I’m not sure where the world is going any more. My lovely new Samsung Galaxy S III came in what I’m sure was a smaller box than the original S came in. However, the SIII is larger than the S. Oh, and the S took a SIM card, while the SIII needs a micro-SIM. Crazy right?
The larger size suits me nicely. That bit of extra screen real estate makes everything feel a bit less cramped. Though perhaps some of that comes down to the new TouchWiz interface. However, for all that the phone is larger in width and height, it’s shrunk in depth. Surprisingly, it still feels as solid as the original S.
For all that I loved the original S, Samsung really screwed up in that it became slow and lagged very quickly once you started loading applications onto it. Some applications that used a lot of storage (like RSS readers) just couldn’t cope and would end up usually Force Closing. In order to get around this all kinds of Lag Fixes were released that minimised the problem.
It looks like Samsung have finally fixed that issue (which I’m told was also in the SII), and with a Quad Core the SIII is really, really fast. Everything flows smoothly, everything loads quickly. I’ve restored most of the apps that I had on the S and the SIII hasn’t missed a beat; it’s still as fast and smooth as when I first turned it on. This makes me very happy.
The new interface is ‘cleaner’ than the old one. I think there are three parts to this. Firstly, the whole screen seems ‘sharper’ than the S, so I’m guessing the contrast is better. Secondly, as I said earlier, there is extra screen real-estate. Lastly the new graphical style appears to be more ‘square’ and less ‘soft and rounded’. I think it’s a matter of opinion, but I find this move to ‘clean and square’ kind of dull, even though it does seem to open up the screen.
There’s one improvement I’m glad they’ve made to the home screen. On the S you started on the leftmost screen and could swipe through to the rightmost. So that really meant if you had 3 screens of information you had to flick across two screens. Now, you can swipe left or right, and the screens ‘loop around’ so you go from the seventh to the first. This means two screens are always within ‘one swipe’ range and it’s not a lot of effort to get from the last to the first. The SIII also remembers which screen you were on, and doesn’t always default to the first.
They keyboard is one area that I really don’t like about the new interface. While, with a bit of exploring of options, you can get back to the swipe (Swype in the S) idea, it’s changed somewhat radically.
Firstly, you can no longer select a word to bring up a list of alternative words. You have to select from a list while entering the word in the first place. Secondly, while each key used to have two symbols on it, the main symbol (entered by a tap) and a secondary one (entered by tapping and holding), now those secondary ones are gone. They’ve also taken away some of the more commonly used symbols (comma, for example) from the main keyboard, and you have to hit the symbol button to get to it. The exception to this is the numbers which are now arranged along the top, rather than in a numeric keypad style. I’m now searching for alternatives – either in options or as a downloadable keyboard – as this is currently too clunky for me to use.
There are now two lights which are a welcome addition. The first is a light that can either be a flash for the rear camera, or a ‘torch’ – complete with an “Assistive light” widget. The flash was sorely missed by me in the S. I was able to work around it, but I think I’ll be happier having this option.
The second light is a multicolour LED on the front. So far it appears to have three colours: Red – charging; Green – charged; Blue – you have unread messages. It may do more, but that’s all I’ve found in my digging so far. The Blue one is definitely something I like, as I often don’t realise I’ve missed messages (or calls).
In the few days I’ve had it, battery life seems better than the S, though I almost always have it plugged into the USB on my desk when I’m at work, so it hasn’t had a lot of time for me to judge properly.
Overall, I’m very happy with the SIII, with the only real niggle being the keyboard. Sometime soon I’ll write about how much fun it wasn’t to move everything from the S to the SIII.