It’s taken me a while to write this review, given the crazy busy month that June was (these three have been occupying much of my time @cathaypacific @aranez @iiba_hk) but here is my review on the Samsung Galaxy S3, which I’m calling out to be the closest thing to an iPhone Killer yet. It’s a superb device even though the camera isn’t as good as the iPhone 4S’s. I really like the form factor, screen size, new Samsung motions and of course the Samsung Galaxy S3 performance. When Samsung camera fixes the camera and over-saturated display, I’ll start using their device as my main!
I hope you find my personal opinion on the device useful and share with others considering the Samsung Galaxy S3.
The curved backing of the Samsung Galaxy S3 gives it a surprisingly comfortable feel in the hand. One would think being only 0.2″ smaller than the 5″ Samsung Galaxy Note it would feel similar in the hand but it simply doesn’t. Well done to Samsung for addressing one of the major concerns that many had when considering a 4.8″ device.
Styled for function and coolness
I always like it when companies take the risky step towards differentiating in style. As a leather case designer myself, I want people to be able to stand back at a distance and say, that’s an Aranez case. Samsung have achieved this and have done something different, and even with the Galaxy Nexus, I’ve always been a fan of the curved edges and back. The ceramic back look and feel and shining outline edging gives it a more stylish look than of the HTC One X, it’s major competitor at the moment. It’s a pity because spec-wise, the HTC One X is also a pacesetter, however the obvious plastic casing especially the matte plastic that outlines the display makes it quite dull to look at. Most of the companies now have the hardware and software right. Going forward form factor differentiation will also play a big part.
In terms of the buttons, I still have an issue with Samsung placing the power button where the thumb (for right handers) will naturally hold the phone. Apple’s implementation of the power button was smarter – placing in a spot that avoids accidental pressing. You don’t need to press the power that regularly to warrant such placement. On the other hand, I’ve become quite used to the inbuilt sensor buttons on the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy S3. Besides looking very cool when they light up, they’re positioning is perfect – close to the home button and much faster to access than the iOS screen back button which is normally in the top left hand corner of the screen. Funny how I’m finding myself, tap the bottom right hand corner on my iPhone 4S these days too.
Of course, to make this case look even more stylish, you may consider one of my Samsung Galaxy S3 Leather Cases!
Love the screen-size not the overcooked colours
The Gorilla Glass Super AMOLED Pentile screen especially with the extra real estate (comparing with the iPhone 4S), is a dream to use especially when checking emails, looking at calendars and viewing @instagram photos. However, there’s one annoying point about it : Samsung have over saturated colours on the Samsung Galaxy S3 display. Although their intention was to bring more colors to the screen, the negative impact is, if you take a photo with the Galaxy S3 you’ll find that it will appear duller when viewing on any web browser and other devices. Very frustrating especially when you take your photos seriously and would like what you see on the Galaxy S3 to be the same as what the world sees. When comparing the Super AMOLED and Retina, in my view there isn’t a super huge difference. Both are superb. Even though it’s not Super AMOLED Plus, I’m grateful that Samsung opted for less power consuming Pentile technology.
Battery life gets a thumbs up finally
The battery life is a lot better than the Samsung Galaxy S2 and Nexus. On the first day I had the Samsung Galaxy S3, even though I played with it intensively, it still had 45% of battery life after 8 hours. It lasted for another 4 hours before I had to put it on the charger. Yes that’s 12 hours of constant use which is quite amazing for a smartphone that’s not using an extended battery these days. I believe there are four factors that have contributed to improved battery performance: 1. the energy efficient quad core processor, 2. the 2100 mAH lithium ion battery, 3. the Super AMOLED Pentile display and 4. the Wolfson audio chip that minimised power-consumption for audio and video playback. Big thumbs up to Samsung for paying close attention to what has been the bane of many smartphone users over the last couple of years.
Security options explained but can’t take photos
Just a little thing I noticed is that the Settings Lock Screen security page now tells you the level of security for various types of lock functions. Helpful for newbies trying to understand the security implications of choosing a particular security option. One thing that I didn’t like was, not being able to use the camera when using PIN security. Very annoying to have to PIN unlock before taking a snapshot. As someone who uses @instagram and loves to take photos daily, this still irritates me.
