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The most-anticipated Android phone of the year is finally upon us. Find out whether Samsung's new flagship lives up to the hype in our definitive Samsung Galaxy S III (S3) review.

Last year’s Samsung Galaxy S II came out of nowhere to dominate a generation of Android phones, selling over 20 million units in the process. It was instrumental in securing Samsung the 2011 smartphone crown, and cementing its place as a rival not only to other Android OEMs, but to the almighty Apple. At the time, in our own review, we proclaimed it “a supremely impressive device,” and that remains true to this day -- the Galaxy S II has become a vintage Android handset.

So how do you follow up such a technological marvel? There’s been no shortage of Samsung phones since the S II’s launch in the spring of 2011, but it wasn’t until twelve months later that the wall of secrecy surrounding its true successor began to crumble. And in early May, at a glitzy (and frankly surreal) event at London’s Earl’s Court arena, Samsung finally unveiled the Galaxy S III (S3).

The initial reaction was a unsurprising mix of excitement and jubilation, tempered by the revelation that after all the hype, the Galaxy S3 was just another high-end smartphone with its own imperfections and compromises. Well, now the phone’s out in Europe, and enough time has passed for the initial novelty to wear off, so let’s get right down to business. Just how does the Galaxy S3 shape up in the fiercely competitive smartphone market of 2012? And can it hope to match the stratospheric success of its progenitor?

We’ve got all these answers, and so much more, in our definitive review of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

 


The Good

A blisteringly fast smartphone in a good-looking chassis, with one of the best phone cameras we’ve tested. Extremely lightweight and ergonomic, and despite the presence of a 4.8-inch screen, not excessively large. The new TouchWiz UX feels faster and less bloated, and new innovations like Smart Stay add real value. Battery life equals or beats most Android competitors. Removable battery and expandable storage.

The Bad

The glossy back won’t be to everyone’s tastes, and Android purists will rightly complain about the inclusion of a legacy menu button (and use of legacy menus in general throughout the software.) Auto-brightness doesn’t ramp up aggressively enough, especially indoors. S Voice is a gimmick, and mostly useless in its current form. Though tangibly improved since version 4, TouchWiz remains visually chaotic compared to HTC Sense and vanilla Android.

Conclusion

Whether you judge a phone’s speed by benchmark numbers, what it can do, or just how quick it feels, the Galaxy S III is the fastest Android phone money can buy -- and that in itself is an achievement. But it’s obvious that Samsung isn’t miles ahead of the Android competition, as it was last year. That means the choice between its flagship and HTC’s is not as clear-cut as it’s been in the past. In fact, the argument between the Galaxy S III and HTC One X is one we’ll save for another day. But in spite of the Galaxy S3's identifiable weaknesses and foibles, the overall package that Samsung delivers is still exceptionally good. And that makes it a device we can enthusiastically recommend to high-end smartphone buyers.

 

Inside this review

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Galaxy S3 Video Walkthrough

Galaxy S3 Design and Build

Galaxy S IIIFor all its wondrous internal hardware, the Galaxy S II was a pretty unassuming device -- to the passing observer, it was just another black, rectangular smartphone. The Galaxy S3 abandons this conventional design, instead donning a curved chassis with reflective, silverish accents. What’s more, there’s no black model on offer this year, only “marble white” and (eventually) “pebble blue.” While it could be argued that this is an attempt to work around the legal posturing of Apple, it’s equally true that the S3’s design allows it to stand out in the growing sea of competing black rectangles. And although you can clearly trace some design cues back to phones like the Galaxy Nexus and original Galaxy S, overall it’s a marked departure from the design language of Samsung’s 2011 Galaxy line.

The S3’s industrial design was a major point of discussion in the days following its announcement. In the months beforehand, the Internet had been buzzing with fanciful rumors of an aluminum or liquid metal chassis. But just about every Samsung phone ever made has been constructed of plastic, so given the company’s design heritage, it’s no great surprise to find the S3 furnished in polycarbonate.

Despite the wringing of hands over the use of plastic -- glossy plastic at that -- this is not a device that looks or feels cheap. Granted, it’ll never quite compare to the cold, industrial feel of a phone like the HTC One S. And the glossy back cover can become something of a fingerprint magnet. But the use of plastic has its benefits, including better cellular reception and a lighter overall weight. At 133 grams, the Galaxy S3 is just a hair heavier than the HTC One X, and ever so slightly lighter than the Galaxy Nexus. It has a different finish, but the fact that the S3 is built from polycarbonate like the HTC One X should make it similarly durable.

Galaxy S III
Galaxy S III

Galaxy S III

The phone’s ergonomics, durability and light weight are all the more surprising considering it packs a whopping 4.8-inch screen. However, the minimal bezel and curvaceous chassis means it doesn’t feel excessively large or bulky. At 8.6mm thick, it’s considerably slimmer than the vast majority of high-end smartphones. Samsung’s button placement also helps out in this respect. The power button sits along the right edge, making it easy to find and press, and the main control buttons are centered right along the bottom of the device, meaning they can be reached without too much thumb strain.

While we’re talking about buttons, we should probably say something about the key setup that Samsung’s opted for on the Galaxy S3 -- a big physical home button in the middle, with capacitive menu and back keys on either side. That’s a standard button layout for international Samsung phones, but the decision to use a legacy menu button will rightly upset Android purists. Google’s phasing out the old-style menu button, and Samsung’s chosen button configuration moves it away from the Android 4.0 design language. And though it flies in the face of Google’s guidelines, we weren’t bothered too much by the inclusion of the menu button as we went about our daily business on the phone.

Behind the S3’s glossy back cover is its removable 2100mAh battery -- among the largest found inside high-end smartphones -- along with spring-loaded microSIM and microSD card slots. While expandable storage isn’t a great concern of ours, the phone nevertheless scores bonus points for allowing up to 64GB of extra extra space, in addition to the built-in 16GB. The same goes for the removable battery, which gives the opportunity to swap out a replacement in a pinch, or use a higher-capacity aftermarket model.

And last but not least, notification LED fans will be pleased to learn that the Galaxy S3 has a multicolored indicator in its top left corner. The LED flashes blue when booting or when a notification is pending, red when charging and green when fully charged.

Galaxy S III

Galaxy S3 Screen

The Galaxy S3’s 4.8-inch screen dominates its front face, with only a thin bezel separating it from the edge of the chassis. The glass front boasts Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2 for added impact-resistance, and its edges gently curve back down towards the trim, avoiding any sharp transitions from glass to plastic.

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The panel itself is a 1280x720 HD SuperAMOLED, similar to what’s found on the Galaxy Nexus. We say “similar” because there are some striking differences when you compare both phones side by side. Color balance is cooler on the S III, and whites don’t have a yellowish tint like they do on the Nexus. Nor does the S3 suffer from the same “graininess” that afflicts the Nexus at lower brightness levels. Colors seemed just a little punchier to us, too, though that could be the result of software tweaking.

The fact that the screen is SuperAMOLED, not SuperAMOLED Plus, means it uses the an RGBG (PenTile) subpixel structure, compared to the more standard RGB layout. At lower resolutions, this can result in unpleasant jagged artifacts around the edge of certain on-screen elements, but at 1280x720, you really don’t need to worry about that. If anything, these jaggies are less apparent on the S3 than on earlier HD SuperAMOLED displays.

Galaxy S III

One explanation for this might be the fact that individual subpixels are packed more closely together on the S III, as claimed by Samsung reps prior to release, and backed up by our close-up shots. However, chances are you’re not going to be using your phone from behind a microscope, so concerns over PenTile matrix patterns shouldn't be overstated. 

There are some valid criticisms to be made of the S III’s screen, however. The first thing we should get out of the way is the inevitable comparison to HTC's flagship, the One X. Right now, that phone’s SuperLCD 2 panel is the best-looking display on any smartphone, and unfortunately HD SuperAMOLED simply falls short of this mark in terms of clarity, color quality and sharpness. Daylight visibility, though not at all bad, is also inferior to the One X, and this is exacerbated by the white bezel. The trim is extremely reflective in bright sunshine, making it all the more difficult to focus on the screen it surrounds. Auto-brightness, too, could use a little tweaking, as like the Galaxy Nexus it defaults far too low, particularly indoors.

In 2011, Samsung bested just about everyone -- the obvious exception being Apple -- with its WVGA SuperAMOLED Plus panels. But LCD technology has evolved in the past twelve months, and AMOLED’s not quite king of the hill anymore. Nevertheless, crank up the brightness on the Galaxy S3, and you’ve still got a great-looking display.

Galaxy S III

Galaxy S3 Internal Hardware

Samsung has always taken the opportunity to showcase its latest and greatest processors in the Galaxy S line, and this year is no exception. The Galaxy S3 debuts Sammy’s Exynos 4 Quad chip, which as the name suggests delivers four CPU cores, each spinning up to 1.4GHz. We’re not too concerned with synthetic benchmarks here at Android Central, and it’s also true that a device's performance is determined by software just as much as hardware. But we’ve been sufficiently impressed by its performance and responsiveness that we feel confident in proclaiming the Galaxy S3 the fastest Android phone money can buy. Much of the credit for that has to go to the CPU.

