Samsung Galaxy S3 - Multimedia and Verdict
We've already touched on just how good video looks on this phone but what we haven't yet mentioned is how easy the experience is too. The default player will play anything you throw at it flawlessly, saving the need to download a third party app.
Some may still prefer to use a particular app but at least there's no necessity to. Just drag and drop your files onto the device and away you go – something that is made doubly easy thanks to the microSD slot. A nice touch in the Samsung app is that it shows a short preview of all the videos when viewed as thumbnails.
Samsung has also included a Video download service called Video Hub. Like much of these 3rd party video download services, it didn't seem to have the greatest selection on offer so didn't particuarly capture our imagination but prices seemed reasonable. One nicety it does lack, though, is the £0.99 rentals on HTC's equivalent, which are great if you're at a loose end and just want to kill some time on the cheap.
Samsung has heavily tweaked the Android Gallery app changing the layout to a side-scrolling grid of large thumbnails that pulls in your images from Facebook too (it doesn't store them locally so you do need an internet connection to actually view them). It's an interesting twist but we weren't overly keen on it in practical terms as scrolling is a little slow and it just didn't feel as quick or easy to get to the snaps you want. Still, it basically gets the job done.
As well as the video hub, Samsung also has its Music Hub which is among the best offerings out there. Like most services it provides access to streaming music and music downloads, with a large 19 million song selection on offer. But it also has a music match service akin to Apple's iTunes Match service. This finds what music you have stored on your PC already and uploads it to a cloud storage service with 100GB of space. So, no matter where you are you can access all your music.
Samsung has also added the Music Square which helps you pick a playlist of music based on your selected mood, picked out by choosing a square from the grid. However, Passionate, Calm, Joyful and Exciting are the only moods on offer, so quite how it's supposed to accommodate indie of metal fans, we're not too sure.
As for general ease of use and playback quality, the former we had no issues with aside from an inability to start the music player from the lock screen (like you can on the iPhone where you just double tap the home button) but playback quality suffers from the usual slight hiss that plagues just about every Android phone we've ever tested. You'll only notice with very good quality, sensitive headphones but it is there and can detract from quiet music.
Like HTC, Samsung has hooked up with Dropbox to provide integrated cloud storage on your phone. This allows you to upload photos on the fly as you snap them as well as access your Dropbox files. Samsung has also trumped HTC by providing 50GB of free storage, where HTC only offers 25GB.
The Samsung Galaxy S3's larger 2100mAh battery does indeed put it a little ahead of the competition (most of which have 1800mAh or smaller batteries), giving you a better chance of having the phone actually last a day. However, with heavy use it still drains pretty quick and we still found it running dry long before the day was out. But, if you're sparing it should give you a couple more hours use over most of the competition.
There's no doubting the Samsung Galaxy S3 is technologically the top dog at the moment. It's screen is dazzling, its processor incredibly fast and its battery life is better than most. Add in extras such as a microSD slot, NFC and wireless charging and you have a phone that no other can match.
However, despite all these features there's a lack of that certain something that truly makes it desirable, thanks in large part to an interface that lacks a truly cohesive feel and an uninspiring design. Then again, it's not like any other Android alternative gets it all right, either. The HTC One X has a nicer screen for general smartphone use, and has a slightly nicer design, but it also has plenty of slip ups like a lack of microSD. Meanwhile the Motorola Razr Maxx offers stellar battery life, microSD and microHDMI but doesn't have all that great a screen.
There is of course the whole screen size issue too. Samsung has made an effort to make the S3 easy to handle despite its size but it's not there yet - we still found it cumbersome. Nonetheless, if you can live with a large phone day to day then the S3 is the current pick of the bunch.
As for the iPhone competition, both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 have the S3 beat for design (both for toughness and style) and we find them much easier to handle, plus of course the app store's better stocked. But you do miss out on NFC, expandable memory, and it's more difficult to customise the handset to do what you want.
As they say, it's horses for courses.
Scores In Detail
- Camera Quality
- Screen Quality
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