Android Central

It’s been a week or so since I first laid eyes on Samsung’s new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III. On the night in London, the barrage of information was relentless -- brand new hardware, a new design language, a redesigned TouchWiz and countless other software additions. And over the past few days, all of us in the tech world have slowly been able to form some opinion on the latest high-end smartphone from the Korean electronics giant.

But this article isn’t just a reaction to the Galaxy S III -- we’ve presented plenty of coverage on that (maybe more than enough) already. Instead it’s more a dissection of how we came to know the S III, and how that in itself has colored popular opinion of the device. We’ll also take a look at some common criticisms of the phone, and see just how valid they are. Join us after the break as we examine the world of hype and expectation surrounding the Samsung Galaxy S III.

The successor to the Galaxy S II was always going to be a device of great expectations. The S II was monumentally important for Samsung, selling more than 20 million units worldwide and handing it the Android smartphone crown for 2011. It was clear from the start that any follow-up was going to be the subject of almost Apple-like levels of hype.

And if you think about it, Samsung played its pre-launch marketing campaign for the Galaxy S III almost perfectly. It managed to prevent any substantial leaks until just days before the announcement -- no small feat in and of itself. And the manufacturer fostered anticipation and expectation through its unwavering silence, and its decision to omit the S III from its MWC portfolio.

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This was helped along by the emergence of several fake device renders, which managed to build interest and stir discussion months in advance, without exposing Samsung’s game plan. Then, when the time arrived, there was a slow trickle of information, and an artificial sense of mystery around the eventual name and design of the phone. Galaxy S III samples appeared in nondescript dummy cases during field testing, and Samsung insisted on using the “next Galaxy” moniker right up until the end. This, along with news of an event at London’s largest exhibition venue, ensured that the buzz around the Galaxy S III reached a crescendo just in time for Samsung’s glitzy unveiling on May 3. In many ways, the execution was nearly flawless.

But on the other hand, it could be argued that this campaign of hype worked a little too well. Anticipation was nothing short of stratospheric, and in the absence of any real information, increasingly fanciful specs were dreamed up, published and republished across the web. A 1080p screen! 12 megapixel camera! 7mm thick! Ceramic shell! Liquid metal shell! All-day battery life! Before long, the Galaxy S III became everything to everyone -- a blank canvas upon which fans could paint the picture of their very own perfect smartphone, free from real-world engineering or economic limitations. But in the real world, of course, building a smartphone, or any high-tech mobile device, is all about compromises.

Though not without its flaws, the product Samsung delivered on May 3 was a highly-spec'd, feature-packed smartphone in a good-looking chassis. But when you’re expecting otherworldly specs and space-age build quality, it’s easier to come away feeling disappointed if even the tiniest thing isn't up to snuff. This phenomenon is nothing new. Followers of Android will remember something similar occurring around the time of the Galaxy Nexus launch. Security -- and expectations -- were equally high for the new Android 4.0 flagship. And then... wait, what? It’s only 1.2GHz? Only a 5MP camera? A plastic chassis, not aluminum?

Galaxy S III event

And elsewhere, there was the same reaction to the iPhone 4S from some iPhone 4 owners. It looks just like the last one? It’s got the same screen? Only 512MB of RAM? All the more ironic is the fact that Samsung mocked this reaction to a lackluster iSequel in its Galaxy S II U.S. ads, only to fall victim to something similar following the unveiling of the Galaxy S III. There’s no denying that the S III is less of an incremental upgrade than the 4S. Nevertheless, the towering expectations of some have led to disappointment in the face of what is a perfectly serviceable high-end smartphone, and a worthy competitor to the latest products from HTC and Apple.

Critics of the Galaxy S III have complaints concerning almost every aspect of the device, from the build quality, to the screen, to the software and its features, to the chassis design. Some are more valid than others, but all follow a common pattern. Samsung delivered a super-high-end smartphone, as opposed to the super-duper-high-end product of people’s imaginations. Somehow a quad-core powerhouse with a 720p SuperAMOLED display just wasn’t enough. (Never mind that many if not most of these critics haven't actually touched the phone.)

Firstly, the Galaxy S III is a shiny, plastic phone. Samsung has a history of making shiny, plastic phones, so no surprises there. The glossiness of the device is what seems to have gotten peoples’ goat, as if this automatically makes for a cheap, sub-par product. But it’s often difficult to get an accurate impression of the look and feel of the device through photos alone, and that’s what most people have to go on here. From first-hand experience, I can tell you it’s plastic, but it’s not cheap plastic, and it certainly doesn’t feel flimsy (though it is extremely light for its size.) The white version in particular compares favorably to the Galaxy Nexus in terms of aesthetics and quality of materials -- the glossy finish makes for a more premium appearance, compared to the Nexus’s dull grey plastic. There’s no such thing as an objectively good-looking device, but personally, I see no problems with the exterior design of the S III. Samsung’s choice in button setup is a little weird, but we’ll get to that later.

