Samsung Galaxy S III Smartphone Is Something New Altogether

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-06-20

Samsung Galaxy S III Smartphone Is Something New Altogether

The Samsung Galaxy S III is a lot of phone. In every regard. The smartphone feels extra big, extra slippery. It does a lot of buzzing in the hand. It's jam-packed with features. So many features€”and tips and shortcuts and options€”that Samsung doesn't trust or expect a user to intuitively discover or figure them out, and so one's early days with the phone are filled with pop-up windows telling you€”until you opt for it to stop telling you€”things like tapping the top of the phone will send you to the top of your user inbox or contact list.

Getting to the top of my inbox has never been a challenge for me, or something I gave any thought to, but there it is€”a new option. And really, that is the epitome of the Galaxy S III. It is features galore. Don't like tapping away at the keyboard? Try simply dragging your finger from letter to letter, in a meandering squiggle, a pop-up window advises. (It feels a little silly and unnecessary, but it works and with shocking accuracy.)

The Galaxy S III offers more features than most people likely need or want, and as a person who tends to favor minimalism in such matters, I found it to be€”with some exceptions€”all a little too much.

But this is not about me; this is about everyone. Samsung wants the Galaxy S III to be all things to all people€”as it released the phone on five networks and in at least three colors. (It's rumored that there are more colors to come.) The world's top-selling phone maker has created a smorgasbord of a phone that offers something for everyone.

This week, Samsung shared that the GS III is Samsung Approved for Enterprise, or SAFE€”a distinction that it says makes it secure enough for even regulated industries like government and health care. Last week, the news was that the Galaxy S III is compatible with TecTiles, postage-stamp-sized, NFC-enabled (that's near- field communications) stickers that with a free Android app can be programmed, and reprogrammed, to create shortcuts for users. And still before that, the news was of the phone's extensive sharing capabilities.

With NFC options enabled in the settings menu, two people with Galaxy S IIIs can tap their phones to share a video, a photo, a presentation or pass a Web link. Once you figure out what to do, and what can't be shared, it's very simple to use.

And while some of the Galaxy S III's shortcuts struck me as no simpler than the traditional method€”for example, there's a sort of awkward gesture one can perform from the home screen that will open the phone to the camera app€”this Share capability is one people will be glad to have. It's a drag to email videos; they're often too big, and even when they're not, they still slow things down. With the Galaxy S III, it's a tap, a few seconds, and you're done.

There are a number of Share capabilities, as I'm sure you've read before. Samsung hasn't stopped pushing this phone since it introduced it May 3. To activate them means hopping into the settings menu. And truly, I have never spent so much time in a settings menu, but this is the key to the Galaxy S III: wade through the options, turn on what you'd like, turn off what's not useful to you€”the ability to have the camera snap a photo when you say "cheese," for example, which works well enough but made this user feel kind of lame€”and customize it as you'd like.

Its a Room Filled With Lots of Furniture

It's a room filled with far too much furniture, but once you figure out what to move to the basement, what to toss, and how to arrange the rest to your liking, you can settle in and feel at home. That is, if you like such a big room (as it were).

As I mentioned, this is a lot of phone. The display is 4.8 inches, and though the phone weighs only 133 grams (the iPhone 4S, to compare, weighs 140 grams), you are not going to forget this phone is in your pocket. Good luck squeezing it into an evening bag, or even, unless you're wearing cargo pants, a pocket on your person.

Some Android users will already be acquainted with such girth, but those used to typing on an iPhone 4S, for example, may be put off by how much they have to adjust their hands for their thumbs to reach the keyboard's middle letters, for example. Though, maybe that's part of why the Galaxy S III offers so many voice-activated features€”a user can tell the phone to update his Facebook status or type a Twitter update, or perform a Google query or wake up the screen by talking to it. Sometimes these options worked for me and were accurate, but more often they weren't.

Then again, the smartphone is designed to learn about you as you use it, which means its accuracy will increase. So settle in, get comfortable and play around, because there's change afoot. This is no ordinary phone.

Ah yes, the phone. It's easy to forget what the GS III is primarily meant to be. But as a phone€”on both the T-Mobile and AT&T versions I tried€”call quality was just fine, and I had no trouble getting through, neither out and about or in my brick-walled apartment, where other phones have searched in vain for a signal. (Still, in my experience, neither phone offered call quality as wonderfully crisp as on the HTC Evo 4G LTE.)

T-Mobile and Sprint will begin selling 16GB versions of the Galaxy S III for $199 with a two-year contract beginning June 21. Verizon Wireless will begin shipping its version of the phone July 9, and AT&T and U.S. Cellular will follow, likely by mid July. While Verizon will have an exclusive red version, all the carriers will offer options of Marble White or a pearlized Pebble Blue.

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.

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