Hidden features exposed with my hands on review of the Samsung Galaxy SIII

Samsung Galaxy SIII - hands on review and tips

I received a Galaxy SIII phone to review. I now realise that it was a mistake. but its too late – I am hooked.

Whilst I love the Samsung Galaxy Note, along comes the SIII and shakes my world. The SIII is not just a good – buts its damn good.

When I review a phone, I look it from the point of view of the person looking to make a purchasing decision.  In other words, looking beyond the official specifications what would I look for if I was considering buying the Galaxy SIII?

So here are my criteria:

How does it look and feel ?

Samsung Galaxy SIII - solid and beautifulSamsung Galaxy SIII - solid and beautiful

The physical phone itself is solid, light and looks and feel like you are holding a device of power. It fits into your hand snugly and you can easily operate it with one hand. The screen is clear and due to its 4.8″ Super AMOLED HD resolution images are crisp and almost 3D like as they seem to float on the screen. I managed to comfortably watch movie clips, read an e-book and do numerous spread sheets. No eye strain and even in direct sunlight it was clear.

 

What is the Battery life like ?

Samsung Galaxy SIII - battery life

I was most impressed with the superb battery life which is due to it s large 2100 mAh battery. At first I thought there was a mistake on the battery meter as at the end of the day it still showed half full battery (see I am an optimist). I got around 2 days worth of battery on normal usage which included phone calls, internet, apps, games, music and video. Not bad at all as one of my complaints against the Galaxy Note is that the battery doesn’t last the day so this is a much welcomed improvement.

How does it preform ?

Samsung Galaxy SIII - preformance

I hammered this poor phone. I was merciless. I opened up several applications at the same time and the phone reacted like nothing happened. So accepting the challenge, I did the following: Played a high graphics person-shoot game, whilst downloading updates for my apps, whilst having a Flash website open (yes it doe support full flash)  and at the same time had a 13mb email attachment being sent. The SIII remained clam and handled all the simultaneous tasks perfectly. I am sure this is due to a combination of great hardware (1.4ghz Quad Core Application Processor) and the new Ice Scream Sandwich Android that is run on the device. Galaxy SIII wins this round.

What is unique ?

A new phone should have something unique to offer over the older phone it is replacing. In this case the answer was simple as the Galaxy SIII has numerous software features that are built into the phone that give it an edge.

Social Tag & Buddy Photo Share are joint at the hip. Whilst these are not 100% perfect, these worked like a charm in most cases and was actually rather fun.

Samsung Galaxy SIII - Social TagSamsung Galaxy SIII - Social Tag

 
  • Social Tag identifies the photos in your album or the pic you have just taken and compares it with the photos in the contacts list. When it finds a match it displays the person’s name as an “overlay” on top of the photo. If its not sure, it put the name that it thinks matches the face with a question mark. You can then confirm it or select another name. Very much like Facebook does.
  • Buddy Photo Share is an extension of the facial recognition where you can instantly share a group photo with all the people in the pic as the software matches up each face in your contacts. Tap on the name and various options come up such as Email, SMS and Call options.

Samsung Galaxy SIII - Social TagSamsung Galaxy SIII - Social Tag

Samsung Galaxy SIII - Smart StaySmart Stay does exactly what it says on the box “It sleeps when you sleep.” This is a superb feature that should be an industry standard. As long as you stare at the screen, the screen doesn’t switch off. Love it. I get irritated when I am reading a long email or looking at a spread sheet and then my screen time-out kicks in and I have to put in my pin and get back to that spot again. This is no longer a problem with the SIII.

[Note: you have to ENABLE Smart Stay which is found under Display in Settings]

Pop-up Play is also really handy if you can multi task. I had a TED Talk running in the a small window whilst I was typing some notes on an email. You can even move the video whilst it is playing anywhere on the screen so it doesn’t get in the way. Not many (or any?) other phones can do this so pre-the SIII I tend to make manual written notes and then when video is done, transcribe them later. No longer a problem with the SIII.

