Product Type: Samsung Smartphone
Newest Review: ... priced phone. The camera is extremely good even though it is only 5mp and can focus on an object very well. the downside to this phone ... more
Galaxy Ice cream sandwich? Sounds awesome!
Samsung Galaxy S3 16GB
Member Name: ryanando
Samsung Galaxy S3 16GB
Advantages: sleek, sexy, fast, responsive
Disadvantages: voice recognition and face lock / newer features dont work quite like they are supposed to
Once upon a time, I made a terrible mistake. I put a phone contract under my name for a boyfriend who turned out to be a compulsive liar and bill dodger. As such I ended up doing the sensible thing and dragged myself kicking and screaming into the 21st century by deciding to take the phone back. Prior to this I was happy to have one of my little clunky text and calls only deals with a tiny screen and a limited range for ring tones. I detested the idea of the internet on my person at all times.
When I took the phone, despite its downfalls, it made me realise that I actually quite like having something that handy with me. As such when it was time to upgrade recently, I jumped at the chance to get the top of the range phone Samsung Galaxy S3. All of course spurred gently on by my most awesome man, Allan. Jealousy soon dug its heels in and he followed in quick pursuit.
---Like, does he have a car?---
The Samsung S3 is the big brother of the Samsung S2 which my partner had for a while. He was fairly happy with them so this was a good sign. It operates on Ice-cream sandwich. Which means approximately nothing to me, but Allan got all excited about it. According to him it's the most up to date operating system you can get on android at the moment. Though he did also mention that the S3 is about to be upgraded to Jellybean, the even more newer shiny thing. I stared blankly.
It comes with three real buttons, the main one on the bottom centre which is essentially the "wake up" and the "return to desktop" button all in one, one for volume and one for power. The other buttons are built into the bottom of the phone and you can't see them till you wake the phone up. The menu and the back buttons sit neatly on each side of the main button and are uber-responsive.
---Size means everything---
The S3 is the thinnest phone I have ever owned. It is half the weight of my previous hunk of junk while also being about half an inch bigger screen wise. Sleek does not cut it. I was jump-up-and-down happy about this. The phone is 5.4 inches tall and 2.8 inches wide of which a whole 4.8 inches is the HD screen. The which, while being fairly large, isn't half as crazy as the size of, say, a galaxy note. It's also bigger than the new i-phone 5. In saying that, this mobile phone still remembers it is a mobile phone and fits neatly in your pocket. Given, it fills most of your pocket, but really you shouldn't be carrying anything else with it unless you really want to scratch your ever so sexy screen. The only downside of the screen is that it's not too easy to read in direct sunlight. Though personally I don't find too much of an issue as I don't browse while I walk.
---I'll have one in every Colour please---
Now, when I first got my S3 they had literally only just got them into the shop. As such they had a fairly limited colour range: dark blue (they call it Pebble blue) or white. Being that I am fairly out and about I decided that white would get too dirty too quickly. A shiny metallic brushed steel type finish was presented to me on my very pretty new phone. (Yes, pretty. The guy in the shop told me I can't call a phone pretty. Just watch me.) I have recently heard rumours that they are brining it out in red, but can't substantiate that.
After a few days I had realised that the grip on this phone is pretty much non-existent and already noticed a fair bit of scuffing on the back of the case which made me quite sad. I'd just spent quite a bit of money on this bit of kit and already I needed to buy accessories. Thankfully there is a decent range of s3 cases kicking about on E-bay so my scuffing and slipping was was quickly quelled. I got a red case, so they better not bring out a red phone to match it or I'll be annoyed. The main downside of the need for a case is that the size and weight of the phone has just increased. It's not, however, very noticeable depending on the case you get. I'm more miffed that they scuff and slide so easily in the first place.
Phone. PHONE. Let's just keep reminding ourselves and future generations that this is actually supposed to be the main function of this piece of techno-wonder. Does it work? In short, Yes. Very well in fact. The speakers are actually sometimes a bit too loud and usually I can hear people fine when holding the phone slightly away from my ear.
