Monday, August 27, 2012

Galaxy SIII Review From Real Life


There are no shortage of Galaxy S III reviews out there, especially since all carrier versions are essentially the same phone with very few customizations. However, I don't get review units so when I review a product it has to be my own purchase. I bought the Galaxy S III to be my personal device after much research and digging through online reviews. After the research I decided that the Galaxy S III was the best device out there, but does it live up to my expectations? Read on to find out.


When I look to buy devices, I generally have 2 requirements. It has to be on the forefront of available technology for the time, and it needs to do what the manufacturer claims and do it well. Phone companies are  known for releasing devices that just don't work like they claim, but the Galaxy SIII is different.

Hardware
The Galaxy S III (SGSIII) is a beautiful device on the outside. It is slim and sleak, maybe perhaps even a tad too thin. The rounded corners make it extremely comfortable to hold even though it is a large device. It is, of course, made of plastic and glass just like all Samsung's other phones, but in my opinion it doesn't feel cheap. To add a little extra bulk you might want a case because it is that light and thin (I recomend the Seidio Active Case).

When I first got the phone I didn't care much for the physical home key, but as I've used the device I have found it to somewhat enjoyable, although, personally I would have preferred Samsung put software buttons like the Galaxy Nexus, but this is by no means a hindrance to the phone.

The screen is beautiful and everybody that holds the phone will agree. If you get really really close you can tell that it's a pentile screen, but under normal use you will never see the pixels and the HD resolution makes watching videos a pleasure.The camera is great as well, but I'll dedicate a whole section to that below. 

As for internal hardware, It's Samsung's flagship phone. So Yeah it's good. The 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 flies, easily handling anything you can throw at it and the 2GB of RAM helps keep apps in memory longer making for a slightly better multitasking experience. With the LTE radio being integrated on the CPU chip and a somewhat large 2100mAh batter you'll get the best battery life of any Verizon LTE phone other than the battery laden Razr Maxx. I have managed to get in the 11 to 12 hour range nearly every day as long as I'm in a good signal area. In bad areas that drops fairly significantly to 8-9 hours. I use my phone a lot, with both of those having 2+hrs of screen on time. That being said, this phone also has the best radio performance of any LTE phone from what I've seen. It handles the 3G/4G hand off that prior phones have struggled with like a champ. I have had very few issues with data connectivity something that my previous phone, the HTC Thunderbolt, struggled badly with. Data speeds are blazing on LTE. Mine have averaged in the mid 20 mbps range for downloads, but while I was in Little Rock, Arkansas on a trip I took this speed test. Some pretty insane download speeds.

 Call quality is excellent as well. People were clear sounding and those I talked to said I was just as clear. The design of the phone also makes it very comfortable to talk on.

Software
The SGSIII was running Android 4.0.4 at the time I reviewed it, with Samsung's Touchwiz UI layed on top of it. Samsung put a lot of work into making the phone's software smooth which greatly improves the experience. I am not a fan of Samsung's UI, but Nova Launcher fixed that by giving the phone a stock look and feel with the exception of phone's settings. 

There are tons of useful and not so useful software features on the phone. In fact they are so numerous it is impossible to look at them all. In my real world usage I used very few of them. I like the hand swipe screen shot that allows you to swipe your hand across the screen to take a screen shot(probably my favorite feature). I also found the ability to double tap the top of the phone to go to the top of a list useful. Smart stay, which keeps the screen on when your looking at the phone is cool, but it only works if you have plenty of light. If your reading in the low light it rarely works. There are others such as the ability to put the phone to your ear while viewing a text message to call the person who sent the message and swiping to the left on a contact to send a text message or right to call them. The phone is full of little features like those and there is really something for everyone in there and if you don't want them they can all be disabled in the settings.

Camera
The camera on the SGSIII is nothing short of phenomenal. With a little effort you can take some amazing pictures with it. I don't take a lot of pictures, but the camera was one of my big reasons for buying the phone.  The camera software alone is astounding. You get so many features that chances are you will not use half of them. The two modes I have found most useful where burst and HDR. Burst mode continually takes photos until it takes twenty photos so you can catch fast action and pick the best shot. HDR takes three pictures at different exposures then stitches them together. HDR is great when you are taking a picture of something where one area is well lit, but the rest is not. It will lighten the dark areas to match the light areas. Although I haven't used it much, the camcorder also takes really good video for a phone. Be sure to check below the article for some sample pictures and a sample video. The video was taking using CyanogemMod's build of Android Jelly Bean, but the quality should be the same or better on stock.

Using Built in Effects

The Verdict
So what is my final verdict on the phone? It is definitely the best Android device out there. I absolutely love the phone. I had high expectations for it, and it has met all of them. I would recommend it to anyone. The screen is gorgeous and it will power through anything you ask it to. The user experience is phenomenal from the camera to phone calls it all works just like it should. Samsung did an amazing job with this phone and it will well hold its value until it's time for your next upgrade. With its price being around less than $200 at places like Amazon Wireless it's hard to say you should get any other phone. 

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