Galaxy S III

Next up is the display, and a term that’s become something of a dirty word in the past year or so -- PenTile. This refers to the subpixel layout of the Galaxy S III’s screen, which consists of an arrangement of RGBG (red, green, blue and green pixels) as opposed to the standard RGB layout. This offers greater power efficiency, and according to Samsung’s Philip Berne in a recent interview with MobileBurn, can also improve the longevity of the panel over years of use. The trade-off is that jagged edges can be noticed in certain on-screen elements, especially at lower resolutions. In addition, a PenTile matrix can cause noticeable discoloration in some panels at very low or very high brightness settings. For an excellent breakdown of the science behind PenTile, and how human sight makes it much less clear-cut than you might think, check this article from the Rantom Tech Tidbits blog.

Again, to examine why some observers are so disappointed with the use of a PenTile matrix on the Galaxy S III, we have to look back at all that pre-release speculation, which resulted in fans dreaming up non-PenTile (and non-existent) 720p SuperAMOLED Plus (RGB) panels, or even ridiculous 1080p SuperAMOLED displays. When Samsung came out with its 4.8-inch, 720p SuperAMOLED panel (with -- gasp -- slightly lower pixel density than the Galaxy Nexus), there was no shortage of dismissive online comments. Some were keen to rubbish the panel sight-unseen, claiming Samsung had made a fatal error by not using some illusory display tech. In fact, it was clear to everyone who’d seen the thing up-close that the screen -- though not quite as impressive as the HTC One X’s SuperLCD 2 -- was superior to most other smartphone displays, including the Galaxy Nexus. Overall brightness was higher, and there was no noticeable discoloration in bright whites. Since then it’s been confirmed that the S III’s screen is indeed of higher quality than the Nexus. In the interview we mentioned earlier, Philip Berne reveals that the gaps between the subpixels on the S III are smaller, making for a sharper-looking image and fewer jaggies.

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Finally, we should talk about the software design, which has proved to be another bone of contention. Only the most optimistic of Android fans would’ve expected Samsung to ditch its own UI in favor of stock Ice Cream Sandwich, so it was no real surprise to see another version of TouchWiz adorning the new Samsung flagship. But there’s room for some genuine frustration that the manufacturer seems to be content reworking its existing Gingerbread designs, as opposed to starting afresh with ICS as a base. It’s not terrible by any means, but I think the software design of the Galaxy S III is probably its biggest let-down. That’s not based on any pre-release expectations, but on having used HTC Sense 4 pretty much exclusively for the past month. HTC’s got the right idea when it comes to Android -- they’ve built around ICS rather than on top of it.

To Samsung’s credit, however, the “TouchWiz Nature UX” isn’t quite the schizophrenic orgy of colors that we’ve seen on earlier TouchWiz phones. But the new “Nature UX” features the same lack of overall visual cohesion that we’ve seen on TouchWiz 4 phones. Individual elements, such as the rippling lock screen, are very well-designed, but TouchWiz as a whole continues to lack consistency. That doesn’t make it any less functional, just not quite as nice to look at.

The Galaxy S III is, first and foremost, a Samsung phone. The front face is the spitting image of Samsung’s Olympic branding -- a curved device with a large central button and smaller capacitive keys to the side. It’s packed to the gills with new Samsung software features, each with its unique (and sometimes confusing) branding. Features like Smart Stay, Pop-up Play and S Beam are sure to dazzle prospective buyers in the weeks ahead. The idea is to sell consumers on the Samsung software experience, not Android per se. That’s why Samsung's opted to go with the three button setup, rather than adopting the on-screen buttons of the Galaxy Nexus. As Android enthusiasts, we may not like the decision, but it’s one that’s understandable for a manufacturer that’s trying to create a familiar software experience across multiple platforms and device classes. (Though at times it can seem like Sammy's merely playing copycat with things like S Voice and its new "Pin" stores.)

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With any highly anticipated device, there's an inevitable come down when the reality of things sinks in, and that mysterious new smartphone turns out to be just another imperfect slab of glass, plastic and metal, with its own unique set of compromises. It's easy to prejudge based on numbers and specs, or even a JPEG or two, but it's foolish to completely rubbish something like the Galaxy S III just because it doesn't live up to hype-fuelled expectations -- at least not until you've had the chance to try it out for yourself.

