“Designed for humans, inspired by nature” is the enigmatic slogan of the much-hyped Galaxy S3. When I press the display, ripples form beneath my finger, and there’s the satisfying sound of a waterdrop plopping into a lake. Other than this, it’s not immediately clear how its design is inspired by nature. White, minimalist and surrounded by a silver bezel, the massive 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) screen dominates the design. This is a feature that may divide opinion – measuring 70.6mm x 136.6mm x 8.6mm, the device is quite a handful, and not something you’ll easily stuff into your pocket.
For me, its size is what appeals. As someone who’s debating whether to invest in an iPad to battle the boredom of my commute, the Galaxy S3 arguably provides a more portable solution. Weighing 133g, I found it to be surprisingly light, and I could hold it for a while quite comfortably. The screen quality (720 x 1,280 pixels) and its ample size make it perfect for browsing the web and viewing videos and images. The self-luminating pixels provide a bright image, and the 8MP camera takes extremely crisp photos. The “Best Photo” setting, which works like a “burst” setting on a still camera is a welcome feature.
I usually find touchscreen technology quite annoying, but once again, the size of the device played in its favour when it came to typing a text or tapping through the menu. However, despite having read the instructions and diagrams showing how to activate shortcuts with certain hand motions, “double taps” and by tilting the phone – and once I’d realised that you have to manually turn the “Motions” setting on – I couldn’t quite work them out, and was unconvinced that it is as intuitively designed as the label “designed for humans” suggests.
After consulting my friend, I tried out the “Tilt-to-Zoom” motion. The handset must be held in a landscape position, with a thumb either side of the screen when you tilt – although it only seemed to work with the camera once a photo had been taken (which ultimately produces the same effect). It seemed like a well-thought out way to zoom – much more stable compared with the more traditional method of holding your phone in one hand while you swipe it with a finger to zoom in.
“S-Voice” voice activation wasn’t bad. I found it to be about as accurate at recognising my voice commands as I have before with Apple’s Siri – it managed to understand that I wanted directions to the nearest station, producing a Google Map from my current location in a few seconds, but struggled more when I tried to Google random objects and people.
The Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) software is fun, attractive and efficient. I liked the homescreen that indicates your location along with the weather and time, and found the menu easy to navigate. There were around 50 in-built apps, including Youtube, Google+, Gmail and Dropbox. The Google Play Store was easy to use to search for apps, music, films (to rent) and books. As a reading device, the S3’s size means it comes up trumps again – swiping with your finger turns the pages, text is clear, and the background bright thanks to those pixels.
In terms of speed, I was impressed with how quickly the GPS and internet browser were loaded, although streaming videos was still rather time-consuming. The battery life was good; one charge lasted a full day.
Pros: The Galaxy S3 is ideal for journeys thanks to its size and good quality screen. Paired with navigable Google Play Store app, entertainment is where the phone excels.
Cons: The size won’t be for everyone. And I found the motion settings, while impressive, a little difficult to grasp.
Price: Free from £30 per month on 24-month business price plans