The phone handled everything we could throw at it without breaking a sweat. And we don’t just mean using a live wallpaper without any lag -- we’re talking about playing a 1080p HD video in a window, while browsing the web and playing a 720p flash video in the background. We’ve got laptops that can’t even do that, so to have that level of computational power in a smartphone is just a little mind-blowing. Whatever your mobile gaming or video needs might be for the foreseeable future, it’s safe to say that the monstrous hardware inside the Galaxy S3 will meet, and likely exceed them. This thing is a powerhouse.

Backing up the new quad-core Exynos is 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (the 32GB and 64GB versions are not yet available at the time of writing). On our 16GB model, there’s 11.35GB left over for your own stuff, and like the Galaxy Nexus there’s no separate partition for app storage, so it’s all lumped in together. 11GB is a reasonable amount of space, though if you’re a heavy multimedia user, you may want to make use of that microSD card slot. Add in a 64GB card (the maximum size supported), and you’ll have a spacious 70+GB for your own stuff.

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Galaxy S III
Galaxy S III

Camera-wise, the Galaxy S3 has an 8MP rear shooter (with flash) and a 1.9MP front-facer, supporting 1080p and 720p video recording respectively. Both cameras feature BSI (backside illumination) technology, which is designed to enhance low-light performance. Initial teardown reports have suggested that the rear camera is likely an updated version of the Sony sensor used in the iPhone 4S, so it’s no surprise to see it delivering great stills and video. We’ll get to a detailed breakdown of camera performance later in the review.

The Galaxy S3 comes equipped with a quad-band HSPA+ cellular radio, which supports download speeds of up to 21Mbps down and upload speeds up to 5.7Mbps. (Contrary to some pre-release reports, the phone doesn’t support 42Mbps DC-HSPA.) In real-world testing, we obtained speeds of up to 7.5Mbps down and 4Mbps up on the Three UK network, which is comparable with what we’ve gotten from other HSPA+ handsets. On the Wifi side, the phone supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz A/B/G/N networks, as well as 40MHz channel bonding. This allows greater throughput over Wireless N networks by using two adjacent channels. It’s nice to see this tech finally rolled out on a phone, but we didn’t notice any great increase in throughput when connecting to our channel-bonded Wifi network, so your mileage may vary. NFC and Wifi Direct connectivity is in the bag, too, and Samsung’s employed both of these technologies in its “S Beam” feature, which we’ll explore later in this review.

Finally, we experienced no problems with voice call quality on the Galaxy S3 -- all our calls came through loud and clear, and we found the external speaker to be extremely loud at its maximum setting, without any real loss of clarity.

Galaxy S3 Specs

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Galaxy S3 Software

The Galaxy S3 runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, along with a brand new version of Samsung’s TouchWiz software, dubbed the TouchWiz Nature UX. If you’ve seen any of the manufacturer’s marketing materials for this phone, you’ll know that the “inspired by nature” theme shows itself not just through the phone’s rounded design, but also in its software. The new water-like lock screen ripples appealingly as you unlock the phone. Plants and water appear again and again in the device’s wallpaper gallery, and even ringtones and audio effects have been re-worked to integrate water droplets and other natural reverberations. This brings some much-needed stylistic cohesion to TouchWiz, but there are still elements of the visual chaos that characterized earlier versions of Samsung’s custom UI. Though much improved in our opinion, TouchWiz remains some way off feeling fully designed as a whole.

Home screens

True, some design and consistency issues persist within Samsung’s UX, but the experience is nevertheless slick, responsive and lag-free. If you’re upgrading from a Galaxy S II, you’ll be greeted by a familiarly smooth selection of software, including the TouchWiz launcher (which has grown some 3D effects) and live wallpapers, which are not only gorgeous, but lag-free to boot. The extensive selection of widgets found on earlier Samsung phones has been whittled down somewhat in the new TouchWiz Nature UX -- likely in order to avoid drowning users in a sea of multicolored squares. On the whole, this is a positive change, and the only functionality we missed was a dedicated power control widget, as we like to be able to switch between brightness modes on the fly. (Power controls are found within the notification area, but there’s no brightness control up there, sadly.)

But our main gripe with Samsung’s widgets has to do with the lack of any consistent design language -- again, see our complaint above about the visual chaos of TouchWiz. The calendar widget looks completely different to the music widget, which in turn has nothing in common with the clock and weather widgets. It’s small things like this which demonstrate that Samsung doesn’t quite understand UI design as well as competitors like HTC.

Samsung has made advances in other areas, though, particularly gesture control. The love-it-or-hate-it tilt zooming feature is back, along with more useful additions like the ability to launch directly into the camera app by pressing the screen and rotating to landscape mode. Similarly, placing the phone to your ear while you’re viewing a contact (or a text conversation) will cause it to directly call that person. And double-tapping the top of the device can trigger it to jump to the top of any on-screen lists.

Galaxy S III softwareGalaxy S III softwareGalaxy S III softwareGalaxy S III softwareGalaxy S III software

In fact, there are so many new software features in the Galaxy S3 that it’s worth taking time to break down some of the leading additions --

​S Beam

We demonstrated this feature at the Galaxy S III launch event in London, and it’s a really ingenious way to transfer files between supporting devices (though for now, you’re limited to other Galaxy S3’s). This is done by finding the file you want in the gallery or “my files” app, then holding both devices back-to-back to initiate an NFC connection. From there, a Wifi Direct link is established between the two phones to perform the heavy lifting. We can’t see this being a feature you’ll use every day, but there’s no denying it’s pretty cool.

AllShare Play

An evolution of the original AllShare DLNA app, AllShare Play is a new service which allows music, photos or videos to be streamed to and from a variety of devices over a local network, or the Internet, using Wifi or mobile data. Samsung’s partnered with SugarSync to provide cloud storage for users' media, and there’s a 5GB free allowance. Unfortunately, the PC client backing up this service is more than a little unstable, and we were unable to get it fully functional on any of our machines. There’s clearly a lot of potential in this kind of service, and we're sure we’ll see more of AllShare Play as it rolls out on future Samsung devices. But at the moment it’s very much a “version 1.0” product.

Browser

The web browsing experience on the Galaxy S3, through the built-in browser or Google Chrome, is faster than on any Android phone we’ve tested. Chrome still stutters somewhat on some image-heavy pages, as it does on every phone, but the native browser is slicker than ever on the Galaxy S3’s beefy hardware. As with every Samsung device, there’s a separate brightness setting for the browser, which will be a convenience for some, and a minor irritation for others. Besides that, it’s pretty much the standard ICS browser, only really, really fast.

Galaxy S III softwareGalaxy S III softwareGalaxy S III softwareGalaxy S III softwareGalaxy S III software

Smart Stay

A favorite of ours, Smart Stay is a subtle feature which uses the front-facing camera to track whether you’re still looking at the phone. Most smartphones simply dim the screen after a certain amount of time has passed, but Smart Stay periodically checks the camera to determine whether the phone should go to sleep. This can be really useful if you’re reading a long article on the web, or admiring a photo you’ve just taken. It’s not the most glamorous feature of Samsung’s new quad-core beast, but it is incredibly useful, and we think we’ll miss it next time we’re using a phone without it.

Pop-up Play

Activated from within the gallery app, this is a picture-in-picture feature that lets you view video content in a smaller window while using the Galaxy S3 normally in the background. Like S Beam, it’s not going to be a feature you use every day, but it is technically impressive. It’s also an opportunity for Samsung to show off the power of the S3’s hardware -- many phones would be preoccupied simply rendering an HD video, but Samsung’s flagship can do this and browse the web, or send IMs in the foreground at the same time.

S Voice
S Voice

S Vo​ice

S Voice was heavily promoted in the run up to the Galaxy S3’s launch. It’s an interactive voice assistant agent, or a Siri clone, if you prefer. You can activate it with a double-tap of the home key, by saying a particular phrase at the lock screen, or by finding it in the app drawer. Sadly, the app suffers from many of the same issues that Siri faces, namely that it’s good for basic queries, but not so great at more complex tasks. There’s a long, long list of commands which S Voice claims to be able to perform -- from simple stuff like weather checking, to more advanced problems like managing events in the calendar. And in our experience the service just doesn’t handle enough of them accurately enough to be of any real, practical use. It’s often prone to long delays of several seconds while looking up questions, and when it does come back to you with an answer, there’s no guarantee the information will be correct, or even remotely relevant.

S Voice supposed to be an "assistant," but the experience here is one of talking to someone who's either slightly senile, or doesn't understand English all that well. That’s not the sort of person who'd make for a very good assistant. So until Samsung irons out some of the kinks, it’s going to remain a bit of a gimmick to show off to friends, rather than a practical tool to help you out in everyday life. Many of S Voice's issues seem to lie in speech recognition rather than the back-end logic (incidentally, much of this is provided by the Wolfram Alpha knowledge engine, just like Siri). So despite these headaches, there's hope that this feature will improve over time.