The success of the Galaxy S III won't be measured by the reaction of the tech press shortly after launch, or even the reviews that follow. Sales will be the deciding factor, and Samsung has the market presence and advertising dollars to ensure its shifts tens of millions of S III's, regardless of PenTile this or plastic that.

Other manufacturers are closing in, however. Sure, Motorola has yet to show its hand, but right now it's very much a two-horse race between Samsung and HTC at the high end of the Android space. Considering the gulf that existed between Samsung and its Android competitors in 2011 isn't anywhere near as wide in 2012, we're in for an exciting few months. And as the Galaxy S III spreads its reach across the globe, there's no doubt that Samsung's newfound mastery of hype will prove invaluable in the ongoing smartphone wars.

 

Reader comments

Hype, expectation and the Samsung Galaxy S III

88 Comments

Excellent article.

The Galaxy S III's biggest competitor may end up being the Note.

It is hard to want a smaller phone once you have seen the Note.

+10010010010010240238921598450982359812035981253

I remember when I used to say that the Galaxy Nexus was a letdown, and worse than the GSII. But now that I've used it, I take everything I said back.

I cant wait for samsung next unpacked where they will reveal the next note!!!
that will be my next phone :D

"But she's got a new Hat!!!!" - Smithers

Sums up anyone who thinks the SIII is worthy.

And a 12 megapixel camera WITH a top notch sensor was no fairytale, it was to be expected. The Nokia N8 had a great 12 megapixel camera, and that phone is old enough to be a part of Greek mythology.
(I think video was limited to 720p though)

Very good read. I was one of those that thought Samsung disappointed with the GS3. Now with each day that passes I seem to like the phone more. I thought it would be an easy decision between GS3 and G-Note on T-Mobile. Not anymore!

yeah, and it didn't happen only with you i thought the same and now the SIII seems the most beautiful phone available to me. And I'm realizing that more people are having this same behavior, disappointed at first and then loving. Maybe is this natural design, who knows...

Nice article but i want a galaxy note its better. They should have called it the galaxy s 2.5 not anything spectacular.

The Note on AT&T with the Gingerbreat software was very laggy IMO. I love the entire phone but with the processor that AT&T has running in it and Gingerbread software it was laggy in different places. I am waiting for the T-Mobile Note hoping it comes thru with a different processor. I am a big fan of the size, looks and the overall feel, that damn laggy feeling thru out the entire phone just sucks.

The two people I know who had or have the AT&T Note (one returned it) complained that is was a bit laggy in places. One of them compared it to the old sense.

Very well thought out and written article, you guys at Android Central have really been pleasantly surprising me lately. keep up the great work and thanks - )

Absolutely agree. Very nice article Alex. I think SG3 looks really nice and the battery size is about right (although it has to be tested with LTE). I have DINC2 and although I like HTC phones it's time for a change (life's too short to stay with just one brand). I will likely upgrade to SG3 or Maxx HD (or next Motorola) phone. (Sorry for too many ()).

Great article. All those guys that set themselves up for disappointment need to read this and own up to their mistakes. But they're out there creating HTC One X threads in SGS3 forums.

A very balanced and well written article. What is amusing is that if Samsung had made a few small tweaks - make the back cover matte, skin a few more TW elements like Contacts, update the icons) then the huge initial backlash against the design wouldn't have happened. Samsung is learning fast based on the quality of their presentation, and if they'd made the initial impression of the device more favorable, no one would have bothered much about the specs. As more people are getting hands on time, everyone is saying that it looks and feels a lot better than the pictures. And the software features are what makes this phone.

This is a good write up. It reverberates what I've been thinking and also have commented on in other GSIII articles. We the people created this device in our minds that is beyond natural and it's true that a lot of people found it with a little lack luster because it didn't live up to their expectations. I'm sure once people have the device in hand, they will have a change of mind. Tech bloggers and their write ups really add to this hype, and play a big role in the decisions that consumers make when deciding on purchasing a device, despite the marketing the actual manufacturers will put out. I think people need to realize that nothing is definite until it's confirmed to be definite. This article though did hit the nail right on the head. Good job mate! Cheers!

My $0.02

This was a great article from Alex. I do not understand people passing judgments on the S III even before seeing it in person. Personally I like the way it looks from the front but I will wait to pass final judgement before holding it in my hand. People freak out when companies go a little away from the norm in terms of design. We are so much used to rectangular slab phones that if someone does something different, it instantly becomes a bad design. I have a gut feeling that Samsung will change the design for the big four American carriers.

