - Camera features work well, esp. the Best Shot mode. Took some very nice pictures at a wedding.
Con - Button placement redux (see Major 1 above). I asked many people to take pictures for me, and they invariably hit the volume button by accident which operates the digital zoom. Very natural to place your left thumb there in landscape mode. A good case might alleviate this.
Semi-con - This is 100% on me, but don't get too cocky about the Gorilla Glass 2. I managed to scratch it a tiny bit in the 2 weeks thinking it was invincible, and it's not. Keys & coins may be fine, but rough kitchen surfaces are not (granite, sandstone, etc). Buy a protector.
on August 22, 2012
I really was not liking the options with the SGIII at first. Let me enumerate this a bit for you.
1. The automatic WiFi pop-up was a little tough to swallow. In case you haven't heard, even with the WiFi turned completely off and having gone through the advanced options to make sure it doesn't come on, it actually is still on and scanning. If you've attached to a wireless network in the past, it remembers that connection and pops-up a dialog asking if you want to connect to it to save on your 4G data usage. Super annoying at first. But then I thought why wouldn't I want it to connect. Generally speaking, it's going to be just as fast (maybe faster if you've connected to an N router) so let it auto-connect. Saves on battery and it is fairly seamless. I just wouldn't connect it to a coffee shop network. Stick to the 4G for that.
2. You can't download/install/move applications to your SD card. It all goes to the on-board system memory. To some, myself included, this is a problem. If I have an application on my phone and it goes bad, I want to be assured that the data is still retrievable on the SD card. Luckily, most of my applications have an auto backup feature. If my phone does die I don't have to worry a great deal. It's being backed up on-the-fly. Default your music and photos to be stored on the SD card and you're golden. Those are the big space-wasters anyway. Still, you should consider the pros and cons of the 16GB vs the 32GB GSIII.
3. OK, it's a petty complaint, but this whole white cell phone thing that Apple started is dumb. The only other option is the "Pebble Blue", which is really an odd shade of purple. I dislike white and I don't want a blue phone. I figured a case would solve most of that. I know, I know... it's a dumb complaint, but I like my black and gun metal gray. *shrug*
4. The camera is really nice! The bad part is that there are no built-in features for editing your photos save an option to crop. This is still a thorn in my side, but if I must download yet another app, I suppose I will.
5. I was skeptical on the battery size and usage time. My Droid X (after customizations) would get about 12-14 hours on a single charge. That's going easy on texts, emails, browsing the web and Bluetooth usage. None-the-less, it was a decent amount of time for the 2nd-ish generation of Android smart phones. Especially when you compare it to the paperweight HTC Incredible. Happily the SGIII battery stands up to many hours of Bluetooth, texting, browsing and what-not with the same 12-14 hours. So I have really gained a considerable amount of usage time with the SGIII over the "X."
6. There is no skepticism on this one; the screen is a-mazing! It truly blows me away every time I look at a picture or video.
I've had the SGIII for one week and had zero issues with it. I would fall in love with my Droid X twice a week. Leaving behind all I had come to know and love about the "X" was tough. I've come to the understanding that comparing the tech in the SGIII with your outdated phone is night and day. Yes, you may like some of the features of your old phones' capability, but all-in-all you're going to really like the SGIII. Keep an open mind about it.
Parenthetically, to those that are comparing this to the iPhone - stop. You either like apples or robots. If the iPhone works better for you, go get one and stop the bias commentary.
on September 6, 2012
First I want to start by saying that I have had an iphone since launch date of 2007, I always loved my iphone and I have bought every generation of it including the iphone 4s. Slowly I have been getting bored with the iPhone, when I saw what was coming with iOS 6 I was disappointed since I thought they where going to introduce really cool things that the OS would do. I then saw the keynote from Samsung about the Galaxy S3 and I was blown away. I thought this is what the iphone 5 should be.
