Friday, May 04, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S3 - The New Champion?

Samsung launched the much-awaited Samsung Galaxy S3 (though it's SIII officially) last night in a much hyped event in London. I was not dedicated enough to stay home and watch the live streaming from the event so I was on the road going to the cinema when this was happening. But I was dedicated enough to check the specs and first review on my Galaxy Note while the trailers were playing.

Now, that I have read the spec's and seen some initial reactions from people, I feel I need to speak up and add my 2 cents. I think I am seeing about 50-50 reaction of "liked" and "disappointed". Some of the disappointed ones are Apple iSheep and fanbois as is obvious from their comments, but some of them are real people as well. Not saying there aren't any idiots in the real people. One guy says the Samsung phone designs don't make him "feel good". Dude, it's a phone, not a girlfriend!

Before I talk in detail about the specs let me make one clear-cut prediction. This phone will be HUGELY successful! And you can quote me on that! The caveat would be that no big issues are discovered and Samsung and network providers don't play any dirty tricks in marketing. I don't expect that and I am saying this will be at least as successful as the Galaxy SII if not more.

Let's talk about the spec's. At a glance they are:

1.4 GHz Quad-Core Exonys processor
16GB/32GB/64GB built-in memory
MicroSD card
4.8" HD Super AMOLED screen with 1280x720 resolution
8MP rear camera
1.9 MP front camera
2100 mAh replaceable battery
Physical Home button on the front
Firmware: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Price: £500
Release date: 30th May (available for pre-order now)
Typical deals: Free with £36/month 24 months contract

Understandably, there's some criticism over just the 1.4 GHz processor and small amount of RAM. The 8MP camera is also a disappointment, it should have been 12MP. I won't try to argue with anyone who says that hardware of this phone is a disappointment though I don't think so, but I agree that it's not spectacular. Unlike most people, my only expectation was that it be better than the SGSII which IMHO it is.

(According to Samsung the new processor peforms better but consumes 20% less power than the SGS2.)

I won't discuss all the new features or it'll be next year before I am done but let's see why I say it'll be a success.

Ever heard that the pleasure of life is in the little things? Apparently Samsung has heard it too. There are lots of small changes which will be a value-addition in an S3 owner's life and make him the target of envy.

First of all the screen is awesome and I expect it to be amazing like the SGS2 and Galaxy Note. The processor even though only 1.4 will be another awesome part, the SGS2 is still the fastest phone and SGS3 will be the only one surpassing it I am sure. The big screens are all the rage these days (yes 3.5" is NOT the perfect size) and 4.8 will be really good to watch videos and browse the web on. I know I love the 5.3 inch screen on my Note and the SGS2 feels puny compared to it. The 133gms weight will be quite nice to handle because of its distribution, again I speak from my experience with the Note which is heavier.

There are small enhancements like the phone vibrates if you pick it up and there's a missed call or text waiting on it. I want that feature! Notification light is another thing I always miss, it helps in real life. Same with physical home button. It's not a coincidence that both my current phones have it. It's so much more convenient to use it to wake up the device.

Face-unlock is there as well which is an Android 4.0 feature.

Samsung's TouchWiz UI is quite nice to use, I have one phone with it and one without, so I know that you miss it. SGS3 has a plastic body which people argue feels cheap but I like it. It makes the phone light and the design makes it feel stylish rather than cheap. I don't want to carry a glass-backed phone like an idiot!

At 8.6 mm SGS3 is only 0.1mm thicker than SGS2, a slim design feels even better in a bigger phone. The phone also has an eye-tracking technlogy which keeps the screen on while you are reading stuff and turns it off when you put it down. I need that feature badly. It's called Smart Stay. This will help with the battery life as well.

I'd like a 12MP camera like everybody else, but I won't cry about it. 8MP is quite good for candid photography considering the settings and options you get in Android camera. I just bought a DSLR recently (Canon 7D no less) so if I am going to need awesome photos I will carry that, for casual snaps 8MP is fine. So it's not a dealbreaker for me. Flash would have been a dealbreaker but it has the LED flash. It also has a replaceable battery without which I will NOT buy a phone. Same with MicroSD card. I am glad Samsung included it and didn't go the HTC One X route. Without an SD card slot, I would have shunned the phone like last year's girlfriend.