S Memo​

Samsung’s note-taking service remains mostly unchanged from its first appearance on the Galaxy Note. The app allows you to take notes by drawing on the phone, or entering text and voice clips. Notes can be backed up to your Samsung account, if you have one, and it’s also possible to export to Google Drive and Evernote. This app should come into its own in conjunction with the Galaxy S III “C Pen” stylus when it’s released, but this accessory isn't available just yet.

Flip​board

The popular digital magazine app was first announced on the Galaxy S3 back in early May, and we went hands-on at the London launch event. For those unfamiliar with it on iOS, Flipboard lets users select topics that interest them, and arranges related stories, and social updates from a variety of sources, into a pleasant page-based structure. Flipboard does an excellent job of chewing through information in multiple formats from multiple sources, and turning it into something that’s enjoyable to use and browse serendipitously. It might not be a reason to choose the Galaxy S3 over another phone, especially with a wider launch likely in the months ahead. But pre-loading apps like this makes for a better out-of-the-box experience, especially for fresh Android converts.

Video hub Gallery app

Multimedia apps

Samsung’s Games, Music and Video hub are pre-loaded on the Galaxy S3, along with Google Play Books and Play Movies. Samsung’s own video service offers substantially less content than Google’s, though it does boast the advantage of being able to download content directly to the device for playing, rather than requiring content to be streamed. And it’s early days for the other two hubs, too. The music hub presents a secondary interface to play your own tracks, while also providing access to MP3 purchases through 7Digital, and cloud-based music through Samsung’s just-launched Music Hub Premium subscription service. Similarly, the games hub is essentially a front-end to multiple third-party games stores.

There’s also a surprisingly full-featured photo editing app available through Samsung’s app delivery platform. This was pre-loaded on other Galaxy phones, but is offered as a separate download on the S III. Most of the features haven’t changed too much, though. There’s still a wide array of filters and effects to add, as well as manual controls for cropping, resizing and deforming images in a variety of ways.

Bizarrely, the video maker app included with Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note is nowhere to be found on the Galaxy S III.  What makes this stranger is the app was pre-loaded on the demo units at the May 3 launch event -- so it’s likely this simply isn’t ready for primetime yet, or there’s some other technical hurdle preventing it from being on the S III at launch. We’ll be watching the “More Services” app to see if the video maker lands on Samsung Apps in the near future.

Widgets and apps

Galaxy S III Battery Life

Galaxy S III
Battery life

With all these high-powered components humming away inside, it’s not surprising to see Samsung packing a 2100mAh battery lurking within the Galaxy S3. The phone’s longevity is also helped along by the efficiency of the Exynos 4 Quad chip, which is built on Samsung’s new 32nm manufacturing process. And of course, anyone who’s used an Android 4.0 phone will be aware that the latest version of the OS is incredibly power-efficient, particularly when idling.

The combination of chip, battery and software makes for some impressive battery life on Samsung’s quad-core behemoth. Even under the most strenuous workload, we struggled to kill it off in under 12 hours, and with normal-to-heavy real world usage, we were regularly getting 17 to 18 hours out of the S III before the battery meter started to hit the 30% mark. To put that in perspective, it’s roughly comparable to what we get out of the Galaxy Nexus with its 2000mAh extended battery.

Unlike a lot of other Android phones -- particularly high-end models -- there wasn’t any one task that we found capable of completely decimating the battery in a short space of time. The Smart Stay feature, which occasionally checks the front-facing camera, didn’t seem to affect battery life in any tangible way. And even traditional battery killers like the camera and HD video streaming left a relatively modest dent in the battery, so long as we weren’t going about these activities for hours at a time. (And as far as video is concerned, it’s worth noting that the S III played back just about every file we could throw at it using hardware decoding, which is kinder to the battery.)

Galaxy S III

Android’s internal battery stats indicate that the screen and cellular radio were among the top battery-guzzling components, which isn’t all that surprising. Samsung does offer some software options to help squeeze some extra life out of the battery, though, particularly when it comes to the screen. The “power saving” option, found within the settings menu, can cut CPU and screen power, and change the background colors in certain apps to minimize battery drain in an emergency. (You’ll to want to leave these options disabled for best performance, though.)

So we’re perfectly satisfied with the battery life of the Galaxy S3, and we should also state that our experiences here were in marked contrast to our time with the Tegra 3-toting HTC One X, which consistently conked out after 11 or so hours.

Galaxy S3 Camera

Camera app
Camera app

As mentioned earlier, the Galaxy S III brings to bear an 8MP rear camera and 1.9MP front-facing camera. Both use backside-illuminated sensors resulting in improved low-light performance compared to standard phone cameras. This is particularly welcome on the front-facer, which many manufacturers are content fitting with the cheapest unit available. So if you’re planning on making video calls indoors, you’ll welcome not having to worry about low frame rates or excessive graininess. Images taken on the front-facer aren’t mind-blowingly impressive, but they’re a considerable step beyond the noisy, blurry shots produced by most front cameras.

The rear camera is where the real action’s to be found. Like the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note, it’s an 8MP unit. But the combination of upgraded optics, improved software and additional hardware clout means shots taken on the Galaxy S III are considerably sharper, clearer and more vibrant than those recorded on its predecessor. Capture speeds are near instantaneous in all but the poorest of lighting conditions. And like the HTC One series, there’s a dedicated burst mode, though on the S III it’s activated through the menus, rather than being available on-demand by long-pressing the shutter button. Burst mode allows you to machinegun your way through up to twenty pictures at a time, or eight if you’re using the phone’s built in “best shot” feature (which, incidentally, does a pretty commendable job of picking out the best-focused shot in a series.) Images captured with the Galaxy S III easily stand up alongside those shot with the HTC One series and Sony Xperia S, though we noticed that the dynamic range available in photos was a touch lower than those devices.

Galaxy S III

The phone’s camera and gallery apps support the ability to automatically tag friends within pictures based on information within your contact list. This is a feature that some point-and-click cameras have experimented with for a while with little success, and unfortunately it doesn’t much better on the Galaxy S3. We spent some time manually tagging people, but getting the phone to automatically recognize anyone in newly-taken photos was hit-and-miss at the best of times. Software updates may improve this feature, but at present it’s just not reliable enough.

Panoramic and HDR modes are included in the camera app, and work pretty much as advertised. And other, more exotic options enable you to take a picture and immediately share via a Wifi direct connection, or take a photo of a friend and immediately share through face detection (though we had enough trouble getting this to work at all.)

Gimmickry aside, we've been particularly impressed with the quality of macro shots produced by the Galaxy S3. The camera was able to capture sharp, well-focused images even with less-than-perfect situations where the phone, or subject, wasn’t completely still.

The standard platter of photo and video features is also offered on the Galaxy S3 -- image stabilization, options for controlling white balance, ISO and metering, as well as timer controls. Additional extras include a few basic photo filters, including sepia, black and white and negative modes.

The Galaxy S3 does a similarly stellar job with video. The main camera supports shooting up to 1080p resolution, while the front-facer does up to 720p, and both manage buttery-smooth frame rates of 29fps, even in darker conditions. As you’ll see in our sample reel, the rear camera is exceptionally good in daylight, though some fine detail is sacrificed when recording at night by streetlights.

On balance, we feel safe in saying that the Galaxy S3 offers one of the best smartphone cameras available. HTC has its dedicated ImageSense chip for stills, but Samsung’s sheer processor muscle means the Galaxy S III is at no real disadvantage when compared to the One X and One S. Sony offers a 12-megapixel phone camera in its Xperia S, but images produced by this are noticeably noisier up-close. Sony also remains the king of low-light video, though Samsung isn’t far behind here either.

But we're nit-picking, and these are minor details. The bottom line here is that Samsung’s shipping a top-class camera in its 2012 flagship.

Galaxy S3 Hackability

Samsung’s tendency to release relatively developer-friendly devices continues with its latest flagship phone. And being a highly-anticipated handset, the Android hacking community is already hard at work digging into the S3’s bleeding-edge hardware. The phone has been rooted, a version of ClockWorkMod recovery is available, and work on a port of CyanogenMod 9 has already begun. Given the buzz around the Galaxy S3, and the expectation of high sales, we don’t think you’ll have to wait too long to get cracking with custom ROMs, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Galaxy S III

Galaxy S3 Review Wrap-up

It’s rare that a smartphone passes our desk without any real Achilles' heel -- an obvious flaw to point out in our summary to balance out all the good stuff. The Samsung Galaxy S III is such a device -- even the aspects of it that are comparatively weak are still very, very good when considered on their own. Our go-to example is the display. No, it’s not the best screen on a smartphone. But we’d argue that it’s a shoo-in for second or third. And that's still more than most phones can boast.

Some will bemoan the use of a plastic chassis, but this is largely a matter of personal taste, and in our opinion the Galaxy S3 is a shining example of how to make a smartphone out of plastic. It’s lightweight, solid and eye-catching, and it doesn’t feel cheap or creaky.

