Samsung Galaxy S3: The Hype And My Thoughts

The Samsung Galaxy S3 (also known as the Galaxy SIII) is said to be the best and most powerful smartphone on the market.  Unless you’ve been under a rock, behind a tree or maybe somewhere in the back-woods of New Zealand you will be more than aware of the ongoing battle between Apple and Samsung.  The battle though isn’t limited to high paid lawyers and courtrooms, it’s alive and kicking amongst people like you and I; those who use the products.

The fight has gone through numerous evolutions.  iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S2, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Tab… the only constant seems to be that Apple and Samsung both claim to have truly incredible products.  My experiences with the iPhone have left me with a frustrated taste in my mouth, so I have to ask myself…

Is the Samsung Galaxy S3 worthy of all the hype it gets?

My first smartphone was a Blackberry Bold 9000.  When we upgraded 18 months ago we got the Apple iPhone 4 and while the hardware and technology was a massive step forward from the Bold, the heavy limitations Apple put on their products was a constant thorn in my side.  iOS6 and its well publicised issues were the final straw.  The iPhone had to go, and what better to upgrade to than a shiny new “Pebble Blue” Galaxy S3.

First Thoughts:

blue-s301

Despite its large size, this is one of the most comfortable phones i’ve held.  The ergo edges are tireless on the hands and it’s such a light weight that you hardly feel like you’re holding a phone.  The screen is vibrant… and the colours “pop” better than anything else i’ve seen (and yes, that includes the iPhone 5).  But the biggest first thought.. it’s fast.  I mean, it’s real fast and has such a smooth fluid movement that everything is so effortless.  It’s driven by a Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A9 processor with 1GB of RAM meaning you’re not going to have any problems with speed on this handset.  The OS is Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

To top off the processor, the Galaxy S3 boasts a massive 4.8 inch Super AMOLED HD (high definition) screen that delivers incredible depth of colours.

Using It:

Taking into mind that i’ve come from an iPhone 4 to the S3, there is a massive upgrade in technology involved for a users point of view.  The S3 really has it all, and if it doesn’t there is probably an App that can make it happen.  Standard features such as S-Beam allowing you to instantly send files to other S3 users, FM Radio tuner, 8MP Camera and Google Maps (yes, Google… Apple users may remember those great maps) are just the start with the Galaxy S3. 

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Everything seems so well connected on this phone.  With as little as a click you can take a photo and then send it / use it on almost any App on the phone.  I’ve not had that kind of flexibility with applications since my days on the Blackberry.  The notifications screen isn’t just there to tell you what’s new on your phone, it also contains instant access to common system settings such as Wifi, Blue Tooth, Audio, GPS, Power Saving and more.

And hey, if you want to stand around looking like a fool talking to your phone you can even play with S-Voice.  Apple users will surely love that feature.

Apps aside, it’s the customisation ability of the phone that really has me sold.  You control what your home screens display.  Whether you want widgets, app icons, or maybe just your full schedule you can do it, and then some.  You control the number of home screen (slides) you have on the phone, and what they contain.  Take a look at the image to the right to see what i mean about blending widgets, and icons.

What About Apps?

In case you’re wondering, there IS an place to get your apps – it’s called Google Play and much like the Apple App Store, its easy to use and contains apps that have been approved by Google.  Accessing it can be done by both phone or browser.

App availability is quite incredible and i’ve been blown away by the number of applications that you can install and more importantly, the number of developers who have started to really push Android app development.  Zynga are a prime example of a company who are making a push to ensure Android apps are available at the same time as other platforms.

Final Thoughts:

Has my experience with the iPhone made me a little biased?  Yes, absolutely and I make no apologies for that.  But mark my words, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is truly a smartphone worthy of the hype it receives.  Not only does it reach expectations, it surpasses them and leaves you with a smile on your face. 

Samsung have created a truly magnificent product here, and I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anybody looking to upgrade or replace their mobile phone.

Other great reviews of the S3:

Trusted Reviews: Galaxy S3 tops iPhone 5 as UKs prefered Smartphone
Tech Radar: Galaxy S3 Review

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Pass or Fail: Apple Releases Disappointing IOS6 Update

There has been anticipation of Apples realease of IOS6 for some times, and yesterday the world got their chance to grab the latest update. Sadly, the update was not worth the hype it was given.

applemapsThe biggest changes were the exclusion of a native YouTube app (owned by Google) and the replacement of Google Maps with an Apple owned native App.  We are all aware of the “war” going on between Apple and Google over the operating systems, but to drop the worlds #1 and most used Maps and Video Sharing systems is downright stupid on Apples part.

This topic has been hot in the blogosphere over the last day or so, as can be read about on “the verve“, “NY Times” and “Marketwatch“.

Those who updated their devices and tested the maps have found it lacking in every aspect.  There are entire streets missing in some areas and the “fancy” improvements (as Apple would refer to them) such as fly overs and turn by turn navigation are only good if you have a 4S or 5 product, so they have once again left the 3 and 4 users out in the cold.  Those users with the TomTom app on their earlier devices would argue that it has nothing to do with the devices not being fast enough either, it’s simply Apple’s business plan – upgrade your device or be screwed over left behind.

Those users of YouTube will be very pleased with the App that Google created recently that in my opinion is better than the native app that came on the earlier IOS releases.  There is also talk that Google have created a Google Maps app and are awaiting approval from Apple, so the question is whether Apple will do right by their users and approve it, or risk upsetting them en mass.