This can be either a good point or a bad point depending on who you are. It obviously makes it a bit more difficult to have private phone conversations. My partner and I can usually hear whoever is calling if we are in the same room. I'd argue, however, that if you are on a mobile phone (or indeed a house phone for that matter), your conversations are never really THAT private. There is but once a year that makes me secretive, cut off from the world and generally a suspicious character to encounter and that's Christmas. At Christmas, however, it's as simple as moving rooms or smothering someone in a pillow till they can't hear any more.
---Sorry, it was on silent---
Ringer volume is generally an important aspect of answering your calls (and more often than not embarrassing you in public when you realise your really cool ring tone is, in fact, quite naff.). I've had phones that, at their loudest, sounded like the occasional breath of air you feel pass between your ears when someone boring starts to talk. Not great for situations where your walking down a street in the middle of London and everyone's shouting "two for a pahnd" at you. This phone, assuming you turn the volume on, blows that out of the water. Obviously some ringtones are quieter than others, but when my phones on full it can make me soil myself and run for cover every time I get a call. Certainly noticeable.
If you aren't one for a mini heart attack any time someone chooses to get in touch, it also has a very suitable vibrate function and even just a kill-everything setting which means your phone won't bother you till you bother it. It also comes with noise 7 levels in between Ignore-everyone and Pap-yourself controlled by a tiny slim button on the left hand side of the phone.
The screen on my last phone was infuriating. Not only did it not like to type the letter P, half the time it didn't realise you were touching it. My fat fingers also made me type the biggest load of guff on the keyboard. The S3 screen size helps a lot with the latter issue; bigger screen means bigger keyboard and less chance of your fingers hitting the wrong keys. It's also mega responsive. This is probably due to the fact they are one of the first handsets to use Gorilla Glass 2 (a thinner, lighter, more awesomely responsive type of glass front). There have been times when I've hovered my finger about half a centimetre above the screen and it's noticed my finger was coming for it. This amazing responsiveness is one of my favourite features of the S3. It makes doing everything that much quicker and effortless. Gone are the days of trying to view a webpage, getting frustrated and throwing the phone at the wall, remembering how much it cost and apologising to it. Now everything just WORKS!! Go you, Samsung!
---I wanna touch ya, and take your picture---
The Samsung S3 comes with a main 8 mega-pixel camera on the normal side (the back of the phone) and a secondary 1.9 mega-pixel camera on the screen side and they have certainly at least attempted to make very good use of them. The phone has a couple of features such as facial recognition which the camera comes in handy for; the stay awake function was actually part of the S3's main advertising campaign which I'll touch on in a minute. Before we get there, however, the phone will search out faces in your photographs and allow you to tag them facebook style (see photo below of the flamingo) on your phone. Just in case you lose your memory, I assume.
The camera function is brilliantly quick, especially if you don't have the flash on. It took me a while to realise that I had actually taken photos as it literally happens as soon as your finger hits the button. It doesn't bother you with showing you the full screen picture, but instead drops it into a little thumbnail area down in the corner of the screen. This means you can take lots of photos quickly and not have to keep hitting the back button to get the camera back.
The fact there's a camera on both sides is brilliant as it means you can take as many MySpace photos with yourself and your friends as you so wish without cutting anyone out. Swapping cameras is easy; you simply hit the icon that looks like a camera with arrows rotating round it and walla, your view point has changed.
---Are you in movies?---
Just as easy is switching between picture and video mode, there is a small slider with a picture camera at one side and an old movie camera with the reels at the other. Just slide it to whatever side you want and off you go.
