Samsung Galaxy S III Smartphone Goes on Sale Abroad to Mixed Reviews

Samsung’s Galaxy S III, it’s agreed, is a powerhouse with a great camera. Contested are its exterior material, Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface, the GS III’s sensor-driven features and whether it’s better than the HTC One X.

The Samsung Galaxy S III, expected to be this summer€™s 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 that€™s 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 delayed€”apparently, it€™s 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 Voice€”software that lets a user voice control the phone€”very 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 III€™s 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 didn€™t wake up when spoken to, or€”in low-light conditions, apparently the GS III€™s kryptonite€”went 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.

€œIf you begin to notice that this review mentions the One X a heck of a lot, then you€™ve already cottoned on to one of the major themes that will dog not only these paragraphs but also the GS III€™s entire existence,€ Sharif Sakr wrote in his review for Engadget.

SlashGear called the design €œnot a daring aesthetic,€ while The Verge€™s Vlad Savov noted he wasn€™t a fan of plastic pretending to be a higher-grade material.

€œAside from being somewhat aesthetically challenged, the Galaxy S III feels like a very well built device,€ wrote Savov. €œIt'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 III€™s 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 it€™s no HTC One X, which offers a €œstandout demonstration€ of what a smartphone display can be, according to The Verge.

Regarding the GS III€™s 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 Samsung€™s newest iteration of TouchWiz to be a €œconsiderable improvement,€ though Engadget described the Android skin as creating a €œgeneral 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 €œunforgiveable€ that Samsung should put a skin on Android that undoes Google€™s work to point of making version 4.0 feel like Android 2.3.

That said, Engadet€™s 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 Samsung€™s 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.

€œYou speak, it listens. It turns off when you look away. €¦ It€™s resting, waiting for you to wake up,€ said a smooth-talking, Paris-based Samsung executive at the event.

SlashGear€™s experience, however, was that basics like calling a contact and setting alarms went smoothly, but things like number recognition proved problematic.

€œPerhaps most frustrating,€ it added, €œis the ability to wake up the Galaxy S III using a spoken instruction €“€œHi 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 Verge€”while tempering it comments by noting that Samsung€™s €œchronic failure to update its devices on time,€ if at all, may drastically change the user experience down the road€”called the GS III a €œtechnological triumph.€ Samsung got €œthe overwhelming majority of things right,€ wrote Savov, adding, €œThe camera is easily the best I€™ve 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: €œNo, this isn€™t 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, we€™d 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 €œmore 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, €œNo matter how hard it tries, it just isn€™t greater than the sum of the HTC One X€™s parts.€

Convinced? No waiting required there€”the HTC One X is currently available in the United States on the AT&T Wireless network.