Samsung Galaxy S3 Review

Given the track record of the Samsung Galaxy S series, it is no wonder the latest edition to the line has been the talk of the Android town. With a recent international release and a US launch right around the corner, we took some time to get acquainted with the Samsung Galaxy S III and put it through its paces.

The US version of the phone, which for the first time is identical on all major carriers including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, differs slightly from its international counterpart in the hardware department, featuring a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor as opposed to a quad-core Exynos chipset, but despite the CPU swap, the phone benefits from 2GB of RAM and LTE/HSPA+ 42 (depending on carrier) connectivity. So does the Galaxy S III live up to the hype? Read on to find out.

Hardware

If you are looking for top-notch hardware, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy S III. Its spec sheet puts it on par with recent heavy weights like the HTC One X and easily place it amongst the most powerful devices on the market. The phone’s hardware is built up around two cornerstones: a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and a gorgeous 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD display. Throw in 2GB of RAM and you are dealing with just about the smoothest Android 4.0 experience on the market.

In terms of design, the Galaxy S III keeps things relatively simple. An 8.6mm profile appears all the thinner thanks to some well-place curves while a metallic bezel breaks up any sharp lines (the Pebble Blue color scheme seems apply named as the phone gives off the appearance that it has been gently shaped by nature, much like a rock at the bottom of a riverbed). You won’t find many ports, only a microUSB connection for charging. With available adaptors it can also act as an HD video output. A power on/off/standby button and volume rocker are the only two physical keys aside from the standard Galaxy S III home button.

Yes, the Galaxy S III home button is back, which means Samsung has opted to not go with Android Ice Cream Sandwich’s software navigation keys.  The physical home button is flanked by two capacitive buttons, one that will call up the “Menu” functions and the other operating as the “Back” key. These keys are backlit and light up only when touched (the time-out can be adjusted or set to always on). We’ll get to how Samsung has handled Android 4.0′s multi-tasking function in the ‘Software’ section.

An 8MP camera handles picture and video, which can be recorded in full 1080p HD. The rear sensor is equipped with a flash and auto-focus capabilities and supplemented by a front-facing camera for vanity shots and video calls.

As benchmarks will attest to, the average person won’t notice much of a difference between the quad-core and dual-core versions of the GS3. In fact, owners of the dual-core version get a few added bonuses in the form of an additional gig of RAM and the ability to utilize the latest 4G networks. Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T’s versions of the phone are equipped with LTE while T-Mobile operates on HSPA+ 42, meaning data speeds will be top-notch no matter what network the phone is activated on. Quality may be influenced by the particular carrier, but the phone’s hardware provides solid, clear audio during calls.

Software

Samsung has not only gone to great lengths to offer one of the most impressive pieces of Android hardware we have ever seen, but also to add a level or richness to the Android operating system itself. Based around Ice Cream Sandwich, a new generation of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface has been enhanced with human interaction in mind. Not only are we introduced to new gestures such as the ability to place the phone to your ear while viewing a text message to initiate a call or to pan between homescreens by moving the phone left or right, but Samsung has also made using the smartphone a more social experience with some new sharing features.

NFC is utilized to both network devices for sharing photos and video, but also to take advantage of new Samsung’s new TecTiles, which we have covered previously. Group sharing allows one user to stream a presentation, video, or photo to multiple handsets, while AllShare lets users send content to a television set or share files between a PC and their phone. Sharing even extends into the phone’s camera.

If that’s not enough, Samsung has also included the new S Voice application, which allows users to command their phone using only their voice. The service offers plenty of functionality and is right up there with Apple’s popular Siri in terms of usefulness. S Voice can call up a weather report, perform a Google search, get direction, or compose a text message with ease.

Add in a customizable launcher bar, lockscreen shortcuts, and toggle switches in the notifications pane to control WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode and more, and Samsung has just about covered anything. Well, except for multi-tasking, which, for whatever reason, is now accessed by long-pressing the physical home key. We can understand why Samsung might want to strive for consistency and keep the phone’s trademark home button, but why they decided to forego Android 4.0′s new set of navigation buttons (back, home, and multi-tasking), has us scratching our heads. Multi-tasking still functions as it should, but as one of the central features of Ice Cream Sandwich it is a bit surprise that Samsung has placed it on the back burner, so to say.

