The Samsung Galaxy S III

An opinion from someone who’s read the internet –

Announced last Thursday as, believe it or not, the third device in the Samsung Galaxy S range. The SGSIII was all set to inherit the crown of ‘biggest selling non-iPhone / smartphone of the year’ from last year’s winner, the SGSII.

At least, that’s what we thought.

You can’t argue with the numbers – in 2011, the SGSII was a fantastically popular phone and Samsung, with its large screen, speedy graphics and TouchWiz’d version of Android – hit the sweet spot for consumer awareness + desire for the best Android phone on the market.

Admittedly, I was never a fan. I prefer my Androids to be pure Google experiences and both HTC + Samsung (amongst others) like to skin their OS accordingly. It’s a bit rubbish and generally gets in the way of being able to actually use the phone… but still, I can see why some people like it.

I’m rambling. Let’s get cut to the chase –

Is the SGSIII a worthy successor, is it actually any good?

Before I answer that question, let’s make one thing very clear:

I have not had hands on with this device at all.

What you are about to read is pure conjecture based upon the opinions of trusted friends & peers, images & video from the launch event, and several years working in and around the mobile industry.

Understood? Good. I don’t exactly love this kind of post, but to those of you that are still here, thanks – there’s a few things I’d like to cover –

1: The Samsung SGSIII is ugly + made of cheap plastic

As per my note above, I agree with Eric’s comment purely based upon the photos, videos and posts I have seen from the launch event. But even so, he’s not alone, and the man has a point. And while it might be harsh (I’ve seen worse devices), we – the industry at large – were just expecting something more.

And actually, while we’re at it, when your software is fundamentally the same across different handsets, design is a fundamental key selling point. It’s why I rock a Lumia 800 and it’s why I’ll recommend the HTC One X over the SGSIII should someone ask me about Android phones.

2: The Samsung SGSIII features some a sweet innovation

The word ‘innovation’ is bandied about too fast and loose these days however, reading this post TechCrunch shortly after the SGSIII announcement I was actually quite impressed by one particular paragraph –

“The Galaxy S III looks deep into your eyes and only turns off when you do,” noted Jean Daniel Ayme to the audience. That is to say, the screen will note when your eyes are on it and will stay “awake” for as long as you look at it. “It knows precisely what we are doing and our intentions.”

Now this is more like it.

While ‘creepy’ is a word I’ve heard a couple of times since discussing this particular addition to the handset, having a phone that turns on *when I look at it* is actually kind of awesome. I like this, a lot. Proper ethnographical research, informing technological innovation. More of this please.

3. TouchWiz Android is horrible

As Android skins go, HTC Sense is pretty darn ugly but, TouchWiz takes it to a whole new level. If you want a ‘pure’ Google experience with Android, buy a Nexus. Other device manufacturers can’t be trusted.

4. The SGSIII is a HUGE disappointment

As much as I dislike their current advertising, the HTC One X is probably my favourite Android device on the market today and the SGSIII has done nothing to change that. But don’t just take my word on it, the out pour of disappointment around this particular phone launch is staggering

For example – ‘How Samsung Broke My Heart‘, ‘The Galaxy SIII is a “Me Too” Device and a Disappointment‘ and ‘Dear Internet: I am incredibly sorry for over-hyping the disappointment that is the Galaxy S III‘ are just three well-written and well-informed pieces that I’ve read over the past couple of days, of which I am sure there are many more.

Sad times.

And, even though I happily acknowledge that I haven’t even played with the SGSIII yet, I can safely say: if you’re in the market for an Android phone, look at the Galaxy Nexus or check out the HTC One X.



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6 thoughts on “The Samsung Galaxy S III”

  1. Best thing about the Galaxy S III? It’ll make the Galaxy S II far cheaper. And why not go with the Galaxy S II? It runs Android 4.0, it has many games written specifically for it, it has a non-PenTile display, and it has a rich accessory ecosystem around it (cases, docks, etc.).

    Buy one used for half the cost of a new Galaxy S III and be happy as a pig in shit I say!

  2. The S3 is what I’d term a ‘consumer’ smartphone… It’s what consumers are likely to be enthralled by.

    Design wise, I think this has been a wasted opportunity to make an impact, visually! I sold my S2 to buy the Nexus, simply ‘coz I was frustrated by Samsung India’s upgrade roadmap for the S2… And after the S3 announcement, I’m kinda glad I decided to get the Nexus. A lot of money saved, a lot of frustration and anger avoided!

    Most people I’ve talked to have a similar line of thought as you and me. They weren’t wowed by the device nor felt an overwhelming need to upgrade to it. I guess the hype was too much for Samsung to live up to.

    It’s missing that ‘X’ factor, something that makes the phone truly standout… Kind of reminds me how everyone felt of the 4S when it was launched.

    Just my 2 cents!

  3. I empathise with your sentiments James. SGS3 will sell and, I think, provide a good UX for most buyers. However, working in the industry affords you the dubious pleasure of knowing this product is reactive and Samsung has invested its not inconsiderable resources in following rather than establishing a story of its own. I can’t help but wonder what Samsung’s R&D team could achieve if unleashed from fulfilling the point by point competitive analysis which has obviously driven this launch.

    James Reply:

    Hey Marek, thanks for stopping by.

    You’re right about Samsung’s inevitable huge sales of the SGSIII, purely based on consumer ‘bigger number is better’ syndrome (how many uninformed consumers went out and bought the N96, for example, after enjoying their N95s!).

    To be fair, the SGSIII isn’t a terrible phone. It’s just… not the evolution everyone was hoping/expecting (and as I mention, there are better Androids available already). I just wonder if the salesmen and women in the shops will advise the same.

    Good words.

    James Reply:

    Ps. Your comment reminded me of this post ‘SGSIII, designed by lawyers’ –

  4. So phone design has evolved from how do we fit the RF to how do we appease the lawyers? A worryingly plausible explanation. Ouch.

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