It's true that Samsung's fallen victim to some software gimmickry in its latest flagship phone. But more important is the question of software performance. And whether you judge a phone’s speed by benchmark numbers, what it can do, or just how quick it feels to use, the Galaxy S3 is the fastest Android phone money can buy -- and that in itself is an astounding achievement. Add in an exceptional camera and full-featured, if slightly scattershot software, and you have a strong candidate not just for the fastest Android smartphone, but the best Android smartphone.

But at the same time it’s obvious that Samsung isn’t miles ahead of the Android competition, as it was last year with its Galaxy S II. That means the choice between its flagship and HTC’s is not as clear-cut as it’s been in the past. Without a doubt, there are areas where the One X clearly beats the S III. But the argument between the Galaxy S3 and HTC One X is one we’re saving for another day. And in spite of the Galaxy S III's identifiable weaknesses and foibles, the overall package that Samsung delivers is still exceptionally good. And that makes it a device we can enthusiastically recommend to high-end smartphone buyers.

Galaxy s III

 
There are 202 comments

XavierMatt says:

Touch wiz is way better than Sense. IMO. It's actually as close to stock as you can get.

tommydaniel says:

Agreed, especially the newer Touchwiz

ricky0702 says:

I recently got an S3 and have had nothing but good things to say about it. I love the larger screen. The brightness didn't really seem an issue unless in direct sunlight. As for the internals, I ran several games: Deadspace, Eternal Legacy, Shadow Gun. They all ran smooth so the 1.5 GHz dual core is definitely able to hold its own. Using Quadrant it scored around 4900, so 3D benchmarks were all good.check these Top 7 Unique Features of the Samsung Galaxy S III http://www.careace.net/2012/08/03/top-1-unique-features-samsung-galaxy-s...

FaisDogg says:

Hahaha...I like the joke.
Touch wiz looks and performs like it was built by an 8 yo. Sense is for grown-ups you need to look at Sense 4, it's a fine and artistic skin.

rovex says:

Its the other way round. Sense, even sense 4 feels childish. I reminds me of my old Winmo phones.

21plays says:

htc sense makes no sense to me, especially the sense optimized multi tasking

Kedar says:

Touchwiz always had a cool cartoon feel to it.
Sense always had a polished feel to it.

It's going to be a tough decision coming from an Evo3D, whether to choose the OneX or GSIII.

jonyah says:

I have to agree with you TouchGiz is horrible. I'll take Sense any day over it. Though I'd prefer a rooted phone with neither.

wdfalco says:

get a nexus

wdfalco says:

get a nexus

kyan- says:

sense looks freaking horrible. it was good when it first came out on 2008

frettfreak says:

Its all preference. I love it when people state their opinon as fact. IMO, sense is a little on teh drab and boring side. i have had 3 sense phones and loaded the latest touchwiz UX on my Nexus S and i kinda like it. I actually enjoy the bright colors. Its just not so blah..

however, that is my OPINION, not fact. to each their own. move on.

butters619 says:

The new TouchWiz looks like Gingerbread.

carraser891 says:

i kinda like touchwiz. its not as heavy as Sense. And honestly all those skins and customization options are confusing.

blckz28 says:

I don't care for either. Load up Apex or Nova launcher.

nhf7170 says:

This

Wicell says:

That

Those

mrl515 says:

These

droser2000 says:

Thong

Apex and Nova are the two worst launchers. Try GO Launcher EX instead...

jasonvvong says:

Assuming that the the HTC One X dual core and the Samsung galaxy S3 had the same software, what would be the better buy?

differences are so small I think its more about preference

slackerjack says:

One has a better camera, the other a better screen - but neither is leagues beyond the other - so flip a coin.

Jack

sebianoti says:

Wrong, One X has a better camera + screen (noobs wouldn't understand)

Kedar says:

In certain situations, the camera on either phone can be better than the other.
Low light, for example, OneX dominates.

http://www.gsmarena.com/copy/review.php3?idReview=759&idPage=5

butters619 says:

Low light video on the One X though is not good. The autofocus takes over and the phone constantly goes in and out of focus so every few seconds you have a couple seconds of blurry video. My Atrix dominated in low light video.

crxssi says:

Has not been my experience with the Evo LTE, which is the same camera as the One X

Jimmy_Jo#AC says:

The actual hardware of the screen and camera are better on the One X. But the camera software is better on GSIII and it's much better for rooting and Android enthusiasts.

HTC has great hardware but their multi-tasking and other philosophies prove they're out of touch with what will make them a leader on the Android platform

Gearu says:

Looking forward to how the Huawei D Quad fits in with these two.

tommydaniel says:

The 100% cropped section with bee is very impressive!

I agree, I think the camera on the Galaxy S III is fantastic, I really noticed a difference in night shots with HDR on. Can't wait to try it out for myself.

Zemus says:

Fantastic review. Thanks Alex!

Murph5150 says:

Still glad I chose the GNex.

eljedo says:

seconded!!

adzrules says:

Same here. There is NOTHING about the SIII that would possibly sway me away from my GNex. Bigger battery...good, but I really have no GNex battery problems, removable storage, great! But still...I have no storage issues with my GNex's internal memory.

In all fairness though, this should have been the Google 'Nexus' phone (except without the hardware buttons) - not the GNex.

hmmm says:

You're probably looking at the next nexus. Well, a slightly sidegraded variation of it. I could see the next nexus not having a pentile screen but losing the sd storage again and also getting a crappier camera.

barondebxl says:

This is an excellent review.

Murph5150 says:

Still glad I chose the GNex.

briankurtz79 says:

why?! i look at my old gs2 next to my yellow screen gnex and think about hooking my gs2 back up everyday. think im just gonna sell both of them and buy the s3. any word on off contract pricing in the us?

impulse101 says:

Its just software adjustments fool. Change the gama and color multipliers and it is the SAME EXACT screen. GNex and SII have the same screen except one has different color adjustments out of the box. LMFGDAO!

Warpoet says:

Galaxy SII has a Super AMOLED plus screen (RBG matrix). Galaxy Nexus has a Super AMOLED HD (not plus) and pentile matrix. SIII screen is closer to that of Galaxy Nexus since they are both pentile matrix and AMOLED HD.

So no SII screen isn't the same as Galaxy Nexus.

Channan says:

"To put that in perspective, it’s roughly comparable to what we get out of the Galaxy Nexus with its 2000mAh extended battery."

Well, there go my hopes of this phone lasting longer than the 2 hours of on screen time I get with my Nexus. It's that stupid screen taking up all the power too.

prediscover says:

your nexus must suck real bad

Channan says:

Everyone's Verizon Nexus is the same over a mobile network.

dante501 says:

Depending on how good ur receiption is and how much your phone switches between 1x evdo 4g and lte your battery will drain. So only if someone is in the same located excatly same spot you only can figure out if your phone has battery issues has.

ratsttam says:

My Epic 4g gets 18+hrs on weekends (when if I'm home all day), and will be dead by lunch (6hrs) when I'm at work. Usage is the same. I get 1-2 bars at work, and nearly full at home. The radio can really crank up it's power to keep a connection, when it has to.
I will also note that it's not from switching 1x/evdo/wimax, since there isn't any 3g evdo/wimax around either home or work.

Kedar says:

Rooted the GS3 probably can be optimized to run for MUCH longer times just because of the battery.

Channan says:

Well considering the screen takes up 60-70% of the power, even if nothing else used the battery, I wouldn't get more than an extra hour or so of battery life.

dante501 says:

Yes you get way more then 2 hours on screen time out of the galaxy S3. I get trough a day of playing listening to music some surfing for like an hour sms and some talking. And this on the quardcore version not sure how good or battery saving the dualcore is. but battery life is pretty ok. And nice thing is that you can take the Battery out and get a bigger one.

joebob2000 says:

It's not the screen (although AMOLED is a power hog) as much as it is what the phone is doing when the screen is on that kills the battery. I have been through enough roms on my old Galaxy S to know that screen-on time is not created equal. Some roms are terrible about screen on time (like early stock roms) but later ones can run a long long long time of browsing, video watching, email reading, etc. Even if the activity is the same, some (not all) newer roms are a lot better about staying efficient when the screen is on. Don't get me started about Google Nav though.

Channan says:

Unless you're implying different ROMs will cause the screen itself to use less power, read my last comment above.

tommydaniel says:

I think the S4 will produce better battery life than the Exynos Quad.

drparanoid1 says:

Awesome review Alex! I can't wait to get this on the 20th. This will be my first Android, switching over from Blackberry for the last 5 years. I've bought into all the hype about this phone lol, but it doesn't look like I'm getting a bad device at all. Thank you!

dtreo says:

See Phil. Timing.
:)

Also, I would have loved a menu button on my EVO LTE, buy I wouldn't trade it for this S3/Touchwiz.

bohiti says:

This mod (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1681034) maps the recent apps key to be menu instead. Requires root, etc. I did it and it works great, got rid of that dang on-screen button. Love it.

hmmm says:

Yeah, awesome. You get all of that screen without stupid software buttons on it. Best mod available.

jandroshick says:

Amen!

