The Samsung Galaxy S III is a slim and wonderful looking Android smartphone that focuses heavily on gestures and natural use to deliver one of the most attractive Android phones I’ve used in a long time.
It’s no secret that I’ve become a heavy iPhone user, but the Galaxy S III reminded me that Android smartphones are simply better cut out for Gmail and that Android remains far ahead of the iPhone in notifications.
Our extensive Galaxy S III review dives deep into the features of the Galaxy S III and why it is an Editor’s Choice award winner, which is recommended reading.
In this review I’ll be reviewing the Verizon Galaxy S III with an emphasis on how it compares to the iPhone 4S.
Verizon Galaxy S III | $199 | Verizon
Galaxy S III Review Guide
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Check out the Galaxy S III hands on review featuring the AT&T version, which offers a look at the same design and software elements as the Verizon Galaxy S III.
The Galaxy S III is one of the first Android phones to draw me in on looks like the iPhone 4S. Even though the Galaxy S III lacks the premium glass and metal finish of the iPhone 4S, it looks great and feels very solid while in use.
Despite almost encompassing the iPhone 4S with just the display, the Galaxy S III is not obscenely bigger than the iPhone 4S. It’s also thinner than the iPhone 4S.
Unlike the iPhone 4S I don’t feel the need to hide the Galaxy S III inside a case for protection.
The Galaxy S III’s large 4.8-inch display delivers beautiful images and is far more inviting for watching movies or the daily show than the iPhone 4S.
If anything the Galaxy S III confirms that I want a 4-inch iPhone 5, and that it’s possible to dramatically increase screen size without making a device unwieldy for one-handed operation.
The HD Super AMOLED display looks great and shows improvements over older Super AMOLED displays. The text is not as crisp as on the iPhone 4S display, but I was not disappointed with reading on the Galaxy S III.
The Verizon Galaxy S III delivers a snappy performance, even with the Samsung TouchWiz interface which has been known to slow down phones.
I remain impressed with the fluid scrolling between pages and fast response to button presses and taps. The only noticeable lag is a half second delay between pressing the physical home button and moving from the app to the home screen. The iPhone 4S is not instantaneous, but it is faster.
Below Editor Chuong Nguyen shows benchmarks from the AT&T Galaxy S III which uses the same processor.
The Verizon Galaxy S III has a 4G LTE connection which delivers speedy connections. During my testing the Galaxy S III kept a 4G LTE signal better than the Galaxy Nexus and a MiFi hotspot. Speeds are fast, though download speeds remained slower than expected. Speeds will vary with location and coverage.
The iPhone 4S only connects to 3G, which is incredibly slow in comparison, even for everyday uses like social networking and surfing the web.
4G LTE smartphones typically suffer from poor battery life, but the Galaxy S III was able to last all day with standard usage in my two weeks with the smartphone.
This consists of checking two heavily used email accounts, Twitter, Facebook and surfing the web while on a 4G LTE connection.
Heavy users may need to top up before going out in the evening, but I routinely had 10-20% of battery left when I put the phone on the charger at 11 PM after taking it off at about 8 AM.
The Galaxy S III on delivers good call quality, not as good as Motorola devices, but good overall quality on both ends of the conversation. Multiple call recipients reported good audio on their end, even while on speakerphone.
One nice touch is the software which will automatically call someone if I raise the phone to my head while in a text message conversation with them.
The Galaxy S III is still not on par with the iPhone 4S camera in terms of overall quality, but it does offer a lot of useful shooting modes and good photo quality.
The Burst Mode proved amazing for capturing great photos of our two puppies who move and look around so fast that it is tough to catch the best photos. The fast shutter speed is quick enough to reduce blur and to take about 20 photos in a matter of seconds.
The Smile mode is smart enough and fast enough to catch photos right when the subject smiles, something I need to take photos of several family members, and is smart enough to capture even the smallest smirk.
One of my favorite features is the ability to keep the screen active so long as it senses my eyes looking at it. This makes it easy to share photos or a webpage with someone without the screen timing out while they hold the Galaxy S III.
As I mentioned the ability to make calls from the text messaging app with a gesture is another small touch I really enjoy.
When it comes to an email experience, specifically Gmail, the Galaxy S III is vastly better than the iPhone 4S. I found myself checking my email more often and responding to more messages with the Galaxy S III in my pocket and enjoyed the ease of switching between my accounts without scrolling.
Android 4.0 handles notifications much better than the iPhone 4S, even running iOS 6 betas. Not only are notifications easy to dismiss with a swipe to the right or left, but they can also all be cleared in an instant by tapping clear.
I also love the integration of fast access to settings in the Notification drawer, which lets me set up WiFI, control Bluetooth, Airplane mode and more.
The app selection and quality is still tipped in the favor of the iPhone, but the difference is not nearly as dramatic as 6 months or a year ago. When it comes to apps that connect to Google services the Galaxy S III is a clear winner.
Right now is one of the best times to buy an Android smartphone, and the Galaxy S III is one of the top devices available. With great performance, natural controls, user replaceable battery, Micro SD slot, 4G LTE and great looks it is one of the best phones available on Verizon.
Users who want to hack the phone with custom ROMS and tweaks will want to look at the more expensive Verizon Galaxy S III Developer edition with an unlocked bootloader.