I think they've done some great things with the software. I just wish they had better presenters who could have showcased those features in a much better way than they actually did. You aren't going to wow thousands of reporters when your presenter says "some people might think that sound was bizarre" (or something to that note).

Shouldn't you wait to pass final judgement until *after* holding it in your hand, rather than before?

great stuff Alex. you're my favorite writer from AC.

i'm now fine with everything on S3 except how Samsung freaking refuses to follow Google's direction.
menu button?? GREEN colors? ugly TW icons?? no Holo theme??

come on samsung. like WTH??? jeez.
samsung really needs to get with the program.

I don't think Google has any control over Samsung in this regard. Samsung's agenda is not to push Google's eco-system. But to sale devices which customers can identify as a Samsung device.

If you think, you will notice that Samsung is actually pushing for it's own alternative eco-system. They have their Music hub with 17 million songs, then video and games hub. Shortly they are launching S Cloud. They now acquired mSpot for media streaming. Now they are investing heavily into apps. Just a few days back they had an app contest for S Pen. Now they have a bigger app contest, where bounty is 4 million. http://www.smartappchallenge.com/eng/main.do

So, if you expect that Samsung will follow google's recommendations, chances are very slim.

@bqrius: If it's a pure google experience you want, and you want the manufacture to be Samsung, then your option is the Galaxy Nexus.

However, if it's a Touchwiz experience you want, and you prefer your OEM to be Samsung, then the GSIII is your device.

IMO, Samsung looked at what they did with the G-Nex, and decided in their minds they could improve the user experience by adding Touchwiz (making it undeniably a Samsung device), and add in a few additional software enhancements.

In their minds they probably thought if people want Google device they'll purchase the G-Nex, but if they want a device that's more Sammylike, then GSIII will be available. In either case, they make a sale!

Very well written. I'm constantly impressed by the quality and depth of coverage that AC provides on a daily basis.

Kudos Alex.
Finally somebody brings some rationale into the discussion.
No, it's not for everyone. Many, including myself, will be happy with this device.

My plan was always to reserve judgment until I've actually held the phone anyway.

But man, I really dislike TouchWiz. But with quality 3rd party launchers, and rom options available, it's all good. My choice is going to be between the Evo 4g LTE, and whatever variant of the Galaxy S3 Sprint brings to the table. Unless they release the Note.

Thanks for a great article! I had the first epic and now the g. note (which I love) was considering the HTC OneX but the new Galaxy S III may actually take the place of a new HTC.

Excellent article, Alex. I admit I didn't initially like the GSIII, but I've definitely been warming up to it over the last few days. I think I'm going to get it, as long as the Verizon model has a quad-core processor.

Thats an excellent write up Alex , Well said

Personally , I have no problem with the Specs (Kinda what I was expecting anyway , except the big ass screen ... lol) , Im happy for samsung for finding their own design language (I hope they don't over use it like Infiniti & Hyundai), but I still find the design a bit "Odd" , it maybe grow on me later on (like the ONE X) or not .

My problem though is with the White Glossy Finish ,
I HATE the White Glossy Finishes (In general & NOT specifically the SGS III) , It makes the stuff look cheap ... & with wrong combination of Build Materials , It will feel cheap too (i.e. a White Nokia phone) & With time (Usually around 6 months) the Whiteness turns into brownness (I saw that happens with 2 different white Nokia E71)

Anyway , Im not shopping for a new phone anytime soon since I'm very very happy with my Atrix (Which is not even a year old) plus Im saving for a Windows Phone phone .

But if HTC Made a GSM Version of the new EVO , I'll be really really tempted

Thanks for the kind words (and same to everyone else!)

The One X is basically a GSM EVO 4G LTE. Just a different design and no microSD card.

Don't mention it , by the way You & Phil did an amazing job covering the SGS III event.

Yea I know , they are basically the same (Except a few differences) but for some reason I like the EVO's design more.

Lol, so true
I uploaded by a mistake instead of the Carbon Fiber one next to it !
I didn't notice it until you mentioned it .... lol

Thanks for the heads up ... I'll change it soon

I didn't have overly-high expectations, and I'm not disappointed that the SIII didn't have the rumored super-specs.

My expectations were that the SIII would have the best hardware on the market, as the SII had. Unfortunately, it basically has the same hardware specs as the competition with an inferior screen. If I want the best of the best, I can't go for this phone which isn't. (I'm talking about the NA version, of course.

