Galaxy S III

As you may have heard, Samsung’s just taken the wraps off the new Galaxy S III (S3), a 4.8-inch quad-core beast powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and a brand new version of TouchWiz. Samsung’s UX has been given a minor facelift on the Galaxy S3, bringing in visual and audio elements from the device’s new “inspired by nature” design choices. And there are a few exciting new features to boot, incorporating NFC, face recognition and Wifi Direct.

Join us after the break for our full walkthrough of the Samsung Galaxy S3's software, along with more videos!

The new design language is most evident in the new TouchWiz lockscreen, which ripples like a pool of water when activated. Audio cues, too, take on a more naturalistic approach, with droplet sounds punctuating UI interactions like menu selections and button presses.

Also, the TouchWiz launcher has been re-vamped, but the changes are largely cosmetic -- different icons, different chrome, but functionally very similar to the way TouchWiz’d ICS operates on the Galaxy S II. You’ve got seven home screens by default, customizable with the usual plethora of bright, vivid widgets (yep, TouchWiz is colorful as always). There’s a neat 3D transition effect when jumping from panel to panel, and thanks to the bleeding edge hardware inside the phone, all this visual finery flows off the screen at a buttery-smooth frame rate.

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With a quad-core Eyxnos chip spinning up to 1.4GHz, it should come as no surprise that the Galaxy S III is an extremely fast phone. Just like the Galaxy S II before it, Samsung’s new baby simply refused to show any signs of lag or slowdown during our hands-on session. The phone handled jumping between apps and scrolling around pages with effortless fluidity. If we had to call it, we’d say it’s more responsive than any competing high-end Android phone.

As we mentioned in our hands-on feature, the Galaxy S III has the standard physical-plus-capacitive button setup seen on other international Samsung phones. This means you get the (technically deprecated) physical menu button, an inclusion we’re not thrilled about, but equally one that doesn’t bother us all that much. On the software side, this works just like it always has done, bringing up additional options in most system apps, and allowing an easier path into the home screen customization options.

Task-switching is activated by long-pressing the home button, and the multitasking menu looks the same as in stock ICS -- there’s a list of apps to choose from, and you can also swipe individual applications away. Down at the bottom Sammy’s added two new buttons -- one for a full-blown task manager, and another to kill all active apps (you monster).

Android Central

Samsung has traditionally populated the notification bar with its own selection of power controls, and that’s true of the Galaxy S III, too. Toggles for things like Wifi, Bluetooth and auto-rotation are present, and the list can now be scrolled along to the right to reveal even more options.

Much has been made of the innovative camera and image recognition tech included in the Galaxy S III, and this is applied in a whole bunch of different areas of the software. The big one that’s been highlighted in Samsung’s ads is “Smart Stay”, a feature which polls the front-facing camera every few seconds to determine if you’re looking at the screen or not. If you are, the phone stays awake, if not, the screen is dimmed and eventually turned off. Samsung highlighted “Smart Stay” as a way to avoid having to press the screen every few seconds to avoid screen dimming. We’re sure this will raise concerns over the battery cost of this feature, but we have to expect Samsung will have taken this into consideration when designing, the phone (and that gigantic 2100mAh battery will help, too.)

Android Central

Face recognition is also employed in Samsung’s built-in gallery and social networking apps. When taking pictures, the Galaxy S III will automatically tag people from your contacts list, based on their profile picture, allowing these pre-tagged images to be directly uploaded to Google+ and Facebook. And locally, tagged pics can be automatically categorized based on who’s in them. Obviously how well this feature works will depend on the quality of images used for each contact, but it’s an interesting and potentially useful addition nonetheless.

Speaking of multimedia, the Galaxy S III includes picture-in-picture capabilities for watching video in the top corner of the screen while performing other tasks in the background, which is a neat little inclusion.

The Galaxy S III includes NFC support, and Samsung’s built on Android Beam with its own “S Beam” software, which allows files to be sent from phone-to-phone over a Wifi Direct connection. We gave this a shot during our hands-on time with the phone, and it worked exactly as advertised. Just find the content you want to share in one of the built-in apps, then hold it back to back with another Galaxy S III and tap the screen. An instant later, you can separate the devices, and a newly-established Wifi Direct connection does the heavy lifting -- at up to 300Mbps, though that’s dependent on any local interference.

“S Voice” is another leading feature, which works like the iPhone’s Siri assistant. It’s activated by saying “Hi Galaxy”, or any other activation phrase of your choosing at the lock screen, or loading up the app directly. From there, S Voice lets you perform a variety of tasks, including checking the weather, making notes, calling contacts and setting the alarm. As you’ll see in our hands-on video, we gave this a quick shot, and were pretty impressed with the results it gave us. Like any voice-based tech, though, your mileage may vary.

Android Central

Dropbox and the new Flipboard for Android are among the stand-out bundled apps. Galaxy S III owners will get 50GB of Dropbox storage for 2 years, double what HTC offers on its One series. And Flipboard for Android is a Galaxy S III exclusive for a limited time -- we’ll take a closer look at that app in a separate post.

So unsurprisingly it’s a fully-featured software experience on the latest Samsung flagship, with more than a few outstanding new bells and whistles to tempt over buyers in the weeks ahead. For more on the Galaxy S III, check out our continuing live coverage from London.



Reader comments

Samsung Galaxy S3 software hands-on


Their lawyers probably aren't that stupid. Natural language voice recognition is fairly common these days, and Apple certainly isn't the first to do it.

But to Apple they are the "first" to create some AI that responds to natural language. Maybe the "first" to create voice recognition too.
So they sue.

