Digital Thingamajigs
Get the scoop on the latest mobile and handheld devices, high-tech gadgets, phones, gaming devices and more as well as computer-related tips and tricks. Keep up with tech trends, gaming software and check out some of the newest innovations that are turning heads in the electronics industry.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S III reviewed

There’s a battle raging among the smartphone manufacturers, and it’s not about to let up. New phone models are being released constantly, and you can’t walk a block or open a new browser window without seeing an ad for a new phone.

And for consumers – and blog writers like me – that’s great news.  It helps keep the prices low and the quality high.

So, I was glad to get back on my blog and try out Samsung’s latest salvo in the smartphone battles – the Galaxy S III.

At first glance, I noticed that the GS3 wasn't like other Android-based smartphones I've reviewed. This is the first Android-based phone that I have used that wasn’t black — it was white — and the GS3 had a large, white button at the bottom of the device. The white border on the front was accompanied by a pure white back with black Verizon and Galaxy S III lettering. The phone is also available in black, blue, brown, red and gray. These subtle changes let you know immediately that this phone is a little bit different.

Whether you like it or not, Android-based phones are starting to evolve. Each phone is starting to take on its own identity. The ubiquity of the phones is waning, and a unique quality is starting to emerge. Gone are the days of four touch buttons at the bottom of the screen for home, menu, back and search. One thing that Samsung has done better over Apple is listen to its users and work hard at implementing the most-requested features and canning the least-liked ones.

Physically, there hasn’t been much change from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4S. The same can’t be said for Android smartphones. The new features may not be for all. It took me some getting used to. But, I do like to see manufacturers evolving, and I think it’s a step in the right direction.

So, we’ve got a look at the body. Now, let’s take a look under the hood.

Have you ever been to a car show and spotted that classic Shelby or Stingray that just beckons you over? And when you walk over, the owner pops open the hood and flashes a polished chrome engine that just says “bling!” Well, that’s how I felt when I took a look at the specs of the Galaxy S III.

The smartphone comes standard with a quad core (that’s right – quad) 1.4 GHz ARM Cortez A9 processor. And if you’re a novice to processor terms like most of us, let me just do a little translating: Quad 1.4 GHz=FAST! This processor is probably faster than the desktop computer you were using in 2005. It’s also packed with 1 GB of RAM, a graphics co-processor and 32 GB of internal storage. You also have the ability to upgrade to 64 GB of storage via the expansion slot, which takes microSD, microSDHC and microSDXC.

Still not impressed? How about an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera and HD video capabilities of up to 1920 X 1080 (1080p)?

The phone itself weighs about 4.7 ounces and comes with a 4.8 inch Super AMOLED display. If you’ve read any of my other smartphone reviews, then you’ll know how I feel about Super AMOLED screens: I’m in love with them. Apple can talk all day about retina display and super-high definition screens, but when it comes down to it, nothing compares to these AMOLED screens. As I’ve said before, it’s nothing that can be described. You have to see the screen in action for yourself. I’ve held these AMOLED screens up to iPhone and iPad screens many times, and my friends and I are always amazed at how much better AMOLED looks. The bright, crisp colors and dark blacks are just more natural and pleasing to the eye.

In addition to those features, the phone works on Verizon’s super-fast 4G LTE network, which is up and running in Huntington and Charleston. I tested the Galaxy S III’s download speeds over the network several times and never received a speed under 10Mbps – much higher than the 2 or 3Mbps I am getting on my 3G service.

All of this power-hungry hardware comes at a price, however. And, in my experience, that price is battery life. The phone is rated at 22.5 hours of talk-time and 34 days of stand-by time, with an average of 20 days. Yet, if I didn’t charge my phone every 3 days, it would be so drained that I would have to charge it for 15 minutes just to turn it back on.

The GS3’s software is on the cutting edge of smartphone technology. The phone comes pre-loaded with Google’s Android 4.0 – or ice-cream sandwich – operating system. As with the hardware, the software on the phones is starting to evolve as well.

Android 4.0 is a perfect match for the GS3’s super-fast processor as it makes multitasking much easier. There is a recent apps button, which allows you to switch from one task to another as well as resizable widgets. There’s also a new look to the home screen and many other new features.

Overall Impressions
When it comes to shopping, choice is a good thing. But, if you’re anything like me, the more choices you have, the longer the decision-making process can take. I like to read all I can about a product first and try to shop around for the best price. Well, the price part is taken care of. The Galaxy S III starts at $199 on contract. If you’re looking for an unlocked phone, you may want to shop around. With an unlocked GS3, expect to pay upwards of $600.

The Samsung Galaxy S III is definitely the Cadillac of Android-based phones. If you’re not a big gamer or you just use your phone for the occasional text message or Google search, then you may want to consider other options as this might be too much phone for you. However, if you’re looking for some of the best features you can own and you like a little chrome on your engine, then the Galaxy S III is probably a good fit.