Thursday, August 2, 2012

Samsung Galaxy SIII for Verizon Review

It’s probably safe to say that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is the most talked-about Android smartphones to hit the market this year. It’s Samsung’s 2012 “flagship device,” the core product of their cell phone lineup, their highest-end mobile product. It is also one of the most widely available flagship phones, having arrived at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and US Cellular. In this review, we will focus on Verizon’s version of the S3, and compare it to the competition on this network. Will Samsung’s Galaxy S3 best its rivals? Read on to find out!

Design and Hardware
Let’s take our customary tour around the S3’s hardware. A headphone jack is on the top side, a power button on the right, a volume rocker on the left, and a micro USB port is on the bottom. A front facing 1.9 camera sits above the screen -farthest to the right.

A gorgeous 1280 X 800 HD Super Amoled screen (geek gibberish for a very high quality screen)  dominates the front of the device. 1280 X 800 is actually the same resolution that the Samsung Galaxy Note has, except the S3’s is crammed into a 4.8” screen instead of the Note’s 5.3” screen. It displays very rich, deep colors. It tends to be a little orange-tinted, but this is not too noticeable. This screen also displays details and text in crisp detail.

Below the screen sits a physical home button flanked by capacitive back and menu buttons. I like using the physical home button for waking the device instead of feeling around the right side for the power button.

On the outside shell, the S3 is all smooth, comfortable curves and gloss coating. It is also amazingly thin, and easy to hold. That gloss coating does make it a bit slippery, though.

Software and Performance
As any self-respecting flagship device should, the S3 has excellent all-around performance. Apps launch and close quickly, web browsing is smooth, everything is just plain peppy. This excellent performance is produced by a 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor with 2 GB of RAM.

While we are on the topic of specifications, it’s worth noting that you can choose between 16GB and 32GB versions on Verizon, and it has room for a SD card.

The Galaxy S3 is also 4G capable, but testing 4G data speeds in my area isn’t possible.

The S3 ships with the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android. (Yay!) Although Samsung has made some prominent graphical/animation changes to fit in with its nature theme, they don’t bother me.

A few permanent Verizon apps got stuck with the S3- My Verizon Mobile, Verizon Apps, VZ Navigator, and Verizon Tones. Although they cannot be uninstalled, they can be hidden from the app drawer if they bother you.

The most notable app is S Voice. It is Samsung’s answer to the iPhone’s personal assistant, Siri. The pleasant-voiced Galaxy can give you directions, send texts, tweets or Facebook status updates, find local restaurants, give you the weather for any city, and answer silly questions with sassy answers.

Me: Sing a song. Galaxy: You first. I’ll follow along.
Me: Do you have a family? Galaxy: You are my family.

Jokes aside, S Voice seems to work best with short commands. Finding a local Walmart, looking up the weather forecast, and setting timers seemed to work best. Tweets, texts, or web searches can become garbled, especially if they are long or have non-standard words like “HD”. (Then again, I’m a famous mumbler, so I’m sure better enunciation would help this.) Sometimes Galaxy stopped listening before I could finish a phrase that I wanted to search for. Once the app even locked up. At this time, S Voice isn’t polished enough to compete with Siri.

This picture was taken with the S3
I have had good experiences with almost all of Samsung smartphone cameras, and I expect no less from the S3. This camera lives up to my expectations. It produces sharp, perfectly focused pictures, although outdoor shots sometimes get over-exposed. Shutter lag is minimum.

The camcorder function produces very smooth and sharp video at 1080p, with good colors.

Call Quality
For both parties, the audio quality was clear and natural. The S3 does a good job of eliminating background noise.

Battery Life
During my day-to-day routine of light internet browsing, checking Twitter and e-mail, using various apps, and playing music, the S3 held out through the day with a little to spare. Your mileage may vary with heavy usage of the phone and internet.

If you’re looking for a looking for a top-of-the-line Android smartphone from Verizon and willing to pay around $200 for it, you should give the Samsung Galaxy S3 some serious thought. There are some distant competitors from Motorola and HTC, but these phones aren’t the complete package. With an attractive design, gorgeous screen, snappy performance, a respectable camera and long battery life, the S3 is the most well-rounded option on Verizon’s network.

Product Info

MSRP:Starting at $199 from Verizon Wireless on contract.
    Attractive design, gorgeous screen, snappy performance, good camera and battery life  
  • S-Voice needs more work

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