The Review For Everyone: AT&T Samsung Galaxy SIII

Much can be lost in a review when it focuses purely on the hardware & software specs of the item. Specs are important to how a product works, but they often times fail to paint a complete picture unless the user experience is taken into account. In the “Review For Everyone” series, the user experience and how specs tie into that is the foundation of each review and the basis of the final rating assigned to the product. 

It’s safe to say that the Galaxy S3 is one of the most widely anticipated smartphones to hit the market. Over two years, the original Galaxy S was sold over 24 million times. The Galaxy S2 reached 28 million sales in just over one year. The Galaxy S3 accumulated 9 million pre orders prior to its release date, with many more sales being made once the smartphone became available in-store. Those numbers can’t be achieved by marketing alone, so let’s dive in and see what makes the Galaxy S3 arguably the hottest phone on the market right now.

What’s In The Box

  • Samsung Galaxy S3
  • 2100mAh Battery
  • Micro USB cord
  • Wall Charger
  • Samsung Headphones with customizable earbud sizes

LOOK & FEEL

The Galaxy S3 upon first glance strikes me as a very safe design. To put it simply, I was not floored by the design and almost bought another smartphone because of it. However, as I held the device in hand, my opinion concerning its design changed. The Galaxy S3 has a beautiful, sleek, minimalist design. The design was inspired by the shape of a pebble and this can clearly be seen in the oblong shape and curved surfaces that make up the S3. Even the edges of the glass are curved to ensure continuity and consistency throughout the design. The S3 weighs in at 134g making it feel extremely light in hand. Although plastic is the predominant material used in building this device, it does not feel cheap when being used. If anything the plastic material gives the S3 a very smooth yet slippery finish. If you drop phones often, I would recommend getting a rubber case to offset the slippery feel and provide some much need protection.

The S3 is by no means a small phone. It dimensions are 137mm (5.3 in) x 70.6mm (2.7 in) x 8.6mm (.33 in) . This being said, the thinness of the S3 ensures that it is not too large for one handed operation…at least for most people. After two days of use, I was already accustomed to the phone size and it no longer seemed large. The 4.8in 720P Super AMO-LED display on this phone is among the best I’ve seen on a smartphone. Colors on the screen were vibrant, contrast levels were great and text was very sharp. The large 720 x 1280 resolution allows for more content to be displayed on the screen with less scrolling. The display is protected with a scratch resistant coating called Corning Gorilla Glass 2 which should keep your display relatively scratch free.

HARDWARE

 The Galaxy S3 is powered by a dual core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm processor. Many of you in the U.S may feel that the use of a dual core in the U.S versions of the S3 instead of the quad core processor seen in the international version is a bit of a letdown, but I guarantee you that the change is not noticeable. The dual core equipped S3 is very snappy and responsive to the touch. Swiping across the android home screens, opening and closing apps, viewing notifications, etc. all happened very fluidly with minimal lag [if any]. The accuracy of the touch response is also something to be applauded. When rapidly typing out texts and emails, it was nice to see that my keyboard touches were properly registered even in portrait mode. The 2 GB of RAM present allows for increased multitasking ability and more intensive memory sapping actions to take place. Take for example the new pop out video feature. This feature allows you to minimize any movie being watched to a smaller screen, that way you can continue watching while performing other tasks like responding to that text message you just received. This is what I call true multitasking! The 2GB of RAM coupled with a very capable processor allow for this task to be performed without seeing any hiccups in the smoothness or responsiveness of the S3.

  

Speaker sound quality is also a strong point of this device. When playing music or watching videos the sound produced by the speakers was loud, clear, and easy to understand…even from another room. Call quality was also great and on par with what you would expect from a high end smartphone. No calls were dropped and there were no complaints of a muffled voice even on long distance calls.

The S3 comes with 16GB of internal storage and has a microSD slot that will allow up to 64 GB of additional storage. With most carriers no longer providing unlimited data plans, streaming large movie files may not be the best option when no WiFi is present.  The S3 is great for media consumption so it’s a huge plus that Samsung bucked the trend of forcing its users to rely on cloud services like Dropbox, SkyDrive, etc. by giving its users the option to increase storage capacity.

SOFTWARE

TouchWiz

The Android OS on the Galaxy S3 is skinned with Samsung’s own TouchWiz 4.0 UI. In the past, I would recommend installing a new home screen launcher over TouchWiz due to its heavy memory and battery use, but it finally looks like Samsung has learned from its past mistakes with this new version of TouchWiz. TouchWiz 4.0 is less of a memory and battery drainer. It is extremely easy to use, customize, and has many features from other popular homescreen launchers implemented into it. The only flaw I found with TouchWiz was its lack of support for scrollable wallpapers.

The lock screen can easily be customized as well. You have the option of adding up to four app shortcuts for quick launch, showing current weather conditions on the lock screen, and viewing the latest news and stock reports.

     

Gestures

The Galaxy S3 comes with many gestures that supplement the day to day interaction between you and the phone. You are not forced to use the gestures and have the option to turn on ones that you find useful will disabling the others. Some of the newer ones which I found to be very useful were direct call, turn over to mute, and palm touch to mute. With direct call enabled, any contact that is present on your screen will automatically be called when the S3 is held up to your ear. I’ve used this to go from texting to calling several times over the last few days. Turn over to mute/ pause will mute any incoming call and pause any playing sounds when the screen is on simply by turning the phone over. Palm touch to mute/pause uses a palm touch to the screen instead of turning the phone over. These gestures also serve as a way for Samsung to differentiate their product from other devices currently being offered.

