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Samsung Galaxy S3 Review

galaxy s3 review

It’s here, the Samsung Galaxy S3 has arrived. Well, almost. Depending on the carrier, you may not see it for a week or two, but the time is certainly upon us. Are you ready for one phone, in two colors, on all carriers? Are you ready for 2GB of RAM? How about a phone that lets you and your friends share the world with a couple of clicks? Do you want to be a part of the next Android global phenomenon? This is the phone that is supposed to bring all of that – let’s see if it did. 

The Good:

  • Specs:  You can’t argue with the legitimacy of the specs for the Galaxy S3. On top you have a 4.8″ HD Super AMOLED display that is gorgeous, a top-of-the-line 8MP camera in the rear, front 1.9MP camera, 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, incredibly loud speaker, 2100mAh battery, expandable storage up to 64GB, and internal storage up to 32GB. This phone is as top tier as it gets.
  • Performance:  People are going to roll their eyes at the dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor in this phone since we can’t seem to get anything else in this country, but you’d be a fool to discount it. Qualcomm knows what they are doing here, folks. This phone flies. If you want one of, if not the smoothest experiences on a smartphone to date, you are looking at it. There are zero stutters, the transitions never lag, and multi-tasking is a breeze. Once you figure out the navigation button system, you are going to be blown away by the speed of this 2GB RAM and dual-core processor combo.
  • Camera:  The 8MP camera on the GS3 is pretty awesome. It’s super fast (instant shutter), takes better than average pictures under lower lighting, and shoots in burst (20 instant pics) and all sorts of other sharing modes. The software can be customized to your liking, it takes stills during video, and the facial recognition in it works incredibly well. If you were looking for one of the top smartphone cameras available today, this is one of them.

  • Build:  This phone feels just as solid in hand as any other phone you will hold this year. It may be made of plastic and not some fancy oxidized ceramic, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart. Samsung has taken heat in the past for having “cheap” feeling phones, however, this is not one of them. It has just enough weight to allow it to sit nicely in your hand, yet it’s light enough to make you feel at ease. You also have Gorilla Glass 2 on the front to give you a bit of extra protection.
  • Screen:  Yep, it’s pentile. Do we care? Just like with the Galaxy Nexus, we don’t. The pixel count is high enough that your eye isn’t going to pick out anything horrendous. Also, Samsung confirmed to us that while this display is still the same HD Super AMOLED tech used in the G-Nex, that it has actually been improved a bit. It wasn’t a big enough step up to call it a “Plus,” but it is better. After looking at it for the last week, I would tend to believe that it has been improved, with colors appearing clearer, brighter and truer. Looking at the macro shots below though, may tell a different story depending on what your eye sees. No matter what, it looks beautiful to the naked eye.

(Click to enlarge)

  • Design:  I’m torn a bit on whether or not I truly love the design of the Galaxy S3. I hate the physical home button, menu and back keys, and also dislike the white back plate of the white version. For whatever reason though, I seem to have fallen in love with the blue color chosen for its counterpart. It would be a lie if I said that this phone equals or bests the HTC One X in terms of design, however, it remains a looker and has already caught the attention of many of my friends. I could do without the shiny finish that tends to attract fingerprints at times, but it’s not a deal breaker. Overall, the GS3 is designed very well.
  • Battery Life:  While I’m still waiting to get my hands on Verizon’s Galaxy S3, so that we can test the battery life on LTE, I’ve had no issues with the AT&T version. Over the last week, I have been able to push this phone through a full day with ease. I have to admit that I haven’t done much gaming yet, but there has been plenty of settings tweaking, Beaming, WiFi-direct connections, and camera work that all would crush a battery in hours in the past. This Snapdragon S4 processor may be our cure for battery life until the new LTE chips are released. Also, we should note that the battery is removable, so if the 2100mAh of juice aren’t enough, you will likely have the option to upgrade to a bigger one.


