Samsung Galaxy SIII Review [Video]

Where do you even get started with a phone like this? The Galaxy SIII is easily the most anticipated Android handset from the beginning of 2012, and it’s finally upon us here in the United States. Enjoy the full video review!

Hardware

Internally, the Galaxy SIII is awesome. It features a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 dual core processor and 2GB of RAM, which doubles the current industry standard. The device also has a removable plastic back, which allows you to swap out the 2100mAh battery, SIM card, and external storage. The GSIII supports up to 64GB  of external storage via a MicroSD card inaddition to the 16GB or 32GB already inside the US versions.

Externally, the Galaxy SIII is pretty solid, but nothing spectacular. The 4.8″ HD Super AMOLED display was particularly impressive, and while it happens to use a pentile matrix it’s almost impossible to distinguish individual pixels from a typical viewing distance. That display is also covered with an edge-to-edge sheet of Gorilla Glass 2, which pretty much eliminates the need for a screen protector.

Design

The design has been a point of contention every since the GSIII was announced more than a month ago. Samsung claims its pebble-like design was “designed for humans” and “inspired by nature.” Cute.

It’s honestly something that grows on you after a while. The design isn’t so radical [like perhaps a Galaxy Note] that it seems unrealistic to try to adapt to using the device. But it definitely feels like a new experience, no matter what other smartphone you’re coming from. Check out the below video for our full look at the GSIII’s design.

Software

The GSIII runs Android 4.0.4 out of the box, which happens to currently be the latest version of Android. This of course isn’t exactly pure Android 4.0, as Samsung has included the latest version of Touchwiz, their Android “skin” that lies over the operating system. Some people love Android skins, and others are completely the opposite and prefer pure stock Android as seen on the Galaxy Nexus. I fall closer to the purist side of things, but I can definitely appreciate the added features and benifits of having Touchwiz.

One feature I particularly like is the settings toggles in the notification tray. With a swipe, you have one-touch access to Wifi, Bluetooth, auto-rotation, a silence switch and much more. I wish they didn’t have to animate every time the notification tray was pulled down, but I definitely like the presence of these features. I just wish we could’ve seen some brightness controls throw up there as well.

There is a ton of Samsung stuff included with Touchwiz. Smart Stay is a feature that will use the front facing camera to detect if you are looking at the screen and keep it on/off accordingly. Direct Call allows you to call a contact that is displayed on the screen by simply raising the phone to your ear. Tap to Top lets you literally top the top of your phone twice to automatically scroll to the top of whatever list or web page is on your display. You can even swipe your palm across the display to capture a screenshot. There’s a ton more like this in Samsung’s motion controls section and their functionality ranges from useful to downright gimmicky.

S-Voice is… interesting. It works most of the time, but isn’t functional enough to be a buying point. It’s semi-conversational, so you can ask it for interesting facts, for the weather, etc. Like Siri, its iOS counterpart, S-Voice can perform a limited number of tasks like launching applications, settings alarms, triggering navigation, and other things. I haven’t found myself using it that much in my time with the device, but that may change.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is second to none when it comes to performance on Android smartphones. As mentioned in the video, it reaches a level of fluidity that is unmatched among other high end handsets.

The 2GB of RAM make multitasking an absolutely breeze, and that 1.5GHz S4 inside powers through just about every high end application out there. Previously sluggish apps and games are suddenly more enjoyable, and I found myself revisiting old titles to enjoy the new playing experience.

The GSIII pretty much destroys every Android benchmark available. The most popular of them all, Quadrant Standard, ranks the SIII above every device in its scale, tipping in at just over 4,700 points with the T-Mobile version.

Call Quality is also excellent on the Galaxy SIII. Coverage will of course vary with location and carrier, but the T-Mobile and Sprint varieties I tested sounded on par with Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus, which is one of the best handsets out there for voice calls. Very impressive!

Cameras

The 8MP shooter on the back of the Galaxy SIII is one of the most impressive parts of the device. The clarity and dynamic range achieved with simple point-and-shoot photos far surpassed that of smartphones I’ve previously owned. Autofocus is very fast and there is zero shutter lag when taking photos quickly. Photo quality is at least on par with the HTC One X, if not slightly better. The Galaxy SIII also takes equally impressive 1080p videos.

The stock camera software makes it very easy [one tap] to take HDR photos, or switch to burst mode to take up to 20 photos in rapid succession. Everything about this camera puts the Galaxy Nexus to shame. Samsung has really outdone themselves here!

Battery Life

I did the majority of my battery testing with the HSPA+ T-Mobile version of the Galaxy SIII and I was absolutely blown away by the battery life it achieved.

Verdict

This is arguably the best phone on Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile right now. Step aside, Galaxy Nexus. Galaxy SIII: Welcome to my pocket.

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