Is the Samsung Galaxy S III Just Another Android Phone?

Guest blogger Karl Newark writes:

These days there seems to be a new Android smartphone released every week, and the latest to be announced was the Samsung Galaxy S III. But this seemed to have a particularly high level of hype surrounding its announcement; is this device a potential market leader, or will it be forgotten in a few weeks?

First, let’s think about why this phone has been so gleefully anticipated by many. Why did Samsung decide to give this device its own press event rather than announce it at an event such as the Mobile World Congress or CES?

Let’s take a look at the history of the Galaxy S line, and what has led to such a buzz about its latest iteration. In my opinion, it comes down to three things: hardware, software, and marketing.

There should be an image here!When the original Galaxy S was released, it matched and, in most cases, surpassed most of the competition in terms of hardware. It matched the top screen resolutions and camera sensors at the time, and surpassed most other flagship devices with its cutting edge Hummingbird processor and PowerVR graphics processor. Samsung also gave consumers a lot of software for the price. On top of Android was the first iteration of Samsung’s “TouchWiz” interface, which was criticised for slowing the phone down and not looking great, but it did make the phone easier to use, especially as it puts the core and most essential apps such as the dialer and messaging above other apps. Samsung also included an office suite, Swype keyboard, social apps, and many widgets. Samsung followed this all up with plenty of updates to the operating system when necessary, and delivered them a lot more promptly than a lot of other manufacturers.

The original Galaxy S was not heavily marketed compared to any other Android device, yet it went on to sell more than 10 million devices, and won awards including the European Smartphone of the Year award from the European Imaging and Sound Association.

There should be an image here!The next major release in the Galaxy S line was the Galaxy S II. This phone carried on the legacy set by the original; Samsung maintained its reputation for fantastic screens by not only increasing the size but developing the Super AMOLED technology to a new Super AMOLED Plus standard. The screen in the Galaxy S II was the same resolution, but with an improved number of sub pixels, the display appeared brighter and sharper while improving efficiency. The device also had an improved camera, doubled storage, and RAM with a top of the line 1.2 GHz dual core processor which, itself, was created by Samsung.

The software Samsung applied to Android also had improvements. It was faster, slicker, and its colours were very pleasing to the eye. The exterior of the phone also had some major improvements. The phone was thinner, the camera had a flash, and the previously plastic glossy back was now a more up market textured plastic. With this combination of hardware, software, and the good reputation carried from the previous device, this was bound to be a great success — how great was down to the marketing of Samsung.

To start with, Samsung ran a series of commercials showing off the vivid colors of the screen, they were not terrible ads, but they certainly, in my opinion, were not as powerful as they needed to be if Samsung wanted to ever break into the iPhone’s territory. I know first hand that a lot of people still think of Android and the devices that run it as how they were a few years ago, but the truth is that things have changed drastically. Samsung needed to make people aware of this.

Later, Samsung started to roll out a series of much more significant commercials. Among some people, they were even considered controversial. Samsung directly attacked the iPhone and compared certain features directly. These commercials poked fun at people queuing for a new iPhone and showed them why the Galaxy S II (in the opinion of Samsung) was better. I do not see this more direct style of marketing as immoral in any way; it’s how a lot of businesses advertise, and how Apple itself has advertised in the past. We have all seen the famous Mac vs. Windows commercials.

The combination of the work Samsung put into this device led to more than 24 million units being sold (and counting). It was honored by Mobile World Congress’s Global Mobile Awards as “Smartphone Of The Year 2012″ And received some fantastic reviews, getting 9/10 from Engadget, which called it “possibly the best smartphone, period.”

On May 3, 2012, the Galaxy S III was finally announced with specs that put it at the very top of all mobile devices. As expected, it has a great screen, super AMOLED technology like its predecessor, but the resolution has been boosted up to 1280 x 720 and the screen size has been extended to 4.8 inches. The CPU and camera have also been upgraded, the CPU is now quad core, and the camera is the same highly rated Sony sensor that is used in Apple’s iPhone 4S.

