Essay Galaxy S3

The Tab S3 is a direct shot from Samsung at Apple’s latest iPad Pro. On description alone, the two match up beat for beat: they have 9.7-inch, high-resolution displays (both 2048 x 1536), nearly top-of-the-line processors, 32GB of internal storage, fingerprint sensors, four speakers, measure 0.24 inches deep at their thickest, weigh just shy of one pound, sell for $599, and support both a stylus and keyboard case.

That means that, like the iPad Pro, the Tab S3 is pitched as more than just a tablet. It’s good for laying in bed and watching Netflix, of course, but it’s also supposed to be great for bringing to the coffee shop, propping up on a tray table, or firing off a quick email while you’re on the go. That’s a much more challenging task. And it’s one that, combined with the full $730 asking price for this tablet and its keyboard case (sold separately), Samsung has a fairly challenging bar to meet.

But first, let’s talk about the Tab S3 as merely a tablet, because that’s where it shines the most. On hardware alone, this is a really nice device. It’s thin and light. The back has a seamless design that looks like some futuristic sheet of paper. And while the front is plain, it’s the AMOLED display at the center of this thing that you're here for: it’s sharp, vibrant, and gets bright enough to hurt.

I’ve found the tablet’s performance to be quite good, too. The Tab S3 was able to run casual games like Candy Crush Saga and Subway Surfers without issue, and I was able to pull up two apps at once without seeing either start to lag (though there are other problems with multitasking, which I’ll get to later). I’ve only had the tablet for a week, and performance may deteriorate with time. But I’m not seeing any immediate cause for concern, and the tablet’s relatively modern specs should keep it running smoothly for a while.

One of the Tab S3’s weaker points is its cameras. Both the front and rear cameras on the Tab S3 are a functional but muddy mess — pretty much every photo I’ve taken looks like it's been softened and smudged. It’s kind of surprising given how nice some of Samsung’s recent smartphone cameras have been. These’ll do for video chatting, but that’s it.

The bigger disappointment for me was the tablet’s four speakers. The speakers are located on the top and bottom of the tablet, so when you position it in landscape to watch a YouTube video or a movie on Netflix, all the audio gets blasted way out to the left and right of you. In some cases, this creates a really exaggerated stereo effect, where it can sound like people are only talking out of one side of the tablet, and in the worst cases, well off to the side of where they ought to be.

The speakers get plenty loud, and the issue isn’t always that noticeable — during a fight sequence in Captain America: Civil War, the effect almost came off as immersive — but films’ quieter sequences and, really, most YouTube clips I’ve watched have been kind of annoying to listen to. The fact that the speakers are directed to the side of you is clearly part of the reason this is happening, but I also suspect that Samsung is being too aggressive in the way it splits up audio channels, resulting in sounds that should be coming from a center channel ending up shifted way off to the side.

One of Samsung’s big differentiators for years now has been its styluses. A stylus is included in the box with the Tab S3 (which is notable, since Apple’s Pencil costs an extra $99), though you’ll need to buy a case to find a place to store it — unlike the Note line, there’s no slot to slip this S Pen into when you’re not using it. But, fair enough. This is a full-size stylus and not one of those short, skinny ones that comes with Samsung’s Chromebooksand phones.

The stylus is one of the best things the Tab S3 has going for it. I’m not usually a huge fan of them, but Samsung has integrated the S Pen into Android enough that it feels like a natural extension of the tablet, rather than some grafted-on poking device. You can use the S Pen just for navigating around the operating system and tapping through apps — which is nicer than it sounds, especially when you have the tablet propped up in Samsung’s keyboard case. Or you can use it for drawing and note taking.

I’m not much of an illustrator, so I can’t say how well the S Pen works for drawing (my guess is: fine for sketching, not so good for anything detailed), but it’s great for jotting down notes and making goofy doodles to send people. Samsung has some fun and useful features built in to help with this, including an option to mark up screenshots, automatically pull people or objects out of images, and create GIFs by dragging a box over a video that’s playing.

