After covering the launch earlier today and posting about the official specs and info, it’s time for something a little more personal. We’ve had the opportunity to have some hands-on time with the Samsung Galaxy S3, and here is a first-hand report.
The Galaxy S3 shape is nicely designed to be curvy, natural to hold, and “human” (or at least, “organic”) as Samsung would put it. I’m pretty sure that there is going quite a bit of debate about which of the HTC One or the Samsung Galaxy S3 (or the Galaxy Nexus) is better looking, in fact I can already see this in my social networks – this is not a clear-cut win in terms of mindshare. I like the Galaxy S3 a lot, but I have to warn that it has a bit of a “plastic” feel, which is not unlike other Samsung phones, but keep in mind that for its size, it is very light 133g. Those who liked the Galaxy S2 will most likely love the Galaxy S3. Those who didn’t (typically, the HTC-lovers) may simply stick to their guns, although they should really look at the Galaxy S3
After the initial contact with this new design, it’s fair to say that the star of the show is the display. It is big (4.8″) and with a 1280×720 resolution, it is definitely sharp enough, and I don’t imagine that users would complain about any of this. The colors are brilliant, and very saturated – they really “pop”. I actually think that Samsung is cranking the color saturation up, so if you care about “color accuracy”, you may want to check this twice, but most users will simply be delighted by the screen.
In terms of system responsiveness, it is good, but not “groundbreaking” when compared to other fast Android handsets. I think that this is mainly an Android “thing”, so there’s not much that Samsung can do about this. Android 4.0 improved the UI responsiveness by quite a bit, but in my opinion, iOS and Windows Phone are still more responsive to user input.
If you have small hands, this may be a rather big phone, but given that a number of people -many of them women with small hands- don’t have a problem with the Galaxy Note (it’s huge!), the size should not prevent the Galaxy S3 from being a blockbuster, that’s my prediction. In return, the additional screen surface makes the Samsung Galaxy S3 very comfortable to use, even more so than the Galaxy Nexus, its older cousin.
Now, we did not have time to test all the software and services, but It is interesting to see that while Samsung did put en emphasis on its voice recognition function, they didn’t overdo it, which should help set the user expectation properly. A number of Apple users were disappointed after testing Siri, because it didn’t really work like the TV advertisement implied… (duh). This is something that we will have to test in our upcoming review of the Galaxy S3.
Also, it will be interesting to see independent benchmarks of the Quad-core chip, but more importantly, we want to see if the same hardware will be used in the U.S market. Because of the variety of LTE networks, it is not uncommon for handset makers to swap chips. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S2 for AT&T uses a Samsung Exynos processor, while the T-Mobile version used a Qualcomm chip. A number of prospect HTC One X customers have already said that they would not buy a dual-core version of the phone, because they know that there is a Quad-core one elsewhere. In the end, it’s hard to tell how this will play out, but Samsung has promised more information on this matter by the end of the month (it will hit the USA in “June”, Samsung said).
In the meantime, it is fair to say that we have only seen a small sample of what the Galaxy S3 can do, and that a full review is in order. However, it is also fair to say that Samsung “gets it” in the sense that they know what’s important: the user experience. They could have bragged about the Exynos quad-core performance, but chose to emphasize the “human” aspect of the phone, as they say. Also, I noticed how little they talked about Android itself, and TouchWiz, Samsung’s custom user interface. This means one thing: the time when plugging Android’s UI deficiencies was an “added-value” is over. Now, the phone has to make your life better, and that’s what we want to hear.