Enter the latest in Samsung’s Galaxy Line up, the S III. With the Galaxy series, Samsung cemented their popularity in the smartphone segment and have, since then, been pushing the boundaries of the open source platform. The S III picks up where the extremely popular S II left off and brings in more than just a bunch of new hardware specifications and design refinement. At the India venue on the Galaxy S III’s worldwide tour slash debut, we naturally got a chance to spend some one on one time with the new flagship smartphone and here’s what we think.
Hands on: Samsung Galaxy SIII
Wow! Pardon the wanton excitement but when one finally sees a deviation from the norm of smartphone form factors, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Taking a cue from the Galaxy Nexus, the S III sports a super slim design (8.6mm in depth) with a slightly curved shell. Although we’re quite accustomed to the large screen mobile with the One X (4.7-inches) and the Galaxy Note (5.3-inches), the 4.8-inches of HD Super AMOLED goodness somehow felt larger even though it fit squarely in the palm of your hand.
Quite the sexy slim concept
An impressive fact is that it comes with 16GB of on board memory with the capability of supporting a 64GB memory card touting a whopping 80 Gigs of total storage if need be. HTC must be cringing right now. And all this complete with a removable battery. A little bit of disappointing news folks, there’s no wireless charging… yet. A wireless charging kit was mentioned among the accessories and come September of 2012, it’s possible we just might see a system like this for the SIII in place.
Using what they call Hyperglaze material, the shells glossy tones stand out in a Pebble Blue or a Marble White shade. To be brutally honest though, as sexy as the Galaxy S III looks, its lightweight design and body structure give it a slightly dainty appearance with a slight touch of fragility thrown in. How sturdy it actually is, we’ll be able to clue in after a bit of extensive use.
Sensors for all purposes
This baby comes loaded to the hilt with Samsung ‘Smart’ features. The level of multi-tasking we were able to achieve on this device was quite impressive although we’re quite anxious to test it thoroughly in our labs. But as prototypes go, the ones on display at the launch, proved their point quite nicely. All this is thanks to the powerhouse 1.4GHz Quad-Core processer (Cortex A9 on an Exynos chipset) running silently under the hood. Navigating the menus and accessing features was as speedy as the Xolo with not even a hint of lag or stutter.
We had the opportunity to test the new array of features starting with the Smart Stay feature that uses the light sensor and the front facing camera to track your eyes for the screen to adjust the brightness. This feature was designed for battery enhancement but wasn’t altogether evident during the live demos. Let’s just say we’ll test it ourselves and clue you in as to just how responsive it really is.
Running Android ICS 4.0.4 out of the box
The new lockscreen not only offers access to apps of your choice but also provides you with a message feed and drop down access to the nav-bar menu as well. That’s quite handy.
Next we tested the Direct Call feature. This is quite a neat setting actually and allows you to simply raise the phone to your ear in the middle of typing a message for the handset to make a call to the recipient of said message. The sensor used in this function is superbly designed and refused to work if we covered the screen with our hands, held it to our chest, against a wall etc. Quite remarkable. Using a finely tuned calibration of the gyro sensor and other features is what we presume makes this operation tick. We’ll get back to you on this operation later on in the review. There is one minor flaw though – this system will only work if the recipient is in your phone book and, as we were told, if the contact has an image attached to their listing. Go figure.
Loaded to the hilt with networking options
The S Voice feature is Samsung’s answer to Siri and although quite intuitive, is not quite as refined as Apple’s little helper. It too can answer worldly questions and be used to activate a variety of features on the handset. Then again, Google’s Voice feature found preloaded on many Android handsets these days, does the same.
Expanding on the Android Beam function Samsung’s S Beam feature lets you transfer data quickly between S III devices only using the NFC chip and Wi-Fi Direct with just a tap, after activating the setting of course.
Getting back to Multi-tasking, Samsung also allowed us to test their Pop up Play video option. While playing a video you can resize it to a smaller player that can be dragged anywhere across the display so you can continue using other features like the browser, messaging, and even play games while the little video window continues with what you were watching. This is nothing new though as apps like Super Video, Floating & Popup (Free) can do the same and others like Stick it! (paid) will do the same and then some. These third party apps will work well with most Android devices with decent processing power.
making excellent use of the processor with Pop to Play featute
Preloaded Samsung –centric apps like MyMovies, MyReader and MyMusic provide you with a range of local content from newspaper subscriptions to local language movies, music etc. The Handy app that’s also on board allows you to book and even pay for all things in life that require tickets – movies, flights etc. You can also look up places to eat and make reservations. The MyStation app will let you stream Live concerts and performances in real time when available.
Finally, the camera. Deciding to stick with the 8MP variety and not pushing to take on the Xperia S’s 12MP offering, the S III’s camera (with LED flash) seems very capable of delivering top notch photos with 1080p HD recording and simultaneous image capture. Like the Xolo and One X, the S III also comes with Burst mode with a 20 image capture setting in just about 3 seconds. Switching to Best Shot allows the S III to select the best image from 8 and store it for you in the gallery.
Full HD video playback and image capture
Like the Samsung camera of old, the face tagging feature has also been added but beefed up to quite an extent. You can now tag people and link them to your phone book as well as their FB accounts. Tapping on the person’s image will also take you to their FB page and can also give you an option to share the image via email or SMS.
The Price and overall impression
Sporting a rather heavy price tag of Rs. 43,180 the S III seemed quite out of reach. Judging from the tweets and comments, most of you were as disappointed as we were, however do keep in mind that it’s the MRP, the MOP will be considerably less. In fact HomeShop18 is already offering bookings for the device with an offer price of Rs. 38,900. That’s still not an inexpensive choice and hopefully that too shall pass on to something lower, fingers crossed. At the end of the day we see the S III as a handset with tremendous potential to thrill users with its looks features and functionality.
There’s quite a bit more to the handset of course but we’ll keep that for post-testing in our labs, so stay tuned to tech2 for the full review of the Samsung Galaxy SIII.
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