Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S III: Hands-On Impressions

I’ve finally had some hands-on time with the Galaxy S III. Is it love at first sight? Has Samsung delivered the best phone this year? Read on to find out.

Just to make things perfectly clear; this isn’t a review.

Once again, this isn’t a review. Somebody always complains, but I’ve only had a few hours to test out the Galaxy S III at the time of writing, and any “review” you read based on that kind of evaluation isn’t worth the pixels it’s based on.

What I Like (So Far)

I’m in the middle of testing the HTC Titan 4G, so the first thing that struck me about the Galaxy S III is how (relatively) light it is. The HTC One X/XL still pips it in the weight stakes at 129g to the S III’s 133g, but this is still a pleasant phone to pick up and hold as long as your tastes run to larger screen phones.

The Galaxy S III really is a brisk performer. For the sake of it, I ran Quadrant over my review sample yesterday — and this is how brisk it is:

I will want some more testing time to see if that gap over the One X does equate to actual in-world usage speed, but it’s certainly a case of so far, so good.

The camera with its fast shutter is again a so-far-so-good proposition. I’ll definitely need to give it more testing time to be sure, but it’s up there in the upper pantheon of smartphone shooters so far.

One of the things that annoyed me about the Galaxy S II (and, for that matter, the Galaxy Nexus) was the slightly flexible plastic back. It was easy to remove but a bit of a pain to properly click back into place. Samsung’s still using a flexible cover, but the curvature of it means that it snaps back onto the back cover with a great deal more ease than its predecessors.

What I Don’t Like (So Far)

It’s not 4G. Sure, you can’t always get 4G to work when you want it, but it’s still something of a disappointment, and for that matter something of a market confusion point. Samsung’s said it’s “talking” to Telstra about a 4G Galaxy S III, so if you’re keen, should you wait? That could be a very long wait indeed, given the gap between when the original Galaxy S II launched and when its 4G counterpart came to market.

The all-plastic construction of the Galaxy S III feels reasonably robust, but I’m not a huge fan of the slimmed-down menu button. I think it’s the slender nature that annoys me. Not to a huge degree, but every time I press down on it, it reminds me how thin it is; a slightly fatter button would have been easier to press.

The lock screen works acceptably well, but unless I’ve missed a very obscure setting choice somewhere, there’s no way to change the default shortcuts that you can swipe up from.
Update: As Peter Graham points out, you can change them, albeit by a rather obscure menu setting choice which I hadn’t spotted.

My review model — and the only models you can get right now, although Samsung says the Pebble Blue models should be available in a week — is the Marble White variant, and although it’s a totally subjective taste thing, it’s not entirely to my taste. Before anyone jumps on me for that comment, I should point out that I don’t own any white Apple products either — it’s just not a technology shade that works for me.

Should you buy one?

Sigh. You didn’t read the bit where I said this wasn’t a review, did you? But I’m curious as to the early view of Giz readers on the Samsung Galaxy S III, given there are samples out in stores, and Samsung certainly would be hoping that some of you will have headed out to buy one or more. What’s your Galaxy S III experience been like so far?