Camera


You want great pictures and even better features from your smartphone camera? Again, the Galaxy S III has you covered. The 8MP camera provides excellent photo and video, while an new capabilities make taking and sharing the results even easier than ever. First let’s take a look at what the GS3 can do in terms of photos (click for a bigger image):

And here is a video sample:

While we were impressed with the results, things like Share Shot and Buddy Photo Share seal the deal. With Share Shot a group of Galaxy S III handsets can be linked over a wireless network to automatically share photos between devices as they are taken. Buddy Photo Share uses facial recognition to tag people from your contacts list in your photos automatically, allowing you to easily share pictures with your friends in them.

Video mode has a few cool new features, including the ability to seamlessly snap photos while taking video (something we first same in HTC Sense 4.0) and a focus lock mode that keeps the camera trained to a certain focal point no matter where you move it, bringing professional level control over the final result.

In Conclusion

Consider us impressed. Even with a bit of apprehension about previous incarnations of the TouchWiz interface, Samsung still managed to deliver an intuitive and natural Android experience on top of hardware that really has no comparison (other than perhaps the HTC One X). Samsung will sell a boat load of Galaxy S3 handsets regardless of what we here at Phandroid or any other tech blog have to say about the phone, but if you are in the market for a new Android device and won’t settle for anything less than the best, then this is the one for you.

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  • Damon Lewis

    “Samsung will sell a boat load of Galaxy S3 handsets regardless” With 9 million preorders I think it’s safe to say they already have sold a boatload.

    • Elliot Jones

      9 million was outside of the US, i think… so yeah, Samsung’s definitely in the money on this one.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      9 million? Jeez! Looks like it’ll top the Galaxy Note in no time.

      • mhmmd123

        I have the Galaxy Note too, there is galaxy Note 2 coming in the 4Q with Quad-core. But I`m going to get this phone from Sprint tomorrow anyway. I had the Galaxy S2 Epic Touch.

  • phinn

    Meh, if I wanted a phablet the Nexus shits all over this.

    • Elliot Jones

      What are you even talking about? There are far less features in the Nexus and even less powerful hardware…

      • Crimsonshadow774

        I agree with you. I’m also typing this from my VZW Nexus. lol

      • DefaultUser

        Not everyone is a spec whore. I think playing 3D FPS games and such on a phone with crappy controls is ridiculous. So why should I care about a faster GPU?
        And a lot of those (often useless) features Samsung added can be countered by the ICS features they actually took OUT…

      • phinn

        It’s really quite simple, the Nexus is half the price, and is Google’s dev phone. It runs pure Android and will no doubt get Jelly Bean before this thing. Not to mention it’s far better looking. I don’t even know how it’s comparable. Fine this is a little faster and has a little bit better camera who cares when you have to deal with Touchwiz and it being an even bigger phone.

        • setspeed

          It’s faster, better camera, better screen, better battery life, better DAC (audio) chip. it’s thinner, it’s lighter, bigger/removable storage capacity, better built in codec support, Touchwiz has some nice software features built-in like pop-up play, smart-stay, motion gesture support etc that aren’t available elsewhere. The Nexus is also NOT half the price when you get it on contract (as most people will) in the UK where I am.
          Sorry but the S3 is blatantly a better phone right now. Yes there may well be a period of a few months when the Nexus has Jellybean before the S3. I also agree that the S3 is a bit big – I’m 6’6″ and have large hands, and it is not easy to operate one-handed as I can’t reach the top left corner wuth my thumb. Pretty sure I can put up with it until the new Nexuses/Nexi’ come out, and I’ll re-evaluate then if the hardware has advanced enough past the S3 to make me change.

    • Butters619

      I would pick a One X over the SGS3, and I still think your comment is nonsense.

    • Treyhunnid

      I thought i was the only one thinking this…everyone just reading the specs and having orgasms.

      besides the cam/ram bump, its a nexus with a crappy skin and buncha background processes/operations sucking the batt life dry…smart stay? really? lol.

      Nexus FTW

      • JeremieCote

        My S3 has a much better battery life than my Galaxy nexus.