Samsung has also developed S-Voice which is being called the Siri replacement and so far I have read some reviewers calling it better than Siri as in you can do more things with it. Well, anything will be better than Siri as you have to carry around a POS iPhone to use Siri. But I am curiuos as how it'd behave when the music is playing. Supposedly you can still control the phone by voice while music is playing on the phone. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a lot of use for a voice-operated phone in a real life, but sometimes it's handy and can make the difference between using or not using your phone.

For example, last weekend I was walking out of Waterloo station trying to pick my way through the throngs of humanity that is always there and I needed to call someone but wasn't getting through. I didn't want to take my phone out in that crowd while trying to walk fast so I just pressed the button on my bluetooth handset and said "Redial last number". Even in that din it picked up my command and made the call. Every time. I didn't get through finally but I could try 5-7 times while I walked.

With SGS3 when you pick up the phone and if it has a missed call or text, you just put it to your ear and it will dial the number. So useful.

Voice typing has already been good on Android, I expect that to be still there and better with 1.4 Quad-core processor.

For connectivity, there is Wi-fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, all bands covered. Bluetooth 4.0 is there and you cna bet it won't be a crippled BT like you find in iCrap. You can connect to your Samsung TV via DLNA or use MHL cable to connect to any monitor or TV. But that's not new, just retained. HSPA+ is still there and I expect USB hosting to be there as well. I love both!

There's an awesome feature that I have sometimes wished I had. You can play video in a pop-up window and continue doing other things on the screen at the same time! I am a born multi-tasker. I KNOW I would love this!

Sensors include GPS/A-GPS, a built-in gyroscope, digital compass, plus screen-flipping accelerometer, proximity as well as a barometer.

And of course, there's NFC. :)

One thing I really don't like in this phone though and that's microsim. I really hate these manufaturers (Apple) who make you cut up your SIM to use the phone. HTC joined Apple in this with One X.

So far this is the only dealbreaker for me but to be honest with you, I can see myself going through the 7 stages of dealing with loss. Right now I am in Denial - I am NOT going to buy a phone for which I have to cut up my SIM card! There will be Anger - "Why Samsung, why??". But at some point there will be Compromise - maybe I can use a microSIM adapter when changing the SIM to another phone? Also, T-Mobile is really good to me and I am sure they will change my SIM for free again when I want like they did 2 months ago.

I don't understand why Samsung followed in Apple's shoes though. I am really disappointed with that.

Overall, my conclusion is that it would be a phone worth having, depending on what you are upgrading from. I am upgrading from Samsung Galaxy S2 (retaining my Galaxy Note) and I think it's worth it. But then I love smartphones and I love Android!

Feel free to add your comments below. Are you disappointed? Or is this what you really expected? Apple Fanboi's are also welcome to leave their comments but just beware that your comments are not mindless, iSheep blubber..I will rip you to pieces!


Bikramjit said...

I am so looking forward to having this one , I liked it a lot one of my friends has it ..


Sunil Goswami said...

Sir ji, how can your friend have it, it's not being delivered yet, only on pre-order!!

Wind TV said...

This phone is not bad, but I expected something a bit more revolutionary.
Just one small correction: the fastest Android is HTC One S (1.5GHz dual-core + 960x640 resolution + Android ICS = so damn fast) but it's miles away from SGS2 in terms of quality, since there is no microSD card slot.

Sunil Goswami said...

Yes, we have been spoilt with the advances in technology. Especially with Android. If you had to live with a heavy 3.5" screen phone with little functionality year in and year out, your expectation would become low automatically.

I blame the rumourmongers for raising expectations about S3 with the senseless, baseless, fake specs before the release. Personally, I only expected a bigger screen than SGS2 and a quad-core processor. I would have liked a 12 MP camera as well, but it's not the end of the world for me. I have had a 12MP mobile camera before. Didn't help me take more photos.

You are right, not having microSD slot sucks. I am not liking the trend HTC is setting with no microSD slot and no replaceable battery in their HTC One X as well. If they keep doing that they will find out how easy it is to lose grip on the Android userbase. They will soon learn that replacing functionality with marketing works for Apple but won't work here, as we do have lots of other options.

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