Look and feel
The Samsung Galaxy S III LTE sports the same great ‘inspired by nature’ design of the original Galaxy S III, and still looks fantastic. Just try not to drop it, as it isn’t the most durable mobile around...
Ease of Use
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is beautifully augmented by Samsung’s excellent and customisable TouchWiz interface. The 4.8-inch screen is brilliantly bright for use in direct sunlight.
Too many to list by far. We might not get on with S-Voice, but the brilliant 8MP camera is incredibly versatile and helps you share your snaps in dozens of ways. Added 4G support means you can stream media with little to no buffering.
With a quad-core processor on board, we never saw a single moment of lag. It’ll be a long time before the Galaxy S III is outdated.
A full 24 hours even with heavy use means you’ll only have to charge nightly, which is all you can ask for when the screen is this big and bright. Expect around 7 hours of video streaming on a single charge, an impressive result indeed.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,11/20/2012 10:26:50 AM
Ease of use
Supremely crisp and colourful screen;
Feature-packed social camera;
4G LTE support
S-Voice is still rubbish;
Few updates over original phone
This year we awarded our heralded ‘phone of the year’ award to Samsung’s Galaxy S III, a super-big, feature-packed media phone packing a bright, beautiful screen and some impressive and unique bits. We’ve already seen a cut-down mini version, simply called the Galaxy S III Mini, but this version – the Galaxy S III LTE – doesn’t trim any of those fantastic specs or tools. Rather, it adds 4G compatibility for mega-fast data download speeds.
Big and beautiful
The Samsung Galaxy S III LTE packs the same rounded, nature-inspired body as the original. It’s available in lots of colours, from the bold white model to the graphite version we checked out, and feels a good weight in the hand. It’s also firm, with no give when pulled or twisted – although we’ve seen the Galaxy smash apart after a simple drop, so you’ll want to keep a good grip on that smooth outer shell.
The impressively thin border around the immense 4.8-inch screen means this phone isn’t as massive as you’d expect, but it certainly won’t suit those with dainty hands. Thankfully it’s slender enough to slide into a pocket or bag without too much trouble.
While the original Galaxy S III packed Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the S III LTE comes pre-loaded with 4.1 Jelly Bean, which offers a brilliantly smooth overall experience. Of course you get Samsung’s usual tweaks, which make Android even more enjoyable.
The nature theme continues throughout the wallpapers and themes, and we found that the Galaxy S III LTE is just as flexible as the original. Almost everything from muting your phone to zooming into a webpage can be done in a number of ways, from finger motions to tilting or shaking the phone. For instance, take flicking between your different desktops, which is normally done by simply flicking your finger across the screen. You can quickly skim from one to another using the desktop bar beneath your shortcuts, or pinch your fingers to see an overview of all of your desktops and tap the one you want. Everything from the camera menu to the keyboard can be tweaked and configured until you’re just happy with them, making this a truly personal phone.
A tiny light above the screen flashes persistently if you get a new email or text, and the Galaxy S III LTE even vibrates when you pick it up if you have a notification, so you’re constantly kept up-to-date. The notification tab itself is just as excellent as ever, giving you fast access to your settings as well as media controls and anything else you might need in a pinch.
It’s no surprise to hear that the Galaxy S III’s impressively uber-sharp 4.8-inch screen hasn’t been changed. Colours leap off the screen while viewing angles are outstanding and there’s no motion blur, which makes it a great way of taking in sport or action flicks when you’re on the move. The panel is also bright enough to comfortably enjoy even under the harshest glare.
Thanks to that super-nippy 4G LTE support, the Galaxy S III LTE effortlessly streams HD video with no buffering – providing you’re in a hotspot, of course. Listening to music is also a joy. Connect a decent pair of earphones and your music will sound crisp and clean, while the bundled music player offers enough basic features to keep most fans happy.
One of our favourite features of 2012, Pop Up Play, makes a welcome return too. If you’re enjoying a movie but want to check something online, or read a text or email that’s just come in, you’d usually have to quit the movie then come back to it after. Not with the Galaxy SIII. Instead, you can shrink the video so it’s playing in a small window, which you can then move anywhere on-screen by dragging and releasing. You can then do what you like in the background, short of playing with apps. It’s just another example of how brilliantly versatile this smartphone is.
Playing a video while browsing the web - now this is a true multitasker!
Battery life is obviously sapped quicker when enjoying video, but we streamed seven whole hours of video before the battery finally died – a highly commendable effort considering the size of the phone’s screen. Even with a few hours of media and app use, this phone comfortably lasts the day between charges.
The Samsung Galaxy S III LTE packs in tons of great camera features too, including Burst Mode and the ability to take snaps at the same time as shooting HD video. With a zero-lag shutter speed photos take instantly, and you can use the Burst Mode feature to take eight in super-quick succession. Once more, the versatility of the S III LTE shines through, as you get control over the ISO, exposure, white balance and more.
Once your photo has been taken, you can then edit it and share it with the world using a myriad of options. As well as the standard email and text options, you can upload to a host of social sites such as Dropbox, Picasa, Google+, S Memo and Flipboard, all in just a couple of touches. You can also tag your friends in a shot and use the tags to contact them directly, or share the photo with them via email using Samsung’s ‘Buddy Share’ feature. The sheer number of options available is stunning, but it’s all very intuitive so you never feel overwhelmed.
The front-facing camera is also razor sharp, featuring a 1.9-megapixel lens which captures just a little too much detail for our liking during video chats – be warned, your buddies will see every wrinkle.
As well as NFC, LTE and all the other fantastic features, the Galaxy S III LTE packs in a ton of extra tools that are aimed at making life easier. Whether it’s lifting your phone to your ear to automatically call someone who just texted you, or sharing a photo with a friend simply by tapping your phones together, we were constantly finding new ways to use the Galaxy. Sadly S-Voice is still a rather clunky and buggy voice recognition rival to Apple’s Siri, and we quickly gave up on using it.
If the size of this review has proved too much and you skipped straight here hoping for a quick verdict, let us say this: the Samsung Galaxy S III is our new favourite phone, packing in even more fantastic features than the HTC One X. Between the quad-core performance, the brilliantly bright and bold Super AMOLED screen, the feature-stuffed camera with its excellent sharing capabilities, and the solid but seductive design, it’s hard to pick out just a single great feature that will make you fall in love. But fall in love you will.