Sunday, May 6, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S3 review: Media, messaging and contacts

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is designed for media – which is what you'd expect from a phone that's the sequel to the phone we dubbed the best out there for media on the go.

The video player is obviously taking centre stage here on the Galaxy S3, and Samsung has increased the codec support to the point where you'll struggle to find formats that won't play on it – although we're sure we could find some.

 

It's an understandably good experience, with the screen veritably shining with quality contrast ratios and decent colour reproduction.




The navigation experience is easy as well, and slipping up and down the timeline to move through a video seems very intuitive.

 

A cool-but-slightly-pointless feature has been added here, called Pop Up Play. Simply put, it allows you to watch video as well as perform other tasks by pressing an icon in the corner of the video.




You can then move the video wherever you want on the screen, and is, as Samsung puts it, 'true multitasking'. We can't really see a use for it, but it does demonstrate the power of the Exynos processor underneath.

 

AllShare Cast is included as well, powering up the ability to stream to and from other devices. In addition to being able to send content from the phone to a TV and receive from a PC in your home network, you can also do this remotely now, as long as the device is turned on obviously.

So how does it look next to the S2? See the specs compared side-by-side in this video:
   

Another feature is mirroring, where you can send whatever is on the screen of your Galaxy S3 and have it show on a larger display. Samsung has promised that this will be good enough to use your phone as a game controller, essentially turning the S3 into a console.
It's a lofty claim, and one we've seen be made other times and not live up to the hype – but we're excited to try it out.

Samsung has managed to push ahead of the pack when it comes to internal storage too – it will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB flavours plus up to 64GB through a microSD card as well. That's more storage than most will ever need on its own, right?

 

Well, with a snook thoroughly cocked at HTC, users will also get 50GB of Dropbox storage to play with as well, meaning you can keep pretty much any photo or video uploaded to the cloud.

We'll be surprised if any other manufacturer can match that prowess, and will be a big selling feature for the phone.

Messaging and contacts

 When it comes to today's smartphones, it's often easy to forget they're phones as well as all-singing mini-tablets too – but it doesn't look like this has been forgotten here.

 

It's much the same as the Galaxy S2 when it comes to the S3's messaging and contact management capabilities, but that's no bad thing. For instance, you can link a person's Facebook and Google+ account to the phonebook entry – which might not sound very special, we grant you.

But the S3 will then learn what that person looks like, and use it to tag them in any photos you take automatically – plus give you the option to post them to their Facebook page too.

Whether that works in real use is up for debate – it sounds like some pretty clever algorithms would have to be in place to achieve it, but if it can work it will be a real nifty idea.

 

 The messaging keyboard is nothing special, but we did note that the accuracy on the larger screen seemed to be a little better than before. However, the bouncy auto-correct was still present, meaning some customisation will be needed if you're one of those that constantly mis-types words.

Messaging and calling have been mashed together better than ever before on the Galaxy S3 – the 'raise to call' feature means if you read a text from a buddy and want to call them, all you need to do is put the phone to your ear while their missive is on the screen.

It's not that spectacular – but it works well and will really help users save time messing around with menus.

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