  • TouchWiz:  Look, I’d rather do without an Android skin if I had the choice, but Nexus devices are the only ones giving us that experience at this point. Skins are here to help OEMs differentiate their products and Samsung has done a solid job here. While the “nature” theme is a bit obnoxious at times, the feature add-ons like Share Shot, S Beam, and all of the camera software tweaks are fantastic and a joy to use. Not only that, but you have system toggles in the notification bar, easy connectivity to friends and networks, and more customizable options in settings menus than we have seen in some time. Samsung focused on giving owners of the GS3 quick ways to connect and share content with friends – they have more than succeeded.
  • Call Quality:  Voice calls all sound great on the Galaxy S3. I’m not a massive talker, but every time I placed a call and talked for more than a few minutes, I could hear the other party as clear as ever.
  • Network Connectivity:  Ahh yes, connectivity. After the disaster that was the radio situation on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, you have to be wondering how the GS3 fairs. So far, this AT&T device has been stellar. Now, that doesn’t mean that Verizon’s CDMA/LTE version will be of the same quality, but I get the feeling that Samsung knows where it failed with the G-Nex and has corrected it. No dropped calls for me and no major data drop outs or hand-off issues to be reported.
  • Accessories:  You should be beyond excited over the fact that Samsung forced all carriers across the globe to adopt one design and not give them the opportunity to change it. You will have more accessories to choose from than you ever imagined. There will be docks from multiple accessory dealers, cases galore, extended batteries that aren’t confusing, and so much more. I hate to bring up the iPhone, but you may know in the near future exactly what their accessory world is like.

  • Pricing:  Options are always good, aren’t they? Samsung is releasing this phone with 16GB or 32GB of internal storage and has priced each version at $199 and $249 respectively. Well, except on T-Mobile where the pricing is beyond confusing. If you are going with AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, you get the pricing I just stated which is on-par with other top tier phones. Be sure to keep in mind that the expandable storage goes up to 64GB, so even if you choose the lesser 16GB version, you’ll still have the ability to add on a ton if you need it.
  • Color Options:  Again, how can you not like options? For the first time in recent memory, Samsung is releasing an Android phone with 2 color choices at launch:  ceramic white and pebble blue. Both look great, but I’d give the blue a slight edge over the white. And thank you Sammy, for not making either of them charcoal or black. Hooray, for color!

The Not-so-Good:

  • Physical Home Button:  Why Samsung!?! Why did you include this navigation key setup? The Android team, with Ice Cream Sandwich, wanted the world to move away from a menu button and physical nav keys, yet here we are with the biggest device of the year sticking to them. I hated the physical home button on the Galaxy S2 and I still hate it with the Galaxy S3. It just doesn’t feel natural or convenient to have to physically press in a button to get back home. Not only that, but it isn’t pretty either.
  • S Voice:  One of the big selling points for the GS3 is going to be their Siri knock-off dubbed S Voice. As someone that has tried just about every single one of these voice recognition and activity services, trust me when I say that this one isn’t going to change the world. Does it have a bigger repertoire than many? It does. Does it outperform them all? At times. Will it become an integral piece to your smartphone experience? Well, even Siri hasn’t with iPhone users, so I doubt it will with this phone.


  • TouchWiz Styling:  For as much as I praised TouchWiz in the “Good” section above, I have to be fair and bring up some of the parts that drive me nuts as well. For starters, this “nature” theme is completely silly. I do not want water all over my phone, nor do I want it to sound like a dripping faucet every time I press a button. Even in its 2012 form, TW remains too cartoony for my liking. I tend to prefer more minimal looks with clean lines, and subtle colors, two things that Samsung has migrated far from. The feature set in TW is impressive, but the look is still lacking.
  • Keyboard:  When you pick up a Galaxy S3 over the next couple of weeks, install a 3rd party keyboard immediately. The keyboard included sounds awesome on paper with Swype-ish trace typing and predictive text, however, it does neither well. The swiping action over words is hit or miss and the predictive texting is so aggressive that you almost never know what you are typing and will find yourself questioning how it decided on the predicted options. Swiftkey’s newest beta is still your best friend.

  • Bloatware:  Since it’s not a Nexus, it’s going to have bloatware no matter what carrier you purchase it from. Thankfully, you can hide most of it and uninstall some of it. Some day, we may win this battle and be able to fully remove it from our phones the way we can a computer, but that day is not here yet.


