The Samsung Galaxy S3 is rocking a 4.8” Super AMOLED HD screen with a resolution of 1280×720. Technical jargon aside it can be summed up pretty easily: the display is huge and excellent looking. Text is very clear and colors really pop thanks to the 306 pixel per inch screen.
The size also gives you tons of room for content which is a huge plus if you’re coming from something smaller such as the iPhone. I still like the screen on the HTC One X more but at this point I’m basically splitting hairs, both phones have phenomenal displays. The Galaxy S3 comes in two colors, blue and white. I have the Pebble Blue variant and there are some differences including a metal-like textured finish. Up top is the speaker grille, notification LED, proximity and light sensors along with the 1.9 megapixel front facing camera. Below you’ll find the physical home button along with capacitive back and menu keys. For some reason Samsung likes to put the sleep/wake button on the right edge of the phone instead of up top like most other manufacturers. It’s certainly not a big deal but it is something to get used to. On the left side is the volume rocker and you can also see they’ve made it look like it has a taper with the accent. The bottom contains your MicroUSB port as well as microphone. Flip it around back and you’ll see the 8 megapixel camera along with LED flash and a speaker. One nice thing about the Galaxy is that you can still remove the rear cover which is a feature more phones *cough* iPhone could include. Here you can also easily get at the battery, MicroSIM card as well as add a MicroSD card of up to 64GB to add more storage to the phone.
Overall I like the design. There are a few odd things such as the physical home button combined with two capacitive ones and the all plastic build. That said, being able to replace the battery and having a MicroSIM helps a lot, it all reminds me a bit of the first Galaxy S. It’s nothing spectacular but you won’t hear any complaints out of me. As far as software goes there’s a ton to cover so let’s jump right on in. The Galaxy S3 currently runs Android 4.0.4, AKA Ice Cream Sandwich with the TouchWiz skin. Generally I’m not a fan of skins for Android but I’ve got to say TouchWiz makes a pretty good case for itself with a ton of unique features, some a bit silly but some are generally great. One thing Samsung really is pushing are their new Motion features. These allow you to do things like call a contact by bringing the phone up to your ear. You can also mute the phone by flipping it over. The calling a contact is pretty useful but most of the others aren’t as much as they only work in specific apps instead of system wide. There are also other interesting features. Smart Stay uses the front facing camera to monitor your face to see if you’re still using the phone and will shut off the display if you aren’t. I expected this to be a gimmick but honestly it works quite well for the most part and didn’t cause any noticeable battery drain. Pop up player is also really cool. If you’re watching a video in the default video player you can press a button and the video will overlay on top of the screen and allow you to do anything you want.
Impressively this only slows the phone down very slightly and can be moved around anywhere on screen you want. Probably the biggest downside is that this doesn’t work with any other video playing apps but it’s still a nice feature. You’ll also find Samsung’s answer to Siri, S Voice. What’s the weather going to be like in Los Angeles tomorrow? The forecast for tomorrow is mostly sunny. In general it works but the voice is pretty grating and there’s no doubt that it just isn’t up to the accuracy or level of functionality that Apple has gotten. Jokes, on the other hand, it can definitely handle. Tell me a joke. Okay, why did the chicken commit suicide? To get to the other side. The Galaxy S3 also has built-in NFC. You can use this to beam files from Android devices or pay for things with Google Wallet but something pretty cool are TecTiles. These are little NFC enabled stickers that when you tap your phone against them they can launch an app, make a call or change a setting. It will cost you $15 for a pack of five but as you can reprogram them they’re pretty neat. There are many more additions but overall TouchWiz does a good job of adding functionality to Android without being bloatware. As you can see the phone is still very responsive, right up there among the best I’ve ever tested. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 System on a Chip with a dual core 1.5GHz processor and Adreno 225 graphics just like in the US version of the HTC One X. Where it differentiates itself is with a whopping 2GB of RAM. Apps tend to stay open forever and everything runs butter smooth. The camera is pretty familiar, it’s got the same sensor from the iPhone 4S. Needless to say it’s excellent as far as smartphone cameras go and it’s also backed up by solid software. The camera app is quick and has some cool features including Burst Shot to take up to 20 pictures in just a couple seconds as well as being able to snap 6 megapixel stills while recording 1080p video.
All right so I am now recording using the front facing camera on the Galaxy S3. So as you guys can see here the quality is not half bad, unlike my hair. Anyway it is a 1.9 megapixel shooter so of course you can take stills as well as this 720p video. Now while it’s definitely nothing amazing for a front facing camera it is not half bad at all. It’s going to be more than enough for Skype, for Google+ chats and you know, checking your hair out in the mirror? The Galaxy S3 is available on all of the major US carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and US Cellular. I’m taking a look at the T-Mobile version however they are all identical beyond a few preloaded apps and the respective networks that they support. T-Mobile relies on HSPA+ whereas the rest come with LTE. I’ll be taking a look at a Verizon model soon to see how LTE impacts battery life but with this I was about to get through a day of usage without any issue whatsoever. Speaking of cellular the Galaxy S3 does a perfectly respectable job. I have poor T-Mobile service in my area but the S3 was able to hold on to a signal very well and call quality was really quite good. There’s a lot to be said about the Samsung Galaxy S3. Let’s start with what I don’t like, which is a pretty small list. S Voice is underwhelming, the build quality is good but nothing spectacular and I still find Android lacking in a few minor areas compared to iOS. On the other hand the screen is great, the speed is top notch, the battery is good enough and I found that the camera was absolutely excellent. It may not be perfect but I can honestly say that the Galaxy S3 has now surpassed the HTC One X as my favorite phone out there: it really is that good.