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Samsung Galaxy S III: Reviewed and Compared to Galaxy S II, iPhone 4S

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Handset Top.jpgSamsung, now the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, announced their latest flagship device, the Samsung Galaxy S III, last night. Launching at an event in London’s Earls Court, the successor to the Galaxy S II features a quad-core processor, a large 4.8-inch organic LED display and a new design that Samsung claim to be “inspired by nature”. Although the handset will only be available from the end of May, we managed to get a sneak peek of the new device and an in-depth look at how it compares to the Galaxy Nexus, the Galaxy S II and Apple’s iPhone 4S.


Design of the Galaxy S III


Whilst the Galaxy S II was primarily sold based off its performance, bright organic LED display and its slim form factor, Samsung have made a significant shift in the marketing of the Galaxy S III to emphasise the new design and materials behind the device as well as the “intelligence” enhancements within the device.

Side Profile.jpg
Side profile of the Samsung Galaxy S III.


In terms of the look and feel of the device, the Galaxy S III looks substantially different to the Galaxy S II. The Galaxy S III features more curves and rounded corners in the design – something which Samsung say is ‘inspired by nature’ and is designed to look more organic. The device is available in ‘Pebble Blue’ and ‘Marble White’ and makes use of HyperGlazedSkin technology for the casing – a technology that is meant to give the device a premium metallic-feel whilst allowing it to be constructed using lightweight plastic materials which are good for phone signal.

GS3 vs GS2.jpg
Design of the Samsung Galaxy S III (left) and Samsung Galaxy S II (right). Not to scale.


Compared to the 3.5-inch display on the iPhone 4S and the 4.3-inch display on the Galaxy S II, the new Galaxy S III gains a bump in the size department to a 4.8-inch display measured diagonally. As on the Galaxy Nexus, the display uses organic LED technology and is high definition (720p or 1280x720). The display packs 306 pixels per inch (ppi) which is comparable to the 326ppi display on the iPhone 4S. The use of the PenTile matrix (2 subpixels per pixel) is somewhat disappointing as the Galaxy S II used a Real-Stripe matrix (3 subpixels per pixel) but the increased resolution and pixel density makes up for this somewhat.


“Intelligent” Feature & Voice Control


S Voice.jpgThe majority of Samsung’s launch presentation focused upon the “intelligent” features of the device rather than the device specifications. This marks a shift in how the Galaxy S III is likely to be marketed.


One key addition to the Galaxy S III is the “S Voice” application. Working in a similar way to Siri on the iPhone 4S, S Voice makes use of voice recognition technology and natural language processing to understand what you want to do. The application can be launched by speaking “Hi Galaxy” on the homescreen and is able to control various features on your phone such as taking photos or managing your schedule. “S Voice” also integrates with WolframAlpha to allow you to query information from the internet: for example translating a phrase into a different language or pulling up the latest weather and share prices. “S Voice” can also do your maths homework for you by solving and graphing algebraic equations!


Beyond just the “S Voice” feature, voice recognition technology has been integrated throughout the device. It is possible to secure your phone using a combination of facial and voice recognition and real-time voice input is available on the keyboard as in the Galaxy Nexus.


Facial Recognition & Smart Stay


Facial Recognition.jpgAnother key addition in the Galaxy S III is the addition of facial recognition technology. This is used throughout the device in various forms but one much-heralded feature is the “Smart Stay” feature. Whereas most handsets implement a screen timeout interval (for example the display turns itself off after 15 seconds of inactivity), the Galaxy S III makes use of its front-facing camera to check whether you’re still looking at the screen. If it is able to detect the fact you’re still looking at the screen (for example when you’re reading an e-book or a long e-mail), the display will remain on and will no automatically lock itself.


Facial recognition technology has also been integrated into the camera. The Galaxy S III retains an 8-megapixel camera as in the Galaxy S II. However, additions have been made but such as the ability to do high dynamic range (HDR) photography, burst shot (the ability to take 20 photos in short succession) and “best shot” (the ability to take 8 photos and to select the best one to keep). The Galaxy S III makes use of facial recognition technology to automatically pick the best photo: the photo where nobody is blinking for example. Facial recognition is also integrated into the Gallery application when viewing photos. By comparing your photos against other photos that are saved on your handset, the phone will determine which of your friends are in that photo and gives you the option to share that photo with them instantly using the Buddy Photo Share feature.


As in the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, your phone can also be secured using “Face Unlock”.


Motion and Gesture Interaction


Best Photo.jpgThe next of Samsung’s “Intelligence” features is the addition of new motion gestures for the device. Making use of the phone’s accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensor, the Galaxy S III is able to recognise motions such as when you pick up the phone and hold it to your ear. The ‘Direct Call’ feature means that when you’re reading a text message, e-mail or instant message conversation with one of your friends, it’s possible to call them simply by picking up the phone and holding it to your ear. This can be incredibly time-saving although there is a slight worry that it could be accidentally activated by mistake. Other gestures include tapping on the top of the handset to scroll to the bottom of an e-mail or webpage, shaking your phone to refresh the content on the screen and turning your phone over in order to silence the ringtone.


New on-screen gestures include swiping your hand across the screen to capture a screenshot or placing your hand over the screen to pause a video.