Incitatus says:

Am I correct in understanding that TMobile will have a 32gb model, that a 64gb m-sd can be added to give me 96gb of storage?

Whulfgar says:

yup!

delldude405 says:

Let's check the math 32+64=96

It should work. I have one in my Evo 4G LTE and used one in my 3D.

Dirtman16 says:

That was a really excellent review. I'll be interested to see how LTE and the S4 affect battery life, but it sounds promising for the US.

Rob White says:

Quite an impressive piece of kit! I'm sold. VZW can take my money & run. I'll be down to 1 upgrade left on my acct. Hmmmm...

What to get? Maybe a pebble blue GS3? Hmmmm...

While I'm fuming that because of Apple's asinine popularity and the me too mentality I'm going to end up getting a phone without a keyboard, and as such my ability to write extensive documents on the road is pretty much gone. (Thankfully I have my Transformer.) I'm hoping that the screen will be big enough that I can turn off auto correct and type Pfft at my friend without needing to go back and fix the autocorrect to perfect. Or my personally annoying favorite:

Me: Err....did u happen to bring a mistress 7:09 PM
Me: Mattress 7:09 PM
Me: Dear god.....damn phone 7:10 PM

But autocorrect is the only way to increase my WPM. So yah. HATE softkeyboards. I'm hoping that going from 4.3 on my Evo 4G to 4.8 will make the screen large enough to increase WPM and avoid fat fingering letters. The EVO is virtually impossible to type one handed with the thumb.

That said the rest of the phone looks godlike and I'm prob paying the ETF Wednesday and switching from Sprint to Verizon.

Dirtman16 says:

You need a laptop.

Incitatus says:

^^^

Nope. I'm not carrying around a laptop with me wherever I go.

Saneless says:

Maybe your mistress can type it up for you

optimus0000 says:

Simple, yet effective. You sir, are a ninja :^)

thepeddle says:

Or turn off autocorrect and leave on suggested words.........or pick up an android phone with a hard keyboard.......or go use a blackberry....or just stop whining and learn how to type on a soft keyboard....

There are no more good keyboard phones because carriers have created a self fulfilling prophecy by putting out crap, no one buys it, and they say see no one wants QWERTY phones. (I can list a dozen friends who want them, and dozens more who are bitching at work about being forced to use softkeyboards.)

Go blackberry. Yah right. While I'm at it why don't I go Windows Mobile 6.1, its about as valid an option.

This is not a matter of fraking whining. This is a matter of speed. There is no learning to type. You don't speed type on a softkeyboard, period. Its like telling me to learn to drive a 8' semi through a 7' tunnel. Just do it eh? Here's a thought. Take your pompous attitude and shove it.

turbofan says:

I gotta say man, you can do it, just give it time. I used a Pre for over a year and dreaded the day I switched to a soft keyboard. While things were off to a slow start, now I can type faster on my soft keyboard (GS2) than I ever could on my Pre.

As far as autocorrect goes, that's another thing that will take some time. At first it'll drive you crazy but after you expand your user dictionary (you can also go in and add words manually for most keyboards, allowing you to avoid annoyance with words you know you'll use... like pfft).

You won't regret leaving BB but it seems you are well aware of that already. However, leaving for Verizon?? Ouch. All I can say is YAY more bandwidth for me!! Haha!

Jayshmay says:

I agree! ! ! ! !

These carriers should offer !!CHOICE!!

I make numerous spelling errors all the time. I try to type "not" and end up typing" nit" by mistake. I try to type "have" and end up typing "gave" by mistake. It's extremely frustrating!!!

carlosrey23 says:

Dude...you ok...you sound like you could use some time off from work ...lol.

Seriously I hear you! I switched form BB to htc Vision (G2 on T-mobile) and it was a good transition. But after a while it got annoying because it required two handed operation all the time. The 3.2" screen on that phone was small enough for single thumb typing, but not big enough for fast typing. So I switched to the biggest screen avaiable ....the Galaxy Note (5.3"). Typing improved quite a bit,but I also noticed that I went through like six different virtual keyboards before I found one that I like. I used:
- Stock TW (ok, i guess)
- Stock Android (meh)
- Swype (don't really care for it)
- Thumb Keyboard 4 (Great KB!!!! It can handle multiple languages easily and predictive text is very good. I like that you can teach it words easily too.)

- Swiftkey 3 Beta (Awesome!!! I recently started to test and I love the ability to configure to my need easily...you can switch between languages and it recognizes which language you are typing and make suggestions accordingly. I allows to suggest and/or predict your typing and more importantly configure how you want that function to work. That sold it for me.)

TK4 is what I have been using for ever, and continue to use it on my Transformer tablet, but for phones I think Swift Key 3 got it right. a 4.8" screen is plenty big, but if you need a huge screen get the Note, or wait for the htc equivalent coming later to VZW of hold out for the infamous Note2 also later this year.

Then again....you can solve all your need with a BT keyboard if you have the need for extensive typing....any mobile device is uncomfortable.

radiosimon says:

Nothing new here...someone complaining about the time or two that an autocorrect didn't understand what they were typing.

But you'll never hear them talk about the dozens...no, let's say 100's...or better yet and more likely, the 1000's of times autocorrect made the right adjustment to their sloppy typing.

By the way, how do you write 'extensive documents' on a blackberry as you mentioned in the earlier post? Really? On those little keys? I don't think any phone is your solution heheheh....I agree with someone else who said 'you need a laptop'!

jbrandonf says:

I can hit 30-40 wpm on a soft keyboard, much faster than I ever could manage on my old Pre. The initial challenge is learning to trust the autocorrect and having the phone learn you're commonly used words. After that you won't want to go back.

Your hands won't get cramped using a soft keyboard like they do with hardware keyboards.

jbrandonf says:

I can hit 30-40 wpm on a soft keyboard, much faster than I ever could manage on my old Pre. The initial challenge is learning to trust the autocorrect and having the phone learn you're commonly used words. After that you won't want to go back.

Your hands won't get cramped using a soft keyboard like they do with hardware keyboards.

qwick says:

If you haven't already tried Swype do it. There is an option to turn off auto-correct (which I keep off always!) Might be able to keep your wpm up with swype rather than typing.

evperry says:

I left the Epic 4g for the Samsung Galaxy nexus. I was a ardent keyboard supporter as I also have the need to type out long emails occasionally.

For the record every one I know who has the iPhone has difficulty typing on it. When you text an iPhone user, they call you back because they hate texting. Apple is killing texting. Outside of teenagers and maybe the occasionally adult who has the time to "learn"how to type on the iPhone, the one and only sole virtual keyboard for that phone absolutely positively blows. It kills that phone totally for me. My wife after having it for 6 months (38 yrs old) still types on it with her 2 index fingers.

Now my friend I am here to tell you that I am a grown up who actual uses my phone for what it was intended for and I also need a keyboard that is usable and the virtual keyboards generally suck.......Well guess what dood, I bumped into a program called Swiftkey and that keyboard literally will change your entire opinion on virtual keyboards. It is without a doubt the BEST keyboard available to mankind (and maybe even Aliens, who knows?). They have figured it out. The keyboard predicts the NEXT word you are gonna type and is right about 70% of the time, somehow it reads your old texts and emails and it learns how YOU type and I'm telling you they nailed it. This is literally a billion dollar idea that apple will most likely purchase 5 years from now and the Apple Fans (aka Lunatics) will be waiting online for it for 3 days with heated sleeping bags in the dead of winter.

Ive tried EVERY keyboard including that infamous Swype. Swype sucks.. That might be good for texting but for typing long emails its a no go.

This is why Android will win the war because once the average person learns that between Blackberry, Windows and Apple, the Android system just has more to work with and customize your phone with. If there was no Android I would have stayed with Blackberry until Windows finally buys them and then just go back to windows phones. Keep in mind that I I hate anything and everything and all things Windows. Im actually an Apple computer guy I just happen to understand that the best phones are not made by Apple.........

Try swiftkey or look it up on youtube and you will be a believer. Physical keyboards are a waste of good plastic.

storm14k says:

Similar story for me. Use my phone heavily...like its a computer. I hear the praises of Swiftkey but it never works out for me. That next word is always wrong or WOULD be right if I weren't trying to say something else lol. I admit its me and not the product lol. That being said after getting a GNex the combination of screen size and a better keyboard have allowed me to type much better.

And I do notice iPhone users won't text or IM with me and end up calling which annoys the crap outta me.

carlosrey23 says:

Storm check out the new Beta Swift Key 3 Beta. it is the best swiftkey kb ever. I have tested them all and many other (read feedback above) and I find that the new swiftkey 3 beta allows me control predictability and suggestions very well. For me multi language support was huge, and this KB manages between languages back and forth without language selection or any advanced settings.