I don't really see what HTC has brought to the table besides LCD 2 and sense 4, though. So tell me, what is the 'best'...

My expectations did not include anything crazy. I wanted a micro SD slot, removable battery and NFC. I was in fact getting worried when the HTC One was released and pretty much lacked all the hardware features I wanted. Unless something special happens I will be getting this phone on launch day.

Samsung,HTC, and Motorola should be thankful Sony's marketing department is seemingly run by 12 year olds because if Sony could ever promote their Xperia line properly they could be the ones to beat this year.

Agreed, the Xperia GX will "probably" out perform the SIII and One X + has removable battery, SD card slot and an equally good screen if not better. But who on earth apart from tech site viewers would even know this phone existed? No one.

If that's the case then I feel bad for Sony, this is probably their one true chance to get their foot in the door, the Xperia S is nice, but the GX would spice up this market greatly. Samsung only competing with HTC every 12 months probably isn't going to push them half as much as a 3rd company in the race would.

Agreed , Sony always had great hardware (except the Their Flip phones & Pre-Merger) since the Walkman & Cyber-Shot phones.

Their phones are outstanding , Especially Cameras

everyone was talking nonesense and saying that they where dissapointed with the S3when they saw the pics [including Myrian Joire from Engadged] but theyr opinion changed to positive when they got to play with the device in person.

i love my S2 and the only phone that can replace it is the S3, i'm in love with the pebble blue!!!

The expectations of 1080p are exaggerated and no one with functioning brain cells believed those rumors.

The main complaints of the SGS3 are the hardware design and pentile screen - both valid concerns. I have a Note and while I love it, the pentile screen isn't as sharp and clear as a comparable lcd. That's a fact. The smaller size screen of the SGS3 will help mask this issue but it's still present.

These apologist articles are as annoying as the initial disappointment hyperbole.

Design is subjective but I don't think the SGS3 is beautiful. Plastic won't shatter like glass but looks and feels worse and less premium. The asymmetry of the design is a point of contention. The top and bottom corners don't match each other and look a bit silly. The metal band framing the phone looks a bit out of place and the bottom buttons aren't vertically flush and level.

I'm sure the design is a deliberate attempt to avoid the look and feel of the iPhone due to all the lawsuits but that doesn't dismiss the fact that to many, the design and asymmetry is not attractive.

Smart folks already knew the SGS3 wouldn't be rocking an A15 based Exynos 5xxx seeing as how those have just now since the end if April been prepped for mass production and this phone's been in the pipeline and design/testing phase for at least a year.

I'm sure many apologists have made their decision to purchase this phone and want to make themselves feel better about it - it's only natural and a known aspect of human psychological after all. But let's not pretend that much of the criticism leveled against this phone isn't valid.

There is a 720p SuperAMOLED Plus on the 7.7, so it is existent, just not in that size. Either way, the pentile argument is bogus unless you are using reading glasses to look at your phone.

Well written in all ways. What's interesting now is monitoring the One X forum as people are using them daily and learning about the various glitches, etc. And your comparison of the pre-release hype for the 4S as it relates to the GS3 is on the money. Since I have been an iPhone person for over 4 years, I was one of the many disappointed people when the 4S was released and still feel it's a disappointment. But that's just me.

As to the GS3, I think the jury is out until like the One X, everyday people have them in their gritty little hands and share their experience, pros, cons and other such things. For me, the phone looks very cool though to be honest, I'm leaning towards pulling the trigger on the Skyrocket for economic reasons (it's $60 and dropping on Amazon). However, the big ass screen on the GS3 and sexy design definitely hooked me.. Good work! :)

Yes the hype leading up to the S3's release was just Insane so its no wonder many folks were disappointed. But the S3 has the features I want such as the removable battery and the SD card slot which the X One does not have. So the S3 for me gets the nod over the One X. It all comes down to what features you want your phone to have and the S3 has more of what I want.

One of the best articles I have read and agree 100%... Apart from a plus hd screen the s3 is everything I expected . I knew that there would be a lot of negative things said about the s3 especially with the amount of hype generated as no phone can live upto that hype. One thing I have realised is that the people who have actually seen the phone in person and used it actually like it and the people who have only seen images etc are the people rubbishing the phone. Even people that are professional tech bloggers are saying the phone is rubbish without seeing it and you would think that out of all people they would know not to pass final judgements without actually using the phone

I don't think this article was that great.. seemed way too fanboyish to me and I'll explain why:

I am not one to buy into hype, but I expect the next iteration of a phone to be worth replacing the previous one. It's quite possible that this is not feasible but it's not my fault, that the manufacturers want to try banking money EVERY year rather than come up with a quality upgrade every two years. Why does Samsung once again have to copy Apple's business model? Why wouldn't it make sense every two years I get the new galaxy phone and it's a worthy replacement?
Everyone seems to agree that this is an incremental upgrade and not really worthy of replacing your current phone unless you truly are technically anal and need the next best thing. There is nothing about this that makes me want to trade in my note. Nothing and it has nothing to do with not meeting hype. It has everything to do with just not being that much better.