I ended up selling my iPhones and bought a galaxy for me, my wife and my son. We love the phone. We have had the phone for over 1 month now and its amazing. The screen is awesome, the battery life is very good for me, it last me almost all day. The fact that I can swap out the battery is great. I have used other android phones in the past and they suck, this one with ice cream sandwich just works. If you are looking for a change than this is it.
After looking at the photos of what the iphone 5 is going to be like I feel I made the right choice. I don't want a phone that is just longer it needs to be wider, apple should have made it at least a 4.3 screen.
The only complaint I have about this phone is that when I put it a holster it starts getting hot. Most android phones do that and I think its because since it has real multitasking the apps stay running all the time unlike the iPhone where the apps are paused.
I can tell you that I can do things on this phone that the iphone does not allow. That alone was getting me on the fence. Lastly this model has 16gb onboard and I was able to buy a microsd card with 64GB, now I have 80gb. I love that the storage is expandable.
Samsung Galaxy S3 16GB White, Verizon
I upgraded from a Motorola Droid 2 to the S3 and am completely satisfied with the S3. The large 4.8 inch AMOLED screen is beautiful and it fits perfectly in my palm. The resolution is exceptional, words cannot describe it.
I can use one hand/thumb to do most tasks and feel that the S3 could have been even larger without compromising convenience. I'd say a 5.5 inch screen would be the highest I'd go. The problem arises when using a holster. As a guy, I have a hard time just putting a phone in my pocket because I use my pockets for keys, pens, and my wallet, which can easily scratch/damage the phone when moving around. I don't always have a backpack or pack on hand, so that leaves me with a holster as the only logical method of carrying a phone. The Otterbox Defender has been by far the best case/holster I've found for the S3. Unfortunately, with the Defender, the S3 feels like I am hauling around a Texas Instruments graphing calculator on my belt. When calling someone, it's like I am calling in an airstrike. However, it is never uncomfortable to use. Even for such a large phone, I find myself not getting fatigued when making long phone calls. The audio quality during calls is exceptional and there are multiple equalizer/sound settings to improve the audio quality.
The T9 dialing is perfect - I never understood why my Droid 2 did not have this feature, but T9 is a time saver. The predictive text and swiping keyboard takes some getting used to at first, but it works fairly well for a built-in feature. The voice-to-text input isn't bad but there are some odd mistakes from time to time.
S-Voice is essentially Samsung's version of Siri, although Siri started off as an independent app designed for the iPhone and Android before Apple took them over and squashed the Android project. S-Voice is tied into Wolfram Alpha, and I find that although it is innovative, it is more of a gimmick. I can find the weather info a lot faster using the browser/weather app and the 4G LTE network than waiting for "Galaxy" to answer my question.
S-beam is interesting at first, but a co-worker (who also bought a S3) and I played around with this and we both agree it is essentially a local peer-to-peer network not unlike Bluetooth or a WiFi-based LAN. It is definitely innovative, but I don't feel it is essential.
The battery life could be better from the rather large 2.1 Ah battery. I was able to get 3.5 days (3 days, 12 hours and change) out of 1 charge. My daily usage pattern is auto brightness, 4G LTE, and airplane mode at night, with occasional surfing/usage during the day.
The mechanical Home button feels antiquated and out of place. I never understood why Apple used this, and I don't understand its place on the S3. It should have been a capacitive soft key like the menu and back keys on the S3. However, Samsung decided to make the soft keys "disappear" when not backlit, which is annoying. I am used to the Droid 2 where the soft keys were all etched into the display. The LED indicator on the S3 is also subdued and is only visible when it is illuminated. When fully charged, the LED will glow green but it is not strong enough to bother me when I am sleeping. It's a soft and subdued glow. When there is new email or a new text message, it flashes blue. When it is charging, it glows red.
The front and rear camera quality is exceptional. The front is a 1.9 MP camera that produces beautiful video during video conferences. The rear camera is the same camera they used on the iPhone 4S, and has burst mode and truly has zero lag. The flash is extremely bright and has a white color (close to 6000K or so) unlike my Droid 2 which was more yellow (about 3000K-4000K). The picture quality is really good, especially for a smartphone.