You can record about 15 minutes worth of movies before you start filling up your memory too much and the quality is fairly good. The only gripe I really have about the camera and movie functions is that it's only 8 megapixels. Don't get me wrong, it's decent. It's just not as decent as I really want it to be. I've been lulled into a false sense of security a couple of times thinking "I'll just take phone pictures" and then being a bit deflated when some of them are grainy or washed out when they are put onto a bigger screen. If you simply want to view the photos on your phone the quality won't be affected. If you plan on making memories to print or upload to a bigger screen, while it's not terrible quality, you'll certainly get better from a good digital camera. I fully admit, though, that this view is severely tainted by the fact I have a 14 mega-pixel digital camera. A bit of an unfair comparison, but considering you can get a camera for fairly cheap, my mobile wont quite take over my photo taking habits just yet. Still, it's nice to have an alright camera to hand most of the time just in case.
---I know that voice...---
One of the features that is supposed to be winning people over is the voice recognition software. You can set up voice commands so you can dial people or open apps or search for anything online simply by talking to your phone. Except you don't simply talk to your phone. You hold a button down for a couple of seconds, THEN talk to your phone. In my case, the next step is to laugh at whatever the phone believes you have said. I will point out that, though I am Scottish, my accent really isn't that strong. It's certainly not strong enough that my phone should decide to completely misinterpret what I have said and dial one of my work colleagues when I decided to see if it recognised some terribly filthy slang names for something women carry and men want. I've posted the screen shot of it below if you want some fun guessing what I was trying to say.
To be honest, it works alright, but not well enough to get excited over, at least not for me. To me, the button pushing to get it going defeats the whole point of having it take voice commands. It also adds in a bit of a lag in which someone who's had the phone a couple of days probably could have found what they were asking for by navigating themselves instead of pushing the buttons.
---For maximum security, Face/Off---
The first fun little thing this phone can do is unlock with your face. When this setting is on, an oval will appear onscreen and you basically use the camera to line your face up. If it recognises you, walla, you are into your phone. The downside of this is that if it recognises your brothers or your father, consider yourself fraped. It's also pretty useless if the room is fairly dark as it has a bit of trouble realising you are there. It's not the most secure option the phone comes with.
Other security options such as joining dots in a specific pattern which you can either do with a dot grid and the pattern being displayed or via "haptic feedback" which basically means the phone won't display the dot grid or the pattern but as you run your finger over the screen it will vibrate slightly when you hit a dot. This is obviously a helluva lot more secure but I've found it fairly difficult to get the pattern right. You'd be surprised how quickly you lose your bearings when you can't see where the dots are.
Other options include a mixture of face and voice recognition (again not brilliant if you have any resemblance to your family in looks or voice) passwords and pin protection. You can even opt to just have no security at all. It's the best range I've seen on a phone, but then I've only really had two phones. Either way I'd think there will be an option to suit everyone for security.
---Goes to sleep when you do---
This function was a big selling point for both me and Allan and it's where the camera comes in again. Unfortunately the small print that comes with this function ruins it. The premise is that the phone, having a camera and facial recognition software can use these in tandem to detect if you are looking at your phone, thusly knowing not to put your screen to sleep while you are, for example, in the middle of reading a review.
Here comes the small print. It can only detect this IF you are holding the phone in a position where your face can be seen by the camera. It won't work well, if at all, when the lights are dimmed. Occasionally I like to catch up on news and reviews before going to sleep so I read with my bedside lamp on. It's not knock-your-socks off bright but it's also not all that dim, especially considering I'm right next to it. I'd say that the function works less than half the time in those conditions.
It's also completely useless if you have your phone on your table or desk and you are reading it without crouching over as it doesn't pick up your face. Though apparently sometimes it will think it sees faces in the Aldi bag I keep next to it on my desk at work. Hmm. Point being, unless it's bright and you are holding your phone directly in front of you, this function is a bit of a waste of your time. It just means that you'll have to set your sleep function to a bit longer or keep your phone played with while you read.
