Comprehensive Galaxy S III quotreviewquot (more like opinions since I`m a broke grad student)

4 years ago

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Recently became a Luuuxer (is the L capitalized like the Q in NyQuil?) with very light persuasion from my gf, enjoy my first post! Feel free to criticize my style of writing, I`m an engineer and I`m offensively sarcastic.

Anywho, from a hardcore smartphone fan`s perspective, this is somewhat of a major disappointment of a phone. From a strictly technical perspective, this is a wonder piece of engineering technology, from both the hardware side and the software side.

Reviews have just begun rolling in from various tech websites as the review units are being shipped out, and as someone prides himself in spending his time on the cusp of technology, I`ve amassed some pretty well formed opinions on the device.

I think it`s still a horribly designed device, and very poor timing from Samsung to not have the ball rolling on all cylinders. HTC is stepping up its game, as is Sony and even the half-dead LG. Not to mention, this is the year of the iPhone redesign -- Samsung simply cannot slack off in the aesthetics department, but they did.

Oval is just a terrible shape for a phone. The whole "inspired by pebbles and leaves" spiel is a load of ass. How can anyone say that with a straight face? The entire Samsung marketing team needs an overhaul, the keynote was a disaster. All of it felt rigid and forced, it was simply uncomfortable to watch (well actually, in my case, very comfortable as I fell back asleep watching it... on my iPad no less).

Most of the key features are on the software side, and if you`re familiar with the Android ecosystem, that means it`s relatively easy to port onto other devices. In fact, given the recent firmware dump, most of the feature have ALREADY been made available - S Voice, the UX launcher, etc are mostly all available on the S II variants and are slowly rolling out to other major devices as well.

Now, with that out of the way, hardware criticism. Did I already mention that it`s aesthetically challenged? Oval... why? The iPhone 4/4s was an amazing looking device because of its sharp edges, the glass and the use of brushed metal. Samsung is going with its trademark plasticky case and faux brush aluminum. In my opinion the Pebble Blue looks infinitely better than the white from images, however given the plastic nature, it also has a higher chance of looking "cheaper", not exactly a good thing considering this phone and its premiums.

4.8 inches is honestly pushing the boundaries of usability. I own a 4.5 inch GSII and I find it difficult to reach the top left corner of the screen at times without readjusting my grip. However, all the reviews are so far praising the phone for its ergonomics, so I`m assuming it`s not any different from using the 4.7 inch HTC One X or the 4.65 Galaxy Nexus. But alas, because of it`s AMOLED Pentile layout and a larger screen than the Nexus, I`m sure that`ll leave a sour aftertaste in one`s mouth, regardless of whether or not the pentile-matrix sublayout is perceptibly worse. While I do enjoy OLED screens, I honestly don`t think it`s THAT much better than the new LCD IPS panels. The only major advantage you get with OLED is "true blacks"; the IPS screens offer the same tremendous viewing angles and contrast, as well as a higher level of brightness. You save some battery staring at a blank black screen on OLED, but all around power consumption by either panels is largely the same. In my opinion, the HTC One X`s 720p is simply superior to that of the GSIII. OLED is the future, but the future is simply not yet ready.

The one area where the SIII clearly has an advantage over every phone currently in production is its processor. It`s a quad-core Exynos. It`s essentially twice as powerful as the old king of the hill, but based on a 32nm HK+MG architecture instead of 45nm. What does that mean? Power savings, battery efficiency. Samsung is the king of mobile chips (imo), there`s a reason Apple use Samsung as its main supplier. The new 32nm process essentially uses a high-k gate oxide and metal gate in favor of silicon for much improved current retention (minimize current leakage). Moreover, it`s a smaller process, meaning smaller transistors to offset the move to quad-core. It`s not quite as power efficient as the 28nm S4 that Qualcomm is developing, but it`s simply a much more powerful SoC, especially on the GPU side. And more power efficient too. Given Anandtech`s iPad 2 review (, I`m guessing this SoC would be around 15-20% more efficient than the dual-core Exynos.

The Exynos with all cylinders running is simply the most powerful mobile CPU, bar none. On a per core basis, the S4 has it soundly beat because of a much more advanced architecture. It`s based loosely on A15 designes, whereas the Exynos is still based on A9 at heart. The GPU is on another level entirely, and until the new PowerVRs and Adreno 320s start rolling out, Samsung`s Mali simply has no competition. And really, the software needs to play some catchup just to even begin to remotely push it. In a cross platform benchmark, the GPU was found to even outperform the iPhone 4s.

One thing to keep in mind is that this SoC will also be featured in the upcoming Meizu MX Quad, which is an overseas phone produced by a pretty well-known Chinese manufacturer at a tremendous bargain. This phone is simply incredible imo, check it out:

The rest of the specs is relatively inline with what the current flagship phones have to offer. 2 GB RAM would`ve definitely been nice, but that was simply a stretch [and somewhat useless] given the technology of current memory controllers. I`m actually glad Samsung chose to go with a higher quality 8mp sensor instead of pushing the spec chart with a half-assed 12mp. An f/2.6 sensor is used just like the S2, meaning it won`t be as good as the iPhone/One X in low light scenarios. Expandable micro-SD included, kudos to Samsung for that. 2100 mah battery is pretty big, but given a 4.8 inch screen probably means you`ll be seeing similar battery life as with the other flagship (One X).

Final thoughts: I really had high hopes for this one. I`m guessing my expectations were too high. Samsung honestly didn`t make a bad phone at all. But most of the disappointment arose from my expecting it to blow everything out of the water, as the GSII did on all fronts. Instead of raising the bar, this phone merely flirted with the bar, maybe knocking it off and repositioning it in parallel... I`m going too far with this. Between this and the One X, it`s a pretty tough choice. The One X is simply a much better looking phone with a better screen. GSIII has a bigger battery (marginally) and a micro-SD expansion.

I love Android, don`t get me wrong. I love the control I have over my phones. I love the integration with Google services. I love how easy it is to tweak given my Java background. But I can`t help but feel a little betrayed. So the winner is... the iPhone 5? We`ll see. I hope the rumors about it packing a 3.9-4.0 inch screen be false, I`d love a phone in the 4.2-4.3 range. The iPhone has a comical size bezel, you could easily fit a 4 inch screen in its current dimensions, and making it slightly bigger to fit in a larger battery in addition to a more modern-sized screen probably wouldn`t ill anyone.

Side note: If you`re on T-Mobile like I am, please don`t buy the international Galaxy S III. It lacks a 1700 band, which T-mo needs for their "4g" service. That is, unless you`re okay with EDGE speeds...

Other phones to consider (and both of these are pentaband, so importing and using it on any carrier won`t be a problem):

Meizu MX Quad:

Key specs: pentaband, 4 inch screen using a similar 640x960 IPS panel as the iPhone for those preferring iPhone size phones, quad core Exynos

Huawei Ascend D XL:

Key specs: 2500 mah battery!!!!, pentaband, homebrew quad core that should perform slightly better than the Tegra 3 but not as well as the exynos, 4.5 inch 720p screen for PPI higher than the iPhone 4, minimal bezel, 2500 mah battery!!!!!!!

So, what are your opinions on the Galaxy S III?

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