Actually, Vlingo has a voice feature where you say "Hey Vlingo" and the service starts up. Although, on my Mac, I used to have a thing where I could do voice commands to it.

Other than the fact that it is polluted with Touchwiz, this phone is practically perfect. It is GREAT to see Samsung going back to Android roots with removable battery, SD expansion and hardware NAV keys.

If they wanted to go with the "Android roots" they'd get rid of hardware buttons, especially the "menu" button. Google is trying extremely hard to kill the menu button.

When have they not had SD card slots and removable batteries? You're confusing official Samsung products with the nexus line I think.

Pretty sure Jeff isn't talking about Samsung, but about the android phones being released this year. How many of the new phones lack sd cards (most of the HTC One line, the last two Nexus phones) or removable batteries (again, HTC One series, the Razr).

Androids roots?

Every Samsung smartphone I've owned has had this.. the original Galaxy S, the Infuse, and the S2 Skyrocket...

I want to see performance numbers! Until I see how fast this thing is, I will reserve my judgement but so far I'm very unimpressed. Mainly disappointed with the screen and with the camera. Also, the fact that the SoC still uses the Mali-400 isn't very thrilling either. We shall see...

the new mali is clocked much higher than the previous mali, putting it at the top of mobile GPU's once again so that's nothing to worry about

i just don't understand the latest trend in offering storage with phones. They say its free for two years but then what??? i'm assuming after two years people will probably get another phone but what about the free 50 gigs of storage? Are we going to have to pay for that??

p.s. nice phone btw lol but sorry i just can't do anything but stock android. i'm sure anyone who gets this phone is going to love it

You raise a good point now that I think about it. I've pre ordered mine already without knowing about Dropbox so I am even happier about my decision, but I am curious to know what will actually happen to my data after 2 years? Do I lose access to it or does it simply get deleted? 50GB on the grand scale of things on Dropbox's servers isn't such a tall order to offer for life if you're actually using it.. in fact if I was given it for life and used it up within the 2 years, I am more inclined to pay for more further down the line then I am if I knew I was going to lose it all if I didn't pay at all.

Looks like another winner for Samsung. My guess is this will outsell the new HTC line but time will tell. It's interesting that Samsung also chose not to go with on screen buttons on the GS3.

After weighing my options and getting the Galaxy Nexus last week I'm still happy with my choice. I think was worried about buyers remorse with the new HTC and Samsung phones due out. All 3 lines are pretty awesome.

Next Big phone hype is probably gonna be the iPhone 5.

No chance in hell which makes it sad. Every Galaxy gets their own flavor of TW and it would be nice if they port this over to the SII. SII's ICS implementation is a bit underwhelming and honestly quite atrocious.

This phone sounds like it will be my next one. Especially like the 2100 mAh stock battery. That and the quad core hopefully will result in great battery life.

I think this will be my next phone. I'm happy with my GS2, but this Galaxy 3 looks the business! I'm a lil disappointed about the camera though. The phone needs a dedicated camera button.......

Yoooooo you're so right!!!! I have the Epic Touch, and I liked my regular Epic 4G a little better because it was consistently good with the data speed and internet speed, and the camera button was too useful... I wonder what made the Sammy geniuses take it away?

If I remember correctly, the Epic 4G was the only of the Galaxy S or S2 lines that had a camera button (one out of 8(?) devices). That was likely a decision by Sprint and not by Samsung. But I agree, I would have liked to have one. Vignette allows use of volume rocker to take photos so I'll likely continue to use that as my camera of choice.

Well, well, well... depending on what AT&T does to it, this just may be the phone that replaces my old Galaxy S Captivate in October. It has android ICS 4.04, rear camera with flash, front camera, 2100mah removable battery, choice of 16, 32, or 64 GB internal memory and an extra memory card slot, quad core, and FAST operations! Now that Samsung is putting current android on the new phone and that android OS changes are slowing down a bit, The GSIII should be current and state-of-the-art for more than 6 months! Maybe even the life of my contract? Well that depends on what AT&T does to mess it up.....

I doubt that the US version of this phone will have a quad core processor. The software looks good but the phone itself looks kind of ugly. Hopefully they'll make some changes before it comes to the US. Will the battery be removable and is there an sd slot for more storage?

You can look at the hands on video and at about 3:45 you'll see that it has a removable battery and will take extra memory upto 64GB. I watched the Samsung unbox stream and if I remember they said the phone comes with an extra battery. Well in Europe anyway. Nothing said about the US or Canada except the GSIII comes out this summer...... I guess we'll see what the US carriers do with it..........

I think I remember hearing that they are releasing the SGS3 and will release an LTE version later in the Summer. To me, this means that the US device (launching in June) should have the quad-core as LTE is the only reason the AT&T One X didn't have the Tegra-3.

Could be wrong though. It would be strange to release two devices in the US, SGS3 and SGS3LTE.

Considering 3 out of 4 Major US carriers have or are rolling out LTE networks, I'm pretty sure the US phone will be dual core for LTE, maybe T-Mobile will think about going LTE.

I may have missed it, but do we actually know for sure whether or not the Exynos Quad is incompatible with LTE?

I think it'll sell more then the One series.

Mainly because Samsung is much more likely to put this device (or a variant of it) on all the carriers, instead of just putting it on some like HTC did.

Plus Samsung has a much larger brand then HTC does, and the Galaxy brand is already well trusted. Just look at how it murdered the Amaze last year...

Tch...siri is googles voice competition. I wish people would stop saying that. Neither of them are the first to do voice but apple sure as hell is the second.