Samsung hit the ball out of the park with the Galaxy S II launch last year. It was easily the most popular Android phone on the block. When you are on top you don’t just sit on your successes, you push forward. The Samsung Galaxy S III represents the best of what Samsung is and what Android can be. We just got the T-Mobile version in-house and I’ve put it through its paces. Is it the phone you should carry on a daily basis? Find out in the full review!
The Galaxy S III from a design perspective is a lot like its predecessor. Samsung’s whole take here is based on nature. The Galaxy S III is curved like pebbles in a river. At least that is what Samsung was going for. Around the trim of the phone is faux silver that actually looks nice but is still plastic. The biggest success in my opinion is that this variant like all other US variants is identical to the international version. In all previous Galaxy S phones, the US variants lost the physical home button for capacitive navigation buttons. On the front, you have a notification light to the left of the speaker grill, on the right, you have a light, and proximity sensor and a 1.9 MP front facing camera. Below the screen, you have a physical home button with a capacitive menu button on the left and a capacitive back button. On the left side you have a volume rocker and on the right side you have a sleep/wake button. Up top, you have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, pry point for the back cover and a microphone. On the bottom, you have a microphone and micro USB charging port. On the back, you have an 8 MP camera with an LED flash and speaker grill.
Every Galaxy S iteration has come with a larger screen and Samsung didn’t make any exceptions. The Galaxy S III has a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display using the new Gorilla Glass 2 screen technology. With 306 ppi, you can enjoy the beauty clarity in this HD screen. Personally, I think the Super LCD 2 display technology in the HTC One x does a better job of color clarity but I had no issues watching media and looking at pictures on the Galaxy S III in any way. This phone is built with media consumption in mind.
The Galaxy S III U.S variants pack a lot under the hood. We have a 1.5 Ghz Dual Core Snapdragon S4 processor with 2, count them, 2 GB of RAM. You have either 16 or 32 GB of internal storage with Micro SD card expansion, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC built-in. This is all powered by a removable 2100 Mah battery. I had no issue getting through the day with the 2100 mah battery and you can see a screenshot of my battery life below. This phone brings everything that an Android flagship phone needs in 2012.
Like the HTC One X, the camera on the Galaxy S III is my favorite feature. Samsung makes sure to give you many different setting for customizing your camera experience. You have an 8 MP camera with an LED flash. Pictures during the day and even in the evening came out very well. You can see those photos in the gallery below. I easily recommend this phone as a low-end point and shoot replacement.
The Galaxy S III can also record 1080p video @ 30 fps. Video was superb with clear sound during recording and playback. I give Samsung their props for making a good camera. You can see day and evening video samples below. I thought they came out quite well.
The Galaxy S III runs the new “Nature” flavored TouchWiz UX over Android 4.0.4. It’s very similar to TouchWiz 4.0 but a few icons have gotten a little makeover. You get all that is good about Ice Cream Sandwich and all the value that Samsung has added via their software. Samsung had expanded on their motion based UI interaction. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Direct Call – This allows you to automatically call someone when you place the phone up to your ear if you are looking at their contact information or are within a text messaging thread. I find this quite clever.
- Smart Alert – If you are the kind of person who always gets a lot of calls and has a tendency to not keep up with them, Smart Alert will automatically vibrate your phone upon pick up to alert you that you have some event that needs your attention.
- Palm swipe to capture – In Ice Cream Sandwich you can press the power and home button to take a screen shoot. Palm swipe allows you to the take the side of your hand and swipe from right to left or vice versa across the screen to take a screen shot. I have only been able to get this to work once. Still a neat feature though.
Not a part of the motion based setting but another feature of note is one called Smart Stay. Smart stay will at the end of your timeout flash an eye in the notification bar and use your front facing camera to see if you are actively looking at the screen. If you are, then it won’t turn off the screen. That in itself is a very useful feature and I used it actively during my review time.
Since T-Mobile doesn’t have a LTE network, here in Vegas, like everywhere else, you only have access to their “4G” network. I didn’t have any issues with dropped calls or ghosting during calls. In regards to data speeds, it was very much hit and miss. About 95% of the time when I wasn’t at home over Wi-Fi, I was on Edge. This was the case all around Vegas and it didn’t improve during my review time. I had this same issue with the HTC Radar, a Windows Phone on T-Mobile. Your mileage may vary when it comes to data speeds. It’s just here in Vegas, it was very poor. See some of the speed test results below
Do I recommend the Galaxy S III? I couldn’t say yes enough. The Galaxy S III is *the* flagship phone to get this year. Its closest competition is the HTC One S, which is also on T-Mobile. If you are looking to pick up, it will cost you a little more on T-Mobile than on other carries. The 16GB version will go for $279 while the 32GB will cost you $329 on a two-year agreement. Also because it is a flagship phone is will most likely be getting the next version of Android dubbed “Jellybean” 4.1. The Galaxy S III was a pleasure to use and I recommend it wholeheartedly.