Samsung hasn’t only done a great job with the hardware, but the software it has installed is also very impressive. This device will go into standby when it detects you are not looking at it, and the camera has plenty of features that are not included in Android by default such as HDR mode, burst mode, and social features. However, the most notable software Samsung has put into place would be S-voice, a voice command application that’s a lot like Apple’s Siri.

With all the success of the previous iterations, the announcement of the Galaxy S III was surrounded by a huge amount of hype, and rumors were going around for a long time. It was clear that Samsung had excited a lot of people with this device and they have seemed to use this wisely. Samsung has announced that there will be no variations of the device for different countries of carriers (it is worth noting that the 4G LTE version will use a different processor); this isn’t what carriers generally approve of, but in my opinion it works out better for the consumer. There is a lot less confusion, and it gives Samsung less devices to support, which means future updates to the OS should be quicker.

There should be an image here!

It’s hard to say for sure just how well the Galaxy S III will do as a lot of it will come down to marketing, and whatever competition is round the corner, but with over nine million pre-orders internationally, Samsung has had a great start.

In summary: I predict that we haven’t heard the last of this device, and we probably won’t for some time. With its astounding hardware, I’m sure it’s set to be the benchmark for smartphones for some time. It’s nice to see Samsung breaking the mold with some effective advertising and minimizing its hardware variants, but it still has a way to go. It would be great to see the company go even further and deny carriers the right to add “bloatware” to its devices.

Rumor has it that the next iPhone is right around the corner, and if it is, the S III will be the phone it has to beat. These will be the smartphones that most consumers will choose between, and Apple has got a lot to do if it wants to compete. I can’t wait to see what it has come up with!

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  • D. J.

    Once again, Apple showed that it doesn’t have to blow the Samsung Galaxy S III out of the water, because it was not announced yesterday.¬† ūüėČ

    Android devices are nice, but they do not fit my usage style.¬† I tried to Galaxy S II and was not impressed.¬† I couldn’t find an email app that displayed an email half as well as the iPhone’s native email app.¬† That camera didn’t seem to take as good of pictures as the iPhone 4.¬† Most of the apps were ad-laden, and didn’t necessarily have a non-ad version.¬† This is all of MY own opinion, because a lot of people LOVE Android devices, and I do not blame them.¬† Samsung is a pretty good company.¬† Android is just not for me.

    • Karl Newark

      I don’t disagree with you on this, even though I¬†personally¬†prefer Android.

      I like Android for a couple of reasons, one is for the hardware choice,and the other is the ability to customise, the way I look at it is that an Android phone is better for someone who wants to change and tinker with all sorts of applications and software, which is more like a hobby, to me this is similar to people who like to tune and tinker cars, the car wont necessarily do any better in a real life situation (due to speed limits etc), but its still a rewarding hobby.

      I would certainly recommend an iPhone or Windows Phone to someone who just wanted to get things done.

      • D. J.

        I do miss the widgets! That is one good thing Android had going for it.
        I found most of the new launch pads to just make the phone less reliable and had to do a factory reset to the Touchwiz interface by Samsung. I didn’t root. I didn’t want to. I have heard a lot of people get a lot of functionality from rooting.
        It is exceptional for people that love to tinker. But, as for me, I leave tinkering to computers, and my phones in a more reliable state. I haven’t had the opportunity to try a Windows Phone yet, sadly.
        How do you feel about the fragmentation and lag in update cycles amount different Android devices?

        • Karl Newark

          I Think the main problem with the fragmentation and slow release cycles is a lack of communication, I realise that when¬†Google¬†announce a new OS the manufacturers need time to develop on the source code, but the slow release cycles wouldn’t be so bad if the manufacturers would just release a list of devices and if the update will be released for the device and when it will be released for the device, if there is a reason that a particular device can not be updated, let people know!

