Samsung Galaxy S III : Meet the New Android Emperor (Coming Soon)

Posted on Saturday, May 5 2012 on 12:32 PM

Samsung Galaxy S III

Thanks to the previous Galaxy model's success, Samsung is now the world's biggest phone manufacturer, a title it will no doubt keep once the slim and pebble-like Galaxy S III hits stores shortly.


At 4.8-inches, you can tell Samsung worked really hard at retaining the slightly-smaller Galaxy S II's footprint, so despite the 22 per cent larger display, it's only 16 per cent bigger than the S II. We hear HTC's One X is already quaking a little in fear.



But before we get bogged down with the glossy stuff, let's talk hardware.


The 4.8-inch display is a Super AMOLED panel with 720 x 1280 (306ppi) resolution, and inserted just above that display? Why, it's a 1.9MP forward-facing camera which shoots 720p video. Over on the Galaxy S III's backside, it's got a simple 8MP camera that can shoot 1080p video. But don't let that lowly sensor number put you off - Samsung's got a few camera tricks in store this time, which I'll touch on in a minute.


Running on one of Samsung's beastly new 1.4GHz Exynos 4 Cortex-A9 quad-core chips, it comes with 1GB of RAM, and a choice of either 16, 32 or 64GB internal storage configurations (all of which also let you chuck a microSD card up to 64GB in, as well.)


In certain territories (the US, Japan and Korea), the S III will be available in LTE, but we'll have to make do with HSPA+ here in the UK. Seven sensors, including an accelerometer; RGB light; digital compass; proximity; gryoscope; NFC, and barometer have been shoved in too.


All of this in a body that weighs 133grams, measures 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm, and houses a 2100mAh battery; Samsung's first smartphone with a battery that size.


The names for the two colour options, marble white and pebble blue, should lead you down the garden path and knocking on the door of Samsung's inspiration with this phone, but if it doesn't, then the lock screen and wallpaper skins will scream "nature" at you, even if you live in a concrete jungle with nary a potplant in sight.


Android Tweaks

As mentioned before, Samsung's overhauled ICS with some nifty new tricks.

These include:


Smart Stay - which uses the forward-facing camera to determine if you're looking at the phone. You can set time intervals from as little as 15 seconds, which result in a small flashing eye logo in the Android notification bar. If it recognises that your eyes aren't focused on the phone anymore, the screen dims.


Direct Call - which will auto-dial a contact if you have their contact details or a message open. By moving the phone to your ear, the proximity sensor; accelerometer and gyroscope all kick into use, and automatically dial the contact's number.


Smart Alert - which will make the phone vibrate in your hand and flash an LED if you pick the phone up after a missed call.


S Voice - which is a Siri-like voice recognition feature, that you can use to enquire about the weather; take a photo ("Hi Galaxy, please take a photo" to open the camera app, or "cheese" to snap it), and other tasks such as locking the phone, or controlling music. Each demand can be configured by the user.


Social Tag - which links photos of friends in your photo gallery to their Facebook or Google+ accounts, using facial recognition.

S Beam -  which pairs other Galaxy S III phones (and only them, for now) via NFC, shares photos, videos, files or even albums of media over Wi-Fi. If your friend's S III doesn't have Wi-Fi enabled, S Beam will automatically turn that user's Wi-Fi on, and then off.


AllShare Cast - which pairs to TVs, laptops or tablets over Wi-Fi, mirroring whatever's on the S III. You can also use the S III as a game controller.


PopUp Play - which will literally pop a video out of its player, rendering it in a small thumbnail so you can continue watching while surfing the web or doing other functions on the phone. The thumbnail is movable around the display, even if it's pretty small.




A Few Black Marks

If I had any complaints about the Galaxy S III, based on my brief play with it, the crux would revolve around the build quality. Samsung still hasn't got it right, in my eyes, however beautifully-designed the phones are (and they are beautiful - check out the photo gallery for some comparisons with the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S II). Perhaps my heart belongs to HTC and its "batshit-crazy space-age materials", but Samsung's products always feel too plasticky for my liking.


Saying that, it's remarkable that Samsung's managed to trim the bezel down so the overall footprint is only 16 per cent larger than the previous model, and the extra-rounded edges really add to that whole pebble look they're going for. (Though thankfully they've not been as obvious as their Pebble MP3 player from years ago was.) Despite its relative lightness, the phone doesn't have that too-thin feel; it's still got some weight in your hand, meaning you won't easily drop it.


And yes, before you ask: Samsung has pre-installed various apps and a Samsung app store / music hub / game store etc. Though some of them, like Dropbox (Samsung has thoughtfully included a 50GB allowance for three years), are genuinely useful. The rest, you can ditch ‘em.