Samsung Galaxy S III Review (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
The software on these US Samsung Galaxy S IIIs is identical to the one that we’ve checked out already with the international version. Specifically, we find the TouchWiz Nature UX running on top of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich – so yes, it has the best of both worlds out of the box! To tell you the truth, the new software experience is simply what makes the smartphone so refreshing and a pleasure to use. By far, it’s the biggest overhaul we’ve seen with Samsung’s longtime interface, but more importantly, it introduces some new functionality that makes sharing easy and painless. At its core, it maintains all of the refined characteristics of the Android platform – like its wealth of personalization and quick access to certain apps directly from the lock screen. However, it’s doesn’t shock us that they’re stuffed with some carrier apps – like AT&T Navigator and myAT&T on the AT&T model, while the Sprint one packs Sprint Hotspot and Sprint Zone.
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.
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.
Basically, they’re programmable NFC sticker tags that are going to be sold for $15 for a 5-pack at carrier stores. Using the accompanying free Samsung TecTiles app that’s available in Google Play, it enables us to scan the tag via NFC, which then performs an action that’s programmed to the chip. For example, we can program the TecTile to place a device on silent, compose a text message, post a tweet, or simply check-in to a place on Foursquare. Obviously, its aim is to increase awareness about the usefulness of NFC, but it definitely has some good personal and business implications. Rather limited with its functions right now, we’re hopeful that Samsung will continue to expand its actions in a timely basis.
Thanks partly to its responsiveness and spacious layout, we don’t find any difficulties composing messages with the handset’s on-screen Samsung keyboard. Between the two, the portrait option is more favorable since our thumbs don’t need to travel as much to press on something – plus, they’re also able to encompass the entire layout with ease.
Since this is an Android 4 device, support for all kinds of email services is available, and if you are a Gmail user, you probably won't find a comparable option (except for the top phones from other manufacturers).
Processor and Memory:
Much like what we’ve seen already with the HTC One X, the US versions of the Samsung Galaxy S III favor using a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor – as opposed to the quad-core Exynos in the international version. Initially, the lower benchmark figures would make some people think that its performance is going to be sub-par, but that’s not the case. Sure, we might see a tiny bit of slowdown every now and then, but it’s still a rare occasion for us to see it. Furthermore, it maintains the same smooth and instantaneous performance as its quad-core packing sibling – so don’t let those benchmark numbers fool you. Oh yeah, did we mention that these US variants are packing 2GB of RAM instead of the usual 1GB? Strangely, the AnTutu benchmark app indicates to us that the both our review units have a RAM amount of 1658.3MB.
|Quadrant Standard||AnTuTu||NenaMark 2|
|Samsung Galaxy S III US||4520||6111||59,4|
|Samsung Galaxy S III||5335||12016||58,6|
|HTC One X AT&T||4958||6863||57,7|
|LG Optimus 4X HD||3742||11184||52|
With the AT&T and Sprint versions, they have 12.05GB of internal storage out of the box, which can then be supplemented by their ever-so-useful microSD card slots.
Internet and Connectivity:
Connected via Wi-Fi, we're presented with an all too predictable top-notch web browsing experience. As expected, pages load in a timely manner, and at the same time, they maintain their fluidity and responsiveness with all actions. Therefore, whether it’s pinch zooming or kinetic scrolling, every process is attached with an instantaneous action. Pushing them to a higher limit with Flash heavy sites, they don’t stutter for a moment with their operations. Overall, they’re more than ideal in providing us with that desktop-like experience.
Surfing the web while connected to AT&T’s 4G LTE network, we’re blown away by the speeds that AT&T’s version is able to deliver. In fact, we managed to obtain max download and upload speeds of 54 Mbit/s and 14 Mbit/s respectively. Without question, it’s lightning fast! Besides that, all versions of the Galaxy S III feature connectivity options like aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, NFC, and mobile hotspot functionality.