Samsung's rise in the mobile phone arena in the last few years has been
phenomenal. The company has truly come a long way and the success of its
last two flagship smartphones played a huge role. It is in this backdrop
that Samsung's latest flagship phone becomes so important to the
When JK Shin, President and Head of IT & Mobile
Communications Division at Samsung, was standing on the podium on May 3,
2012, stakes were high and everyone was anticipating a smartphone that
would leave the competition behind. It was going to be the third
iteration of company's much successful Galaxy S smartphone. He did
unveil something that was extraordinary and full of exciting features
and industry leading specifications, but will this new smartphone be
able to leave the competition behind and prove powerful enough to take on
Apple's upcoming iPhone and HTC's flagship One X? We will find out in
Smartphone after smartphone, Samsung
has showcased that it continues to put more emphasis on the display of
the smartphone and same is visible in S III. The 4.8-inch display on the
phone is the single main highlight of the phone. It almost takes the
whole of the front, leaving little space for the buttons, front camera
and sensors. We don't mind that because by limiting the bezel and
removing any unwanted space, Samsung has been able to fit the huge
display in much smaller device, which is easier to hold and operate.
But, you still have to adjust your grip at times and use both hands
while operating the phone at many occasions.
There is nothing
extraordinary about Galaxy S III design apart from the fact that it
houses so much in such a thin body. Company has played safe and
conservative, while the direct competitor to the phone One X is a result
of HTC's attempt to do something different, which actually works quite
We are not saying that the Galaxy S III design is bad but it
is definitely uninspired. However, it is quite functional and
well-built. The no frills design borrows quite a few elements from
company's last two Galaxy S models. The home button makes an appearance
once again, coupled with same Android button arrangements, and familiar
speaker/ ear-piece grill.
Similar to other flagships, a single
sheet of glass carefully covers the front; the only bumps are home
button and ear-piece grill on the top. As we are on the topic of the
home button, it is important to point out that home button was actually a
little disappointment for us. In the attempt to fit everything in
smaller case, Samsung has reduced the size of home button considerably.
We would've preferred a capacitive touch button instead of this small
physical home button.
Back to the build of the smartphone, thanks
to the plastic body and the usual paper thin battery cover, company has
been able to keep the smartphone weight to just 133 grams, which is just
3 grams more than HTC One X.
It is interesting to note here is
that Samsung has been able to pack a 2100 mAh user- removable battery in
just 8.6mm thick body along with microSD card slot. So, rather than
paying more for a bigger internal memory version of the phone, you can
actually just pop in a card when required.
It also packs a
Micro-USB port at the bottom, which is also used for charging, data
transfer via PC and to connect to HDMI devices.
Overall, with all
the glossy finish and rounded corners, the build quality is quite
decent. Despite being plastic, the smartphone feels nice in hand and is
very well put together.
The huge 4.8-inch display
on Galaxy S III is obviously the first feature that you will notice on
the smartphone and it won't let you down. S III comes with a Super
AMOLED HD display, which has the same underlying technology as Galaxy
Nexus but has been improved a lot during the time period between both
the launches. However, HTC's One X is still able to score over Galaxy S
III in the display category; the LCD on One X has great viewing angles,
best in the class clarity and colour balance. On the other hand, the
bluish tinge is present on Galaxy S III display and the automatic
brightness doesn't work as expected.
We won't go in Pentile vs
non-Pentile debate here, as that doesn't really matter in the real-life
usage of the smartphone. Overall, the colours are vivid, text is clean,
readable and viewing angles are great.
HTC has set a
high bar for smartphone cameras with its One X but Samsung has been
able to best it with Galaxy S III. The image quality of the smartphone
is simply outstanding. The images are sharp and clear, and even the full
resolution images are pretty neat.
The 8MP camera on-board
provides a holistic imaging experience and removes any need to carry
multiple devices for basic photo needs.
Company has also included
burst mode in smartphone camera, which allows consumers to capture 20
shots in one go with around 6 shots per second.
software is pretty similar to what you might have seen on Galaxy S II;
it is simple and easy to use. Most of the settings and controls are
present on the left and the video/photo mode toggle along with capture
button is on the right. It might not be as intuitive as One X's camera
app, but the quality of images taken from camera fills up that gap.
has added HDR mode to Galaxy S III, which takes multi shots at various
exposure values and combines them to create a single image. HDR helps
you in situations where two parts of your photo frame have very
different lighting condition.
The 1.9MP front camera on the
smartphone is pretty neat and gives decent output. As the smartphone
comes with built in video call support over telecom network, you will
find using it quite often.
Moving on to the video recording,
thanks to the ultra-fast processor inside the device, recording video
worked as expected, auto-focus is slightly spotty but rest works fine.
Galaxy S III also allows tap-to-focus in video recording, thus helping
you in capturing even better videos.
The only missing part is on
the optical side, Galaxy S III only supports a maximum aperture of
f/2.6, which is well behind than f/2.0 on HTC One X. It means, Galaxy S
III will be slightly worse in low-lighting conditions.