The Samsung S3 does not come with a micro SDHC card, so I purchased a Sandisk 32GB Class 10 micro SDHC card. Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operates differently from Gingerbread with the respect that all apps are stored on the phone's internal memory. That means all of the apps are run off the 16GB "SDcard" and not your external SD card. When I inserted the 32GB Sandisk micro SD card, a new folder popped up "ExtSDCard" which points to the actual external SD card. Luckily, the camera app will notice this and ask to store all photos/videos on the external SD card. The apps and associated files remain on the 16GB internal memory.
I ran the AnTuTu benchmark and got a score of 6885, which was run without power saver and the dual-core CPU was at 1512 MHz. When I activated Power Saver, my score was 5221 with a CPU speed of 1026 MHz. As one can see, the score with Power Saver is still very respectable. The external SD card read speed was greater than 50 MB/s, while the write speed was about 29.7 MB/s max. The S3 has a lot of processing power and it is putting my Core 2 Duo laptop to shame when accessing YouTube videos and opening files. The S3 menu interface just glides seamlessly with zero hiccups or delays.
Verizon's network is the main reason why I stayed with Verizon instead of hopping to Sprint. Even though Sprint offers unlimited data (until they throttle you above 2.5 GB if you do this consistently), their network coverage is poor and their network speeds are abysmally slow. Verizon's coverage is the best in the US, and I can still get a signal 16 nautical miles off the shore of South Carolina. Verizon's 4G LTE coverage is also very good in my area, with my download speeds ranging in the 20 Mbps, and upload speeds in the 14-16 Mbps range. I get these speeds consistently using Speed Test, which means that the 4G LTE network in my area is competing against my Comcast cable internet connection. My biggest complaint about Verizon is how they forced me off the Unlimited Data plan - the alternative was to pay $600 for a new phone to keep the plan. However, from a business perspective, I understand and agree with Verizon's decision. Bandwidth is expensive and with cable internet speeds in the palm of your hand on a machine that rivals laptops, data usage goes quickly out of hand.
My friend at work had some issues with her S3, but she purchased her S3 the day it came out on Verizon based on my recommendation because her Droid 2 was really messed up. She experienced random ghost calls with the S3, and the data network kept switching between 3G and 4G LTE. I don't recall her experiencing the "No Sim card" issue that others saw with their S3. I've been using my S3 for almost 2 weeks and have not experienced any of the above problems. I solved the constant WiFi notification by deleting my known WiFi networks on the phone. The negative aspect is that I cannot use WiFi to save on my data consumption with this method. I've heard theories about the No Sim error and the ghost calls, some of them recommend pulling out the battery and Sim card, but others have recommended using Airplane mode. Since I use Airplane mode on a nightly basis, this might be the method of resolving some of the network problems.
UPDATE: 16 NOV 2012, there was a firmware update released over-the-air for the S3 about 1-2 months ago that appeared to resolve the WiFi Notification problem. I am happy to report that I can use WiFi at home to save on data consumption without any problems. There are infrequent problems where the WiFi somehow shuts itself off, or if you are shopping in an area with secured WiFi connections - it will refuse to automatically log into your secured Wifi network once you arrive home. I still stick with my original 5/5 star recommendation.
Overall: 5/5 stars. I purchased the S3 because I hate iTunes with a passion. The verdict from the Apple/Samsung case also affirmed my feelings about how Apple conducts business. I really like my S3 phone and like the Android operating system. Samsung really knows how to design their products which includes televisions, refrigerators, and other devices.
After using my S3 for almost 3 months, and my friend using her S3 for 4 months, we both still agree that it is a really good smartphone. There are 3 other people at work that have recently upgraded to the S3 as well and they're all in agreement.
