The Samsung Galaxy S III, expected to be this summers Android blockbuster, went on sale in 28 countries May 29, and the early reviews are trickling in. Samsung also launched Music Hub, a cloud-based music service thats for now exclusive to the S III.
The United States, alas, was not among those 28 countries; the Galaxy S III is expected to arrive on U.S. shores later this summer, likely along with the Pebble Blue option the smartphone is to come in, which has been delayedapparently, its a tough color to get just right.
Early thoughts? The phone is big but still comfortable to use, the camera is good, the quad-core processor a powerhouse, battery life impressive and S Voicesoftware that lets a user voice control the phonevery Siri-like indeed. Which is to say, the user experience is by no means flawless and should undo any fears regarding the weirdness of interacting with a robot-like super phone.
As for the GS IIIs distinctive ability to watch a user and anticipate his or her needs, reports of futuristic-like experiences are hard to come by. More common are complaints that the GS III didnt wake up when spoken to, orin low-light conditions, apparently the GS IIIs kryptonitewent dark while a user was reading the screen. (Though some did have a good experience with Smart Stay, finding it to solve the problem of the phone turning off while one is reading something lengthy.)
More across-the-board were comparisons to the HTC One X, another Android 4.0-running smartphone with a large, bright screen, a thin, white plastic body and extensive camera features.
If you begin to notice that this review mentions the One X a heck of a lot, then youve already cottoned on to one of the major themes that will dog not only these paragraphs but also the GS IIIs entire existence, Sharif Sakr wrote in his review for Engadget.
Aside from being somewhat aesthetically challenged, the Galaxy S III feels like a very well built device, wrote Savov. It's thin, light, and shaped just right to make handling it a joy. While I still prefer the sharper looks of the HTC One X, the Galaxy S III feels gentler and easier in the hand.
Reviewers went into some detail about the display, which is not an S-AMOLED, the very cutting-edge of display technology, since the latter is not available for a display of the GS IIIs size. Still, by most accounts, the 4.8-inch 1280 by 720 Pentile AMOLED display is lovely, especially at a battery-squeezing levels of brightness, but its no HTC One X, which offers a standout demonstration of what a smartphone display can be, according to The Verge.
Regarding the GS IIIs battery, the Verge reported going 7 hours one day, before seeing a battery warning, while another day it lasted from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
SlashGear found Samsungs newest iteration of TouchWiz to be a considerable improvement, though Engadget described the Android skin as creating a general sense of busyness that fans of iOS, used to no widgets, and Windows Phone, used to no clutter, will likely be turned off by. Further, it called it unforgiveable that Samsung should put a skin on Android that undoes Googles work to point of making version 4.0 feel like Android 2.3.
That said, Engadets Sakr did like a few TouchWiz additions, such as the free 50GB of Dropbox storage, the ability to swipe contacts to call or message them and Samsungs Smart Stay and Social Tags. The latter two are among the robot-like features mentioned above, which Samsung made a big deal of during its introduction of the phone at a May 3 London event.
You speak, it listens. It turns off when you look away. ¦ Its resting, waiting for you to wake up, said a smooth-talking, Paris-based Samsung executive at the event.
SlashGears experience, however, was that basics like calling a contact and setting alarms went smoothly, but things like number recognition proved problematic.
Perhaps most frustrating, it added, is the ability to wake up the Galaxy S III using a spoken instruction Hi Galaxy! by default, but user-customizable. Samsung bills this as a way to access S Voice without even needing to touch the phone, but more times than not it ignored us entirely.
In summary, The Vergewhile tempering it comments by noting that Samsungs chronic failure to update its devices on time, if at all, may drastically change the user experience down the roadcalled the GS III a technological triumph. Samsung got the overwhelming majority of things right, wrote Savov, adding, The camera is easily the best Ive used on an Android device, the processor claims the title of benchmarking champion and the customizations layered on top of Ice Cream Sandwich are mostly unobtrusive and sometimes even helpful.
SlashGear concluded: No, this isnt the epiphany in metal, ceramic and glass we were hoping for from Samsung, but if the company had to compromise in some places on the Galaxy S III, wed rather accept a somewhat plasticky handset with the incredible performance, brilliant screen and great camera than a nicely-dressed dog.
Engadget, meanwhile, called the GS III more than the sum of its parts and a solid improvement on the Galaxy S II. Still, it added, the worst thing about the GS III is that, No matter how hard it tries, it just isnt greater than the sum of the HTC One Xs parts.
Convinced? No waiting required therethe HTC One X is currently available in the United States on the AT&T Wireless network.