Samsung Galaxy S3 – introduction
Never has an Android phone been so eagerly awaited as the Samsung Galaxy S3. Amid levels of hype and speculation usually reserved for the launch of a new iPhone, the latest Samsung handset has arrived with a heavy brief – it must at least live up to its phenomenally successful predecessor (the Galaxy S II) and also attempt to dethrone the HTC One X as the top dog of Android smartphone royalty.
So can the Galaxy S3 compete with HTC’s combination of raw power and elegant design? And, perhaps more importantly, is the Galaxy S3 the first Android handset that can genuinely claim to unseat the iPhone 4S as our favourite smartphone? Let’s find out…
Samsung Galaxy S3 – design, build and connectivity
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is closer in design to the Galaxy Nexus than the Galaxy S II, thanks to those rounded corners which (we imagine) leave Apple's lawyers with a little less work to do over the coming months.
Available in both pebble blue and marble white (we prefer the former’s textured appearance), the Galaxy S3 cuts a dashing figure at a svelte 8.6mm thick, just 0.2mm thinner than the HTC One X. That’s an impressive feat given its larger 2100mAh battery (the One X’s battery offers 1650mAh).
At 133g, the Galaxy S3 feels reassuringly weighty. It’s heavier than the S II by 17g, but we like the S3’s newfound solidity, which is backed up with reassuring build quality and a smooth yet tactile finish that feels natural in your hand. Small-handed gadgeteers may struggle with the extra screen real estate, particularly finding it hard to stretch up to the notification bar without sacrificing a bit of grip.
Sadly, there's no sign of Apple-inspired brushed aluminium, but unlike the S II, the Galaxy S3 is clad in HyperGlaze (Samsung's fancy way of describing shiny polycarbonate). As we’ve seen in the HTC One X, polycarbonate offers greater strength, durability and scratch resistance over traditional plastic, although we think the HTC's single-body matte polycarbonate construction still gives off a more solid, premium feel.
Once removed, that back cover is deceptively flimsy and looks similar to the plastic variants found on the Galaxy S II and Note. Clip it into place, though, and the phone feels more than sturdy enough to take an accidental bashing here and there, especially given that it’s fronted with a Gorilla Glass 2 screen.
Samsung’s included a 3.5mm headphone jack up top, a microUSB port on the bottom, and a microSD card slot (a feature sorely missing from the HTC One X). With expandable storage support for up to 64GB on top of the internal 16GB, 32GB or 64GB already available, space will not be an issue for Galaxy S3 users.
The micro-SIM slot is easily accessible beneath the rear cover, which is a godsend if you're fed up with searching for pointy objects to remove the iPhone 4S or HTC One X's SIM cards.
The power button falls on the right hand side, offering easy one-handed locking, with the volume buttons opposite. Galaxy Note users will already be familiar with this setup but some smartphone owners might find themselves accidentally changing the volume with their fingers when locking and unlocking the phone. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.
Samsung Galaxy S3 – screen
The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a generously sized 4.8in Super AMOLED pentile display, with a pixel-rich 1280x720 resolution. Although its 306ppi falls slightly short of the HTC One X's 312ppi and iPhone 4S's 330ppi screens respectively, you'll be hard pressed to notice the difference without a head-mounted microscope and it's just as impressively sharp to our eyes. Fonts display less smoothly on pentile screens, appearing with a slightly jagged fringe. If you're picky about your text rendering, it's worth noting the S3 is no different, though most users are unlikely to notice much.
The AMOLED display's colours are vibrant, popping out from the screen and adding an extra spark to Samsung's revamped, minimalist TouchWiz interface (more on this later). Pictures and movies are served up with plenty of eye-popping punch and – when coupled with the gratifyingly large screen – firmly confirm the Samsung Galaxy S3's skills as a formidable pocketable media powerhouse.
In contrast to the One X's 1280x720 LCD display, the Samsung Galaxy S3's AMOLED screen throws up colours that are a little too saturated. Grass in particular looks positively alien on the Galaxy S3, and the HTC One X's display will be better suited to those looking for truer colour reproduction.
Even more worrying is the noticeably blue hue in the Samsung Galaxy S3's screen, resulting in azure-tinted whites. This contributes to a level of dullness when compared to the screen of the HTC One X, although this is partly compensated by the more saturated colours, which some users may prefer.
Although the blue hue can be blamed on the use of a pentile screen (as opposed to an AMOLED Plus display), the Samsung Galaxy S3 provides truer blacks than the HTC's LCD display.
The Galaxy S3's greater contrast results in more depth and detail than the One X when zooming into photos, making pictures displayed on the One X look soft by comparison.
Either way, both the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X have excellent screens – if you prefer purer whites and more realistic colours the One X will be more up your street, but if sharper detail, true blacks and more vibrant colours rock your display boat, you won’t be disappointed with the Galaxy S3's display.
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