However, there are two key additions that Samsung is hoping puts its phone ahead of the competition. The first is a voice control system called S Voice. It’s a take on Apple’s Siri that’s activated by double tapping the Home button or by speaking a customisable command to the phone.
It’s a neat addition, particularly as you can activate it by voice alone, allowing you to stay completely hands free while driving, for instance. You can play and pause music, open apps, dictate messages, activate driving mode and of course dial a number. For these basic tasks it’s not too bad but it quickly comes a cropper doing anything more complicated, and certainly doesn’t have the intelligence or humour of Siri.
What’s more the process can be slow as the Vlingo powered voice interpretation goes back and forth to the server, and of course it doesn’t work if you don’t have any Wi-Fi or 3G signal. It also crashed a little too regularly. The overarching impression is that aside from activating a few key features while driving S Voice is of limited use. So, just like Siri then.
The other big feature of the core interface that Samsung is pushing is Smart Stay. This ensures the screen doesn’t timeout and power off while you’re still looking at it. It does this by tracking you eyes using the front facing camera.
As well as saving you from annoying moments where the screen just turns off, there’s the potential to save battery by keeping the screen timeout to the minimum 15 seconds so it’s always powering off quickly, yet never be irked by the screen suddenly timing out while you’re still reading passively. It works reasonably well in well lit situations. However, in darker scenarios of if your face is masked by shadow it can struggle to read you. It also doesn’t work if the phone’s set down on a table or such like and you’re just glancing at it. Still it’s a nice feature to have.