Last night, after several months of rumors and speculation, Samsung finally announced their 2012 flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III. It’s a device that I’ve been telling everyone to wait for, telling everyone that it’s going to be the best Android handset to come out this year, telling everyone that buying any other smartphone would be a huge mistake. Now that the Galaxy S III is official, I have to admit that I was wrong, and I’m deeply sorry.
Let’s start with the screen. The size is alright, 4.8 inches, but it uses PenTile technology, meaning color reproduction is a bit off and text appears fuzzy. Compared to the Galaxy S II, the Galaxy S III is a bit of a disappointment in that regard. Next up is the processor. Sure, it’s fast, it has four cores, it’s built on a 32 nanometer process, but it’s not a huge leap forward compared to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4. The GPU in the Exynos 4 Quad kicks the Adreno 225 in the ass, there’s no denying that, but what exactly is Android going to do with all that graphics horsepower?
Moving to the camera, it looks to be a minor improvement to the 8 megapixel shooter inside the Galaxy S II, which sounds fantastic, but the iPhone 4S, the HTC One S, and HTC One X use better optics and have better camera software compared to this new Galaxy. I was expecting to hear Samsung talk about a larger sensor or a greater aperture, but instead they demoed burst mode.
As for the actual design of the device, it looks incredibly boring. When I showed the Galaxy S III to my girlfriend, she said it looked uglier than her father’s Galaxy S II, and I’m sure many of you share the same sentiment. The shift in design language from the the previous Galaxy S II to the current Galaxy S III reminds of Nokia’s portrait QWERTY Eseries smartphones. The Nokia E71 was arguably the best designed Symbian powered device that the Finnish handset maker ever sold. When it came time to refresh the product, there was a lot of pressure for the company to deliver a worthy update. The E72 failed to meet expectations. The hard edges from the E71 disappeared. The robust build quality was sacrificed to eek out higher margins. Everything about the E72 just left a sour taste in many people’s mouths.
So am I now going to recommend you pick up the HTC One X? No. The international version, which has the quad core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, is inferior to the AT&T 4G LTE variant that has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4. Europeans are stuck with a version of the One X that’s slower, has less battery life, and it even runs hotter. This is the first time in smartphone history where the Americans actually got something better than the rest of the world. But forget about the guts for a second, I simply can not stand Sense UI. To me it looks absolutely hideous, and I know some of you actually like it, but I personally wouldn’t recommend an HTC device to anyone I know.
What else is there to look forward to this year? The next iPhone, the next Nexus, and Windows Phone 8. We should be hearing about all those things during the last 100 days of the year. If you can’t wait that long and are looking for a new handset, then you’re in luck. Now that the Galaxy S III is out, expect the price for the Galaxy S II to drop like a stone. It may be a year old, but it’s still one damn fine device. That and it’s even been upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich!
It pains me to say this, but let the countdown begin to the Galaxy S IV.
Oh and one more thing: The opinions expressed above are my own and don’t really matter in the grander scheme of things. I’m 100% certain that sales of the Galaxy S III will be out of this world. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Samsung will easily double their sales numbers for the Galaxy S II, which I think stands at around 20 million units as of today.
[Image Credit: AnandTech]