Also, just to nitpick on the display. Pentile has more longevity??? Great, so I am going to have this phone for 4 years so longevity is important... Hell no!! I'm not going to have this phone for 4 years I could give a shit about longevity. Forget all this technical crap. People talk trash about pentile displays because, guess what, they look worse. Nobody cares about the statistics, the eye, blah blah in the end it just doesn't look as good and that's all there is to it. Do you think the average consumer sees pentile and freaks out, no. They do, however, choose a none pentile display if they are side by side because one looks better than the other.

So in summary, this article gives to much argument towards the reason for disappointment being hype, when in reality the disappointment truly is that the phone just isn't that much better.

I honestly don't think PenTile makes a lick of difference above 300ppi. The only very minor issue with the Galaxy Nexus screen is that the whites could have been a little whiter. If the reviews are to be believed, this has been rectified with the SGS3. I'm expecting this to be one of the best screens available and sure for a lot of people the One X screen might be slightly better but for those that like deep blacks like me, this screen might be better for them.

My Note has 285ppi, pretty close to that magical 300ppi "retina barrier," and the fuzziness with certain graphics (seems more pronounced with red/orange) and the lack of sharpness/crispness with text is still evident.

The pixel density of the SGS3's screen will help mask and mitigate flaws but they will still be present.

So just because you wont have the phone for 4+ years, a major corporation shouldn't think about long term users?

Hell, I've got a buddy who's still rocking his G1(he was a day one adopter) and that's coming up on it's 4th year soon.

I also think that's a load of bs with Samsung saying it last longer. If Samsung does care about long term users they will update their phones to the latest version of the Os in a timely manner. I had the Samsung galaxy s tmobile version. It had crappy GPS that never got fixed. Had to root and load a custom rom and had no complaints about the performance and hardware.
The s3 looks to be a step in a different direction non Sammy like. Focusing alot more on software then on hardware. Overall s3 is going to be an awesome device till the next nexus comes out.

Anyone who stills has a G1 is not in the scope of technology. He could care less about this article and any phone that has came out in the last 2 yrs. You said he has a G1 like its a 1957 Chevy Impala. His phone hold's no value and most people who visit these forums get a new phone at least every 2 yrs. Should a phone last more then 4 yrs...of course! We still have third world countries that need phones!

I agree wholeheartedly.

This reminds me of the SGS2 launch and how anyone leveling any sort of criticism against it were flamed. Fanboys can't stand to have their "godphone" criticized.

I love my Note but even I get flamed by other Note owners whenever I express anything that I find could stand to be improved with the device!

And Samsung is just trying PR spin with the longevity bit. The truth is that they don't have an efficient and cost effective manufacturing process for sub 7" RGB screens at resolutions of 720p, plain and simple.

Websites such as this one depend on hype surrounding smartphones. But smartphones are becoming commodities. When that happens, sites like this won't be popular anymore.

This article is a perfect example of a site trying to justify its own existence by defending a phone against the reactions of customers. It's silly.

The main problem i see is that I'm a CM9 fan at the moment, and putting CM9 on this phone would all but erase any of the "cool software" that's on the phone. That leaves just the hardware left. Now the hardware is not bad by any standard, give me quadcore any day and PenTile is fine by me too (not to mention the battery has received a sizeable bump when compared to the GS2). However with all the emphasis being mostly on the cool new software capabilities it makes me wonder if perhaps there will be another phone i would rather have. I'm not due for a new phone till at least December so i think i might just wait and see about the Galaxy Note II. Should bring most of the internals in line with this, or maybe even past it, but then with a bigger screen!

The only thing about this phone that bothers me is that it'll have an S4 in the US. I can't afford to pay $800 to get the exynos.

Great Article, one of the best and most objective write ups i have seen, good effort and this is why i think AC is the best tech site around!

I'm quite new to the Android world and am due a new phone very soon, so its make a call time, i cant wait to get my hands on one of these to experience it for myself!

Once again Great Article Alex! Big up!

