In Part 1, I covered the design, display, the LED indicators, and some interface and keyboard tips.
In this part, I’m going to be writing about performance and new software features among other things The S3 has a quad-core 1.4 GHz exynos processor with 1 GB (gigabyte) RAM, and this shows in its performance. The user-interface has very smooth navigation. I didn’t experience any sluggishness. Obviously, a quad-core processor is a bit of overkill for the sort of apps that are available right now, But it does make the phone future-proof. I found the stock internet browser is pretty snappy too. It opens web pages fast, and zooming in and out is quite fluid. There are some new menu options for the stock browser. One is enabling ‘desktop view’. You have the option to save a page for offline reading. And if you scroll down, you get brightness control. Automatic brightness is enabled as default, so turn this off if the browser starts dimming when you don’t want it to. You can then set your own brightness level. There’s also different colour levels for power saving. You can create new tabs for different webpages. You can also create an incognito tab, so that any webpage you view in that tab won’t appear in the history lists or leave any cookies. I was able to play flash video in the stock browser, over a good wifi connection. There was a slight jerkiness, and I wasn’t able to scrub forward and back on the video. But other than that, the play-back quality was fine. Gaming on the S3 has been lag free. All the games I tried, including those with 3D graphics, have run super smooth, and the large screen is a bonus. Several new features have been introduced with the S3. Most of them can be activated by going into the settings menu. I’m going to quickly cover some of the more interesting ones to give you an overview. With the S3, you get S-Beam, which is an enhanced version of the Android Beam that Google introduced in the Galaxy Nexus. Android Beam gives you wireless connectivity. It works over NFC. You can hold two enabled phones back to back and transfer things like webpages, contacts, and Play store links between them. S-Beam takes it a step further by adding WiFi direct to the transfer. Basically, two S-Beam capable devices will initiate a file transfer over NFC, but will do the actual transfer over WiFi direct. So, S-Beam will let you transfer larger files like videos and documents and it’s also much faster. Smart Stay is a really interesting feature. You can enable it in the Display Settings. What it does is that the front facing camera detects whether you are looking at the phone, and then disables the screen timeout if you are. It’s supposed to keep the screen from automatically turning off while you’re reading or web browsing. It doesn’t continuously check whether you are looking or not. If you set the screen timeout for one minute, then smart stay will check only every minute. You get this eye icon in the notification bar to indicate when it’s checking. Also, from my tests, I found that keeping Smart Stay on didn’t seem to affect the battery life much. I tried getting used to Smart Stay but it had a few issues. First thing is, you need a decent level of light for this to work. It won’t work in a dark room even with the light from the screen. Next, you have to be looking directly at the screen. It seems to detect the eyes and not the face as much. So if you look at the screen from an angle, and not straight on, it’s not going to work. And it won’t work in applications that use the front camera. Also, if you’re using it, and happen to glance away so that the display turns off, looking back at your screen won’t automatically turn the display back on. Well, the last one’s probably asking for too much at this point, but it would have been a nice addition. Direct call is a simple and straightforward function. All you need is to be viewing a contact on the phone’s screen. So you could actually be browsing the person’s contact details, answering a text message, or checking a missed call. Then all you need to do is raise the phone to your ear and it will automatically call that person. It worked pretty well when I tried it. But you need to make sure the phone is properly up against your ear like when you’re answering a call, so that the proximity sensor detects it. Next is smart alert. What this does is, if you leave your phone somewhere, The next time you pick it up, it’ll immediately vibrate if you missed any messages or calls. It might be useful for some, but I preferred to use the notification LED for this. Tap to top may be more gimmicky than essential. Basically, if you’re viewing your contacts or email list and you’ve scrolled down to the bottom, Then double-tapping on the top of the phone will automatically jump you back to the top. You’ll need to double tap hard and then give it a second to respond. You can quickly take screenshots on the S3. It’s not actually a new feature, Just sweep your palm across the screen, it’ll take a screenshot. You’ll need to press down with your palm making sure your hand is covering the length of the screen. Another way to take screenshots is by pressing and holding the power and home buttons at the same time. Don’t release them until you see the screenshot’s been taken. S-voice, at the moment, could be better, much better. If all you want is to know the weather, open a simple app, or learn some general knowledge trivia, then it’ll probably work pretty well. But as soon as you start throwing long or unfamiliar names into the mix and asking complex questions, it has a mental breakdown. Hi Galaxy What’s the weather like in London today? Hi Galaxy Open zinio. Hi Galaxy Open Camera. Hi Galaxy Text Genevieve. How do I cook Shepherd’s pie? Well that’s not what I said! Which is the best Android phone? No S3! Text Pingu Hello how are you? Send So, S-voice is a nice idea, and there’s definitely a promising future for voice command on phones, but we’e still a long way from that. A welcome addition to the S3’s music player is a nicely designed widget for the homescreen, There’s also an equalizer, called ‘Sound Alive’ and it has a lot of options, as well as a custom setting. Music Square is new here. You’ll need to activate this in the music player settings. You can then access it from the ball icon below the album art. It checks the tempo of your songs, and then categorizes them according to different moods. There’s four moods: passionate, exciting, joyful, and calm. So depending on your mood at the time, choose a song from one of the corresponding squares. It could be more user friendly in my opinion. Despite scanning all my songs, only one shows up in the square grid at any time. hopefully this will be fixed in a future update. The stock video player has some new features. You can choose chapter preview in the context menu, and this divides the movie into sections so you can quickly jump to the part you want. If you scroll through the context menu, you come to settings, and there are various options here. Video brightness lets you choose automatic brightness or manually set it, just like in the internet browser. Then there’s ‘sound alive’, an equaliser for the video, But this only works when the earphones are plugged in. The other one is colour tone. You get normal, which is the default one. Warm gives the video a yellowish tint. And cold gives it a more bluish tint. Finally, there’s an option to turn on outdoor visibility. This tends to drastically increase the brightness and colour saturation of the video. Pop-up-play can be activated by pressing an icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. You get a mini video screen that overlays everything else, like the homescreen, app drawer, browser etc. You can’t change the size of the video screen, but you can move it around. And if you tap on it, you go back to the video player. The theory is you can watch the video while doing other things, like browsing the web for example. It’s an interesting feature, but to be honest I found it more distracting than useful. I had no issues with connection or GPS, No dropped signals or anything like that while I was using it. The S3 has assisted-GPS and it also picks up the Russian GLONASS signals. It locks onto satellite signals very fast, And from my tests it showed that it locks onto all the satellites it sees. The S3 has an in-call sound equalizer. The three main settings are default with no equalizer, a soft sound, and a clear sound. I’ve given audio examples for all three of these in part two of my One X vs S3 comparison. And you can click here to watch that. I’ve also covered camera quality quite extensively in that video. As well as provided battery usage percentages for different activities on the S3. So don’t forget to watch that same comparison for more information about the phone. I do want to mention overall battery life here, though. This is an example of how the battery lasts on a single charge, based on my use. I got a total time of 14 hours and 26 minutes Screen on time of 4 hours 17 minutes With 5 percent battery remaining. On that day I had a live wallpaper on the screen, brightness set to automatic, wi-fi on, no bluetooth or GPS, and I was watching some movies. I tend to get an average of around four hours screen time on a single charge. I hope I was able to give you a few new tips about the S3. It’s a very functional phone, that sure won’t disappoint in any way.