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Samsung Galaxy S III review: Your next Android phone

Ginny Mies | June 21, 2012
The Samsung Galaxy S III ($200 with a new two-year AT&T contract, price as of June 20, 2012) is one of the most hyped phones this year

Display

Back to the display: It is large, yes--but my, is it pretty. The S III has a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display with a 1280-by-720-pixel resolution. This is the same display technology as on the Galaxy Nexus; according to Samsung, however, the Galaxy S III's display is "more refined" than that of the Galaxy Nexus.

Luckily, we happened to have a Galaxy Nexus in house to do a side-by-side comparison. I loaded the same gallery of photos on both phones. Colors on the S III looked brighter and more vivid than on the Galaxy Nexus. The Galaxy S III displayed a greater range of colors than the Galaxy Nexus did in our color-bar test, too. Unfortunately, I could still see some bleeding between the colors, which is a sign of oversaturation.

Software and Features

The Galaxy S III runs Android 4.0.4 with Samsung's TouchWiz 5.0 overlay. The latest version of TouchWiz looks and feels like the previous versions of the overlay: slightly cartoony, but easy enough to navigate. During the S III launch event, Samsung made a big deal about the Galaxy S III being "inspired by nature." When you unlock the phone, you see an animation that mimics touching water, complete with a water sound effect. When you press one of the hardware keys, you hear a water drop. It feels very Zen--until it gets annoying. Thankfully, you can turn it off.

Samsung has added a few new gesture controls into the mix, such as tilt zooming (useful for Web browsing), shake to update, and flip to mute (useful for ignoring unwanted calls). One feature I really like--in theory, at least--is the ability to take a screenshot by swiping from right to left across the screen with the side of your hand. Whenever I tried to take screenshots, though, I ended up doing something else on accident. For example, I attempted to take a screenshot of a gallery image, and ended up enlarging the image instead.

I wasn't really a fan of the Galaxy S II keyboard, and on this phone the keyboard seems not to have changed much. The keys are too narrow and small, and I made a lot of mistakes while typing a message. Swype is preinstalled, however, so that helps to make typing a bit less painful.

As you might recall, Samsung has released some strange marketing for the Galaxy S III, claiming that it "follows your every move." Creepy? Maybe, but one of the phone's features is its ability to track your eyes via the front-facing camera, which is pretty cool. When you have the phone in front of you, for instance, the screen stays lit and won't lock after a few seconds. If you pull the phone away (or, say, fall asleep playing Angry Birds), the screen turns off. The feature works well, and is a useful tool for saving battery life.

 

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