Samsung Galaxy S III Review

Samsung Galaxy S III Review
In this review, we're using the international version of the Samsung Galaxy S III, which comes with a quad-core Exynos CPU and 1GB of RAM. The U.S. versions come with a dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU and 2GB of RAM, as well as LTE, except for T-Mobile's, which lacks LTE.


Samsung kick-started its whole Galaxy line of Android phones back in 2009 with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy I7500 – the first Android smartphone of the manufacturer. Initially, there wasn't such great interest in the product; it was an OK device with moderate specs and no special feature to spawn interest. This was the beginning of Samsung's Android business – no fanfares or great expectations. The company was still trying to figure out if there's potential in the open-source platform.

A few months later, at the end of 2009, Motorola somehow managed to nail it with its new Android phone, the DROID, exclusively available through Verizon. And this turned out to be the moment Google (and the entire Android community, as small as it may have been at that time) was waiting for. In just a few months, everyone knew about Android, and it was mainly Motorola that gained from this. Never wanting to be left out of the limelight, Samsung went back to the lab, firmly decided on crafting the ultimate Android phone, or the ultimate Galaxy phone, to be more specific. In mid-2010, the South Korean company was ready with its new product and unveiled it to the world. Named Samsung Galaxy S, it was a phone that didn't catch the eye, but managed to get every geek excited with its hardware characteristics. With Android becoming more and more popular as an alternative to iOS, and with the Galaxy S basically being the best Android had to offer at the moment, the phone just couldn't fail. And it didn't – the Galaxy S went on to become one of the most popular Android phones ever. Now, the obvious question is how do you follow such a successful product. How do you follow the Galaxy S? Well, with the Galaxy S II, of course! Introduced in 2011, the Galaxy S II actually become something like the people's champ in Android Land. Even when newer models with significantly refined user experiences began to show up later, users preferred to hold on to the Galaxy S II, claiming that it's still unbeatable in many areas. In a way, that meant that all these people were waiting for the Galaxy S III.

Well, it is now 2012, and the time has finally come for the Galaxy S III to show up on stage. The difference between this launch and those of the Galaxy S's before it is that the expectations of the audience are much higher now. People were waiting to see the next BIG thing in the world of wireless. They weren't hoping for a top-notch specs sheet – that was pretty much taken for granted. They were hoping for a ceramic body, a new, premium design that would not only get the job done, but would also spark a few envious glances along the way. That's why many were kind of disappointed after the official announcement of the handset, because it wasn't really what you'd call a looker.

However, our first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S III were quite positive. Yeah, the handset may not be so eye-catching, but it isn't bad, and it does run incredibly smooth; plus, it has learned some very cool new tricks, in an attempt at enhancing our user experience. The time has come for us to take a good, in-depth look at the device and see just how much of a Galaxy S this new Galaxy S III happens to be.


The Galaxy S III is a departure from the styling seen with the Galaxy S II. Now, the phone has rounded corners that give it a somewhat friendlier look. Gone is the simplistic rectangular silhouette of the S II, making way for a new, pebble-inspired shape. Overall, Samsung has claimed to have been very inspired by Nature when it comes to the Galaxy S III, trying to make the phone as people-friendly as possible.

Meanwhile, due to a radical increase in screen size, the phone's overall dimensions are much bigger compared to its predecessor. The Samsung Galaxy S III is definitely on the bulkier side, which makes it extremely difficult to operate if you have to use just one hand. The home key, which is positioned near the bottom edge of the phone, is often hard to reach because of the handset's size. Anyway, the Galaxy S III isn't significantly bigger than the rest of the top models in its class, so having such big dimensions is now pretty much standard. Samsung has tried to decrease the size of the bezel so that the bigger screen doesn't impact the overall device dimensions dramatically, but even with those efforts, the S III is as big as the Nexus, which is already quite big.

You ca compare the SamsungGalaxy S III with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

With that out of the way, the device by no means looks bad. Its inspired by nature design is actually quite relaxing and feels good in the hand. Due to the phone's thinness (8.6mm) and light weight, the Galaxy S III doesn't feel too much like the bulky phone that it is.

