Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy S III: Designed to trump its own Galaxy Nexus

Paul Mah had the opportunity for a hands-on with the newly unveiled Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. He offers his initial impressions of it.

I was invited for a media preview where we were offered a hands-on session of the newly unveiled Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone in Singapore earlier in the week. The Galaxy S III smartphones shown to us were flagged as near-completed prototypes, though Samsung took pains to emphasize that it is not an actual production unit.

Given its impending release at the end of May in Europe and June in other parts of the world, I think it would be reasonable to say that any changes will be few and minor.

"Organic" chassis is comfortable to hold

Winston Goh, senior manager of Marketing at Samsung Singapore, alluded to an "almost" one piece, "minimal organic" chassis catered towards a more natural experience. The design team has worked hard on the Galaxy S III, says Goh, to tweak every aspect for a friendlier, more intuitive experience.

The Galaxy S III felt more comfortable in my hands than the HTC One X that I reviewed earlier, despite its slightly larger 4.8-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen. I never felt comfortable with holding the HTC One X in my hands, which may be due to the discomfort caused by its mildly angular edges; this certainly wasn't the case with the Galaxy S III.

It isn't often that marketing statements match up to the actual experience, but navigating the setup screens, I found the entire experience to be well-organized and intuitive. You can see the Galaxy SIII below.

Figure A

Samsung Galaxy S III

Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S III

The performance of the Galaxy S III was snappy and smooth, as you would expect from a smartphone equipped with a quad-core Exynos processor. Like the Samsung Galaxy S II however, the Galaxy S III does not come with a dedicated camera button. The camera proved to be extremely responsive, and I was able to take multiple photos in rapid-fire mode - noticeably faster than with my iPhone 4S. Indeed, the iPhone 4S looked decidedly dated beside the large 4.8-inch screen of the S III.

Samsung also demonstrated "Pop Up Play," which allows videos to continue playing smoothly as a smaller, pop-up window, though I failed to conjure up any compelling business scenarios where it will come in useful. You can see Pop Up Play in action in Figure B and additional close-up shots in Figure C and Figure D further below.

Figure B

Besides the half-dozen Galaxy S III prototype smartphones, there were also other smartphones such as a Galaxy S II, a Galaxy Note as well as a Galaxy Nexus present for comparison. What piqued my interest was how the Samsung reps present were completely unabashed when a few members of the media started comparing the Galaxy S III with the Galaxy Nexus.

My brief time with the Galaxy S III led me to conclude that it is in every way superior to the Galaxy Nexus, which was confirmed when I separately pored through the specifications after the session. In a nutshell, the Galaxy S III has virtually the same physical dimensions as the Galaxy Nexus, but is perceptibly thinner even as it squeezes in a slightly larger screen into a chassis that is almost the same size.

In truth, it appears to me that Samsung engineers have deliberately engineered the S III to trump the older Nexus. I've put together a quick comparison with the Galaxy Nexus in Table A below:

Samsung was characteristically mum about the release date for the Galaxy S III in Singapore, though I was able to gather that it should take place in the next 4-6 weeks. As usual, I'll try to get hold of a production unit to review it from a business perspective. Stay tuned.

Figure C

Figure D

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

15 comments
scott
scott

Does it have a normal or micro sim card?

sauerbach
sauerbach

Unike most consumers I guess (sadly), I would love a BIG scren (4.8", 5, 6, 7) largest that can still fit in my pocket and also has physical keboard for use as phone, pad, reader, web browser, computer with real I/O capability, all in one. Work around is 7" Pad, with Skype phoning and bluetooth keyboard case.

mountjl
mountjl

Curious. Is this a seriously early pre-order? Just wondering how you managed to get someone to take an order for a phone that (accourding to the article) technically doesn't exist for the public as yet.

rhonin
rhonin

Wonder what the specs will be for the US model? Uless Samsung has an ace up it's sleeve we may not see quad core and LTE in the same package

xrayangiodoc
xrayangiodoc

Looks like my next phone! I hope T-mobile gets it soon.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Give it a removable SD slot and ship it with stock Android just like the Nexus brand line and they'd have there own Nexus trumped. It already has enough radios in it to be a sig-int's wet dream (two wifi radios on board along side the Bluetooth SE and wireless charging, etc, etc??). With stock Android, I'd actually have to think hard about the short term future of my shiny new Nexus.

paulmah
paulmah

It uses a Micro SIM.

paulmah
paulmah

Given the way things are headed, I'll say there is a strong likelihood LTE will be in the box. But it may be at the expense of quad-core as you pointed out. Samsung d specifically declined comment when I asked. I suppose the regulatory and telco arrangements are still being hammered out. Hopefully, that won't delay its appearance in the U.S. though.

paulmah
paulmah

It does have a micro SD slot, something that was lacking in the HTC One X. Are you on a Nexus at the moment?

khiatt
khiatt

Apparently I'm not keeping up... Why would they have to use a different processor with the LTE?

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

Unless Samsung has changed its way of thinking, it won't stay stock Android. That's turned into my biggest peeve...I've decided I can sacrifice expandable memory if it means I don't have to deal with carrier crapware and manufacturer meddling without getting into heroic warranty-voiding efforts of rooting, tweaking, tuning, and installing new ROMs.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

No removable SD slot I can find but if there is one that's remained hidden it'd make my Thursday.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

My Galaxy SII doesn't last through one business day, on 3G/HSDPA and with whatever *slow* processor it has, if I have email "push" switched on. Seriously, on Wednesday, I unplugged it from the charger at 9 a.m., had / made only a few calls (I'd love to state the exact amount of time I spent on calls that day, but the call log lists each call individually and I don't have the patience to go through them and tally it up - definitely not more than an hour's talk time, though, for certain) and by 4 p.m. it was warning about low battery and dead by 6. It's much better now that I set email to update only every hour but I do still have to charge it every night or it will die before lunchtime the next day.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Probably my not being clear initially. I'm currently on a Galaxy Nexus which lacks a removable SD slot. To trump the Galaxy Nexus, the S3 need only include a removable SD slot and ship with stock Android accepting system OS updates directly from Google. that is the minimum they would need to do to trump the Galaxy Nexus; they got half way to the trump card with the removable SD though not fully there due to lack of stock ICS. I can't grab the standard image from Google, flash the device and be on my way; S3 owners will still be limited by waiting for Samsung+carrier to decide if/when they get OS updates. Still a very interesting chunk of hardware with the number of functions they've stuffed into it though. As I said originally, if I could grab the stock Android firmware from google and flash it directly myself (over the air updates for less DIY users) then I'd have to rethink the future of my recently purchased Galaxy Nexus. As it stands, I'll continue to watch what new hardware comes though I'd really prefer a solid bit of hardware with something much closer to Debian (if one of the forlorn children of Maemo can ever see the light of day). The N910 could have been a contender if Nokia was not so hell bent on devaluing it's stocks.

paulmah
paulmah

If you look at Figure C, the micro-SD slot can be seen on the left, beside the micro-SIM.