Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy S III Review
The Samsung Galaxy S III is the most talked about Android device to launch this year. It is the follow-up to the incredibly successful Galaxy S II. A device that was praised by many, sold in huge numbers and played a big role in helping Samsung become the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer.
On paper, the Galaxy S III looks poised to do even better than its predecessor. It has a long list of impressive hardware specs and includes software features that make sense and improve the overall user experience. Samsung has already sold over 10 million Galaxy S IIIs, so there is no doubt that the phone will be a huge success. But is it deserving of all the attention it has received?
I’ve had a chance to spend some quality time with the Verizon Wireless version of Samsung’s latest and greatest headset and will now share my opinion.
The overall design of the Galaxy S III is simplistic. The front of the device is dominated by the stunning 4.8 inch HD Super AMOLED display. There is a volume rocker on the left side, with a power button on the right. Along the top, there is a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack as well as a noise cancellation microphone. The 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor and LED indicator are located above the screen. On the back there is an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash and a speaker. Underneath the battery cover is a 2100 mAh battery with integrated NFC, a MicroSD card slot that supports up to 64GB cards and a micro SIM card slot. Charging happens via a Micro-USB slot on the bottom. The phone measures 5.4” x 2.8” x .3” and weighs in at 4.7 ounces.
Polycarbonate plastic is Samsung’s build material of choice. The stuff is inexpensive, light and shatterproof and Samsung seems to be committed to using it for all of their devices. Although the Samsung Galaxy S III is a plastic phone, it looks and feels more premium than any of the previous Galaxy phones I’ve used. Samsung has found a way to make the Galaxy S III feel more solid without ending their longstanding love of plastic.
Inside of the slim and sleek body of the Samsung Galaxy S III resides a powerful 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 2 GB worth of RAM. This configuration is slightly different than the international version which features a quad-core processor. I can’t imagine ever needing the extra cores on this phone. My Verizon Wireless version easily handled every task I could think to throw at it and never had a single hiccup. I never encountered any lag or slow-downs while using the Samsung Galaxy S III.
My review unit was equipped with 16GB of internal storage, but the headset is also available from Verizon with 32GB of storage.
Software-wise, the Galaxy S III ships with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and Version 5.0 of Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface. Samsung has made a lot of improvements to it’s TouchWiz software for the Galaxy S III. For those who may not know – TouchWiz is an overlay that is meant to create an easier to use interface than what the vanilla Android operating system offers. Some people like these OEM modifications and others prefer Android in it’s vanilla form. I’ve used vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and I actually prefer most of the modifications Samsung chose to make for the Galaxy S III.
Samsung’s software improvements are immediately noticeable from the second you begin using the Galaxy S III. As soon as you have finished the initial setup of the device and signed into your Google account you are presented with the first of several changes that Samsung has made. Starting with a newly revamped lock screen that can display news feeds or a stock market ticker and allows you to quickly and easily launch a set of applications. While on the lock screen, simply drag the desired application icon upwards to launch it immediately.
Other software features of the Galaxy S III include Samsung’s S-Memo, S-voice and S-Beam. S- Memo is a memo taking app that originally appeared on the Galaxy Note. It allows you to write memos or draw pictures using your finger or a stylus and can convert your hand writing into text.
S-Voice is a Siri-like voice assistant app. It works fairly well, but I still find voice assistant apps to be more of a novelty than a productive feature. However, I did find S-beam to be a interesting and useful addition. S-Beam uses NFC to create a WiFi connection between phones and by doing so makes the process of sharing files faster and easier.
Samsung also included software enhancements that go mostly unnoticed, but make life easier. The best example of those is what Samsung calls Smart Stay, a feature that users could use daily without even knowing it exists. Smart Stay uses the front-facing camera to detect when the screen is in use. This keeps you from having to repeatedly touch the screen to keep it on while you are in the middle of reading. Looking away from the screen causes it to automatically dim. Another “Smart” feature is Smart Alert, which notifies you of an unread notification by vibrating once you have picked up the idle phone.
Samsung has done an excellent job with the camera on the Galaxy S III. It is capable of capturing great images and the included software is excellent. One of the new shootings mode Samsung has added is Burst Shooting. It will take several pictures while you hold down the shutter button and then automatically pick out the best for you.
Another nice feature is what Samsung calls Buddy Photo Share. With it you can teach the phone what your friends look like based on the pictures you take of them. After it is setup, the phone will recognize the faces of your contacts and whenever you snap a photo of them; a option will appear to allow you to quickly send that contact the photo you just took.
Call quality, reception and data:
I didn’t run into any calling issues whatsoever with my Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy S III, as a phone it performed flawlessly. Calls were loud and clear on both sides and I always had great voice and data reception.
Ok, this is the part of the review where I briefly stop talking about the phone and express just how great Verizon 4G LTE is. I was literally handed this device on the same day that Verizon Wireless launched their 4G LTE network in my area. So I was really excited to be able to use this brand new smartphone on their amazing network and that excitement hasn’t left me yet. I am very happy to finally have Verizon’s 4G LTE network where I work and live.
The above screenshot should give everyone an idea of how fast Verizon’s 4G LTE can be. Typical app downloads were finished in around a second at those speeds. There was one instance where I didn’t even think an app had downloaded because I never seen the blue progress bar. Instead, it seemed to jump directly to “Installing”. It was a little crazy to experience speeds like that. I love Verizon’s 4G LTE network and the Galaxy S III done an excellent job of finding and using it.
I experienced better than expected battery life from the Galaxy S III. It performed very well for a smartphone with such a large display and 4G LTE. With my normal amount of daily use, I got 12 to 15 hours of use out of a single charge, with some days approaching the 20 hour mark. A typical smartphone user should have no problem going through an entire work day with it.
So is the Samsung Galaxy S III a worthy successor to the incredibly popular Galaxy S II ? Does it deserve all of the attention and hype it has received? In my opinion, absolutely!
Samsung has created a feature-rich device that outperforms their previous offerings. The included hardware is capable of lasting the length of a contract without becoming horribly obsolete and Samsung seems committed to keeping the software current. In fact, they have already said that they are in the final testing phases of a Jelly Bean update for the Galaxy S III.
The Samsung Galaxy S III is the best performing Android smartphone I’ve used yet and I feel comfortable recommending it. If you’re looking for the best Android smartphone you can get right now, than look no further.