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Hands-on With the Samsung Galaxy SIII

Last night during CTIA, PepCom threw their usual shindig of multiple mobile industry players who want a more intimate setting to show off their latest and greatest products. We knew that Samsung was going to be in attendance, but had yet to confirm whether or not they would have the freshly announced Galaxy SIII on hand. Sure enough, they did – in both colors. And we dove into it as we were unable to attend its unveiling in London. So what do we think now after finally putting our greasy paws on it? Let’s talk about it. 

Build, Look, and Feel

Well, the phone in hand, feels pretty damn good. It’s light as all Samsung devices are, is a nice size, but like the One X, could be close to being too big. If you called Sammie phones “cheap” in the past, I would bet that your opinion wouldn’t change on this one. Personally, I don’t mind the build materials in their phones, so to me, it just felt like a nicely made Samsung phone. Nothing to complain about on the build and feel front.

Looks may be another story though. The phone itself is really glossy. I mean like, the shiniest, glossiest device in history. I wouldn’t call it ugly, but if you prefer matte finishes (like we do), then the shine may be a bit much for you. We were critical of the new EVO LTE’s top because it had a similar finish, which means fingerprint magnet, and this was sort of on that level. Also not a fan of the physical home button on the bottom, that at times, seemed difficult to press. I’m sure a little practice would fix that problem though.

As far as colors go, both white and blue looked nice in person. The blue backing in particular gives off this impression that it’s this heavy, thick metal, when in actuality it is as thin of plastic as you can get. Tricky little optical illusion there by Samsung.

Overall on design, I’d give it high marks. Again, I’m not so hot on the glossy finishes, but could get used to it.

Software

When Samsung unveiled this device, they talked about specs ever-so-briefly. It has next-gen stuff, but what they really wanted to focus on was software. They showed off their Siri-like S Voice and S Beam, but they have so many more tricks up their sleeve that they were unable to do at the press event. For example, if you and all of your friends have a SGS3, you can create mini-networks wherever you are, and then instantly share things like photos with them all. It’s like Color was at launch, but integrated into TouchWiz. They built in this hand-waving gesture across the screen that lets you take a screenshot (hard to explain). I got to see the eye-recognition software in action almost immediately as well. Just by staring at the screen for a few seconds, this little eye icon appears in the notification bar to let you know that it is tracking you. The phone will then essentially wake itself if you look away and then back. Again, hard to explain, but was cool to play with.

The reps I spoke with talked about how most of the stuff is impossible to show off at an event because it usually includes personal info and such, so I have a feeling that as we get closer to review time, we will all find new things to show off on the regular.

I really came away thinking not about the build and look and specs, but about all of the software add-ons that I couldn’t wait to give hours of my time to. This is one of the first Android devices where I can say that. Normally we care about processors and screen types, however, with the Galaxy SIII, it’s beyond that. Samsung is building high-end phones on the spec front, but now, they are jumping into the software game and it appears to be in a good way.

My conclusion after spending such a minimal amount of time with it was that this device is probably a lot like the iPhone 4S launch. Samsung didn’t try to wow us all with specs (even though they are some of the best), they instead wanted us to talk about the experience and the apps or features they built in to make your life easier.

I know that many of us had strong opinions about the phone at last week’s event, but this is definitely one of those devices you need to spend time with before forming a final one. Looking forward to launch so that we can see everything that Samsung has done.

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