Other Additions in the Samsung Galaxy S III

Ice Cream Sandwich.jpg

  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Galaxy S III runs the latest version of Google’s Android operating system with Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface.

  • NFC & S Beam. The Galaxy S III features Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Using the S Beam feature, it is possible to share content such as photos, videos and music files between two devices by tapping them against each other. This is a great alternative to sharing content via Bluetooth and speeds of up to 300Mbit/s are possible as files are transferred using peer-to-peer Wi-Fi technology (Wi-Fi Direct). With a suitable application installed, it is also possible to pay in shops and to conduct mobile commerce using NFC.

  • Pop-Out Video. The Galaxy S III features the ability to watch videos in a small overlay on the display. This makes it possible to continue watching a movie whilst writing a text message or browsing the web.

  • LED Notification Light. The Galaxy S III features a notification light in 3 colours (red, green and blue). These can be customised to notify you of missed calls and text messages.

  • 50GB Dropbox Storage. As with HTC’s Sense 4.0 offerings, Samsung are offering 50GB of Dropbox storage for 2 years with the Galaxy S III. The Dropbox cloud storage service allows you to synchronise files between your mobile phone, tablet and laptop.

  • Wireless Charging. Whilst the Galaxy S III does not support wireless charging out of the box, a wireless charging kit is available. The wireless charging kit comes with a replacement battery cover.

  • Micro-SIM Support. As on the iPhone 4S, Nokia Lumia 800 and the HTC One X, Samsung have moved to using Micro-SIM cards within the Galaxy S III. This means that you may need to replace or cut your current SIM card when upgrading to the Galaxy S III.

Samsung Galaxy S III: Comparison to Galaxy S II & iPhone 4S


The technical specifications of the Galaxy S III compare to the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Apple iPhone 4S as follows:



Samsung Galaxy S III

Marble White.jpg 

Samsung Galaxy S II

 Samsung Galaxy S 2.jpg

Apple iPhone 4S

 iPhone 4S Siri.jpg


1.4GHz quad-core

1.2GHz dual-core

1GHz dual-core


4.8-inch AMOLED (organic LED)

4.3-inch AMOLED (organic LED)

3.5-inch TFT display

Screen Resolution

1280x720 (306ppi)

800x480 (218ppi)

960x640 (326ppi)

Operating System

Google Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), upgradable to Android 4.0

Apple iOS 5


16/32/64GB internal memory & up to 64GB micro-SD

16GB internal memory & up to 32GB micro-SD

16GB/32GB/64GB internal memory


8 megapixel with LED flash

8 megapixel with LED flash

8 megapixel with LED flash

Video recording

1080p, 30 frames per second

1080p, 30 frames per second

1080p, 30 frames per second



1,650mAh (8.7 hours talk time)

1,430mAh (8 hours talk time)

Text Input

On-screen software keyboard

On-screen software keyboard

On-screen software keyboard

Approx. price


Approx. £400 SIM-free

£499 SIM-free

SIM card size

Micro SIM

Standard SIM

Micro SIM


All three devices are compatible with giffgaff and some great savings can be had by buying these devices upfront and using one of our giffgaff goodybags. You will need to order a Micro-SIM card if you’re opting for the Galaxy S III or iPhone 4S.


Your Thoughts…


Bottom of Page.jpgThe Galaxy S III launches at the end of this month and according to Samsung, the phone stands out due to its organic design and intelligent voice, face, motion and gesture recognition technologies. In terms of technical specifications however, the Galaxy S III has little that can’t already be found in handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the HTC One X.


What did you think of the Samsung Galaxy S III? Were you impressed by the device or a little disappointed? Are you a fan of the curvaceous design of the Galaxy S III or do you prefer the cleaner look of the Galaxy S II? Do you think Samsung’s “intelligence” features will give them enough to stand out from the crowd? Drop us a comment below – we’d love to hear your thoughts and views!


Ken Lo writes about mobile technology and the mobile industry at Ken's Tech Tips.


Where could I buy a brand new unlocked samsung galaxy 3s ready for a giffgaff micro-sim?  The curvaceous design actually looks a little cheap and naff, but the screen looks great. 


Classic !

just trust me...
There's no doubt this is another step up in class for Samsung, full of the best features, but i am a bit dissapointed with the design, not the best looking phone.
samsung galaxy 3 > iphone Smiley Very Happy

4.8"? Surely that makes it a phablet?


Really like the look of it but guess the price will be the killer. Love the screen size and being able to auto call someone who has texted you by holding phone to the ear. File transfer between them is so easy too - touch the backs together and the files transfer! Will be interesting to see how the competition fares.

I really think the idea of the screen staying illuminated, while you physically look at, is a brilliant idea. I think, unless they have heavily patented that concept, that it'll soon appear on many other phones... Maybe even on a fruit-based one? Smiley Wink

Perhaps a tad controversial to say, but I think the screen is too large =[ The iPhone 4S screen is the ideal size for me (any bigger and it becomes a two hand job where you have to hold it in one and prod it with t'other).

Over time, mobile phones have made this evolution from huge - medium - small - microscopic - small - medium and now they seem to be big flat bits of technology that all look the same, and do the same things with minor differences in how these things are done.

What do I think?

I'm more interested in what the networks have in store for us!


Doesn't look as nice, but better features, hm..

heavy hitter

like the screen size!