Samsung Galaxy SIII - Pop-up PlaySamsung Galaxy SIII - Pop-up Play

Note: the one thing that I didn’t like is that I couldn’t play MPEG movies. I had to convert them to another format so that the SIII would recognise them. Not sure why these CODECS weren’t built in.

What does ICS bring to the SIII ?

Samsung Galaxy SIII -ICS

In previous Android OS versions, the one feature I distinctly hated was that the phone “remembered” all your recently opened apps. As I tend to do a lot of tapping around, this list grew and grew. What really bothered me was that you couldn’t remove some of the apps from the list. With ICS you hold the home button and Task Manager pops up so you can very easily click between apps which are displayed in a vertical list with a screen shot of each app. Want to remove an app from the list ? simply swipe it away or click on Samsung’s own button  – Remove all. this removes all the apps that are open and frees up your phones memory (RAM)

 

The Camera:

Samsung Galaxy SIII - HDRSamsung Galaxy SIII - Best PhotoSamsung Galaxy SIII - Best Photo

I usually don’t even mention the camera however with the SIII there are so many features built around it that its hard not to. As mentioned above it has the Social Tag and Share feature but it also has HDR (High Dynamic Range) option. This takes your photo to a new level as the phone takes multiple photos all at once and each photo has a different exposure settings. The SIII then splices them all together taking the best colour & exposure from all the photos to make up the Ideal Photo.

Closely linked is Best Photo which is a feature that takes a burst of photos and makes a suggestion with a “thumb up” as to which photo was best in the set.

So thats the phone itself. Here are some Tips and Tricks that are useful to know on the Samsung Galaxy SIII that are sometimes hidden in the menus:

Wi-Fi Direct:

Samsung Galaxy SIII - WiFi DirectSamsung Galaxy SIII - WiFi Direct

This is a very overlooked feature that was also available on the SII and the Galaxy Note. Its the ability to share files between two Wi-Fi direct phones without the need for a separate Wi-Fi connection to a network. Peer to Peer file sharing. Its like Bluetooth beaming of files but at lightning speed. I transferred a 3mb MP3 from my Galaxy Note to the SIII in seconds. It was so fast I thought it failed !

Where to find this ? : Settings, More settings, WiFi Direct

Data Usage:

Samsung Galaxy SIII - Data usage

A nice feature to monitor your data spend and usage on the phone without loading a 3rd Party App.

Where to find this ? : Settings, Data Usage

Change the Home Screen:

Samsung Galaxy SIII - Home screen

This is handy if you have multiple screen full of apps, you can select which screen you land up on when you hit the Home button.

Where to find this ? : From the Home screen use two finger to tap and swipe the screen in a clockwise motion, tap on the Home icon on the top right of the screen you wish to set as the home screen

Lock Screen Options:

Samsung Galaxy SIII - Lock screenSamsung Galaxy SIII - Lock screenSamsung Galaxy SIII - Lock screen

When your screen is locked you have numerous option of what to display on the screen.Not sure why this is so well hidden as it is very useful. You can even have Information ticker or the weather on the Lock screen.

Where to find it? Settings, Security, Lock Screen options, Shortcut

Call Options:

Samsung Galaxy SIII - Call optionsSamsung Galaxy SIII - Call options

There are some nice options to play with in the Call Settings. The one I like is the Increase Volume in pocket and the Use extra vol. for calls. You can also set the Equaliser for your left or right ear to get better clarity.

Where to find this ? :Tap Call (green phone icon), Menu, Call Settings

So in summary:

whew. There is a reason that all records were smashed and there are 10 million Galaxy SIII phones on order.

Samsung has some revolutionary software that I am sure will become industry standards on other phones. They just make sense. Direct call (the ability for the phone to “know” that you want to dial the person whose SMS you are reading) is simple and effective. Smart Stay is an absolute must.

For me personally, I am reluctant to give this phone back. I get excited when I see other SIII users and we all seem to share the love for this device. Sharing tips and stories of how I did this and that with the Galaxy.

Final words to sum it up: Brilliant. Just Brilliant.

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