  • Gabe

    After having bit on the Samsung Epic (GS1), Epic Touch (GS2), I’m tired of having a cell phone where the GPS is a joke. I’ve been plagued by GPS problems non stop on Samsung cell phones, and GPS isn’t something I prefer to do without. I travel alot, and I NEVER had issues with my original HTC Evo. I picked up the Evo LTE (One X), and it’s been amazing.

    Touchwiz/Sense, doesn’t matter, both are crap, and I go for the stock look via a root.

    I’m done with Samsung phones, they’ve bent me over too many times now, while HTC has been pretty solid (I’d skip over another Evo 3D though if presented, that wasn’t much of a phone…)

    • http://twitter.com/TheRealTam18 Michael Tam

      idk about you but my international s2 gps works great and gets location fast

      • Jeffrey Evans

        My Epic Touch gets great GPS location as well. Sounds like someone got a bad phone maybe.

        • http://www.facebook.com/mark.chinsky Mark F Chinsky

          My Epic Touch GPS sucks. Some kind of software issue. If you fire it up while driving it can take 5 minutes to lock on. If you power down and the phone back up , it locks quick. Something is amiss

  • Alvaro Orozco

    When is Amazon will be offering the sprint version of theS3

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      I doubt it’ll be long, they’re usually on top of these things.

  • Mr.walker

    I never understood why people who are not getting the phone comment on the review of the phone. Maybe it’s just me. But i feel like their mad because they can’t get the phone.

    • DefaultUser

      It’s just you.
      If people had to limit their comments to only those products they are going to buy, these comments sections would be pretty empty.
      I can say tons of stuff about products I’m not going to buy, positive or negative. Most people do.
      There’s tons of reasons why I’m not getting it, even though I can. You sound like an Apple fanboy. They like to use the “you’re just jealous because you can’t afford it” bullshit argument too.

    • ntegrit

      I can’t get the phone (until Nov), but I think it’s a great phone. For me, there would be no contest between it and the One X (I’m on Verizon – no One X offered!) However, with the potential to affect my unlimited data plans, this doesn’t represent enough of an improvement over my Galaxy Nexus to warrant my upgrade.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      While I don’t get on here and bash much of anything I comment on a lot of stuff. I find gadgets interesting. I won’t be getting this because I’ve only had my Galaxy Note for a few months, but it’s still a badass device and shows what will be in the future for Galaxy devices.

  • BigCiX

    I’ve learned my lesson with Samsung with the Craptivate. Broken GPS and slow updates.

    • wickets

      I was concerned about updates too, but then i figured with so many users complaining about an issue it would be very difficult for samsung to drag its feet sending an update/fix….I see occupy samsung if they do mess around! haha

    • http://www.facebook.com/lloyd.chambers Lloyd Chambers Jr.

      You are sooo right about the GPS bc a still have the captivate and it has never worked

  • http://thebeeobee.com/ thebeeobee

    1. Droid razr maxx. 2. iphone. 3. Samsung SuckIII. My smartphone ranking.

    • Zenstrive

      iPhone is 5 years old by now. Are you sure?

      • http://thebeeobee.com/ thebeeobee

        Positive.

    • http://twitter.com/Z3R0Degrees Nick

      Samsung Suck…. how clever

    • phinn

      Nexus trumps all of those dude.

      • Treyhunnid

        co-sign…touch wiz…ugh

    • bjc

      I haven’t given much credit to motorola phones in the past, but I just
      got a Photon recently, after having a 3D and S2, and I am quite
      impressed. It is plenty fast enough, pretty decent screen (that I can
      actually see in sunlight, unlike AMOLED), and the stock battery life is
      awesome. Motorola seems to get it when it comes to battery life, so you
      won’t have to get some damn extended battery that no case fits over. Droid razr maxx = 3300mah stock battery!!! GS3 = 2100 mah battery. I would have to rate the S3, site unseen, higher than the Iphone though. IMHO

  • http://twitter.com/JonLabbe Jon L

    Help Phandroid! I Pre-Ordered a VZW GS3 (Coming from a OG HTC Incredible) and I think I will be happy with the Menu/ Home button layout closer to Gingerbread. I was apprehensive with no hard menu in 4.0 as well a lack of a dedicated search button as I use it ALL the time in countless apps. I saw in one review of the international version of the S3 that a long press on the hard menu button will bring up the search. Can anyone confirm this works on USA versions as well as long press menu button search in apps (i.e. Gmail, favorite Browser, People app, IMBD, etc). Thanks Phandroid!