---Smart phone meet Smart TV---
If you, like my partner, are a total gadget-geek then you will probably also own a Smart TV. If you do then this phone will happily share your pictures, movie and music content with your television. It's so easy to do that I accidentally done it without even realising and got a bit of a surprise when I looked up and the TV was scrolling through my pictures with me. It's a great little feature, not even requiring you to plug into the TV. You can essentially use your phone as a media remote control, making it easier to share your content in a much more social way. Gone are the days of passing your phone round your friends, hoping they won't drop it. Instead you can just connect with your TV and bore them all at once! As your TV needs to be connected to Wi-Fi for this to work, I'm taking a giant leap in saying it's the Wi-Fi connection that makes this possible. Either way, it's very quick and very easy. If your smart TV is on, the phone detects it and asks if you want to share. Then you simply browse on your phone and the TV shows what you are looking at. Obviously it would be wise to not go raking through your personal stash when you are connected.
Talking of connectivity, the s3 also comes with S-beam which allows you to touch phones together to share and use your phone to pay for things. How handy this will come in depends on how many fellow smart phoners you know and if you're willing to put your payment details onto your phone. Personally I'm not convinced but plenty others will.
---The motion of the ocean is at your fingertips---
Another fun feature is the shortcuts the phone comes with. There's a list of movements such as swiping your palm across the screen (similar to the light in a photocopier) to take a screen shot of what's going on on your screen. You can set it to dial the contact info you are looking at or the person you are texting when you hold the phone to your ear, to turn the screen on when you pick your phone up from the desk, to scroll to the top of whatever you're reading if you double tap. You can even move your icons round, zoom in and out of images and move around zoomed images just by tilting your phone.
Playing music and want to quickly turn it off? Turn your phone over, or even just put your palm over the screen. Amazing tiny bits of thinking all available to be played with and you can turn them all off and on individually making it a very unique experience for every user.
---I've got the power---
Battery life was the bane of my existence with my previous phone. I could use it for a couple of texts and maybe a five minute call through out the day and I'd be panicked. I've come to the conclusion that at least for the next few years all smart phones will be a power drain. Comparatively, the S3 kicks the butt out of my old phone (this is good). I can use my phone constantly for browsing the internet for about 6 hours before the phone dies. Unfortunately this means that I'm less wary and so use my phone more and it ends up dying on me more than my old one used to. But!! Point is I get a lot more done before it starts begging me to plug it in.
There are apps that display battery power all built into the phone so you can keep an eye on it while you use it. I didn't realise for a while but you can also flip a switch in your settings to display the battery percentage rather than just a visual representation of the juice running out. In short, this phone seems to be able to handle doing a lot more than previous phones I've had so I'm giving the battery power a big thumbs up despite still having to charge it overnight. As it stands it doesn't take long to charge from the mains either, an hour and a half will pretty much fill it up. YAY!!
It used to be that the price plan would differ depending on your provider. That's only the case now if you go over your allowance. The S3 has set price plans for what you decide to take out. I have 1gig of data allowance (which is essentially unlimited) unlimited texts and 600 minutes worth of calls. That comes in at £36 a month on every network. Be wary though. Some networks will charge you between £40 and £90 on top for the handset. Vodaphone (who I went with) don't.
Again, going over your allowance will change what you pay and at this point the phone companies all have their own rules so make sure you check your package thoroughly before you play around. Give yourself ten points if you giggled at this last sentence.
---Use me and Abuse me---
Ultimately for me, how good a phone is comes down to how user friendly it is. The S3 pretty much has this covered. The whole phone is simple to navigate and easy to understand. All the essentials work well and the stuff that doesn't work amazingly isn't stuff that will ruin your enjoyment of this genuinely great piece of machine-magic. As much as the phone got a few scuffs on the back, the screen has remained intact and scratch free even after a few accidental face-plants, hand-slips and falls into gravel. In general it works very well for what I need it to do. I admit there will be some who will be disappointed with the voice functionalities; I fully expect that the rest of the package will more than make up for it. Four stars for being a handy little piece of wizardry, losing one for the botched promises of greatness on the voice and stay awake features. Still, a handset I would thoroughly recommend.
Summary: a brilliant phone that will suit everyone
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