As we said in our introduction, many fans hoped to see a new fancy ceramic coating used for the S III, which would have given the handset a new, premium appearance. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and we were treated to the good-old plastic solution. Well, technically, the material used for the handset is polycarbonate, but it definitely doesn't feel as high-quality and premium as the body of the One X, for example. This has practically guaranteed a relatively light (good), but also uninspiring (bad) construction. Samsung has come up with the name “Hyperglaze” for the specific finish of the utilized plastic, but we couldn't find anything that special in it. It's just a glossy plastic with an OK texture on it.

There are just three physical buttons on the Galaxy S III (actually four, if you count the volume rocker as two buttons). The home key, situated under the display, is surrounded by old-school capacitive menu and back keys. Apparently, Samsung isn't willing to make the switch to on-screen navigational keys for its flagship line just yet. We aren't big fans of the exact position chosen for the home button and even the capacitive keys surrounding it. They don't take the center of the plastic area below the screen (considering the vertical axis); instead, they are placed a bit lower. While this may sound as nitpicking to you, it does have a significant (negative) effect on the appearance and comfort of using the phone. It has a negative effect on the appearance, because the home key look very good in this position, while the comfort is compromised because the capacitive keys sit too close to the edge, meaning they are easy to press accidentally (yep, we had many of those frustrating moments).

The home key and volume rocker respond well when pressed, but the power/lock key isn't very well made. We noticed that it's not particularly clicky and you can hardly tell if you've manged to press it just by feel.

Of course, there's the usual 3.5mm jack at the top, as well as microUSB at the bottom. The glossy back houses an 8MP camera with LED flash and the speaker grill right beside it. Interestingly, gone is the characteristic bump that's present on the lower-back sides of the Galaxy S and S II. Not that we'll be missing it much. Removing the flimsy back cover will grant you access to the Micro-SIM and microSD card slots.

Overall, we aren't blown away by the looks of the Galaxy S III. The phone is OK to look at, although it doesn't stand out when you put it next to its competition.


Samsung has been an innovator when it comes to screen technology in phones. Its AMOLED-based screens have been customer favorites for a long time now, and obviously the company intends on sticking with that tech in the long term. In the Galaxy S III, what we have is an enormous 4.8” HD Super AMOLED display, with resolution of 720x1280 pixels. As with every AMOLED screen, this one has extremely saturated colors. In some situations, like when browsing the web, for example, this doesn't look great, as we aren't really used to such “colorful web” experience. It doesn't seem natural, so to speak. However, in many other situations, like viewing photos, watching video or playing games, having such vibrant colors really pays off. Thankfully, Samsung has added an option in the settings which allows you to change the saturation level. This way, purists can simply select the “Natural” preset and they'll get a much more... natural-looking image. And for those wanting even higher saturation, there's the “Dynamic” preset.

When you combine the screen's vividness with the great contrast (black color that is completely black, not just very dark gray, as in LCD displays), multimedia consumption does get much more enjoyable, compared to the LCD experience.

Many were actually disappointed when it was announced that the S III will use a PenTile matrix for its screen, instead of a regular RGB one as in its predecessor. Just recently, Samsung USA's Philip Berne shed some more light on why Samsung decided to stick with PenTile. Obviously the reason is in the longevity – according to Samsung, a PenTile-based AMOLED screen will keep its initial quality for a longer time, compared to an RGB AMOLED one, which will suffer from deteriorating blue subpixels over longer periods of time. Well, since we don't really find the traditional drawbacks of the PenTile screen to be that visible in the GS III, that seems like a good decision by Samsung. If you look very closely at the screen of the Galaxy S III, you will notice some pixelization going on here and there, but when you look at the screen from a normal distance, those nasty dots aren't really visible, due to the high resolution.

It's a good thing that Samsung has tweaked the color temperature so that colors are a bit warmer. As you know, AMOLED displays are notorious for their overly cold colors, but the HD Super AMOLED display of the GS III is a step in the right direction. The reproduction is still far from the accuracy of LCD panels, but hopefully we'll get there, some day. Outdoor visibility is mostly fine, although not the best. You'll be able to get a thing or two done, but with difficulty. Usually a strength of AMOLED displays, viewing angles a pretty good here as well. When you start tilting the phone, colors almost immediately lose the little warmth that Samsung has managed to achieve, but all in all the image quality remains quite good.

