Monday, June 18, 2012

Classy Samsung Galaxy S III, its curved body

THE much-hyped Samsung Galaxy S III has finally reached our shores, and it is time to find out if all the attention is justified.

It is a gorgeous-looking device. With a bright, 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD screen, it is also second only to the Galaxy Note in terms of screen size.

Its curved body is surprisingly thin, just 8.55mm.

Said to be inspired by nature, the S III has several little quirky features to illustrate this. The most prominent is the ripple effect on the lock screen, which is accompanied by water-drop sounds. There are also several ‘nature-themed’ ringtones.

The S III runs on the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system (OS), and your mileage may vary depending on your opinion of it.

Personally, it is not my favourite OS, but it works for the most part.

The TouchWiz interface is good, except for the fact that you still cannot move apps between homescreens.

Also, every time I downloaded an app, a shortcut was secretly copied onto the last homescreen. I only discovered this after moving the shortcuts to the homescreens I actually wanted. I hope this will not be a permanent feature on the phone.

The best thing about the device is its speed. It is powered by 1.4GHz quad-core processors, and it shows, especially when surfing the internet.

You can download new apps and content with Google Play and Samsung Apps, although to be frank, most people would rely on the bigger resources of the former.

There are also numerous fun features that make the phone more people-centric.

Bothered whenever the screen goes dark when you are reading an e-book?

There is Smart Stay, which tracks your eyes watching the screen and keeps it active.

Hate it when you don’t discover you have missed a call or text until the next time you use your phone?

There is Smart Alert, which makes your phone vibrate gently whenever you pick it up in order to prompt you to check.

And if you have ever been watching a video on the phone but had to answer a text or needed to surf the internet, you can use Pop-Up Play, which turns your video screen to a tiny bar that you can continue watching and move about the screen while typing.

For those who want to talk to their phone, there’s S Voice. While there are numerous videos on YouTube comparing its performance with the iPhone’s Siri, I could not try it out myself as I kept getting a “Network Error”.

Another fun feature is S Beam, which allows you to wirelessly transfer files from the S III to other Galaxy smartphones with the same feature.

While the process might take up to a few minutes for bigger files, it is still very useful.

Picture perfect

The S III also has a 8MP rear camera and a 1.9MP front camera. The camera works fast, going back to camera mode right after you take a photo, with no lag or time wasted.

There are also several interesting features that add a new dimension to picture taking.

There is a Burst Shot feature that allows you to take 20 continuous shots.

However, do not think of it as a motion-capture device. Even with the flash on, fast-moving subjects end up blurry onscreen.

It is best used when moving the camera slowly around a still image, for slightly different angles.

You can also use the Best Photo function, which lets you take eight continuous shots and picks out the best one for you.

While there have been reports of short battery life, it really depends on what you do with it. I managed to make it last for over three days on just phone calls, texting and light internet surfing.

Of course, once you stream videos and play games – and there are some good pre-loaded games already on the Game Hub – you will need to charge it once a day.

One thing that did annoy me, though, was the fact that you have to have an internet data plan or constant access to WiFi in order to use most of the apps and features of the phone, including the games.

I wish there was still some decent offline content for people who do not happen to have a fixed data plan.

Is the S III the right phone for you? If you are looking to upgrade your S II or other Galaxy model phone, you will love it.

It is also great for business people or those who enjoy taking photos or need a mobile personal assistant.

But if you are a newbie to smartphone devices, the many ‘helpful’ features might be overwhelming.

One last thing. It is a micro-SIM card phone, so prepare to have your SIM card cut down to size.

The Samsung Galaxy S III is available in Marble White and Pebble Blue and is priced at RM2,199.

It is also available via data plans from Celcom, DiGi and Maxis at affordable prices.

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