I DO NOT work for Swiftkey, but I have been very impressed with the latest Beta.

ztaccardi says:

swype - google "da swypes" if your phone doesn't come with swype preinstalled

illdini says:

Try a bluetooth keyboard, they have all kinds available.

jate322 says:

I would love see real world battery stats with the S4 and LTE.

please help me ! which cellphone should I buy? the internatinal s3 or the at&t s3? please help me choose Im from ecuador and we barely have 4g :c

shmigga says:

If you don't have 4G, get the international version. Especially if you are not gonna have it within 2 years.

GQ50 says:

Been meaning to ask this and it maybe a noob question but how do I find out if my city/state is getting 4g? Im with att and asking the att sales people is like asking a crack head is he clean..u never know..seriously...state of Delaware if anyone knows.

Kaggy says:

Sadly the video software isn't great, constant refocus makes it kind of annoying.
Hope they fix that in the next update.
There's also a weird flickering at the 0:42.

robotaholic says:

Great full review. I appreciate the attention to the developer community. That is something to consider when buying a phone now...which is awesome.

fnair says:

I think that it's actually a good thing that they went with the traditional Samsung button configuration. I think that the design choice of ics to get rid of the menu button is a mistake. Sure, when you are new to Android, you are not used to looking in the menu for options and wonder how the hell do you do certain things, but very quickly you get used to it and the menu button provides CONSISTENCY... It's always at the same place... Same is true with the back button. Putting menu buttons within the apps wastes screen realestate for one, and isn't always at the same place which is a pain in the ass. All this to make Android supposedly more "user friendly"... At the cost of lower usability... If people can't pick up on how to use the menu key within a couple days on a phone that they signed up for a couple years, well maybe they should stick to a feature phone.

rovex says:

I agree, the soft buttons are terrible, i really hate them.

serpa4 says:

I agree also. Plus 4.7" with soft keys is definitely less real estate than 4.8 with hard keys. Every time the soft keys pop up, you loose 1/4" or .25 of screen to buttons. IMHO, 4.8 always is better than sometimes 4.7 or even 4.45 with buttons shown. 4.45 is close to my DX at 4.3"
However, if you can reduce the size of the device by using soft keys, that is a plus, but doesn't seem like the GN is smaller because of it. For using soft keys, there is still a lot of space under the screen that could have been removed compacting the physical length of it.
Plus, I like exiting any app any time anywhere with one button.

IceDree says:

As always , Fantastic review Alex !
I still don't like the white glossy finish though.
That close-up picture with the dead bug reminded me of the 1991 Caprice

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1991_Chevrolet_Caprice.jpg

Its stuck on my head now , every time is see a white Galaxy S III , a white 91 Caprice comes to my mind !!!!!

"At The End Of The Day" , Im sure its a great phone & Who ever buys it will love it , but Its not for me !

bontjes says:

Very good job on this review! I can't wait to get this phone.

Excellent review Alex, I'm very excited to get my USA version of it on June 21st!

execudroid says:

I'd love to know how the microphone functions recording loud noises such as in a concert.

GQ50 says:

+1..right.

calvin35 says:

How is the multitasking?

Any thoughts on GPS? Was is a quick flawless lock? I know one friend who is eyeballing an upgrade is curious since her Epic G4 has had NOTHING put problems with GPS.

Same with my wife's Epic 4G Touch. After researching the problem online and finding thread after thread about Samsung's GPS issues, I'm not going anywhere near the S III.

s14tat says:

you just need to reboot the phone for the gps to lock in fast. Since the epic touch 4g is so fast at rebooting, it reboots from cold in 30 seconds which is much quicker than waiting a few minutes for the gps to lock. Also downloading GPS test app helps a ton also.

jedah says:

Should be fixed by now. My SGS2 Skyrocket locks on in about 5 seconds.

nicooo says:

I'm pretty sure brightness can be changed on the fly if you know the Samsung way to do it: turn off auto brightness and keep pressing the notification bar for a second. Then slide your finger left or right to change brightness. Pretty nifty.

GPS issues are also long gone. My Galaxy Note locks within seconds literally.

Burner2K0 says:

If you don't like the plastic battery cover, you can also buy a metal one on eBay in a variety of colors.

G_The_One says:

I wouldn't be too quick to get a metal battery cover. This could affect reception for various functions such as GPS, WIFI due to the different effects of the two materials. Samsung used plastic for a good reason.

giograves says:

Home button looks ridiculous at this stage...

Drop It!

rovex says:

I love the home button, its a vastly superior option to the software buttons. I always hated them.

dante501 says:

Agreed the Homebutton is kinda ugly. But has the advantage of unlocking the phone that way as well. What is nice. But not the nicest home button I ever saw and used.

stighusby says:

A positive surprise with the s3 was the S Planner calendar app. 4x4 widget and a calendar to easily switch between agenda,day,month,year mode.

The outlook integration also supported sms integration, popping my incoming sms straight into my inbox and allowing me to respond from my pc as well.. The s3 passes the sms based on my outbox. This gives me full track of all conversations.

ArKayDe says:

I'm not fond of the power button placement. The S3 has been my first Samsung cellphone in years so I don't know for how long they have been placing it there. I keep hitting the volume buttons when I press it and often hit it by mistake when grabbing the phone. Not very good.

One thing I don't like about TouchWiz is that the Wallpaper doesn't scroll. Also there doesn't seem to be much difference between this and what the version on my colleagues Note used to look like. The changes in Android are hidden from the user. I also have a tablet which is running ICS pretty much stock and I actually prefer that.

21plays says:

Already ordered mine. This is gonna be sweet!

G_The_One says:

Good review.
A point of correction if I may.
"And double-tapping the top of the device can trigger it to jump to the top of any on-screen lists."
This only works in certain lists, not all of them. Like contacts for example.

Zameus says:

So glad I went with the EVO 4G LTE. The GS3 just doesn't stand above it's competition like last year. Pretty let down...I expected more Samsung

21plays says:

you must be high, or just full of self pity. Keep telling yourself that your phone is better. And stop trolling, go to the evo 4g lte(long stupid name) page and rant there

hmmm says:

The S3 has a longer name. Samsung Galaxy S3 vs HTC EVO 4G LTE. Even longer if you choose to use roman numerals in the SIII.

Not like the name matters anyway. Samsung still rules in the shitty name contest (well Sprint actually I guess) with their Samsung Galaxy S2 Epic Touch 4G

no you must be high. The SGS3 is on the same level as the EVO 4G LTE. Not better, not worse, and definately not worth all the hype. Common sense fanboy!!!!

21plays says:

the s3 has a lot going for it in the software dept. stay awake features, etc. actually multi-tasking instead of the sense optimized multi-tasking which is a joke. oh twice the ram(us version) and the removable battery. common sense right back at you

illdini says:

I heard that the S3 has twice as much RAM due to TouchWiz needing it (after rooting, this may or may not apply if you don't use TouchWiz).

What makes you think HTC won't push out an update to adjust/correct multitasking (alternatively, rooting will probably correct this).

Given that in the US, the S3 & One X/Evo LTE will have the same CPU/GPU (with the S3 having more RAM), it boils down to personal preference.

Crispy says:

There are already a bunch of useful mods on the XDA forums -

- translucent status bar
- TouchWiz launcher with scrolling wallpaper
- higher bitrate video with better audio

I plan to do all these when I get my phone, since its so easy to root as well. None of these require replacing TW.

hmmm says:

Gotta love a phone that needs modding before it is released. The One X s the same way.

getitoutme2 says:

Big clicky home button? Where have I seen that before?

codiusprime says:

On the Galaxy SII.

wickets says:

thanks for the review

"On our 16GB model, there’s 11.35GB left over for your own stuff, and like the Galaxy Nexus there’s no separate partition for app storage, so it’s all lumped in together."

How certain is this statement? My upgrade on Sprint is coming July 1, and I am debating between the S3 and the GNex, and this is a huge deal for me, as I install tons of apps. (Granted, I'd get the 32GB model, but I would assume the partition scheme wouldn't change, just expand)

droidify says:

Quite possibly the most well written review ever on AC. Much, much, better than the reviews Phil submits. My personal favorites are the reviews Phil does outside when all the photos have so much glare you can't make out the product.

atishc says:

Have you ever listened to the podcast? I've always found Alex to be the voice of reason on the show, and I always respect his opinions the most. He gives a very balanced perspective on the devices he handles, with very few preconceived notions compared to the others (e.g. he was the only one who foresaw that the Galaxy Note might be a popular device).

Asterisk says:

Upgrading my Nexus One with just went out power button to this. Worth it? :P

PSUGradAtl says:

The Galaxy SII is "vintage"?? That's just silly. Those brick phones like what Michael Douglas used in the movie Wall Street were "vintage". No doubt the GSII is no longer the new thing but...

GQ50 says:

Great review Alex. This was on the non-US model with a quad core..Can't wait to see how the us version handles multi tasking. Hope its handles as well as this one with video running on top of emails in the back ground..

impulse101 says:

How come no mention of SIII being able actually multi-task where the One X can't multi-task. That by istelf makes this phone 10x better than the One X, but even leaving that out this phone destroys the One X.

hmmm says:

I've had my EVO LTE for a week now and never had one issue with multitasking. It has been so overblown by small but vocal minority on the forums.

jandroshick says:

Same here with my EVO LTE. Nary a problem.

