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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.


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.


  • joe

    I have this phone, going from a Motorola Droid X2, which i had nothing but trouble with, after my 4th replacement failed, right out of the box at a Verizon store I had had enough and called Verizon Corp and they agreed to let me upgrade one year early. The rep recommended i wait two weeks to get the Samsung SIII. Let me tell you that it was well worth the wait. Itis fantastic. It does so much and works so well that i would say it is the best phone ever made. Apple, look over your shoulder,here comes Samsung. Apple has become complacement and now has to catch up. You will love the SIII.

  • Steve

    anyone who thinks a phone is sexy is in serious need of a woman , give me a break ???

    • joe

      wow. a woman. How unique

  • angermeans

    The blue one actually looks nice. I’m just not sold on thephone though. I mean if it ends up being we lost the quad core exynos here in the states then why even get this phone? What I mean is the Galaxy Nexus has the same screen with more pixel density (albeit a smaller screen though, but not by a lot), the galaxy nexus looks much better with its curved display (at least in my opinion), both have the same ram, both will have 4G (which I’m glad that Samsung and others like HTC see the value in getting 4G LTE even when that means losing the quad core processor. I would love the exynos but the tegra 3 is extremely overrated and the snapdragon s4 dual core shows us this as it matches and even beats it in some test. 4G is more beneficial than quad core for sure), the galaxy nexus will get the GED advantages like much faster updates, vanilla android, dev device being easily rooted and unlocked, and it is googles baby.

    This phone and the One X are nice (One X is the better of the two in my opinion) are both really nice, but if I was in the market for a new android device (which when am I not ) and I was on Verizon (I am ) or even sprint I would get the Nexus hands down. I really thought that Samsung would bring their A game but this phone doesn’t do enough to get me off of vanilla android on the galaxy nexus. I just won’t deal with touchwiz and it takes a gorgeous OS in ICS which probably the best designer in the industry (matias duarte ) and totally kills it with that ugly wanna be ios and sorry excuse that is touchwiz. It kills samsung in my eyes.

  • Phone and specs are okay but I’d prefer software innovations be left up to their creators..namely google. Just seems like bloatware that will drain the battery. You lose all of that when you put another ROM on the device anyway.

  • xFenixKnightx

    TW looks super damn smooth now. I want it. Hope Big Reds version isn’t binged out, bloated out and a fatty. I want it to look just like this and perform just like this in this video.

  • xFenixKnightx

    And not a damn folder was made that day. C’mon Kellex!! I want to see the folders, other than that I want this already!

  • Nick

    Also, Who else would like to see a phone covered with the soft-touch matte material like on the Asus G-series laptops.

  • Nick

    I hope that S-Beam is compatible with the Beam on the G-Nexus and other android 4+nfc phones. Any word on that?

  • Reeb99

    It would impress me more if Sammy could make something with a good radio instead of trying so hard to be the “sPhone” as someone else already said.

  • bionicchimp

    We shall call our latest piece of plastic the sPhone it comes with our latest sApps oh and instead of focusing on hardware and showing off the cools specs we will brag about the shiny software.

  • azndan4

    The build materials and build quality on GS2 and onwards are fine. Fascinate feels like a cheap piece of crap but other than that Samsung phones have top notch hardware. The people who disagree are most likely either Motorola fanboys or people who haven’t used their phones.

  • AndroidFan2

    I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I WANT THIS PHONE! If this phone comes to Verizon, I will be the first one in my Verizon store to pick one up.

  • Touchwiz looks Awful!! Those huge colorful buttons…

  • droid-life2012

    I don’t get why so many people dislike the design/look of this phone. Yes, it’s not the coolest phone in the world, but I know for a fact a lot of us use cases over our phones to protect it from scratches and drops, well? If you put a case on it, it wouldn’t be as shiny and may look make it look much better. Just sayin’

    • joe

      I do not find the finish bad in any way. Iti is light because it was made to be light. I got a great case and i think the phone is fine.