          I have been in this position, where a manufacturer has said there will be an update, but doesn’t say when, and then some carriers get it, some have to wait for a month… this is what’s¬†ridiculous! This is the frustration that spoils Android for many people, if people knew that an update was coming on a set date, they could just mark it in their calender and look forward to it, rather than being let down but delays, cancellations and mixed messages!¬†

  • London Media Agency

    “It comes down to three things; hardware, software and marketing”. You’re a genius.¬†

    Um, what else would it come down to?

    • Karl Newark

      The reason I wrote that is because it was an introduction to how I structured the article. Thanks for the comment. 

  • Chris Harpner

    I love my SII and will be getting myself an SIII as soon as T-Mobile makes it available. ¬†I also have an iPhone 4. ¬†It sits in my pocket and is only used to respond to text messages from work. ¬†For everything else, I use my SII. ¬†The iPhone is just too bland and even though I rarely use it, it ran out of memory two days ago and there’s no option to upgrade the RAM. ¬†My S2 came with about 16GB and I can add another 32GB if I run out (which I won’t, because I’ll be upgrading to the S3 in a few days.

    I vastly prefer the Android OS over iOS and I especially love the S2 hardware and its capabilities. ¬†The one thing I like about the iPhone over my S2 is its screen resolution, but that’ll change when I get my S3, which has a higher screen res than my iPhone.

    As for “fragmentation”: ¬†That’s really just a buzzword for people that want to not like Android. ¬†The proper term is “competition” or “choice”, both of which are good and are advantages over iOS.

    Although, lack up OS updates or slow updates on certain models is a real problem in the Android community. ¬†This is usually due to custom skins the hardware makers put on top of Android, making it more effort for them to re-apply the skin to the next release of Android, so they just don’t. ¬†No good excuse for that. ¬†They should at least provide the stock Android experience as an update.

    But…. I love my S2 and will highly likely never prefer iOS unless they make some massive changes to compete with Android (read as, “to get ME to consider iOS as an option”).

    • Karl Newark

      I agree about Fragmantation, recent statistics have shown that there are many, many android devices, but what most people fail to mention is the fact that about 90% of usage is from a small number of devices, the remaining 10% are strange/obscure devices with a 001% share. 

      A lot of people would have you believe that developers have to make a different app for every device, but this generally isn’t true, a well made phone app will work on 9 out of 10 phones, and a well made tablet app will work on 9 out of 10 tablets. That 1 device that doesn’t work with the app is probably very low end, or very old.¬†

    • Michael Weiler

      in truth an update is released more often then on an iOS device so more chances for more features….the slow vendor distribution of their customized version of the current OS is annoying at best…..MOTOROLA better improve or samsung here I come :)

  • Michael Weiler

    I like my android devices…what¬†I like about the Galexy III is that it will be able to be on ALL carriers (major ones anyways)….they are not highly over priced like most apple products IMO….they allow tinkering which¬†I prefer….they keep handing me apple devices at work to use….they last about a day and then go back….nothing I need to do my daily work at a computer tech supporting 4000+ PCs.

  • FrankKenStine

    This may be the phone that GOD himself uses. Wonder what the Note will be like?

  • Thimma

    No mention of Samsung Galaxy Note, which is also doing very good.

  • Mun Jun Hyeon

    Android superphones like Galaxy S3 are great. They really are.
    But one big problem with them and the reason I still consider iPhone as better smartphone is that Android superphones have forgotten what smartphones stand for.

    A smartphone is a phone. Yes, it’s a totally different class of mobile phone. But it’s still a mobile phone. A phone that is supposed to be mobile. A phone that you carry around everyday. A phone that you carry around and use everyday every minute to connect and communicate.

    iPhone is the only smartphone in the market which is truly mobile as it really fits in almost any pocket and yet matches the performance and quality of much bigger phones.

    And I think iOS is better as a true mobile OS. A mobile OS should be much simpler than a desktop OS. Andrioid tries to do everything and ends up making itself complicated. It’s not really a mobile operating system with widgets and all sorts of things. ( with one exception of instant access to key settings. this is really useful)

    I would go for products that are carefully designed around how they are used.

  • Michael Weiler

    #1 sellign smart phone BTW AFTER the iphone 5 release!