Samsung took the wraps off of its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S III, last week. The new phone joins a line of other flagship smartphones from several manufacturers that are vying for a spot in consumers’ pockets.
Based on early, hands-on reports, how does the Galaxy S III stack up?
Specs: The smartphone stands out because it packs a quad-core processor. Then again, so did the HTC One X — overseas. The One X went dual-core in the United States, and the same could happen to the Galaxy S III. The change hasn’t seemed to affect the One X’s day-to-day performance much, so it’s possible that, with a similar switch, the S III would remain a high-performance unit.
Then there’s that screen: the Galaxy S III has a 4.8-inch screen, which puts it just a hair under its phablet cousin, the Galaxy Note. Still, there have been some concerns about the quality of the display. Samsung has put an HD Super AMOLED display on the phone, which means pixels are visible even though the phone has a 306 pixel per inch density, Engadget’s Mat Smith reported. Most reviews have said the screen is still very good, but those pixels may be a drawback to folks who’ve grown used the iPhone’s retina display.
The phone also has the new standard for premium smartphones — a rear-facing 8MP camera. That should technically put it on par with the iPhone 4S, HTC One X and the Nokia Lumia.
Another plus: The Galaxy S III has better memory options than most of its competitors, with 16GB, 32 GB and, eventually, 64 GB models, plus a microSD card slot to allow up to 64GB more memory.
Design: The Galaxy S III is thin and light, at around 4.7 ounces. The phone is all curves — Samsung says the design draws its inspiration from pebbles. And it has a very thin bezel to accommodate its screen without adding too much bulk. At first blush, it looks like it has more in common with the Galaxy Nexus than the squared-off Galaxy S II. Despite running Google Ice Cream Sandwich, it has a physical home button.
But reactions to the design have been mixed, with many reviewers saying that the plastic on the phone feels cheap.
Peter Bright at Ars Technica notes that while the HTC One X and the Nokia Lumia 900 are both made of plastic and manage to feel like quality products, “Samsung uses the same thin, flexible, cheap-feeling plastic on the Galaxy S III as it did its predecessors, and it makes the phone feel like it cost about $2.”
Special Features: Samsung has introduced its own version of Siri, a feature called S Voice, which lets users send e-mail, check the weather, send texts and even tell their phone when they want to “snooze” a little bit past an alarm.
You can also tell the phone to launch the camera and change the volume — two things that Siri can’t do, since Apple’s assistant doesn’t have much integration with the hardware functions of the iPhone.
The Galaxy S III has other interesting features, such as “Smart stay,” which keeps the screen lit up when it senses you’re looking at it.
Finally, the phone also offers at least one fairly intuitive feature that could be quite useful: Users drafting text messages can simply hold the phone to their ear and call their intended recipient directly.
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