  • +Kellex, Do you think that with this type of backing on the phone that it will get scratched up really bad? It’s hard to tell without holding it. Thanks

  • shehippie


  • ryanallaire

    Looks like someone accidentally got some gloss white spray paint on it, and someone said “hey that looks cool!”

  • Dr_Buttballs

    I still say this is a decent looking phone, not the best looking but still not terrible either. I’m interested to see what this phone has to offer on the software end of things.

    • Mikeman247


      p.s. i like your name

  • Alexander Garcia

    Thanks for your hands-on insight Kell. We really appreciate that. =) I’m still gushin’ over the LG Optimus 4X HD and the Sony Xperia GX! Me wants to touchy those phones! =D

  • srh12

    I like how every major android reviewer says the same thing when they describe the samsung plastic for fear of alienating sammy fanbois….
    “some people dont like the fimlsy plastic build, but personally I dont mind it”
    You can tell they want to say it feels cheap and flimsy….because it does aqnd youre obviously thinking it. You like the strong sturdy feel of a metal or poly device but dont mind cheap crap? Just be real with us, dont be so political. Dont get me wrong, I love my Gnex and would love a Note as well. But the build materials are cheap junk. Compare the build of these to an iphone or a htc or nokia build, i want to flip it over and look for the hasbro or playschool logo! Its a $600 piece of cutting edge tech hardware, quit making it light and plasticky please!

    • Again, I think this just come down to personal preferences —
      personally, I hate metal. Seriously, I had the original Droid. While its
      build is exceptional, but I just couldn’t stand using it w/o a plastic
      case. That matte finish metal somehow just touched my nerves —
      everytime my fingernail came close to touch it, my brain immediately
      rang up the noise when someone scratches his fingernail on a blackboard.
      No, there’s no such sound produced from touching the Droid, but I
      “felt” that and all I can say is, I have metal-phobia. So, my OG Droid
      lived its entire life inside a plastic case. When I got my Galaxy Nexus,
      everyone said it felt cheap, especially the back cover. I, on the other
      hand, felt like getting a gift from heaven. No more metal (even better,
      matter finish metal.) I thought about getting it a case, but since I no
      longer feel like hearing that blackboard scratching noise, I decided to
      use it nude.

    • steelcity1

      You are putting words in their mouths. They said it was a good build quality, strong, but light weight. No where did they indicate it was flimsy (which is what I think you meant to spell). This is the same poly material of the One X. Light weight does not = cheap.

    • S2556

      iphones build quality may feel good but everyone has to use the huge outterbox cases and the people that dont usualy have a cracked screen.(or back glass what a terrible design) looks good, feels good, terrible durability.

  • Afrayedknot

    The glossy white version is just aching for a Hello Kitty applique…

    No comments on the screen?

    The icons do look cheap, but I assume that could be remedied with a new launcher and/or a new icon pack. After all, Android is nothing if not customizable…

  • TimXer

    I think this phone looks awesome! Hoping it hits VZ before summer’s end. The blue has that brushed metal look similar to my TPrime, looks nice.

  • GeneralDroid

    The white looks pretty dayum sexy to me… As far as it being platic… my phone has a plastic casing on it 100% of the time anyway..not an issue for me. If they left the ui more ics and added those new software features…it could have been even better

  • RoadsterHD1

    Let’s get some full spec’s and features like does it have HDMI out and stuff.

  • RoadsterHD1

    Does the one you looked at have a Exynos quad core in it?

  • It looks great.. just really don’t like the physical home button. I much prefer my nexus over this.

  • Now all they need to do is make all these features look awful and like gingerbread. ICS theme please

  • MKader17

    The blue makes me really like the phone. Toss the crappy icons and make sure TouchWiz isn’t slowing me down and I’ll take it.

  • manny108

    I just hope that this phone comes to Verizon.

