Galaxy SIII (S3) Hands On Review

What’s the old saying? When it rains, it pours? Well, at the moment we are experiencing a deluge of super spec’d up smartphones.  Mere weeks after the HTC One X hit the market the new Samsung Galaxy S3 has swooped into view.

For those of you who don’t know, the previous version of the Galaxy (the S2) was just about the only phone that managed to keep up with the all powerful iPhone.  20 million units of the S2 were shipped in it’s life cycle – and Samsung are expecting 30m unit sales for the S3.  That may sound like a tall order but you’ll be pleased to know that they have already clocked up 9m pre-orders before it goes on sale in the middle of this week.

A limited number of test units made their way into New Zealand this week and I’ve been lucky enough to have one for the past 24 hours.  Many, many blogs have already benchmarked the S3 technically (links below) so I decided to put it through some “real world” tests.

First up – The Ponsonby Road Media Lunch test.  As you know, this is a critical test. There is absolutely no point in owning a high end smartphone if it doesn’t get envious stares when placed on the table in front of you during lunch.

At lunch, the S3 was on the table for 1m 20seconds before I was asked “is that the the new Samsung?” Not a bad start given the phone has a fairly sleek profile.  The phone was then passed around a group of smartphone users (four iPhone and one Galaxy 1st generation owners). The general consensus was 1. It’s lighter than you expect. 2. It’s big (meaning larger in physical terms than an iPhone). 3. It looks great (screen resolution) and finally 4. It’s “nice”. Phew, social embarrassment neatly avoided.

Later, having had a chance to use a few of the features I drew a few more conclusions. I like the size of the phone.  The 4.8 inch screen displays rich content so nicely the S3 is a must have on my gadget shopping list. (read on below)

Click the image to view the review on

The next feature I tested was the dual wifi ability.  The phone has the ability to pull two signals down from a wifi router and provide a smoother faster stream of video content.

The guys at Samsung suggested I try out a Youtube test and have a “race” between the S3 and my iPhone 4. So I did. I streamed the Prometheus 2minute trailer to both devices and yes, the first thing that became apparent was that the S3 delivered the stream faster. However the more important thing was the fact that the trailer looked beautiful on the S3 and it looked woeful on the iPhone 4.

There were two reasons for this, the S3 has a 4.8 inch screen versus the iPhone’s measly 3.5 inch screen. Secondly the rendering of colour on the S3 was just much better than on the iPhone.  Personally I have always preferred the screen on the Galaxy range to the display on the iPhone 4 series.  Some people think the colour and brightness on the super AMOLED screens are too brash.  Not me. But then I have already admitted to being a Ponsonby-Road-Media-Lunch-Goer so I have no problem with brash.

Other notes? I like the feel of the S3 in the hand.  Apparently inspired by nature, the phone is supposed to feel a like a large, smooth, river pebble.  I have no doubt it would skip merrily across a body of water if thrown with the right force at the right angle.

The rest of the “natural” effects don’t quite do it for me – the rain drop sound when you touch the screen, the nature inspired ring tones (including Blowing Dandelion Seeds and Fairy Fountain) are just a bit too tree-huggy for my sensibilities – and I’m a Green voter!

I could go on for a lot longer but I won’t, I’ll give a thumbs up to these additional features:

Smart Stay: As long as you are looking at it it stays backlit. Not exactly a must-have feature but smart, innovative and its inclusion is gift to the PR and marketing people looking to capture attention.

Direct Call: It knows when you want to talk to someone. If you are typing a txt message then decide to call the person you’re txting, you simply have to lift the phone to your ear and it will automatically dial that number for you.

S Beam: Place two GALAXY S3’s back-to-back and you can transfer pictures, music, videos, and more.

Finally, if you’re in New Zealand and you want to buy one of these phones, Vodafone has an extra incentive for you.  Vodafone is giving smartphone lovers who purchase the new Samsung GALAXY S III the opportunity to win a trip of a lifetime into space, valued at $270,000. This is the first time a space travel prize has been offered in New Zealand, and all customers who purchase the new Samsung GALAXY S III from Vodafone between 31 May and 15 July will be eligible to enter.

The first phones go on sale from 12:01am on Thursday 31 May at the Queen Street, Auckland and Riccarton Mall, Christchurch Vodafone stores. I can’t wait to see how that goes.

External reviews:

2 thoughts on “Galaxy SIII (S3) Hands On Review

    • Hi Dean. Yes you can. From what I’ve been able to ascertain the hardware is the same on each handset across the three carriers. Certain pre-installed programmes may differ depending on the provider you buy it from (for example, Telecom have pre-installed a Yahoo specific browser) but that’s the extent of it.

      The official word is that “Samsung prefers for customers to liaise with their network provider if they wish to switch over. Handsets normally perform best on the network they are purchased but you are still able to put your sim into the back of any handset.”

      I hope that helps.

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