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Software Tour:

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Sharing With Share Shot, S Beam and More

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Marble White

Pebble Blue


The Verdict:

Is the Samsung Galaxy S3 the greatest smartphone ever made? That’s a tough question. It is one hell of a smartphone though. This and the HTC One X are on a level of their own at this point in 2012, with each offering a few pluses over the other. Both have incredible screens, great internal hardware, amazing cameras, and are the complete package. For me though, the software add-ons to the GS3 give it the edge. Phones are now so powerful that manufacturers need to turn to software to try and separate themselves and I feel like Samsung has done that here. While TouchWiz has its quirks and a silly nature-inspired theme, it’s moving the industry forward in a great way through its ability to share so easily with friends and family. You cannot go wrong with this device.

*We had both the AT&T and T-Mobile versions of the phone in our possession for review purposes thanks to Samsung.

  • I know this is a 4 month old post but I just switched to Verizon after 15 years with AT&T and have never been happier. I have a Galaxy Nexus and a Galaxy SIII on my plan. I get unlimited call/text and 4GB data to share, which, I’m averaging less than 2GB usage a month. My husband uses his 4G constantly with videos and FB while I mostly use wifi. I’m paying $60 less a month than I was paying with AT&T for 2 iPhones with 700 rollover minutes and unlimited data. My only beef with Verizon is blocking some apps, i.e. Google Wallet and their slow updates for 4.1 (now 4.2). Other than that I’m glad I switched. oh and I switch phones about every 3-6 months and the SIII is probably the best phone I’ve used!

  • myagun


  • Samsaung Hater

    Samsung Galaxy S3 is a load of crap. I have mine now just over a week and getting rid of it to go back to the every so east to use iphone. I have just had enough of this rubbish and the last straw was when i can’t put my contact names on whatsapp only their numbers.i have tried to change it my mates have tried and even the shop where i got tried and it will only allow identity by number. horrible, horrible phone.

  • freddy

    why hate the touch wiz?? i love it.

  • Ray

    My At&t 5GB Unlimited Data plan rocks!

  • jon

    Y dont you all stop bi**hing about data limits and come to t-mobile with no overrages on there 4G nation wide service…. some months i might 400MB Of data and some i use 3GB of data its nice to know it just dont matter

  • I got this phone and it is AWESOME!!!

  • TK

    Complaints about bloatware/Touchwiz? Unlock the bootloader, root it, and install a custom ROM like Cyanogenmod. Problem solved 🙂

  • TG

    hey, im at the 22:21 minute mark. im famous lol

  • gorainfly

    I reciently purchased an sIII. I switched from an htc evo, wich i liked very much. My two biggest issues with this phone are..how do you switch to 4g? I’m not a techy so i would like this to be easy to switch. Also, once the keyboard is up..how do you get it to hide?..it takes up half of the phone and i want to hide so i can continue to read the page after writing something, before hitting, go, accept, next, etc.. the evo had a hide option..

  • JTSk8Man

    Way to many Verizon customer comments

  • rustygh

    Doesn’t matter what carrier. If you are using over 5GB a month of 4G
    You just admitted you’re a douche with no fiber to your pad and using wifi
    Sorry mothers can’t buy home internet. Hah! This is why all carriers will charge more
    The as$-clowns that use 4G for home internet kill us all!

  • I just ordered one for Tmo but I am kind of cautious to flash a rom because of the imei issues people are having. what do you guys think? Is it a common issue?

  • Leon

    I have the S3, and the default Keyboard is terrible at predicting my words…It also constantly asks me about wifi when i open internet based apps even when I have Wifi Turned off!!

  • why doesnt anyone talk about the earbuds….

  • they tried to make me do that when I went into a store to pre-order. I went online and got the option to keep unlimited.

  • MikeSaver

    Will the S3 get Jelly Bean? If so, any idea when?

  • Does anyone have any advice on how to root this thing for Macs? I’ve used heimdall and I’m getting the same issues everyone else has been having. Are there any alternatives?