  • MKader17

    That blue looks much more like the Amethyst gray of the Transformer Prime. I was expecting more … well… blue.

  • Looks like an inflated version of my old Fascinate. Just as bubbly and plasticy. Samsung has got to win the award for least innovative design of the year.

  • C-Law

    Looks like the One X takes some nice pictures

  • RegKilla

    I don’t care what the haters say. The Galaxy SIII looks damn sexy!

    • xFenixKnightx

      Agreed! Sooooo sexy in white! 🙂

  • FortitudineVincimus

    A fine grit sandpaper can remove the shine in under 5 minutes, give a more matte finish and not damage the phone.

    • Liderc

      actually a decent idea. I’m curious how thick the clear coat is.

      • stang6790

        I was thinking the same thing. You could probably use 1500 or 2000 which would barely remove any material but still give it that matte finish.

        • Liderc

          I’ve done this with aluminum sheet to make it look like brushed aluminum, would take some balls to do it on a brand new SGSIII though =P.

  • Dave

    You know it doesn’t look that bad…just way too glossy. Those pictures make it look rather decent actually. My first impression when seeing the first pictures of it was, “well, that looks rather bland.” Now it has kind of grown on me.

    • sgtguthrie

      I think it looks too glossy too…but it doesn’t matter because I’ll rock a case anyway if I get this phone 😉

  • C-Law

    no videos allowed?

  • Jaime Ramirez

    i have to see this for myself i like it i dont care bout plastic i always have a cover on

  • Nideda24


  • Jon Flikkema

    Where is the headphone jack? Top or Bottom?

    • Jaime Ramirez


  • I just don’t understand why they went so glossy. You’d think they’d move past that style sometime this century. I mean just from the pictures you can see the minute scratches in the plastic. That bothers me on such an expensive device.

  • EC8CH

    Dear Samsung,

    There is nothing in nature that shiny or plasticy.

    • FortitudineVincimus

      Sure there is.. Kim Kardashin

      • EC8CH

        I said “nature” 😛

        • shdowman

          And she is ALL *cough ahem* natural..

    • It’s crazy how they are pushing all that nature garbage and built for human stuff. That’s fine, but when that is the main goal of their commercials, it doesn’t really show off this device…

    • Um, yes there is. Pearls.

  • paul_cus

    Not feeling the glossy plastic at all. Typical Samsung.

  • franzie3

    if they made a matted or rubbertone back cover i’d be sold on it. Honestly im not a fan of touchwiz by any means, so pretty much slap CM( or AOKP on it and i would be super happy. To be honest there are a lot of phones coming out, its just a matter of if our carrier will have them (Ehehmmm VZW)….

    I myself am all about the rooting and mod aspect of Android, so to me selling points are if it can unlocked and rooted. If we could have an unlocked bootloader on the razr maxx, i would go for that simply for the outstanding battery life. instead my nexus fits just well.

  • SatyaChowdary

    The white one looks ever so slightly better than blue which looks ultra cheap plastic(back)…

  • TheFirstUniverseKing

    Maybe it’s just the angles you took, but in those pictures the Galaxy SIII actually looks…good.

    • I was surprised. It actually looks good, just didn’t seem to in London heh.

      • just cuz we all expected a phone that could transform lol….

      • RoadsterHD1

        does the one you looked at have a Exynos Quad core processor in it?

  • LiterofCola

    I’m just not digging that backplate.

  • I like my One X more, i just hope someone ports S Voice

    • G3spike

      you like your 3G only, dual core, 1800mhz battery, sense UI, off screen keys that force you to waste screen space in 80% of your apps due to not having a settings button. yeah… totally see why you like the one x more.

      • First of all it’s HSPA+ enabled, that’s considered 4G by certain carriers, it’s not dual core but Tegra 3 1.5 ghz Quad core, I rooted it and i put CM9 on it, i also made it so menu button is the task switcher button and long hold on home is task switcher…