Samsung Galaxy S III 360-degrees View:



1. android_hitman unregistered

WOW!!! that's a really good score .. I can't believe my eyes PA ... nice review btw :D

4. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

It is. I don't like the GSIII though. I mean it is a great phone and a worthy buy but IDK why I don't like it. lol I guess I would have to play with it for a while then my opinions will change.

106. Saamic

Posts: 119; Member since: Feb 20, 2012

lol sometimes I don't get why people thumbs down a comment... I mean what did you say there that was irrational, offensive, or biased? In my opinion I think this phone is amazing because it's the full package with a unique beneficial software, it's very fast, highly customizable, innovative and clean. My only problem with it is the plastic and the fingerprints it's prone to. I'll be waiting at in line for it on its U.S. release =)

117. BravoTeam127 unregistered

Well the design on those have a good chance at changing depending on carriers. Take the t-mobile one for example, that one changed a whole lot with the galaxy s ii

139. Dadler22

Posts: 243; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

AT&T generally doesn't alter the design so much on at least the flagship launch device, HTC One X for example. However, Firmware wise the unlocked version will always be far superior than the ones the carriers rape.

146. jdot104

Posts: 95; Member since: Jun 17, 2011

AT&T's version of the past two Galaxy devices was different from the flagship. The GS2 even had a smaller display.

6. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

The 9+ score prediction came true! PA should have this feature where you can display all the phones according to their score. If I had the money, I'd get the blue one NOW. still waiting on the PA knows best lol, PA never answered my e-mail. Smackdowns are coming, HTC One X vs S III, and the iPhone 4S I'm sure.

97. tluv00

Posts: 134; Member since: Oct 18, 2007

They do have that sort of. It's by carrier or by OEM.

143. jmoita2

Posts: 930; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

The iphone 4s??? Why even bother? It will be completely outclassed, kinda like comparing a destroyer to an aircraft carrier.

78. stillaPOS

Posts: 2; Member since: May 15, 2012

the sgs3 is still a POS compared to the SGS2: -the design is the same -same old screen found on the gnex -same soc found on so many F+ing phones (for the ones here in the US) -for international version the gpu is the same one on the GS2 just overclocked!!! everything about this phone is a recycled, rehashed, and reused just being sold again for full price. Nothing my overclocked and rooted GS2 can't do better

94. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

you have zero understanding of the phone or what's inside it.

100. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 970; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Good review, but the phone itself looks pretty cheapie. It doesn't look like they spent a lot of time on ergonomics and design. Looks like it's just about "shove the biggest screen in there as we can, without it being another Note". It might perform well, but ergonomics are more important.

160. zhypher_23

Posts: 195; Member since: Jun 04, 2012

Cheapy? Polycarbonate is not cheap man, it's one of the most durable things to put on a smartphone, try to kill a gs2 landing on it's back, it's gonna take you a long time man...

116. medalaster01

Posts: 43; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

WOW! It may be the highest score till date,of all the phones on P.A.

124. smacsteve

Posts: 87; Member since: May 16, 2012

Nope, the Galaxy Nexus on VZN was higher at 9.5 Which raise's an interesting question... A phone reviewed a year ago by then standard gets a great score and a phone that is reviewed today with raised standards due to much better technology is being judged by a different set of standards. What is one to do? Clearly a HTC One X is a better phone than the GNexus, but according to the score it would appear otherwise.

131. Shocky unregistered

No consistency in the reviewing process, so the scores are meaningless Might as well just be some guy’s random blog.

173. MobileKicker

Posts: 212; Member since: Sep 19, 2013

Still the iphone 4s wins

2. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

I have to say this. I like PhoneArena and all but it's reviews are inconsistent. It doesn't seem to have a standard for what makes a great phone a great phone, what makes a good phone an good phone, and what makes a bad phone an bad phone. I only could hope that it is because each reviewer has a different opinion, but I've come to realize that certain reviewers on this site run back over their previous opinions as well. I'm not trolling I just want to know if the reason they were so inconsistent with their opinions on phones between reviewers was because of them waiting for the next phone-to-beat (GSIII)? I just wish that all the reviews had a scale or something so I can know each particular flaw to category. That will keep it really consistent....But still a good review...

