This is a sponsored post written by me on the behalf of T-Mobile. All opinions are 100% my own.
Android has come quite a long way since it first entered the tech scene in late 2008. For starters, it has become considerably more polished as it evolved from a relatively simple mobile platform to the powerful (and flexible) multipurpose operating system it is today. Tablets, smartphones, and even media devices can all be operated from this single OS — and with ongoing initiatives aimed at improving user experience, the platform is only getting better.
So, when T-Mobile made it possible for me to try the Samsung Galaxy S III, I jumped at the chance. I’ve owned Android devices in the past, and always felt that the right hardware would help the software experience really shine. This has certainly been the case with this, the latest Android device from Samsung. Running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), there isn’t much about this phone that doesn’t bring out the best the platform has to offer.
In the Box
Upon opening the box, I couldn’t help but notice just how large the phone looks from the front. The 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED screen has quite a presence to it, and it became immediately clear why this device is being promoted as an excellent content consumption device, and not just your standard smartphone for checking email and listening to music.
Also in the box is a microUSB cable, AC adapter, earbud headphones, 2100mAh lithium ion battery, quick reference guide, and warranty information. The earbuds aren’t bad, and the soft grips on them make them more comfortable than many other earbuds typically paired with smartphones.
Getting the phone ready for use is pretty simple. A fingernail latch allows you to take the back panel off and insert the SIM card, battery, and a microSD card for additional storage. The device itself is powered on with a single power switch located along the right side, about where you might place your thumb if using the phone right-handed. This button doubles as a silent mode toggle, reset, and airplane mode option.
You can also set up Wi-Fi Calling, a feature offered by T-Mobile that enables you to use your Wi-Fi connection to make calls instead of the cellular network. This would come in handy if you have a weak signal in your home or office, and want to make a call. It also doesn’t take from your plan minutes, which is a great advantage if you’re on a limited plan or have a lot of calls to make in a given month.
Pretty much everything else is automatic. You can sign in to your Google account to retrieve apps and/or settings that you already have stored from other Android devices, or start a new profile within your account. Because Android enables you to customize what appears on your home screen(s), you can spend a little time setting up your various widgets and app icons the way you like it.
Performance and Hardware
Android ICS is really zippy with the Galaxy S III. Flipping through pages, loading apps, and navigating the interface is snappier than it is in other Android devices I’ve used. This should translate to an almost flawless experience once it receives the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update that is bound to come out relatively soon.
The Samsung Galaxy S III has a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor on-board with 2 GB of RAM and 16/32 (optional) storage. This makes it one of (if not the) most powerful Android devices on the market today. It shows in how well it navigates and handles applications.
The 8 megapixel camera and 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera are both incredibly good. Taking photos with the primary camera is easy with the camera app, and photos snap very quickly. A burst feature allows you to take a series of shots and select the one that looks the best to you. This is a great feature.
The 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED screen is bright and vibrant. At 720p, playback of HD video is crisp and smooth. Videos shot with the back-facing camera in 1080p also look remarkably good on the larger screen. The size of the screen does take a little getting used to if you’re switching from a smaller smartphone such as the iPhone, but this is a fairly minor shift. When compared to the only slightly smaller Galaxy Nexus (also made by Samsung in cooperation with Google) it’s hard to feel a difference in your hands as far as size is concerned.
There is a noticeable difference in build quality between the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy S III. The Galaxy Nexus has a somewhat fragile back plate that might have you worried should you drop it. The clips holding it on are very small, and the frame feels as though it’s a softer plastic than what I’m used to with Samsung’s previous Galaxy models. When looking at the Galaxy S III, the plastic (though still more apparent than previous Galaxy models) is smoother and it feels a bit more solid as you hold the device. This is a welcome difference.
The addition of a hardware home button is welcome to users the prefer something in hardware over a software key that can be easily touched by accident as you navigate through applications. That said, this depends entirely on personal preference.
The Samsung Galaxy S III is a great smartphone, and could arguably be the biggest and best option out there for anyone who has been considering switching to Android. While it may receive the Jelly Bean update after the Galaxy Nexus, the additional features made possible by Samsung’s innovative efforts may certainly be well worth the wait. ICS runs great on the Samsung Galaxy S III, and it does pretty much everything you might expect a smartphone at the top of its class to do.
T-Mobile has some great plans out there for the budget-conscious smartphone users who don’t want to sacrifice speed or options. Between now and August 1st, T-Mobile is giving our readers the opportunity to qualify for a free T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S III through its Spin to Win campaign. Terms and conditions apply.