UPDATE 20 AUG 2013:
It's been exactly a year since I first got the S3, and have to say that I still really like my phone. The battery life is acceptable, by the end of a working day I'm usually at 70-75% battery capacity. The 4.1.2 Jelly Bean update is good and most of the features/menus are starting to resemble the 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on the S4. The camera is still quite exceptional except at zooming or longer distances. The video quality is still far better than the GoPro Hero3 and Sony Action Cam. Here's a breakdown of the MP4 video specs:
1920x1080P at 30 fps unless otherwise specified
59.94 fps, AVCHD, Main Profile, Level 4.1, 2 reference frames, 18.7 Mbps data rate
Samsung Galaxy S3 (4.1.2)
AVCHD, High Profile, Level 4.0, 1 reference frame, 17 Mbps data rate
GoPro Hero 3 Silver
AVCHD, Main Profile, Level 4.1, 4 reference frames, 30.2 Mbps data rate
Sony HDR-AS10 Firmware 1.03
MPEG-4 Sony PSP, AVCHD, Main Profile, Level 4.0, 2 reference frames, 16.0 Mbps data rate
Sony HDR-AS10 Firmware 2.00
59.94 fps, MPEG-4 Sony PSP, AVCHD, Main Profile, Level 4.2, 2 reference frames, 25 Mbps data rate
on November 25, 2012
This phone blows everything else I've used out of the water. Smooth, superb design. I'd be happier if it came with the battery of the RAZR Maxx but hey, then it'd be too good to be true, right? I'm more than satisfied, I'm ecstatic to have it! Haven't finished playing with it yet but I came from an S2 and prior to that, an iPhone 4. Nothing really seems to choke this phone yet, even playing GTA3. Everything flies fluidly and without hiccup. Love it!
on January 21, 2013
*Beware that Amazon Wireless is separate division and they do not operate under the same guidelines as Amazon*
I've owned this phone for 9 days and used it extensively. Huge upgrade from my Google G2. New Google software seems very fast and smooth. Great camera and the AMOLED display is the best I've seen.
4G LTE is very fast, WHEN I'm connected to it. I find this phone to be on 3G most of the day. My location? Miami, FL which brings me to this complaint I filed with Verizon and Amazon Wireless:
On January 11th 2013 I switched to Verizon Wireless after spending the previous 7 years with their direct competitor. The main reason for my switch was Verizon's marketing and promise of a more reliable & stronger network. I purchased the a Samsung Galaxy S III and as a loyal Amazon Prime member, I did so with confidence and was excited that I had saved $50 off the current Verizon Wireless promotional price.
After using the phone for several days I noticed some technical issues with the device. After spending several hours of my time with the Verizon Wireless technical department, it was determined that this phone was defective (not connecting to the network properly). I was assured by the Verizon Wireless technical specialist that under Verizon's worry-free guarantee, a new phone would be sent free of charge but that I had to contact Amazon Wireless directly in order to process the guarantee.
When I contacted Amazon Wireless I was informed that there was only 2 options for replacing this phone. Amazon Wireless does not honor any Verizon guarantees and they have their own policy's. The first option was to ship this defective device back, thus SURRENDERING MY SERVICE and going without a phone for 5-6 days while they "process" the return. The second option is to pay the FULL RETAIL PRICE of $699, wait 3-4 days for the replacement, and then get a refund 7-10 days after Amazon Wireless received the defective device back.
Option 1 = No phone for 5-6 days while you ship yours back and then wait for a replacement
Option 2 = Pay $699 + shipping to get a replacement, refund in 7-10 days after they receive defective
When I brought up the fact that the Verizon tech department had informed me otherwise, I was told by the Amazon Wireless representative that "They'll say anything to get you off the phone". I asked to speak with a supervisor and was told nothing else could be done. Both replacement options are clearly unrealistic and unacceptable. Amazon Wireless refused to replace the defective equipment that they sent me.
Beware that Amazon wireless is separate division and they do not operate under the same guidelines as Amazon. Customer service is marginal at best and they will not budge on this policy. Both replacement options that Amazon Wireless presented to me reflect poorly on the Amazon brand. I would strongly suggest buying this phone at a Verizon Wireless corporate retail store.