FILE SHARING

Android Beam| S Beam| WiFi Direct

These three features enable you to transmit information from your Galaxy S3 to another S3 or device with similar features. Android Beam, S Beam, and WiFi Direct are essentially the same feature…only difference being Android Beam transmits data via NFC (Near Field Communication), S Beam uses NFC or WiFi as a transfer medium, and WiFi Direct uses only WiFi. When any one of these features is enabled, app content can be beamed to another device simply by holding the devices close together and tapping the phone’s screen. You can share browser pages, YouTube videos, contact information, image & video files, music files, and much more. These features are secure and only work when you prompt a connection or accept a connection to another device.

  

USB On-The-Go

This feature is not widely known but it is just as handy; all it requires is a microUSB to USB adapter. With this feature, you can plug in a USB device or peripheral to the S3 and it will recognize and allow usage of the peripheral and/or read the files stored on the USB. So far, I have tested this feature with a USB mouse, USB keyboard, USB flash drive, external hard drive and a PlayStation 3 controller. All the peripherals worked as expected and i was able to transfer files back and forth between the S3 and external hard drives. This feature brings a new meaning to the phrase productivity on the go.

 INTERNET & NETWORK SPEEDS

The Galaxy S3’s browser flies when used on AT&T’s LTE network. At my current location, I averaged network speeds of about 26 Mbps download & 12 Mbps upload. As funny and sad as it sounds, this is faster than my home wireless connection. If I had an unlimited data plan, using the S3 as my home wireless hotspot would be an option worth considering.

The stock browser has flash support enabled so YouTube and many other embedded videos can be watched straight from the browser without opening a separate app. The display quality & size of the S3 make mobile browsing a pleasant experience. Pinch to zoom was buttery smooth and text remained sharp even at the highest levels of zoom. Navigation between open browser tabs is simple but seemed to lag each time I tried it. The major flaw with my experience with the stock browser is it always froze on me for a few seconds. The constant freezing is what led me to search for alternative browsers on the market.

  

CAMERA|VIDEO RECORDING

The ease of use of the camera app, coupled with the amazing pictures captured by the 8 megapixel lens almost does away with the need for a dedicated point and shoot camera. The camera can be launched from the phone’s lock screen by swiping the camera app or by using the in-built gesture of tapping on the screen and rotating the phone sideways. Once inside the camera app, you can take stills in many different modes (burst, HDR, panorama, and smile & face detection just to name a few) or you can record video in up to 1080p @ 30 fps. The S3’s autofocus was very quick…often times the image would autofocus before i tapped the screen to manually focus it. While recording video, you have the option to take pictures of the event being recorded. I found this feature to be extremely useful because it really helps to capture specific moments inside of a recorded event.

When taking pictures, there are a plethora of settings at your control. Basic photo effects (black & white, sepia and negative) can be added. You have access to ISO control, exposure value, white balance, as well as different predetermined picture scenes. The zero lag shutter allows for a near instantaneous capture of moments, allowing you to take multiple pictures in a short period of time and find the best shot easily.  When voice commands are enabled, saying the word “Snap” takes a hands free picture. I found this feature to be useful in situations when i wanted a very stable picture, using both hands to stabilize the camera, and didn’t want to risk blurring the image by using a finger to tap the shutter button. The camera performed admirably in low light/ no light situations as well. Pictures were captured in great detail without looking washed out by the LED flash.

Here are some 8 MP samples. I’m in no way a professional photographer…I just point and shoot. Click the pictures below for the full resolution image.

     

BATTERY LIFE

The Galaxy S3 should get you through the day with moderate usage thanks to its large capacity battery. If you plan on streaming movies & music, texting, talking on the phone, playing games and browsing for extended periods of time throughout the day, I would recommend carrying an extra battery or a car or wall charger just to ensure you have enough juice to make it through the day.

FINAL VERDICT

Pros

  • Large, vibrant & clear HD Display
  • Powerful processor and large amount of RAM for multitasking, gaming, etc
  • Excellent camera and video recording quality with several modes
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Expandable storage space to carry more of your media
  • Very easy to use

Cons

  • Design is uninspiring
  • Slippery feel
  • Fingerprint magnet due to plastic build material

Despite the lackluster design, the Galaxy S3 is a stellar device. Almost a week after first turning on the device, I am still enamored with the display, picture quality and speed of the Galaxy S3. Samsung’s newest flagship device certainly lives up to the pre release hype that surrounded it. Samsung has been known to deliver timely updates so I would expect Android 4.1 (Jellybean) to be made available in the upcoming months.

The Galaxy S3 is available on AT&T for $199.99 with a new two year contract and $549.99 with no contract commitments. Purchase your Galaxy S3 here.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

By: Chisom Agada

Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Reviews

Author:chizzwhiz

Full Time Engineer, Oil and Gas Industry Full Time Tech Enthusiast...Part Time Blogger Favorite Sport: Soccer

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