ScottRx82 says:

Samsung won 2011. HTC wins 2012.

Bishounen says:

Ok, something that bothered me RIGHT OFF on this review...

You called the Touchwiz User Interface (UI) a "UX".

DO NOT EVER USE THIS MARKETING DRECK TERM AGAIN.

It is a User Interface, or "UI".

The term "UX" is meaningless marketing used by snotty, snobby, overpaid UI designers trying to elevate their job to the level of art. DO NOT give it credibility by using it.

Yes, I know "UX" is supposed to mean "User Experience". Don't get me started on using an abbreviation that isn't even spelled correctly. (If it's User Experience, then it should be "UE".) Let alone the Obsequiousness of calling a phone interface an "Experience". An "Experience" is climbing a mountain, going white water rafting, skydiving or having long passionate sex. Using a neat phone interface is NOT an "Experience". It's just a freaking interface, and not that great of one either.

Please correct the article by changing all references to "UX" to the correct "UI".

Thank you.

archtech3d says:

Wow dude... having issues this morning? How about asking politely instead of screaming ("DO NOT EVER USE THIS MARKETING DRECK TERM AGAIN."). I know we are all tech junkies and we get overworked sometimes by these new, amazing devices that are coming out.

I do have to ask though... didn't Samsung focus on "User Experience" this go around with all the new software features? I know some of it is gimmicky (like S-Voice) but the eye detection for not dimming the display speaks "experience" to me. The double tap to go to the top of the list makes the S3 a more enjoyable "experience." The showoff factor of the phone to my friends adds to my "experience" with the GS3. I could go on and on about user experience.

Just don't get your panties in a twist over a review - and be polite.

Ordered my Sprint Galaxy S3 this morning! Woohoo!

Thank You.

Bishounen says:

I thought I was polite. "Loud" maybe by using ALLCAPS, but not rude. Now, if I had called the writer names (I didn't) or otherwise insulted them personally (I didn't), then yes. That would be rude. I do try not to do that.

Regarding your other point, The article specifically refers to Touchwiz as a "UX". It is not. It is a "UI". A User Interface for interacting with the device. Nothing more, nothing less.

Also, as I stated, "UX" isn't anything at all. Unless you are talking about "User Xylophone or User X-Ray or User Xebec. User Experience is "UE". Misspelling an abbreviation doesn't make it cooler, just more retarded.

PSUGradAtl says:

But everything is way cooler when you put an "X" in it. That's why it is "UX" and not "UE".

codiusprime says:

If you're going to be so obnoxious you should at least bother to be right.

UX is a thing, sorry it offends your delicate sensibilities.

http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2012/06/ui-vs-ux-whats-the-difference/

storm14k says:

Honestly the article does more to solidify his point in my mind. I guess it depends on where you are in the grand scheme of software development. I have some gigs where the customer doesn't want to hear all that "crap" and just want a working product. They don't want hours billed on a button that actually moves in as its clicked. As another example I use MailChimp and outside of the quotes from the chimp I don't feel all this emotion. Some of the layout and design I like and some I just wish it would get down to the point of letting me manage my lists without being so "bubbly" I guess.

Bishounen says:

UX is not "a thing".

It IS yet another in a long line of "Let's revamp this old but perfectly serviceable terminology with something new and flashy because we want to be able to market ourselves better" bullcrap language abortions.

Much like putting "e" in front of everything back in the '90s or putting "i" in front of everything in the '00s, it's meaningless. Ridiculous articles using a bunch of marketing driven gobbledygook don't help back it up.

"UX" needs to die in a fire. DO NOT USE IT it is NOT "a thing."

Uncle Louie says:

And this is YET ANOTHER useless, nit-picky comment that HIJACKS A FORUM away from the product to focus on something that NOBODY ELSE CARES ABOUT.

I see why you like caps. They really SEEM to make your point WORTHWHILE, even if it's NOT.

graymulligan says:

I simply cannot get beyond that chassis. IF I wanted something Apple built in the 90's, I'd buy it. Damn that's ugly. Fast is awesome, but ugly is still ugly. I'm keeping my G-nex.

Asterisk says:

iPhone4 is ugly. gives me blisters with it's sharp edges.

Incitatus says:

I believe Apple has staff troll Android sites to leave Apple posts. It is amusing to me.

Bishounen says:

Heh. Not necessary. The Church of Apple brooks no blasphemers. Jobs may be gone, but the spirit of his Reality Distortion Field lives on in the iHearts of all iDisciples.

21plays says:

we all got dif tastes. i actually passed on the gnex because i thought it was ugly. just saying

Premium1 says:

How does the US version with s4 compare to the international version?

web0rama says:

This is the most important question for me as well. I want to see how that version lines up against the new EVO.

Awesome review too!

There really isnt a different in terms of performance. Its all about what you like, touchwiz or sense. Or like me, root and run cm9 or aokp. My evo LTE running no sense is hottest thing on the market.

web0rama says:

Either way I go the device will definitely be getting the 3rd party treatment as I don't care for either TouchWiz or Sense.

I was referring to the different chips in the GS3s, not necessarily the GS3 & EVO LTE. Although, when comparing those I can't help but wonder what that extra 1 gb of RAM would allow for.

crxssi says:

This is where Alex Dobie may have overstepped a bit...

In multithreaded situations, yes, the Galaxy SIII will faster than the Evo LTE/One X. However, almost nothing in practical use, especially on a phone, will take advantage of that. *Maybe* a handful of very intense games, especially since the SIII's graphics coprocessor will be faster under most all situations.

In all other cases, which is what people will see and feel the most, the S4 processor's cores used in the Evo LTE/One X are faster. They are based on a better and more modern ARM and have more horsepower. Fewer faster cores for single-user, low-threading applications is always much better than more slower cores.

So- the statement Alex said "the Galaxy S III is the fastest Android phone money can buy" (twice) in the review, is not entirely accurate. The SIII's Exynos 4 CPU will be the fastest in some limited situations (with the GPU in more situations), but in more cases, it will be SLOWER than the S4 in the Evo LTE and One X. A perfect case of raw benchmarking designed to show multithreading power will simply not reflect real use situations.

In reality, it probably doesn't really matter. Both are very fast and certainly in the same class. And both are battery friendly. Everyone wins :)

In any case, the USA version of the GSIII will probably use the same CPU as the Evo LTE/One X... so all of this is moot for us, and that wasn't really made clear in the review.

storm14k says:

Interesting on the screens. I thought the One X had a great screen and here its said to be even better than the SIII's. But Cnet is running around with an article claiming HTC has inferior displays. Don't have the link saved here but the article was recent...possibly yesterday.

codiusprime says:

Your first mistake was reading CNet.

crxssi says:

CNet is trash. They rarely know what they are talking about and I am sure their opinions are all PAID FOR by advertisers and politics. EVERY decent site out there shows the Evo LTE/One X has the best screen. Something will unseat it, maybe even this year, but it won't be the SIII.

rustypixel says:

I just hope that the radio quality is better (much better) than what is found on my Galaxy Nexus. That is going to be the one deciding factor for me.

wmurch3 says:

This is why I won't buy Samsung.

I have a Nexus S right now and the radios are awful. My contract ends at the end of the month and I am leaning towards the EVO 4G LTE.

the thing is if you don't like the look of touch wiz just get a launcher

Jack33 says:

Until they tell me that SGIII has longer battery time and stronger radio signal than Razr MAXX, I'm keeping my Moto. As for bigger and brighter screen, it's nice but not a necessity.

Darkseider says:

Meh. Dual core is still dual core. Granted a bit faster than some of the older dual core handsets but nothing that compels anyone to run out and grab it. I will just patiently wait for a nice quad core handset to come out. Until then the G2X running Hellfire Sandwich and OC'd to 1.4 Ghz is plenty fast and stable.

LOL, throwing the words quad core out there means nothing, when there are ZERO apps and software optimizations to take advantage of them. Having a quad core phone that handles threads and processes the same as a dual core phone is pointless and pretty stupid IMO. But you get to say I GOT 4 CORES!!!!!!

Darkseider says:

Really? So what you are saying is that the performance difference I see between my Transformer and Transformer Prime is an illusion? Seeing that it is handled all the same there should be no advantage. Mind you the OG Transformer is OC'd to 1.4 Ghz too yet the performance difference is still VERY noticeable. I guess that whole quad core thing is just for marketing purposes? Either that or there is plenty of validity to it and that is why tablets and handsets are coming out with them. Me thinks I'm on to something here.

hmmm says:

The Tegra 2 to 3 isn't simply more cores. It's an entirely new generation of chip with better graphics. It's like comparing core i7 to core 2 processors.

azrickster says:

Will NEVER by another Samsung device.
Terrible radio's!
Updates = Slooooooooooow

MooPenguin32 says:

The only reason I would never buy this phone or any other Samsung phone (outside of the Galaxy Nexus, which I have) is because of TouchWiz. I think the phone looks great and I bet the display and camera are too as described in this review. But I prefer stock ICS over TouchWiz or any OEM skin for that matter. However, Sense 4 is certainly a step in the right direction, so I would take the HTC One X over the Galaxy S III if I had to choose between them.