If anything, OEMs for Android have "spoiled" the userbase with these quick advancements with hardware. So while it is funny for someone to nitpick about a higher spec'd core or pentile screen (and this is the highest a cell phone has ever been at), you can thank these MULTIPLE releases upon releases of Android devices as they burn through hardware like crazy. Pretty soon we will be hitting a ceiling.

I do think this is a great article.

I'm in the minority. I don't think the GSII was very impressive at all. It had a WVGA display, not even qHD, and 1GB of RAM. That's really all that set it apart. Of course it was fast. It was probably the only dual-core phone last year that had such a low screen resolution. I think people would have been better served by the Dinc2 with most likely better battery life and still excellent performance from it's Snapdragon S2 processor and 768MB of RAM. At least the Dinc2 is getting ICS and with Samsung's track record I wouldn't bet on it with the GSII though I would sure hope so. No, I don't have a DInc2 - that's just an example that came to mind.

I think the GS3 is a great device. I'm not sure it's the right one for me but I think people who complain about the screen would be extremely happy with it in their daily usage if they didn't know it was "pentile". I don't think using pentile, probably to boost battery life, was a bad idea.

I'm confused by the fact that you say "There’s no denying that the S III is less of an incremental upgrade than the [iPhone 4 to iPhone] 4S.". To me that's easy to deny. The GS went from a 480x800 display to a 1280x720 display. They went from a dual-core 48nm cpu to a quad-core 32nm cpu. The cpu change will help battery life a lot while being faster. Both had 1GB of RAM but the iPhone 4S still only has 512MB of RAM which is what good Android phones had 2 years ago. The display - well, you're not even in the same ball park with the gsII as the gs3 since the resolution change will let you see a lot more on the screen at once. To me those are much more significant improvements than the iPhone 4-4S where really all you got was a faster processor you can barely use because iOS is a very inflexible operating system.

I mentioned it a few times in different ways but I think a significant improvement with the GS3 over the GS2 will be battery life. I'm guessing the displays will be a wash given the low-res non-pentile smaller screen on the GSII and the 720p pentile large screen on the GS3. The CPU will save a lot of power being 32nm in the GS3 and 48nm in the GSII. The battery is also a lot larger being 2100mAH in the GS3 compared to the 1650mAH in the GSII.

Somethings I appreciate about the GS3 that are not the case with many Samsung phones are the notification LED, not only does the GS3 have one but Like the GNexus it can display any color, and the fact that is has a MicroSD slot. It would be cool if it's XC and not just HC but either way that's good to see!

Overall, I would say the Samsung Galaxy S 3 is a huge improvement over the Galaxy SII and a great device for the time at which it is coming out.

Excellent article Alex. Very well written and well thought out.

I do have one question.

"...Samsung came out with its 4.8-inch, 720p SuperAMOLED panel (with -- gasp -- slightly lower pixel density than the Galaxy Nexus)..."

"Philip Berne reveals that the gaps between the subpixels on the S III are smaller [than the Galaxy Nexus], making for a sharper-looking image and fewer jaggies."

Those things seem to conflict to me. How can the SG3 have a lower pixel density, but the subpixels be closer together? Maybe this isn't the right place to ask this question. I think I'm going to take it into the Hardware forum. But if anyone knows the answer feel free to answer.

You're right, lower pixel density means the distance between pixels themselves (individual clusters of RGBG) is larger. What Phil Berne is saying is that the space between the individual red, green, blue and green *subpixels* that make up each pixel is smaller on the S III. This means the four subpixels which make up each pixel are packed more tightly together, making the PenTile matrix pattern less obvious. Hopefully that makes sense :)

Don't want it. Never will want another Samsung phone until they get rid of TouchWiz. It is the most horrible software creation ever.

Also, the 1GB of RAM is a bad choice. Android 4.0 is a coding monstrosity of size.

1GB of RAM on ICS just isn't enough to keep it running as smooth as Gingerbread with 1GB.

I have just as much free ram on ICS as I do on GB. I can't speak to TouchWiz or other overlays on ICS, but core OS seems to be just fine.

