Samsung has just presented the most awaited smartphone of the year, the Galaxy S III, at a spectacular premier hosted in London's Earl Court, one of the fighting arenas in the upcoming Olympics, before over a thousand guests tonight.
Its specifications do not differ much from what was guessed over the past few weeks, and an air of slight disappointment was sensed among the gathered crowd -- a quad-core processor, a 4.8-inch 720p screen, an 8-megapixel camera and 8.6-millimeter thickness are not things unprecedented in the smartphone world.
Still, everyone who had the opportunity to try this device could see in the first few minutes of working with it that every feature -- even though already seen in the competition's camp -- is a step up in real terms: more contemporary, polished and modern than the rival's models. Above all, I am talking about the HTC One X, which has almost identical hardware characteristically. I had my hands on the Galaxy S III and I'm convinced, without a doubt, that this is the best Android OS smartphone at the moment.
Build & Design
The device is made of a very solid and convincing plastic alloy and seems incredibly light when held in the hand, weighing in at 133 grams. The back cover's texture, its rounded edges, and the entire shape of the smartphone largely helped it to offer the same experience as if one was holding a substantially smaller device, despite the mass and dimensions. For comparison purposes, the iPhone 4S gives the impression that it is much heavier, although it has a 1.3-inches smaller display. Similarly, the HTC One X seems much lighter when held than it actually is, but it does not seem as light as Galaxy S III.
The Galaxy S III appears rather plastic on photographs, but in reality, it is considerably more convincing. It is robust, solid, designed to perfection, and looks like a modern and powerful smartphone.
The 1280 x 720, Super AMOLED touchscreen covered in Gorilla Glass 2 is very impressive and again, it is clear that it is slightly better than the screen offered by HTC's One X. Even though it is PenTile Matrix, the display looks especially good when objects are moved across it. This includes widgets, icons or pop-up windows with videos which can be turned on while one is doing anything else, which is a fine software addition designed for this device.
Pixelisation upon animation is not noticeable even along sharp edges, something which we have not previously had the opportunity of experiencing with Android. The screen?s reflection is almost brilliant -- even though it is glossy, it does not take lightly to fingerprints and provides durable contrast, irrespective of the viewing angle.
Another thing that was unfamiliar on devices with Android prior to the Galaxy S III (even though it has been present on the iPhone for years): absolutely smooth scrolling and zooming in and out on web sites. Although Flash support was not activated on the test copies of the device I was testing, scrolling and zooming of web sites was absolutely swift and smooth, without any lags. This can be credited to Samsung's quad-core Exynos 4 Quad chipset which, clearly, offers even more optimal performance than NVIDIA's Tegra 3 processor, used in the One X.
In my hands-on testing, I tried Samsung's S Voice, a direct competition to Apple's Siri, and saw practically no difference, apart from the fact that it seemed Galaxy S III was solving the tasks slightly faster (this depends on the internet connection speed, of course). S Voice gave almost identical answers to various inquiries as did Siri. The advantage of S Voice is that it understands English even with the most varied of accents, including French, German, Spanish and Korean.
It is also a good thing that it includes a 64GB microSD card slot, even though it comes with 1GB of RAM and 16, 32 or 64GB of internal storage. This will encourage users to generate files which take up significant amounts of memory more frequently, like 1080p videos. Photographs can even be taken simultaneously as videos are being recorded, just like with HTC's One X.
Interestingly enough, the Galaxy S III comes with a Micro-SIM card slot. Few other handsets do, but the iPhone 4S is on the list.
It could be said that Samsung has just presented a smartphone that offers the best of what the competition is offering and a tad bit more. It will surely secure many purchasers, and guarantee even greater success than recorded by its two Galaxy S predecessors.
The Galaxy S III, which will be the official smartphone of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, should be available on the European market at the end of May and in the U.S. in June, with LTE support added.
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