Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone hands-on

By Russell Jefferies on May 3, 2012, 6:51 PM

Samsung launched its new Galaxy S III smartphone with great fanfare today in London and our friends at MobileBurn were there to get a first look at the device.

The Galaxy S III sports a new, 4.8-inch Super AMOLED 720p display, but thanks to Samsung's judicious trimming of the bezel surrounding the screen, the phone isn't much wider than last year's Galaxy S II with its 4.3-inch display. The new screen is nice, as we have come to expect from Samsung's AMOLED panels, but it does, unfortunately, use the PenTile pixel layout, which may present a problem for some.

Samsung's tradition of using glossy plastic materials on the Galaxy series continues with the Galaxy S III, and it certainly does not have the uniform feel that the polycarbonate unibodies seen on the HTC One X and Nokia Lumia 800/900 have. The glossy finish of both devices make them seem a bit cheap, I think. They look like a handset from further down the range, though the blue one has a sort've brushed metal finish beneath the 'hyperglaze" gloss.

The rounded design does cradle nicely in your hand, but Samsung's claims that the Galaxy S III "fits perfectly in the hand" are far-fetched. Many users will still have trouble navigating the touchscreen display when holding the device in one hand, though it should be markedly easier to use than the behemoth that is the Galaxy Note.

We didn't have too much time to put the Galaxy S III through a barrage of software tests, but from our quick hands-on, it appears that the new 1.4GHz, quad-core Exynos 4 Quad processor does a fine job at handling Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Samsung's TouchWiz interface. The Galaxy S II was known as the benchmark for Android smartphone performance when it launched, and the Galaxy S III will likely carry on that tradition. The UI felt very speedy, but when recording a demo of the ability to keep playing a video whilst doing other things, the video crashed, so it isn't perfect.

The interface did glide along without any stuttering or lag, and apps opened quite quickly. It should be noted, however, that owners of Samsung's Android 2.3 Gingerbread smartphones will feel more at home with the Galaxy S III than those that have used a stock version of Android 4.0, as Samsung's TouchWiz interface behaves very similarly on Android 4.0 to how it did on Android 2.3.

As for the S Voice... Well, nobody could get it to open with a voice command. The Samsung reps blamed it on the ambient noise, but I shouted into the mouthpiece many times to no avail. It's also pretty slow to react when it does work. Oddly, it heard everyone fine once they'd opened the app from the app list. The same phrase "Hi Galaxy" worked once the app was open, bit couldn't be used to open the app.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S III feels like a very solid handset. Personally, I really dislike the design and prefer the squared-off design of the Galaxy S II. We look forward to putting the Galaxy S III to more of a test and checking out its litany of new software features when we do a full review in the near future.

Samsung intends to launch the Galaxy S III in mainland Europe on May 29, and then in the UK on May 30. A version with support for the 4G networks found in the U.S. is due to arrive later this summer.

User Comments: 9

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Guest said:

I can't say yay or nay for the chassis, but those specs will ensure it will be one of the, if not the best phone to get for a long time, just as the SGS2 was (and still is).

I shall be first in line as soon as it hits Canada. Hopefully this guy will have as large a dev community as other Samsung devices do.

Guest said:

Coming from an S2 user I would choose an AMOLED screen over an LCD any day. The vibrancy, depth of colour and brightness are just better. I'm not an apple hater, I do get the IT with apple but man they don't half push their marketing brainwashing BS on to people and that's exactly what 'retina display' is; Marketing Hypabol.

Guest said:

Absolutely hate the design. Ill be sticking with the SII this time around

Its too much like the SI, which had the same rounded design.

Guest said:

I expected something better, this just looks fugly. I will rather buy a Sony Xperia Sola for half the price. Going to use it for music mostly, sound quality comes first for me and I could'nt find any better smartphone for that purpose.

Guest said:

What does it matter what it looks like on the back? most of us use cases to protect the phone and a wide variety of custom cases to make it look better... my point is... the hardware is awesome and the screen is beautiful.

Guest said:

I think that they should crop most of the edges (lateral) even the tall from above and below to the minimum just for the calls speaker, front camera and sensors. and cropping the samsung logo cuz its getting bigger and bigger and the problem is that...then how big will be with a protection case?....just for people that have big hands or they are taller than 1.78cm INSANE!!!

gunste24 said:

Does the Galaxy S III have the Audience chip in it?? (Do you even know what what it is for?)

If the phone has two microphones it will have the chip which allows you to talk in a noisy environment and cut out the noise. - I have been trying to buy a chip,in vain, to build an attachment for my hearing aid transmitter (Phonak Smartlink).

No one at the cell phone stores ever heard of it either and they are selling a dozen models with the earSmart chip in it.

Guest said:

"What does it matter what it looks like on the back? most of us use cases to protect the phone and a wide variety of custom cases to make it look better... my point is... the hardware is awesome and the screen is beautiful."

Exactly!!! I'd take a nice slim case (carbon fibre, matte black) and put that on a white S3 body and it'll look like a large after market version of the iPod Touch, which people don't call ugly.

I think the disappointment stems from over-hyping the phone too much. After all, it's just a phone and the smartphone revolution already happened. Now, we'll just get gradual improvements every 12 months. People expecting to be blown away have created unrealistic expectations for themselves. The phone won't have a 1080P screen, ability to play games with 3D glasses, or ability to wirelessly sync video to a 60 inch plasma for a couple years. Also, since many people replace phones every 2 years, who cares since we'll be on Samsung S5, iPhone 6, etc. by then. It's like people define their life by their smartphone nowadays. It's really sad.

In pictures, side by side, the screen looks very nice against the iPhone 4S:


Sean Murray Sean Murray said:

I currently own the Galaxy SII and I cannot see myself going with an ever bigger screen. You might as well just buy a tablet at this rate. Very nice specs, but the screen is just getting to be too big for my liking.

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