I just wanted to say thank you. This may have been the best article I have ever read on AC. You are truly gifted. As for the Sammy whoever said sammy needs to get with the program is sadly mistaken they are killing it lately and even though I love the pure google of the Galaxy Nexus. I do like TW ofcourse like most I agree sense is superior but TW is not lacking a whole lot from being a great. I am excited to try the new one. I have high hopes. Also when i get tired of it I am sure there willl be some amazing development for the amazing devs that did the same for the GS2! Alex you da man

Alex, great write-up and article. It's a great read. As usual you never disappoint...It's funny how many comments are made about a phone not many have held or seen live as yet, besides Alex, Phil and the AC crew. I do like the design of the SGSIII as it shows a change from the retangular slab we're used to. The HTC One X is a very nice looking phone, probably the best looking phone out today. Samsung is atleast trying something different with their design, I give them that but I am more concerned with there touchwiz on top of ICS instead built/designed around it. I'm hoping it's as fluid as the HTC I played with in the store this past weekend. The exchangable battery in SGS3 is an awesome option. I just want to hold the phone and put it through my exercises I use day to day. I held the One X and it felt wide and thin. Edges felt a lil sharp. Like someone mentioned before once loaded with apps and sim card contacts are loaded, how with either phone(SGS3 or One X) react? I was waiting to see how the GNote would be with ICS but not sure I wanna wait that long for the official ICS release besides I want a phone released with ICS. My only small riff with the One X is, will the battery last? You can't cutoff LTE on the phone, and I live in Newark DE...NO LTE!!! :-( Doesn't it constantly search for lte signal. I maybe wrong, Im not too fsmiliar with lte.

So can anyone actually tell me whats wrong with TW ?

I've had a quick play with a HTC One X, to me Sense 4 seems little different to my HTC desire (runs gingerbread), yet in this article (and others on this site) Samsung have been criticised for not embracing ICS and TW looking too much like gingerbread.
I also had a play with ICS on an S2 and obviously it differs from Sense but I couldn't see any radical differences between Sense & TW.

So what specifically is "wrong" with TW on ICS that Sense has "right" ?

It gets even more confusing when I read elsewhere that TW is well aligned with ICS. So which is it ?

I am beginning to think the TW vs Sense thing is completely subjective and some have a downer on TW because of previous versions?

let me copy this link and paste it on BGR's website just to give them an example of how an article should be written. great job man.

Great article. I think Samsung are probably guilty of egging on all the raised expectations.

I've been a HTC man for a good few years but I had great hopes that the SIII would not have the cheap plastic feel of the SII and was ready to make a switch for at least one cycle.

I think with true top end phones, the differences in performance are rarely going to be noticed. Form factor is the main differentiator.

Without a camera button, what is the point? Why does Samsung desire its customers to miss photos because it takes extra time to load the camera via on-screen buttons? Any argument against "pocket photos" is complete BS, since that would only use a trivial amount of space, and anyway you could just disable or remap the button if you don't want it. A camera button would be worth at least a few hundred extra $$$, yet Samsung just doesn't seem to want more customers.

And the editorial team here is egregiously shirking its duty. You consistently fail to call out phone makers on the lack of camera buttons. This feature is extremely important to many people, and you either completely ignore it or barely mention it, and almost always downplay it.

Is it really that big of a deal?

There is a quick gesture to do on the lock screen to open the camera or put a camera icon on the lock screen.

Yes, it is a huge deal. It's hard to believe you can't comprehend this, but public schools are known to produce morons. Without a hardware button, it will take you at least 5 seconds more to take a photo (which you apparently do not realize will result in many photo opportunities being lost), and you must look at the screen to activate the camera instead of concentrating on your subject. Just because it is not important to YOU (the center of the universe, as you believe) does not mean that many other people do not greatly desire this feature. But the only cameras that have it are absurdly limited in other ways.

So, any word on rumors for the next nexus? I heard it will have a 12mp camera, 1080p screen, and quad core A15 processor!

Jk, jk... I enjoyed reading this, Thanks.

This clunker is not going to compete with an iPhone 5 folks. Dropped the ball on this one. This phone is created for enthusiast only.

Personally not good enough for people who already own a dual core and at least 4.5 inch screen. All the software can and will be ported. I was looking at all the game available for our phones last night. Android will not get it right till they enforce hardware guidelines. Most apps in the market will not work on one or more of the Android APPROVED devices in stores. I hate Apple but i do like i can buy a game and i know its going to work. I never even owned a iPhone and the screen would hurt my eyes, but nerveless most market apps just work. Our apps reboot phones lol. Even The Galaxy Nexus want play every game on the market. Example some of the accleromter racing games. Those apps should be removed immediately. I hate to say it but if Apple release a 4.5 inch phone, most of us would jump ship even those who don't know how to swim!

Perfect example. Android central reviewed "Machinarium" Its not compatible with Galaxy Nexus or SG2. Thats just crazy. Why even allow a app into the market if it cant support at least Google's Flagship phones "best selling'