Technology Review – Samsung Galaxy SIII

[This post is the sequel to my last: it has nothing to do with faith, theology, Scripture, or ecclesiology; but it definitely scratches my amateur techie itch.]

The Quick:

This summer I upgraded from a dumb phone to a smart phone.  But not just any smart phone: the Samsung Galaxy SIII (16GB of on-board storage, in pebble blue).  And wow, what a piece of hardware!  I don’t have any baseline for smart phone use, but I have to believe that I made a quantum leap forward on what technology sits in my pocket.  The SIII runs on U.S. Cellular’s 4G LTE network (even though I’ve only ever seen it read 3G in my service area).

The Pros:

  • Display – What a beautiful Super AMOLED screen.  Amazing.  Bright, sharp, big (4.85″), and crisp.
  • User Interface (UI) – The SIII runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with Samsung’s own TouchWiz “skin.”  It is smooth and (mostly) intuitive.  I especially like Samsung’s notification drop-down screen.  (You can also choose live wallpapers, just in case you don’t charge your battery enough.)  Samsung designed the SIII along the lines of “humans in harmony with nature”; this gives it a unified theme (like all the ring tones and alarm tones are “nature-y”), but it’s kind of weird, honestly.
  • Size – I personally love the big screen, even though the keyboard is still tiny.  Thankfully, the SIII is pretty thin and the right weight.
  • Camera – Takes good pictures with  no shutter lag (it has an LED flash, too!).
  • Web cam – It has a good front-facing camera for Skype and Google Hangouts.
  • Full Google Play access
  • Expandable Memory by microSD card
  • Lots of cool extras – E.g., NFC, Smart Stay, photo burst, and S Voice (like Siri)–really, more stuff than I could ever figure out.

The Cons:

  • Case – Unfortunately, after owning my SIII for about a week, I dropped it on our tile floor, and the beautiful, Super AMOLED screen splintered into a hundred cracks.  The SIII’s case is very slippery, and the device is heavier on one end than the other.  Pair that with a giant screen that has almost no bezel to grip, and you’ve got a drop hazard.  Very disappointing on that front.
  • Power and Volume buttons – I don’t know exactly what it is about them, but I find their placement annoying.  They are tiny and opposite each other, so they are cumbersome.
  • Battery – Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This little gadget is an ELECTRICITY HOG.  Even with employing some battery-saving strategies, I am charging this thing all the time.  Last Saturday, while I was traveling, I paid attention to the battery capacity.  I turned it on, fully charged, at 8:00 a.m.  At 8:00 p.m., it had 48% of its charge remaining.  And that was with basic use (almost no Internet browsing).  Wow.  Just wow.
  • Phone – I’ve discovered that I simply don’t like this thing for a phone.  It’s an amazing dual-core pocket computer.  But it stinks as a phone.  And that’s not just U.S. Cellular’s service, which is not the greatest.  I don’t care for the virtual keypad–which sometimes disappears when I’m trying to enter numbers–or the complicated phone controls.  More than once I’ve ended a call with my cheek.  For a mini-tablet computer, give me an SIII; for a phone, give me something with physical buttons.
  • User Interface (UI) – Some things I don’t really care for: It would be nice if Samsung updated their TouchWiz, including upgrading to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.  Chrome is a much better browser than the stock ICS one.

The Conclusion:

I would recommend the SIII for anyone in the market for a new smart phone, especially if you get it subsidized through your wireless carrier.  For my needs, though, I’m not sure if I even need a smart phone (this is clearly a first-world problem, I know).  If you are considering an upgrade–from dumb phone to smart phone–consider your needs (not just “wants”) carefully.  I’ve found that my SIII is mostly redundant of my Nexus 7 tablet (except as a camera): I use them both primarily as Wi-Fi devices for communication and consumption; and while the SIII is slightly more portable, it’s also smaller and more cramped.  I also don’t like the SIII as a phone, so that’s a big wrinkle.  I think I would be as happy with my Nexus 7 tablet and a basic cell phone (with real buttons!).

7 out of 10 stars.


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