Of course, for people that enjoy rooting their phone and flashing ROMs, it won't matter as long as ROMs are developed for whatever phone they want to use.

Rrennick says:

So will this put a blow on Iphone sales?

TenshiNo says:

Just a quick note, in reference to your comparison of Google Music and the Samsung offering: Google Music *does* allow you download music from the cloud to your device so you can play it without streaming. You just open the menu on an item (song/album) and select "Make available offline" and it will be downloaded to your device.

wilfreb says:

once again, Sammy makes the best phone of the year!!! just ordered my global version!!!

Murphy5111 says:

It would be great if once this phone is available someone can compare it to the Evo LTE and see how the radios compare. I would like to see how well it connects and a speed test. I am pretty convinced that while my GS II is a great phone, it suffers from a slightly weaker radio that causes me to have lower download speeds and difficulty getting a signal in low signal areas.

ArtVandelay says:

I'm assuming the performance/battery we get in the States will be comparable to the quadcore INTL version.

I just got the EVO 4G LTE, but will probably return it for the GS3. There's just something about Sense that I'm not feeling. My GS2 has left a great taste in my mouth. I'm hoping the screen on the GS3 won't be THAT much worse than the 4G LTE..

crxssi says:

I can't believe that Touchwiz would leave a more pleasant taste.

You might be a good candidate for a third-party ROM...

1gr8ftoy says:

I ordered the GSIII today for exactly the same reason. I played with the Evo 4G LTE yesterday at Sprint for a little while. I gave it a fair shot and went into every are of the OS/apps and while it was nice it just didn't seem to have that "it" factor for me. I am paying full retail and I feel like I should be blown away if I am going to spend $600 on something. I feel like the GSIII did a better job blowing me away after watching a few hours of YouTube on each device. The good news is if I am wrong I can always exchange it for a second $36 activation fee and all is not lost.

Suntan says:

I couldn't tell from the video, but do you need to pull the battery to swap uSD cards?

-Suntan

trivor says:

If you're on Verizon, this is the only high end choice. 1.5 GHz S4 with integrated LTE, 2 GB ram - that should future proof but help with performance (as if it needs it), 16/32 (so far) GB on board with 64 in the future PLUS micro SD, 4.8" display (too big for me BUT if the HTC Dinc 4G doesn't come out soon I may have to try it), Touchwiz (there are always other launchers - Apex, Nova, etc), the other Samsung extras look promising, 2100 Battery (largest of any phone except Razr Maxx) removeable/replaceable, like the hardware home with Menu (debateable - I like it) and back buttons. Great looking phone if Samsung has decent radios/GPS (I know, their history isn't great). Personally, I think the Blue looks great (never liked white phones).

Thanks for a great review Alex!

MikeLip says:

I'm not sure why the home button is such an issue, beyond the fact that Android is not home button-centric and it's therefore not, somehow, correct usage. It's nice to have a button that you can feel to take you back to a known starting point. It's working out fine for Apple.

I have the Samsung Player 5 and the case is wonderful. I have no problem with the plastic. It's solid and well made. Plastics are just fine for structural usage. it's time people got over the idea that metal is better. It's not. Not always. You choose your material for the application and that's what Samsung has done - it works out just fine.

Nice review - nice phone. Too bad the battery is so small (says the Razr Maxx owner!).

21plays says:

i agree, plastic is under-rated

colddonkey says:

I am actually pretty excited about this phone. I was going to go buy the HTC EVO4GLTE yesterday...then they dropped the pre-order of the SGS3 on Sprint and I figured I could wait a couple more weeks to get it. I just hope there isn't a delay on the pebble blue version...

Just a food for thought for all you fanboys blowing up the 2 GB of RAM thing.........Have any of you looked at the size of the S/W stack of the new touchjizz?? It's huge, and couple that with Android 4.0 ICS and you have one HUGE ROM. So its no wonder the SGS3 has 2 GB of RAM, because if they tried to use 1 GB the thing would lag like hell. So for all those talking 2 GB of RAM is a game changer......you might want to wait till you get the phone and see how much is usuable after touchjizz and apps and everything else gets their share. You might not be so happy with what you find.

scottyhifi says:

This review was for the international version with 1GB of ram.

21plays says:

you're such a tard! Did you actually read the review? That no lag super phone(gs3 intl) has only 1gb of ram!

Swazedahustla, My only comment on your thought would be the international version only has 1gb of ram and I am sure it runs the same software. So if we are to assume that the international version runs very well with only 1gb I think we could say that 2gb is probably a little overkill.

Madmejia says:

UGGGHHHH. ATT is advertising it as a 1.5 dual core CPU. Is ATT dumbing it up?

sunglab says:

Thank you for posting . so good.

pbarbaro says:

Nice review. Just a couple of questions.
How is the gps? I had some issues on my sgs 2 so would really like to know that there are no problems with the 3.
Also can i use my spare batteries from my sgs2 in the 3???

If these are positive then this is my new phone. Removable battery sd card is hard to beat. Not a huge touchwiz fan but plenty of good launchers out there.

alix8821 says:

Any word/rumor on the sizes of the US variants?? Thickness wise and what not... Since no "special" versions were made for each US carrier like the SGII, I'm thinking/hoping accessories are universal. Because I am LOVING the Samsung Flip Case, and it's very cheap online. would Love to have it on hand when the VZW GSIII finally launches...

johnriii says:

so, just to confirm, the US versions of the SIII will not be Quad core, correct? either way, I'm still upgrading to this phone, unless HTC knocks my socks off between now and Christmas time. my only issue is will the phone be too large for my constant pocket use, since my part time job is a lot of standing and walking and squatting.

DJSgalaxy says:

Correct, the quad cores don't work too well with LTE radios. There is no LTE in Europe just HSPA+ I think (correct me if I'm wrong). That's why Euro versions got the Exynos. In the US, we'll get the S4 Snapdragon.

DJSgalaxy says:

Pre-ordered mine last night! white 32 GB on Verizon. I'm a little bummed that other carriers will probably distribute their phones ahead of Verizon but still, very excited!

I hOpE yOu WeRe NoT eXcItEd...

4dogstech says:

Tried both The SG3 and the HOX and the part you use the most The Screen, is miles better on the the HOX, the pentile display on the SG3 cannot match the IPS panel on the HOX. Samsung have dropped the ball with its screen. Both TW and Sense are too fussy, Apex launcher transforms both handsets.

trivor says:

Alex,

Just sure if you'll get this far with the direct questions.

How is the feel of the phone - I know a lot of people used to think the sweet spot was 4.0", then 4.3" and then people got "used to" 4.65 on the Nexus and now the One X and S3.

I just pre-ordered the S3 on Verizon (changing carriers is not an option) and do have concerns about the size (moving up from a Droid Incredible 2 which I think has great feel in the hand) and was hoping the Dinc 4GLTE would be out already on Verizon but I couldn't resist the value of the S3 at $249 for the 32 GB Pebble Blue with LTE - I'm going to give it a great chance in the 14 day return period - do you think a 4.0 screen lover could get used to the 4.8" (I have no doubt I will love the bigger screen, just not sure if I will get used to the size in hand in day to day use). Just looking for your opinion having handled everything from budget to elite.

Lord Dextro says:

For everyone's information, Holding down the menu capacitive button brings up google search.
Love,
Lord Dextro

qdenning says:

Just per-ordered mine from my Verizon business account. I was able to get it with only a one year contract for $229 (16GB). For $30 extra it's nice not being locked in so long.

Coming from the Droid X2 I'm looking forward to ICS and that great screen. Just hope the radios work great or it's going back. If the Razr Maxx was more hackable this might have gone differently...

gamapperCEO says:

Nice review I cant wait to get my hands on one!!!

gamappers.com

This may seem like a silly question but what is the lock screen like? i.e. can you pull down the notification bar from the lockscreen and can you put folders in the quick launch app spots like on sense phones. I know it's a small that but those have been two things that have saved me a ton of hassle on my htc phone

Just saying

Tom S. says:

Why no mention if it multitasks or not? After the HTC One debacle, that should be a required review point. I own (and hope soon not to own) the HTC One X, and it does not multitask. Watching every app refresh is no fun. The SGS III is the better phone just for that reason.

efoss says:

I think that is will be good in blue but I think I like the white better!

I bought my Samsung Galaxy S III at the T-Mobile Store and some of the motion gestures won't work like palm swipe to to take screenshot.

richv77 says:

I presume the camera is exactly the same on the AT&T version as is on the International model?

RunningDoc says:

I've had the phone a week. Its a great phone, but its not sweat resistant. I ran ten miles with it in an armband case, and the battery compartment got wet and the battery is damaged and it won't charge anymore. Even with a new battery. I had issues with it thinking earphones were still attached earlier, which apparently is another moisture issue. If you're going to work out with this phone, you'll have to hold it or keep it away from your sweaty body somehow.