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Samsung Galaxy S III Preview

Samsung Galaxy S III

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Interface:

You didn't expect anything less than Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich, did you? Thankfully, the Samsung Galaxy S III doesn't disappoint, as it comes with the latest version of Google's mobile OS. This is very important, especially when you have in mind that Samsung isn't particularly quick when it comes to its software updates. Ice Cream Sandwich is a major update to Android, bringing lots of UI refinements and some great features like the comfortable multitasking functionality that's accessible with just a single touch of a button.

Most of the good stuff associated with ICS has been kept in the Galaxy S III, although Samsung has added the usual amount of differentiation in the form of the latest TouchWiz interface. This time around, though, it's willing to market it as TouchWiz Nature UX, because of its inspiration by Mother Nature. That's OK with us, since we're fans of Nature as well. The cool thing here is that the whole Nature theme doesn't end with the water lockscreen, but actually translates to some nifty features of the handset, but we'll tell you more about those in a while.

The Samsung Galaxy S III comes with TouchWiz Nature UX on top of Android 4 ICS - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S III comes with TouchWiz Nature UX on top of Android 4 ICS - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S III comes with TouchWiz Nature UX on top of Android 4 ICS - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S III comes with TouchWiz Nature UX on top of Android 4 ICS - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S III comes with TouchWiz Nature UX on top of Android 4 ICS - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S III comes with TouchWiz Nature UX on top of Android 4 ICS - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S III comes with TouchWiz Nature UX on top of Android 4 ICS - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S III comes with TouchWiz Nature UX on top of Android 4 ICS - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview

The new TouchWiz is very similar to the old one in terms of visuals. You can definitely tell that it's a Samsung handset right away. Key elements like the multi-page homescreen and horizontally-scrolling main menu have been retained, with only minimal, mostly cosmetic changes made to them. With other areas of the UI like the Contacts app, for example, you won't even be able to spot a difference. Some other apps, however, have been entirely replaced with other, proprietary ones. For example, the stock Calendar has given way to S Planner. We would have preferred it if the stock option was kept available, but this isn't such a pain, considering the numerous third-party offerings in Google Play.

All in all, TouchWiz Nature UX is an evolutionary step in the right direction for TouchWiz. It refines some elements of the UI, making it appear more mature and polished overall. This is the first version of TouchWiz that we wouldn't replace with something more stock-looking.


Special features:

There are some special new features that Samsung is introducing along with the Galaxy S III. Most of them are designed to ease your life and make the Galaxy S III appear more people-friendly, but we'll let you judge how useful they will be in your case:

S Voice: This is Samsung's version of Siri, so to speak. It's your intelligent personal assistant. You can ask it all kinds of stuff, and in case it manages to “understand” what you've said correctly, there's a good chance that you'll get what you're looking for. We organized a quick head-to-head match vs Siri, and are happy to report that S Voice performed just as well. Here are a few examples of what you can use S Voice for:

- going directly to an app like the camera by saying things like “I want to take a picture,”
- put an alarm to “Snooze” after it rings,
- play music, skip and pause tracks,
- set a timer,
- look up the weather,
- control settings. For example, you can turn Wi-Fi on or off with your voice.

S Voice - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
S Voice - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview


SmartStay: This is actually a rather cool feature, which prevents the display from timing out, while you're looking at it. It works by using the front camera to track your eyes and determine if you're still looking at the phone. Naturally, when you finally doze off, the phone will get a good nap as well (read: the display will turn off).

S Beam: This one uses Wi-Fi direct to let you easily transfer an image or video file to another compatible Galaxy phone. In order to do it, you just have to touch the backs of both phones together, and your file transfer will commence.

AllShare: Samsung is using Wi-Fi Direct connectivity in AllShare now for a complete set of categories like AllShare Cast for video streaming, AllShare Play for file sharing, and Group Cast for sharing screens with multiple other devices on the same Wi-Fi network, pretty cool. The camera department is not forgotten either - the Buddy Photo Share sends photos directly to the people whose faces it's recognized after you take the shot, for example, and you can set it to be automatic. There will be an SDK for application developers to take advantage of the new AllShare possibilities.