    • http://twitter.com/ZR_IW Zac Illingworth-W.

      Holding the menu capacitive button brings up google search.

      • http://twitter.com/JonLabbe Jon L

        Does it also work in apps or just of the home screen?

        • http://twitter.com/ZR_IW Zac Illingworth-W.

          Both

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.torreros Robert Carlos Torreros

    Does anyone know when verizon will ship the gs3, i saw a ADVERTISEMENT on yahoo saying it will ship june 26th but the store told me july 9?

    • Pkmmte

      Weird, the store told me June 26 and everyone else July 9.

      I’m pretty sure it will ship on July 9 or 10.

  • Treyhunnid

    i just wanna know if the ram increase actually makes a difference. 1gb seems fine on all other top droid phones…

  • c4v3man

    I don’t understand, both Engadget and Phandroid both post “Reviews” without actual benchmarks? Did you literally have this ready to post, and just wait until the device showed up to grab a quick picture of the rear cover, then post? Why no benchmarks to see if the RAM makes a difference? Why no network performance tests? Battery life?

    EDIT: Looks like engadget updated their review… I’d expect everyone to update their reviews as time permits to run benchmarks.

    • andrew__des_moines

      There have been a lot of complaints about the OneX’s multitasking ability. This is where the 2GB of RAM will set the GSIII apart, not in benchmarks.

      • http://twitter.com/pvwashington Patrick Washington

        Apparently not. Seems the reviews have shown the GS3 stuttering while doing certain tasks. So its not RAM, its software.

  • Mr.walker

    I waited in car with my wife and little baby girl for t mobile to open up, so i could purchase the G1. Never had a apple product. Most of you people sound like a bunch of HATERS because you wil not be rocking this phone come Thursday like me!!!! Lol i don’t care if you can afford it or not. Read ANY review and see if the reviewer don’t put this phone as number one. Hahaha say what u like but come Thursday my phone will be better then yours!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      I have a Galaxy Note LTE with ICS, so not thaaat much better ;)

  • http://twitter.com/pvwashington Patrick Washington

    Well after seeing some reviews I guess what I thought was pretty much true. Not the superphone many claimed it to be, especially with all that pre release hype. Not as good a screen as the One X series, crackling sound from the speaker when turned up loud and touchwiz……
    Not for me. But still a good phone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/moises.martinez.14661261 Moises Martinez

      you din’t surprise anyone with your comment.

      • http://twitter.com/pvwashington Patrick Washington

        Not that I tried to either. But then again, im not surprised that you responded either fanny boy. What other tricks can you do?

  • DYNK

    Urmmm this IS the most powerful phone not one of.
    Audiophilles should know THIS. This phone is the best for audio. Nothing can touch the sgsIII right now.
    It has usb audio and more. Lots of reviews around the world but they only scratch the surface I’m afraid. The hardware apart from the obvious “specs” is unbelievable. This is the reason I got the SGSIII Not some hype from blogs media etc.

    • http://twitter.com/pvwashington Patrick Washington

      LOL, how is it the most powerful phone when its just on par with the rest of the top phones that have been released. Sorry but its not distinguised from anything else on the market right now IMO. Just as good, but not better.

      • DYNK

        you sir don’t have a clue what you are talking about. The little blogs around the world comparing screen sizes and shit don’t compare any DEPTH on the hardware they are looking at. Just pure eye-candy. You know what Wolfson DAC is? thats just one example which makes SGSIII the most superior audio smartphone in the world right now. Stop reading kiddy forums!

    • Pkmmte

      Gotta love the Wolfson DAC. <3

  • BigCiX

    Am I the only one not going ‘Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” over this phone?

    • http://youtu.be/GvPlAyTG4ik?hd=1 1PhoneDoesnt.com

      no, it’s just a phone, just like the iPhone 5 will be just a phone. Not much can change at this point imo. Thinner, check, large screens, check, plenty of power, check, great software, check… well allt hat at least for android.. Maybe a edge to edge screen in all directions would be cool?

