The Samsung Galaxy S III has your typical candy bar form factor that has been so popular for the last five years. An obvious difference from feature phones of times long ago is the noticeable size difference.
The Galaxy is right at the verge of being just too large for comfortable one handed usage; an extra millimetre anywhere would likely put it over the edge.
The curved rear corners mean that it sits very nicely in hand and is rather ergonomic; a welcome improvement over the One X. Contrary, the One X has the better looking design – although the point is up to the eye of the beholder.
I admit that the Galaxy looks cheap and rather dull in pictures but feels solid and looks nice but unassuming in the flesh. This is coming from someone that hated the look of it (in pictures) when it was unveiled in London.
The front of the smartphone is dominated by the 4.8 inch display (more to come), the home button that is iconic to the Samsung Galaxy S series and its surrounding menu and back capacitive buttons.
I wasn’t too sure about the physical home button at first but a few weeks later it’s a welcome addition. The home button also doubles as wake button.
Someone at Samsung has done their research and put the back button on the right hand side, although the inclusion of the legacy menu (long press for search) key is questionable. However, this does mean that the three dot on-screen menu button never appears like it does so often on the HTC One X (although an upcoming update will help rectify this) so in the end it’s a fair trade-off.
This also means there is no room for a dedicated multitasking button which results in an extended one second period holding the home button before the multitasking overlay appears. The buttons themselves light up to become visible and illuminate the surrounding frosted white plastic in the dark – which I think is extremely cool.
Above the display is the RGB notification LED which can be set to alert you to notifications in many different colours. Some Samsung branding sits below the speaker while on the right are some light and proximity sensors and the 1.9 MP front facing camera.
Surrounding the thin bezel is the beginning of a silver faux-metallic rim that continues to the back of the phone, only to be interrupted by the battery cover.
It is curved down the left and right edges of the phone in the form of a wave and this is perhaps where Samsung “designed for humans, inspired by nature” motto originates from.
The right edge is home to the power button – a welcome sight where phones are forever getting taller. It allows you to wake and sleep the phone without having to modify your grip.
On the left edge is a rather small volume rocker (at least compared to HTC phones I have used in the past) and is sufficiently located far enough down the phone as to not get in the way in landscape orientation.
The top edge is home to the 3.5mm headphone jack, secondary microphone and the slot allowing you to remove the battery cover. Down the bottom is where the Micro USB slot is, it is also capable of other neat functions such as MHL mirroring and USB On-The-Go.
The primary microphone is also located here.
The rear of the phone is home to the LED flash, the 8 MP camera and loud speaker spread in a neat row. The camera lens is actually slightly exposed but shouldn’t result in any scratches. The speaker could have been located in a better place as I found it to be easily muffled whilst playing games or using it in its landscape orientation.
The rear cover is a glossy white finish and it can get a bit greasy after a few days of use. In order to get that feeling of security back, a quick wipe with something as simple as a cotton shirt is all it takes.
Peeling off the rear cover unveils the 7.98 Wh Li-ion battery, MicroSD and Micro SIM slots. As witnessed on the Galaxy Note, the rear cover is fairly flexible.
Bundled in with the battery is the NFC chip so this is something to be aware of if you go hunting for unofficial extended batteries.
The internal storage can be boosted by a MicroSD card up to 64GB in size. Access to the SIM slot is blocked by the battery so quick switching of SIM cards is not a possibility.
The 4.8 inch Super AMOLED HD display has a 1280 x 720 resolution. The lack of a “Plus” in the display type means that the infamous Pentile matrix is present. However, in reality there are more annoying things to complain about on the phone.
Small text in browsers is still easily readable, though non-Pentile displays like the one on the HTC One X have slightly clearer and sharper text.
The AMOLED also means that blacks are pure blacks, giving it an infinite contrast ratio. The boost to sharpness and clarity this contrast boost gives makes up for the Pentile matrix 90% of the time. It is not the brightest display out there but still remains fairly visible outside.
The display also has a faint blue hue to it which for the most part isn’t noticed without a comparison device. Viewing angles are again strong, but can’t quite match the Super LCD 2 display of the One X – something that should never be used as a pro for the One X.
As is standard with Super AMOLED displays colours by default are oversaturated. Fortunately for those who prefer more natural colours Samsung includes four colour modes; dynamic, standard, natural and movie that respectively decrease colour saturation. Personally, I prefer the standard mode no matter what I may be doing on the phone.
Furthermore, Samsung’s settings for auto brightness seem a bit on the low side but not overly so – it’s all in the quest for extended battery life.
At the end of the day the Galaxy S III’s display is very impressive. It’s not quite on the level of the One X but unless you have both phones you will likely never notice the slight difference.