Two weeks with the Samsung Galaxy SIII
A couple of weeks ago, I strolled into an AT&T store to check out Samsung’s latest flagship phone, the Galaxy SIII. The salesman convinced me to try it out with no risk for thirty days. Here’s why I returned it in just fourteen.
The GSIII has a big gorgeous display. Many iPhone users, including myself, have mocked the increasing size of Android displays. I think the 4.8” display was fantastic. The resolution of the Super AMOLED display was less sharp than the iPhone’s retina display, but not by much. When the entire device is essentially a display, bigger is better.
My only gripe with larger displays was the ability to use the device one-handed. I have average-sized hands and it was challenging to navigate the display with one hand. It often felt like I was close to dropping it.
The GSIII is incredibly thin and light. It is made from plastic, but feels solid and has the benefit of being lighter than the much smaller iPhone 4S. It’s simply amazing how thin the GSIII is.
LTE is very fast and blows away “4G” on the iPhone 4S. LTE coverage on AT&T was also impressive. I had solid coverage and speeds throughout Washington, D.C. and New York City. On the downside, data intensive apps like Facebook and Instagram really drained battery when using LTE instead of Wi-Fi.
Having only used stock Android devices in the past, I was wary to try TouchWiz and the Nature UX. Surprisingly, they weren’t bad at all. The most noticeable omission from stock ICS, software navigation buttons, was a bonus. The capacitive buttons and physical home button were responsive and I prefer them to software buttons.
While the OS was relatively smooth, ICS still has some of that famous Android stutter. Android counterparts to my favorite iPhone apps (Instagram, Instapaper) are available now, but generally have less features and are of lower quality than their iPhone counterparts. The best part of the Android experience was system-wide sharing between apps and the ability to set default third-party apps.
What went wrong
My experience with the GSIII was largely positive, and I can recommend the phone to most people. However, I’m picky and there were some problems that I couldn’t forgive.
- The GPS never worked very well. Indoors, it had a difficult time picking up a signal while an iPhone was able to pick up an accurate GPS location in the same place. This was especially problematic when traveling, as apps like Yelp, Google Local, Maps, Facebook and Instagram were not able to use location data.
- Processes were regularly crashing and restarting. Crashes happened at least a few times per day. I ran into Mike Tyson in NYC and the camera app crashed and wouldn’t recover. (Luckily someone else had a working camera and I scored a photo with him)
- Battery life when using LTE was subpar. I was lucky to get a full work day out of the battery.
- While the build quality was good, it doesn’t compare to the iPhone’s glass and metal construction.