I had just started at Dimension Data in 2010 when Marius Vorster, a colleague at the time, introduced to me to the Sony Ericsson X10 Xperia Mini. It was my first experience with an Android phone and I have to say that I was very impressed. So much so that I immediately got myself one.
At that point in time Android had been around for a while, but I don’t think it was quite mainstream yet. The biggest smartphone players were Apple & especially Blackberry in South Africa. For instance, most of my friends had Blackberries and scoffed at the idea of Android (aka Google) phones. But having seen where Android was headed I thought that Blackberry and even Apple would struggle to hold off the Google OS.
While there were certain things that I loved about the Xperia Mini, it soon became apparent that it was underpowered and the screen was too small to really be able to use comfortably. So for me the Android OS was a definite yes, but the phone I got was not quite as good.
With this in mind and the fact that I am a technically inclined person I keenly followed the Android evolution that was occurring and indeed taking over the smartphone world. I must say that I didn’t expect Samsung to be the hardware manufacturer to steal the Android market in a manner of speaking in the way that they did. But they did; big time. Their Samsung Galaxy S2 was released and became the best selling phone model of all time; selling 27 million units in one quarter (compared to 17 million iPhone 4s units in the same period)! I advised everyone that was in the market for a new phone to get the Galaxy S2 – although frustratingly many people still ignored my advice and got Blackberries.
And now, very timeously, Samsung has released the next version of the Galaxy – the S3. I say “very timeously” because my contract has just expired and fortunately for me it gave me the opportunity to upgrade to this phone without having to “manipulate” my contract at all.
I have now had the phone for 5 days and I have to say that this phone is phenomenal! It just blows me away. Broadly speaking, the phone impresses as follows:
- The phone is very powerful. In 5 days of trying everything on the phone, I have yet to encounter any type of lag whatsoever. Even HD video plays instantly.
- The screen is a thing of beauty. It looks very crisp and sharp and the colours are well saturated (but not too much as I’ve heard the previous model was). The touch-screen functionality is miles better than the previous phone I had.
- The cameras. I am a wannabe serious photographer (I photograph with a Nikon DSLR) and phone cameras have never impressed me simply because they can’t really compete with a real camera. However this camera (the primary one) exceeds my expectations. Photos or videos taken with this camera are brilliant. The one question I have is that especially the videos look much better on the S3 than on a laptop. Hardware-wise the quality of photos and especially videos are the best thing to show off on this phone! The quality of the camera for the first time now makes me feel that I don’t always have to have my DSLR with me. For a wannabe photographer like me this is a big deal!
- Battery Life is still an issue, but this is a sector-wide problem. And it is not a problem if one manages it. But the days of not having to charge your phone for 6 days are over for the foreseeable future.
- Storage. For me this is a big win over Apple’s iPhone’s non-transparent pricing model. Apple’s pricing just pisses me off in the same way that Windows’s pricing does. With this phone you decide on the storage space you need by simply using a bigger or smaller SD card. Although having said that, the phone comes standard with a 32GB drive which is plenty.
- A lot of reviewers complain about Samsung’s TouchWiz undermining Android ICS on this phone. I hear what they’re saying but to me it isn’t much of an issue. I honestly don’t notice it; although in principle I dislike the principle.
- ICS is a massive improvement over the previous versions of Android. It is just a much more rounded product. Usability is much better on all fronts. It is to be expected as an OS evolves and user requirements are better understood.
- Resource Management on ICS. I have to mention this specifically. On my previous it was a tedious process to manage Wifi, Mobile Data usage and GPS usage. On this OS it is so easy.
- Google/Android photo management. The instant upload is brilliant. It sometimes still catches me unawares. I would like to see a differentiation between photos and videos though. I love the instant upload on photos but on videos the bandwidth is a problem. For instance I took a 60 second HD video of a kids birthday party ad the size; 210MB!
- Google+. To make full use of Android you really must have a Google+ account. Google+ is Google social networking platform and it isn’t quite Facebook (yet), but it is very good. In fact, I like the underlying architecture of Google+ more than Facebook and with its Android integration I think it will be as big as Facebook one day.
Apps, the fun part. Some of the Apps available will simply blow your mind. Many (probably most) are just for fun. Plenty of games. Social networking and much much more. One of the apps that I would say one really must install (even more so if you use more than one language like I do – Afrikaans and English) is the SwiftKey X keyboard app. It is a much better keyboard than the default keyboard. In fact, I won’t be surprised if Google (or someone else like Apple) buy the developers of this software.
So in conclusion, I think this phone is the best Smartphone up to date. It easily beats the iPhone 4s. Although I’m pretty certain that the next version of the iPhone (due for release in October) will catch-up and quite possibly surpass this phone. For me the Google integration – in terms of Android, but their services like Maps and the rest as well – make Android devices more of an option than an Apple device.
I can’t recommend this remarkable bundle of technology enough – even despite the cost.