Galaxy S III runs on Android 4.0.4, but if you remember Ice Cream
Sandwich from its stock looks, then you won't be able to recognise it on
the smartphone. Samsung has gone all out to skin the hell out of ICS on
There is hardly any part of the smartphone that looks like
ICS on Galaxy Nexus. But, then it is expected from the Korean
manufacturer to help it differentiate the device in such a competitive
Do these customisation work or are they just adding bloat
to refreshing Ice Cream Sandwich? Well, up to a large extent, they do
One of major part of Samsung's Galaxy S III announcement
was dedicated to the several software customisations that company has
made in this smartphone. Several new features that have been added to it
are not present in any other Android smartphone even from Samsung.
has not only added these features but has also decided to stay away
from Android buttons introduced in ICS ( Home, Back and Multitasking)
and has chosen to use good old Gingerbread style buttons - Home, Back
and Menu (no multitasking button here and it can be managed by long
pressing the home button).
Apart from home screen, the first
customisation to be noticed on Galaxy S III is the set of quick toggles
present in notification bar. Other such improvements include trash icon
shortcut in Gallery app, and quick access of detailed volume control.
of the old Touchwiz features are still present in S III, like swiping
the contact name left or right to message or call. Lock screen has been
customised as well to include app shortcuts, which can further be
altered as per your preferences.
The additions are not just
limited to these little tweaks; company has made some big feature
additions as well. One of our favourites from these features is "Pop up
Play," the ability to play video anywhere on your screen simultaneously
while doing other tasks. S-Beam is another enhancement from the company
that has been made over Android beam, which is present by default in
ICS. Samsung has actually combined the functionalities of NFC and Wi-Fi
Direct in S-Beam, thus allowing you to transfer not only small packets
of information but also big amount of data. S-Beam currently works with
Galaxy S III only, so the functionality is limited right now.
to the Samsung's answer to Apple's voice assistant Siri, S-Voice, we
must say that it is just a big gimmick and adds no value whatsoever.
Even in terms of gimmick quotient, the functionality of S-Voice is very
limited when compared to Siri. S-Voice only responds to typical command,
there is no personality to it at all, so if you were planning to ask some
random question, stop right there, it won't answer.
It works well
with commands and we are not sure how much of use would that be to you.
After looking at the next version of Siri at WWDC, S-Voice is now
looking even more inferior. One positive with S-Voice over Siri is that
the former understands the Indian accent better.
features include Smart Stay, Direct Call, Social Tag, Buddy Photo Share,
and All Share Play/Cast. During our time with Galaxy S III, the Direct
Call functionality that allows you to directly call a person whom you
are sending a text by simply picking up the phone and putting it next to
your ear, worked perfectly. However, we are disappointed by Smart Stay;
it did not work as advertised by the company. The results were
irregular, only working sometimes. You can read
more about them in our detailed article on these features.
are wondering about the stock ICS features, under the Samsung's nature
inspired UI, all of the additions that were made by Google in ICS are
also present on the phone including Face Lock, detailed data info, and
battery usage charts.
Well, not everything is hunky-dory here.
Some of the Samsung's tweaks to Android 4.0 actually fall flat and the
method of creating folders is one of them. The dragging and dropping an
app on another to create folder doesn't actually work in Galaxy S III.
To make a folder, you will have to open app drawer select one app and
then drag that to create folder icon, which will then be placed on the
home-screen. Another such fail is the removal to Play Store shortcut
from top right corner of app drawer screen; Samsung has replaced that
with a link to downloaded apps.
Performance/ Battery Life
surprises here. The 1.4GHz Exynos Quad powered Galaxy S III is really a
powerhouse and it is clearly visible in every single action on the
smartphone. If you liked using Tegra 3 powered tablet or even One X, you
will like the S III even more.
We won't go into any technical
jargon or benchmarks here, although they agree, but in real-world usage,
the Galaxy S III performs brilliantly and does everything that you throw at
it without showing any strain.
Whether you are working on image
heavy documents, opening huge webpages or watching 1080p clips, there is
no lag at all. The performance is simple unsurpassed. We can't wait for
the apps that fully exploit the S III's power.
Call quality and network reception are both superior and you will not face any issues.
review cannot be completed without actually talking about the battery
life of the smartphone and the Galaxy S III packs in a big 2100 mAh battery,
which is also user-replaceable (do need to keep in mind that stock
battery also houses NFC chip).
Despite the big HD display and
quad-core processor on board, Samsung Galaxy S III will not give you a
battery low warning in a day's judicious use, but heavy users might not
be so lucky. Because of the presence of a big battery, Galaxy S III also
takes around three hours to get fully charged.
expectations were very high after Galaxy S II and Galaxy Nexus, and
Samsung has been able to beat them by presenting a technological marvel
in the form Galaxy S III. The camera, processor, and the software
customisations, all are best in the class right now. It might not have
the looks of One X, but it scores in almost everything else.
the end, it all comes down to one thing - the pricing is, somewhat
surprisingly, on the upside. Priced at Rs. 43,180, it is way more than
HTC One X's Rs. 37,899 maximum retail price. Street price might be a
little lower, but looking at the current pricing, HTC One X is the
better deal however Galaxy S III is a better phone. So, if price is no
barrier to you, go for it.
Check out our gallery
for more pictures of the Samsung Galaxy S III.
- Great performance
- Excellent camera
- S-Voice is of limited utility
Ratings (Out of 5)
Battery Life: 4
Value for Money: 3.5