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Samsung Galaxy S3 – Have Android Smartphones Become Boring?

Andrew Williams


Samsung Galaxy S3

The Samsung Galaxy S3 just launched. It's powerful, with a quad-core processor, and has a massive 4.8in AMOLED screen. But is that enough to hold our interest? With arguably nothing entirely new on show in the phone, some people are likely to be disppointed with the phone. Is it a sign Androids are becoming dull or are we just spoilt?

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Here are the reasons why we should, and shouldn't, get excited about the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Is the Samsung Galaxy S3 a sign that Androids have become boring?

Yes, because –

The diminishing returns of screen improvements

We were introduced to the current screen standard for top-end phones when the iPhone 4 was launched in June 2010. That was almost two years ago, and while some tweaks have been made, no phone screen has made such a serious impression since.

Why? It’s all about the diminishing returns of progress at this point. The Retina display screen technology Apple coined is all about having pixels so small you can’t see them unless you crack out a magnifying glass. We can carry on upping the resolution, but it’ll stop making a great deal of difference. Can we really get much better than the 720p Super IPS screens of the HTC One X or the Super AMOLED screen of Samsung Galaxy S3 in a traditional display? And if we can, will most of the people buying really notice?

Samsung Galaxy S3

Quad-core’s a bore

Android obsessives often pore over benchmarks, seeking out the highest value in a scale that’s effectively abstract. Mobile benchmarks are useful – especially for reviewers like us – but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that they’re really as important as their PC alternatives.

Why? There’s so little software to make use of such power, and the idea that a quad-core processor is needed to make Android run smoothly is a little mad. The first 1GHz Android phones, back in 2010, seemed almost lag-free at launch, and now they’re seen as positively ancient.

You can argue that it’ll just take a little time for developers to start really getting to grips with this generation’s new processors, but there are several reasons why it probably won’t be all that rosy. Firstly, the wide diversity of chipset types out there, and different GPUs, means developers have to compromise. With games in particular having to work with a dozen different engines, the snazzy top-end is naturally going to get watered-down a bit.

Samsung Galaxy S3

This effect is compounded by the limited revenues of the Android apps Market. The situation seems to be getting a little better – with more positive moves made in the way the Google Play store works, but it’s far from perfect. Or healthy in a pure commercial sense.

Another big plastic slab?

The Samsung Galaxy S3 follows in the footsteps of its top-end series predecessors. It’s big, it’s thin and it feels pretty plasticky. A gripe we’ve always had with this style of design is that using a paper-thin battery cover doesn’t feel or look all that good.

It’s largely the same story with the HTC One X – although the effect is even worse with the Galaxy S3. The Nokia Lumia 800 proved that plastic doesn’t have to look or feel cheap, but the big names in Android have so far failed to take this on-board at the top-end.

Oddly enough, it’s phones lower down the range that often look and feel a bit better – such as the metal-bodied HTC One V. We’re gagging to see some kind of innovation in the construction of Android phones. But now it looks like we’ll have to wait another year, at the least.

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