Some motions are actually quite useful
As Samsung advertise, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is made for humans. This means that they’ve tried to make the device more intuitive and natural to use via human movement and gestures. I like the new motions that have been incorporated into the Samsung Galaxy S3 such as the phone-to-face voice dial when looking at a contact or reading an SMS. One of my favourites is how easily one can take a screenshot on the Samsung Galaxy S3: by just swiping the side of your palm over the screen. The previous method of pressing the power button and the down volume control was almost impossible to execute without triggering either volume or power settings.
Performance of hardware is superb but let down by Android bugs
The 1.4 GHz quad core processor ensures that the speed on the Samsung Galaxy S3 is unquestionably great. There’s no lag when switching screens. Although it’s running Android 4.0, which is Google’s latest major release of its mobile operating system, I still find that there are more bugs with Android apps than iOS. One of my apps crashes at least once a day, for example just recently, it was @instagram and @evernote. It’s a pity, because hardware-wise it’s super powerful.
Typing is better on iOS than Android
I didn’t like using the default Samsung virtual keyboard. The auto-correct and accuracy of my presses were behind the keyboard on the iPhone. I’m using SwiftKey for Android now (highly recommend) but Samsung Galaxy S3 owners should need to buy a third-party keyboard and should be satisfied with the one straight of the the box. Things like selecting a single letter from a previously typed word takes more time on Android than it would on an iPhone. This is quite a considerable point to take note of, especially due to how many messages are written on our smartphones these days e.g. updating Facebook statuses, tweets and leaving comments on @instagram.
Samsung voice is no competitor of Siri
Samsung Voice is no where as polished as Siri. It takes longer to start up and longer to process what you say too. I’m not going to spend time here on something that obviously needs a lot of work.
Samsung Galaxy S3 camera needs work
As you’ve probably seen and realised, the camera function of the smartphone is quite important to me. Because of the awesome camera on the iPhone 4S, I now have over 3,000 people following me on @instagram. One thing you take for granted is taking a photo, applying a filter then knowing that what you saw on your screen, will be exactly what others will see. This is not the case on the Samsung Galaxy S3. As mentioned above, the device displays photos with too much saturation. While it’s nice to have a little bit more colour, when you take a photo on the Samsung Galaxy S3, it will look not look the same on non-Galaxy S3 devices. Photos look washed out and no where near as having as much colour than on the Galaxy S3 screen.
As with the Galaxy Nexus, I found that the Galaxy S3 photos had a slight green tinge which was more noticeable in lowlight scenarios.
The camera though is fast – I like the burst mode for taking action shots, especially of my active little daughters.
I’m an avid hobby photographer so these camera points mean a big thing to me, since my iPhone has pretty much become my point and shoot camera. I also own an iPhone 4S and can say that comparing the two cameras and output that the iPhone 4S is better especially in lowlight conditions and accurate colour output.
I was actually surprised by the richness of the sound on the SGIII. The non-US version uses a Wolfson audio chip (WM1811) that provides crystal-clear voice call quality and enriched audio playback for music and video while minimising power consumption. Compared to the iPhone, I would have to say the Galaxy S3 wins here.
Summary – Samsung Galaxy S3 is superb except for the camera
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is an awesome phone incorporating some much sought after improvements from its predecessor the Samsung Galaxy S2. It’s class-leading performance, stylish form factor, huge 4.8″ super AMOLED screen and long-lasting battery life makes this my favourite Android for 2012 so far. I like it better than the HTC One X, because even though spec wise they’re quite similar, the Samsung Galaxy S3 feels and looks better.
One area that was disappointing, was the camera. It just isn’t as good as the iPhone 4S when it comes to lowlight conditions and accurate display. If the camera isn’t a big issue for you, you’ll find that this Android is everything you need and more. Well done Samsung! (fix the camera!)
- Please check out the Aranez Flip Samsung Galaxy S3 Leather Case and Aranez Book Samsung Galaxy S3 Leather Case