  • http://www.facebook.com/gabe.freund.3 Gabe Freund

    CNET has a much better review that compares many functions vs. the ONE X and even the iPhone 4S. No to play spoiler but since I have an EVO 4G LTE which is the best version of the One X to date, I don’t think I’ll be going back to Best Buy to exchange it for the S3.

    • aantoine87

      that comparison was against the international version

    • http://www.facebook.com/duane.izlar.3 Duane Izlar

      I have the ego to best phone I ever had how has battery been for u

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      tbh they’re both (one x/evo lte and the sgs3) top of the line phones. I think the only dealbreaker is no expandable storage or battery on the one x.

  • Itchy_Robot

    Thanks for the review, but why leave out battery stats? This is becoming a very important part of consumers decision making process with these big screen phones. Sure they are packing awesome specs … large screens, great chips, etc … but with that comes less battery life. All the user reviews I have been finding makes me think the battery life of this phone is no batter than any of the past phones, even though it has a decent sized battery. Maybe it is because it has so much going on in the background, and because of its high res screen? I don’t know. Either way, I would love to see some side by side, real world comparisons of this pones battery life … Nexus vs S3 vs RAZR MAXX vs One, etc. Big specs are nothing to me unless the phone can last a whole day (12 hours) with moderate use. And that is why I visit sites like this, to find out. Thanks.

    • http://www.facebook.com/duane.izlar.3 Duane Izlar

      I have the ego lte and I take it off the charger at 4 in the morn and it lasts til 7with heavy use

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

        lol @ ego

  • rushmore

    Unless the video has more detail, this article is more a preview, or a very superficial review.

  • http://youtu.be/GvPlAyTG4ik?hd=1 1PhoneDoesnt.com

    2gb of ram is sweet and a great tradeoff for no quad core… in fact, long run, more ram maybe more useful to most but gamers, quickest way to bog your phone down is lack of ram right? and if every says the dual core is fast, the tradeoff with LTE and 2gb ram maybe better than quadcore and 1gb ram

  • Dave4321

    I would really love a 4″ not pentile version of this phone. I could see jaggy text on the galaxy Nexus. Maybe the slight improvement in the pentile display will be enough to make it invisible to me though.

  • Djcrossmax@live.com

    Read the article on MSNBC on the S3 lol the reviewer is a joke you can tell he is an Apple Fanboi.

  • http://AfterCredits.com Chris R.

    Sorry to say, but the pictures don’t look all that great to me. They are not focused or sharp at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

    Honestly I’d prefer to have a menu button than a multitasking button when we can just long press the home button for multitasking. I know people want consistency but I prefer functionality. If you don’t have a menu button then you have to use screen space for a menu button.

  • NightAngel79

    Love it!!

  • sneha.google

    The product is very awesome Samsung Galaxy s3. I like the features in the product which is also used as ultimate business mobile and is the best smart phone ..My Deals.com has lowest price tag with many deals.

  • Cory Skelton

    I am so stoked for this phone. I was going to repair my GS2 LCD screen and go to Boost mobile for a while, but a cell phone repair store quoted me $300, but instead next week I’m just going to get my boyfriend and I a new Sprint account and buy us the GS3. This phone looks amazing! Even though I have to own the HTC EVO LTE by the end of the summer, I want this badly as well and I think I want it first.

  • Vasu Sharma

    I bought s3 lst week. Scrren is gorge . My friend hs apple iphone by using gs3 he too decide to buy s3. By using this it feels dat iphone has nothing to compare wid dis. Watchng video using internet is awesome on dis. Touchwiz is 4.04 really eye catchng nd pleasnt to use. must buy dis. I hv gs2 also bt it is more smoother den gs2.

  • Vasu Sharma

    Dnt care about these reviews. Most of the website owners who review are apple or other companies fanboy. Im nt a samsung fanboy bt using gs2 nd gs3 i appreciate for dis. Gs3 is faster than htc onex. Check out benchmark test. S3 wins . Today s3 is fastest smartphone in market. their is no phone defeats s3 in performance. first use den tk decisn.