Then again, history shows that Apple don’t need to go out of their way to satisfy users, as the vast majority will blindly follow them regardless of how good or bad a product they release.

Pass or Fail?

An absolute fail!  The update may be an improvement in the eyes of Apple execs, but to this iPhone user it is a massive step backwards.  Personally as soon as I can i’ll be dropping my iPhone and replacing it with an Android system.

Other stories about the IOS6 Update:

BBC News – New Apple maps app under fire from users
PC Mag – 6 Ways Google Maps beats Apple Maps

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Goodbye Blackberry, Hello iPhone: First Thoughts, Feelings & Gripes

Ok so the long anticipated wait is over. Last week we got the phone call that offered us an upgrade on our old phones (Blackberry Bold 9000), so we opted to get the shiny Apple iPhone 4.

iphone4-250As you can imagine, going from the Blackberry, which is very straight forward, almost business like to the iPhone, which can best be described as “ooohhh it’s shiny and does fancy stuff” was quite the learning curve. But learn we did, as learn we must… and for the most part, I am very pleased.

But as with everything, there are a few gripes.

Custom Text Tones

For a start, why the hell can’t I add a custom ring tone for my text and / or sms messages? This is a stock standard feature on almost every single phone out there, including $30 cheapie phones from the servo, so i am confused why Apple don’t offer this? It is annoying, especially as my wife and I both had custom text alerts on our old phones. Bad form Apple, very bad form.

Better Push Mail Service

Ok, so I was spoiled on the Blackberry, who have the best email system of any Smart Phone availble, but i just wish the iPhone email program would allow me to auto-check for new mail a lot more often than 15 minutes. I can do it manually, of course, and do so, but the auto every 5 minutes like I had on the Bold was very efficient and handy to have. Just saying.

Viewing Photos Then Sending To FB, Twitter etc.

Not sure if this is a gripe, or if we were just lucky on the old phones, but is there a way to view a photo you’ve taken and from that photo screen send direct to Facebook, Twitter etc? Or do we have to add the photos from inside the other apps themselves?

iTunes

Yes, I know, you get an iPhone you get stuck with iTunes. I knew that before I got it, and I know that now. Not griping, just saying what you all expected me to say.

Now, on to the GOOD parts!

This phone is so slick to use. Super fast interface, killer apps store and the most intuitive touch keyboard I have ever used. I have heard horror stories about Auto correct issues (take a look at http://damnyouautocorrect.com for some great laughs) but so far have found the touch keyboard to be incredibly accurate.

I used to think the Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare apps on the Blackberry were great, but on the iPhone they are a whole new level. More features, more speed and much more usable, it makes the entire “using” aspect of the phone simply better.

The camera is spectacular, and the video camera is outstanding. High Def video, tap to auto-focus, the whole package is great quality.

Angry Birds. You know, I had to mention this. I’ve played this game on friends iPhones and iPads lately and really do see why it gets all the mentions it does. So, consider this another mention out there in cyberspace.

I guess all-in-all, I am very pleased with the switch. It’s all a learning curve, and eventually things like the email, tones etc simply wont bother me anymore. So kudos Apple, the phone is great and so far, I am very pleased.

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The Torch Dreams Extinguished: Making The Jump To iPhone4

As many of you know from my earlier post on this issue, I have always been a fan of the Blackberry smartphones. My current phone, an older Blackberry Bold 9000 is up for contract renewal soon so i’m naturally going to need to upgrade my phone to a newer model.

Apple iPhone Version 4I was going to get the new Blackberry Torch 9800 – the latest smartphone from RIM. The Torch is a smooth looking full touchscreen phone with a slider that gives access to the full qwerty keyboard that Blackberry users have come to love. Notice I said “was”.

I have been doing some pretty intense research into the Torch and the other option I am looking at; the Apple iPhone4 and much to my own shock… the iPhone has stolen my heart, converted my soul and robbed me of all interest in the Torch.

Trust me… this is something I thought would NEVER happen.

So I guess you’re wondering what the iPhone did that is so amazing to get me to want to swap? In truth, it wasn’t the iPhone that did it, but rather the time I spent using the Torch at a Telstra store the other day. The Torch looks awesome and has great features, but it doesn’t have the polished finish of the iPhone. The chip that runs the phone is slower than the iPhone and the OS isn’t as smooth and seamless. The iPhone4 absolutely wreaks of a company that has experience and history driving it’s design team. It’s a well crafted phone with all the features you want and need. Oh, and it’s packed in a system run by a faster processor.

RIM Blackberry Torch 9800

Battery life between the 2 is said to be very similar, although from my own research I have found most people find the iPhone4 has MUCH better battery life. Social Networking and Media is designed into the new Torch and it has the incredible universal search, but Apple again, have experience. We all know Apple mastered the MP3 technology a long time back with the iPod, so you know the media technology in the iPhone will be exceptional. Social Networking apps on the iPhone are as good as or better than what the Torch offer.

The Blackberry Torch 9800 does have two things the iPhone can not compete with. First is the unlimited internet via the Blackberry Internet Service (BIS). Truly unlimited data when using the BIS browser and most apps, and of course the Blackberry Messenger is second to none on communications between RIM users. The second thing is the the “push” technology that RIM uses to deliver the email system on the Blackberry.

Unfortunately, while the BIS and Push technology are HUGE reasons I love my Bold 9000, when forced to choose between the 2, my heart takes a giant leap towards the smoother designed Apple iPhone 4.

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