14. Dr_fajardo

Posts: 32; Member since: Apr 29, 2012

very true.

44. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

There was a time when reviews were authored by "the PhoneArena Team." What happened to those days? If nothing else, at least all high-end devices should be compared by the same person/team, for consistency's sake (my vote is for John V, as I'm sure most people would agree with.) Also factor in the fact that Ray clearly has some sort of vendetta against HTC. The last sentence of this review takes a completely unnecessary shot at them (and he just recycled it from his preview of the device, mind you.) Sure, the Global One X wasn't perfect, and the Galaxy S III is almost certainly a better phone, but it damn-well deserved a better score than a 7.8 considering that when it was launched it was unanimously hailed as the greatest Android device ever made.

71. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

I agree on this one and every PA reviewer out there has their own standard, and I did notice that Vendetta part for quite awhile now. Oh, and also, WHERE"S THE VIDEO? lol, i have been waiting for it to download so that I can watch it on my nerd time alone.

74. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

oh and Sir Ray, if you ever happen to conduct the smackdown between the One X and the S III, please don't be too harsh on the One X. We would also want to know the advantages and disadvantages of each. well, since I'm not the only one who feels like you're angry with HTC. *just a feeling though lol* and for constructive criticism, please take this positively, you say too much "uhmm." :)


Posts: 1461; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

Agreed on all points here. The reviewer especially has his own opinionated reviews in my opinion. Was this such a great review or was it more like we anted so very much to hear only great things that we had presupposed high marks for this phone. I am not taking away from any thing said; However the reviewers many reviews have left my opinion of his reviews jaded, and distrusting. I feel to validate reviews on this site I need to read else where to make an informed opinion in the last few months.

83. Jonathan41

Posts: 532; Member since: Mar 22, 2012

I just said that yesterday! I would give you another thumbs up if I could.

93. Jonathan41

Posts: 532; Member since: Mar 22, 2012

dk but phonearena's reviews lack a certain consistancy that I would expect from such a otherwise carefully though out sight. Reviews seem inconsistent between reviewer and devices. Something that are cons for one device aren't for others. Sometimes more powerful international unlocked phones get lesser scores then their supsidized versions (this is especially peculiar when the only differance between the two is more powerful chipset of the international version). Sometimes the reviewer puts something into cons that's more opinon then actual fact. It's like PA reviews and comparisons are generally mostly based more on opinon then fact. During review they never actually test devices with benckmarks or test to compare statistics. You usually just hear the reviewer say 'this device feels/looks like it does xxxx better'. Meaning that however trained that reviews eye is we are still subject to their perspective on thing much less then actual device performance. PA attempt to tell the reader which device is better for day to day use. That's impossible to do without generalizing your audience in someway and if each reviewer has a slightly different idea of what the readers want it's very hard to keep consistency between all the reviewer when scoring phones. I used to live buy pa review but I have grown weary. I love PA but, at times I see thing that seem like contradictions.

3. Muhannad

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 20, 2011

My only problem is that plastic is collects a lot of fingerprints but I think the white version makes up for that. Nevertheless, this is definitely my next phone. Also, what's the point of an extremely detailed preview followed by a 26 minute video preview if the review was a few days away?

5. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

because Ray S. has a sexy voice.... lol jk

150. jeraldjamescapao

Posts: 23; Member since: May 17, 2012


7. Jericho unregistered

WOW! Incredable score from phonearena to THE galaxy s3. Between lg optimus 4x, htc one x and samsung galaxy SIII I was going to buy the phone which had the highest score on phonearena but i think LG can't beat SAMSUNG here.

8. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

I'm actually rooting for LG this time. LG has the power they are just naive about the UI design.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Galaxy S III
  • Display 4.8" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.9 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 4 Quad, Quad-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2100 mAh(11.60h 3G talk time)

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