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Samsung Galaxy S3 – Preview

  • Successor to the blockbuster Galaxy S2
  • Bigger screen, better camera
  • Will it compete with the eventual iPhone 5?
Written by Adam Wajnberg
04/05/2012

The Samsung Galaxy S2 has been the about the only phone that can stand toe-to-toe with the iPhone. There are those who would cough and sputter that other phones are superior to both (and I’d be one of them – I still contend the Motorola RAZR is a better unit than the S2), only the S2 has hit that sweet spot between capability, ease of use, price tag and overall features. It has sold in excess of 20 million units, making it the king of Android devices.

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        samsung galaxy s3 preview

Photo credit Telegraph UK

Samsung has taken a brute force approach in their quest to crack Apple’s dominance. Apple has relied on a remarkably constrained approach, with one flagship phone at a time, lasting at least 12 months, and with a major overhaul every 24 months. It’s worked, to say the least, but it’s also worth contemplating whether or not it would have worked with anyone else. Probably not. Motorola kinda did it with their original RAZR flip phone back in the mid 2000’s, and Nokia before that with their 5110. But really, when comparing Apple’s technique with others, you must divide by zero- the last device to have the same grip on the imagination as the iPhone, was the iPod.

So Samsung rolled up its sleeves and took the yeoman’s approach- fire as many arrows as you have and hope something hits something. The Galaxy S2 has ‘sequel’ built into its name, and the Galaxy line itself is but one of many. But with its success comes the anticipation around its successor, which was announced today. The Galaxy S3 will please fans of the S2, and might even win some iConverts.

What it is

Size – 4.8 inches
Display – Super AMOLED
Cameras – 1.9MP in the front (HD 720p) and 8MP in the back (HD 1080)
Space – 16/32/64GB, with expandable storage (W00t!)
LTE/4G- Yes for overseas, not sure whether it will be compatible with Telstra or Optus’ 4G standard. But probably.
Special – Near Field Comms chip (NFC) allowing for wireless purchases and other nifty applications
OS – Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Everything else – As you’d expect. Quad core chip. 1GB RAM, 1.4GHz blah blah blah. Long spec sheets are besides the point for anything in this range.

In a nutshell – it’s bigger and more powerful than the S2, while barely getting any heavier. The cameras are neck and neck with the iPhone 4S. The NFC chip is a big big deal – that’s my guess for the next big thing in mobile technology – the idea of swiping your phone at the checkout and taking your groceries with no wallet involved feels like something we’re supposed to have by now.

Who it’s for

The same people as the iPhone, but who don’t want an iPhone. Or people who have already invested in the Android ecosystem, and don’t want to pay again for apps. This is a phone aimed squarely at pleasing everyone except specialists.

Who will be carrying it

No word yet, but this is the one Android phone everyone will be carrying, even Optus resellers like Dodo and iPrimus (who also carry phones).

Competition

It’s up against the HTC One X in head to head competition, and there’s very little between the two. The One X is built a little better. Naturally, it’s also up against the iPhone 4S, where it slightly tips it in overall features- but again, nothing beats the overall meld of Apple’s phone, operating system and App Store. It won’t convert happy iPhone users, but it will easily entice unhappy iPhone users.

Where it beats the competition

The iPhone has always been called out for its lack of beef – it usually runs on last season’s specs, which Apple have turned into a selling point- Apple doesn’t require a heap of processing power to compensate for inelegant software engineering. And that’s a good point to make – Apple’s phones are relatively battery friendly compared to phones in the same category, and the small space they force themselves into forces them to write better software. And it works- the overall experience on an iPhone is still miles ahead, for both power users and everyday folk.

But one item Apple has never skimped on is hard drive space. Nokia’s Lumia line have shot themselves in the foot by offering a maximum 16GB with no expandable storage. Apple eschews expandable storage, but they offer up to 64GB onboard storage. To date, very few competitors match that, and it’s often the tipping point for those who are undecided.

The Galaxy S3 not only matches that, but it offers onboard storage capable of doubling up to 128GB. That’s fantastic. That’s excellent. Few will use it, but some will – what’s the point of having a phone that can play full HD video when you can only fit a few hours on there? With 128GB, I can take a bunch of full HD cartoons and films with me on long trips. I have a choice.

Around the corner

When it hits, the S3 will have a head start on the iPhone 5, which is expected to drop around October. Seeing as how the iPhone 4S provides ample competition to the S3, and Apple is due for a major new release, it’s worth waiting to see what’s what.

Samsung’s own Galaxy Nexus is in the wrong place at the wrong time. The pinnacle ‘Google Phone” (running an unmodified version of Android) and Samsung’s would-be flagship is caught in the trap of being too expensive and too schmick for most, and not being ‘better enough’ that the S3 for the people who would care. It might get another release, but there are plenty of rumors that Google will look to Motorola to make the next ‘pure’ Android phone. Samsung has covered the bases for “best weird Android phone” too, with their monstrous Galaxy Note phone and tablet “phablet” extravaganza! It’s a testament to Samsung’s commitment to do "whatevs".

HTC will have to show some restraint and see how their One series will pan out. The point of it was to focus their bloated line into one great product, and they’ve done that. They couldn’t have expected Samsung to sit on their hands; now they’ll have to see where it goes, rather than rely on old bad habits.

BlackBerry will be supposedly releasing something wonderful soon. Their keynote last week for BB OS10 was yawn-worthy, and they’ve given the nebulous “sometime” release date for their next phone. Everyone else is playing cricket while BlackBerry is putting together their best recipe for cupcakes, and screaming “we have better cupcakes than all of your crickets!” I stand by this ridiculous simile.

Motorola is in a holding pattern until Google, their new owner, can work out what to do with them that won’t attract the attention of regulatory bodies.

LG will continue to release stylish phones for no-one.

Nokia has the money and resources to continue their Windows Phone experiment, but they better find a way to put more of these devices into people’s hands soon. Some are excited by the soon-to-be released Windows 8, an operating system that will work on tablets, PCs and phones.

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