  • robbj45044

    If you are with verizon an had the unlimited plan before it changed were grandfathered over so we still keep unlimited talk, Text-mms, an Data, as well as an unlimited hotspot i couldn’t ask for more an im even going to go as far as saying that the Samsung GS3 Is The Best Phone i’ve Ever owned, sure you may come across phones with a better camera Like Htc Puts in their phones, but in my opp the HDR Setting fixes it for me at least. 5 out of 5 for me an Thanking Samsung for Doing a great job keep in mind that im partial to htc so this was a tuff choice an im glad i stuck with my gut an Got My 32gig Pebble Blue Samsung Gs3 Us Version on Verizon, again in my opp it was better to wait for duel core than the international quad core, why, The Ram, 2gig’s true to it as well google maps actually dont lag or slow down it moves as fast as you are in your Car/Truck/Suv which id never seen, an again in my opp after Switfkey 3, an Thumb Keyboard, both apps i purchased, i found Swype Beta on their website an it has been the best keyboard i’ve every used, it learns how you write so it can adapt an help predict what your going to say next, also it remembers words not saved in its dictionary simply by typing it in an tapping the word then it saves it, that even goes as far as curse words or words that are spelled a bit funny an yes it has Voice to text also.

  • Stephen Mackenzie

    Internet keeps freezing while using fb mobile. Icon for messages and for text both show that u have items in you boxes but they have all been read already.

  • TreyZaphod

    I’ve had mine for a few days now, and I only have 2 real complaints. First, the interface does not appear to scroll as smoothly as my Droid X, and on occasion I’ve had to repeatedly press a tile or link before it would execute. Second, I would have preferred a rubberized finish on a phone this big, which would have made it feel more secure when operating it with one hand.

  • davidwheeler

    S Voice is awful for Bluetooth voice dialing. Can not use App 2 SD to move apps to memory card storage. Otherwise, love the phone.

  • JDub429

    GNexus or GSIII? That’s my debate now. On VZN obviously it’s easy to root and customize the GNex but other than that…It’s a tough choice. Thoughts?

  • But doesn’t the CDMA/LTE version draw more power? Someone had it on T-Mobile and said they can’t push it past 15 hours with moderate use. That’s the same as the iPhone 4S for me, which sucks. It should hit at least 18-20 hours with moderate use to be noteworthy. Too bad the battery isn’t like 2600 mAh

  • Wes Crockett

    In regards to the TouchWiz nature theme… are there ways to minimize it? I have a galaxy nexus and am trading it in for the SIII but i need a minimal approach…

  • is anyone have issues with the picture quality on the camera

    • Gord

      I find that the picture quality on the S3 is not as good as the S2.
      The pictures are not as sharp an colors are dull.

  • Terry Munnerlyn

    my girlfriend ask to use my phone for everything…because I have sprint unlimited data…she is with att with the iphone crap…she always want to use gps and to look up information on the web…am like what the hell wrong with this picture…now she complaning about paying att 130 bucks a month for one phone and cant even use her internet…that is sad…now she ready to jump on the sprint cruise ship and sail away with true unlimted data…

  • Andy

    Am I the only one not using barely any data. I have 2 GB of data. I rarely use 1GB. I just use my phone for videos on Youtube and occasionally Netflix. I don’t know why people use their data when they can use their WiFi, then complain about their data running out or switch to some other carrier because of it. It’s simple. USE YOUR WIFI!

  • PowerBoater69

    Got my Otter Box today, now all I need is my SGIII to go in it.

  • RoadsterHD1

    How fast is it? Benchmarks!!!!

  • I’m glad the networks in the UK don’t f**k about with the hardware like they do in the US. Well, I often mess with the software which can be just as bad…

  • Steve with an F

    Does it have HDMI out? I use this on my razr while traveling to watch netflix

  • Why don’t people like physical buttons?? I like the physical home button and I would rather have physical keys for all the major functions – they’re easier to press if you’re trying to press them, and harder to accidentally press (which happens a LOT)

  • Pre-ordered blue S3 (Verizon). Upgrading from DroidX — and I keep my unlimited data plan. w00t!

    I hope the GPS in the S3 is more reliable and more accurate than the GPS in the DroidX. Driving with Google Maps Navigation on the DroidX has gotten me misdirected every time I’ve used it in areas unfamiliar to me due to satellite acquisition and signal retention issues.