Messaging:

Typing text using the on-screen QWERTY keyboard of the Galaxy S III is a joy. Thanks to the large 4.8” screen and the strong design of the stock ICS QWERTY keyboard, you won't find it difficult to type out even longer messages using the landscape or portrait modes. Of course, for those who happen to not like that particular keyboard design, there's always the possibility to download a different one from Google Play. But since we're kind of lazy in this respect, we really appreciate it when we can get away with the stock software.

The QWERTY keyboard of the Samsung Galaxy S III - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The QWERTY keyboard of the Samsung Galaxy S III - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview

Since this is an Android 4 device, support for all kinds of email services are available, and if you are a Gmail user, you probably won't find a better option (except for the top-end phones from other manufacturers).

Email - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
Email - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
Email - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview

Of course, Samsung's own ChatON social service is pre-loaded on the Galaxy S III for those users who could use a new method of cross-platform text communication.


Internet:

When we get our hands on a new super-high-end smartphone, we expect to get the best web browsing experience. And while some other such phones which came out this year didn't really deliver, we're happy that the Samsung Galaxy S III is presenting us to a brilliant web browser. It just flies – it loads pages in an instant, scrolling and panning are super-fluid, there are no irritating slow-downs, text reflow, delays or anything. It's just you and the content – there's nothing to distract you from enjoying your stuff. Overall, this is one of the very best, if not the best phone for surfing the internet we've seen.

What makes things even better is the seamless support for the latest Adobe Flash Player. Thanks to the extremely capable quad-core processor, there really isn't a very noticeable difference in performance between navigating a Flash-heavy webpage with the plug-in turned on and off – in both cases, scrolling and zooming remain smooth.

The Samsung Galaxy S III is presenting us to a brilliant web browser - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S III is presenting us to a brilliant web browser - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S III is presenting us to a brilliant web browser - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S III is presenting us to a brilliant web browser - Samsung Galaxy S III Preview

We disliked the fact that in Samsung's pre-ICS phones, you couldn't pan the page while doing multi-touch zooming. Some other manufacturers out there had this feature turned on, like Sony Ericsson, for example, but not Samsung. Thankfully, with Ice Cream Sandwich, Google made this form of navigation standard, and it's now present in the Galaxy S III.

The global version of the handset comes with quad-band GSM connectivity, as well as quad-band 3G support (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz). The Galaxy S III classifies as a 4G HSPA+ device, as it allows for a maximum theoretical download speed of 21.1 Mbit/s, and maximum theoretical upload speed of 5.76 Mbit/s. As far as Wi-Fi standards go, the S III supports 802.11 b, g, n, a. The supported Bluetooth version is 4.0.


Processor and Memory:

The global version of the Samsung Galaxy S III arrives with the new quad-core Exynos 4412 processor, clocked at 1.4 GHz. The onboard GPU is the ARM Mali-400/MP4. We're absolutely pleased with the performance that we're seeing from our preview unit, even though they told us that it may not be running the version of the software that will be on the retail units. The Android OS runs extremely fluidly with no skipped frames, while applications load in an instant. There are no significant delays with this phone – it simply lets you do whatever you want to do, without slowing you down or annoying you with unexpected freezes.

The Galaxy S III comes with 1 GB of RAM – obviously more than enough for the software that you may install on the device. The built-in storage is 32GB, which is a generous amount of space, but if it happens to not be enough for you, then you can easily install a microSD card for up to 64GB more, since the S III supports the microSDXC standard.

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Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III

OS: Android 4.3 4.1.2 4.1.1 4.0.4
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Not rated
Display4.8 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (306 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Samsung Exynos 4 Quad, Quad-core, 1400 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
1 GB RAM
Size5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches
(136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm)
4.69 oz  (133 g)
Battery2100 mAh, 22.5 hours talk time

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