Samsung has been doing styluses long enough to really nail the correct feeling when using one. The S Pen’s tip has the perfect balance between gripping the tablet’s screen when you want to touch something and gliding over it when you want to write. It makes note taking far more pleasant than on other tablets — though, a word of warning, it only goes so far to improve already-illegible handwriting like my own.

The Tab S3’s keyboard case sells for an extra $129.99, but you’re really not getting the full experience of this tablet without it. The case makes the tablet a little more heavy and a lot more ugly, and it picked up smudges quickly; but it works well as a case, a pen holster, and a stand for the tablet.

As far as the actual keyboard goes, I’m not as much of a fan. While I’ve been able to type this entire review on the Tab S3’s keyboard case, I have to tell you that my hands are feeling a little cramped and uncomfortable at this point. This is only a 9.7-inch device, after all, and it can’t fit the kind of keyboard we expect from a 13-inch laptop.

It’s too bad. Samsung made a mostly good keyboard here, but it’s largely held back by its size. The keys have great travel and are easy to type on — they make a nice, soft clicky sound, too, which I see as a bonus — and after several days of use, I don’t even make all that many typos. But the keys are just too close together to be comfortable unless you have particularly small hands. And honestly, it’s starting to hurt.

Samsung doesn’t do itself any favors with some strange key and shortcut placements, either. There’s a search key right next to the Control key, which has made me accidentally call up Now on Tap every other time I try to italicize something. And for some reason, you can’t hold Shift at the same time that you press the space bar, which it turns out is a thing I do pretty often. Samsung seems to have mapped this to be a shortcut for switching languages, which is frustrating, since the keyboard also has a dedicated language key.

Samsung’s keyboard case would be perfectly fine for limited use: writing an email, responding to tweets, filling out a spreadsheet. But all of those things can be done just fine with an on-screen keyboard, too. And I have to wonder, if you’re writing something longer, why you wouldn’t just switch to a laptop.

Because the real frustration of this tablet is just how close it gets to a "real" computing experience, and just how far away the gap still is. Even though Android still doesn’t have the tablet app selection that iOS does, I was able to run basically everything I needed to on the Tab S3, including work apps like Trello and Slack to more powerful sketching apps like Adobe Draw. I was able to keep up two apps at once. And I was able to research and publish articles to this website without major issue.

But unfortunately, multitasking is still far from elegant, and it's what separates this device the most from a "real" computer. One issue I ran into immediately: even though Slack supports multitasking, the app only pulled in new messages when I was engaged with it; if I tapped on the other app I was running alongside it, Slack would sit idle and refuse to show new messages that were added to the conversation until I tapped on it. That made it impossible for me to write an article and keep up with our busy newsroom chats at the same time.

Other apps just don’t play nice with multitasking yet. Facebook’s app, for some reason, falls to pieces when you try to run it in split-screen. And others, like Instagram, Dark Sky, Snapchat, and Uber, don’t support landscape layout at all, let alone multitasking. (In fairness to those developers, Google hasn’t made Android’s initial setup screen work in landscape mode either, which makes for an unpleasant introduction to a new tablet.)

Even when split-screen works, it still feels clear that you’re trapped in something that’s not quite a computer. Basics like copy and paste are still designed for a keyboard and mouse more than a touchscreen and stylus — why do I still have to drag tiny little markers around each character I want to highlight instead of being able to drag the S Pen around something and have it magically carry over to another app? Samsung has some features that begin to get at this, but they don’t work with much consistency.

That all leaves the Tab S3 in a pretty awkward position. It’s a good tablet, but the iPad Pro is a slightly better one, particularly thanks to its app ecosystem. And while the Tab S3 is a decent little laptop replacement, it’s nearly twice the price of a Chromebook — say, this one made by Samsung — that can do all the same things while being more comfortable to type on.

So that puts the Tab S3 in the same place that tablets have always been: stuck awkwardly in between. Good at a lot of things, but great at few.

If you want a tablet, this is a good one. But if the goal of making tablets more like laptops was to make them more useful, the Tab S3 doesn’t meaningfully get there. As the best tablets have always been, the Tab S3 is a good tablet and nothing more.

Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Good Stuff:

  • Tight stylus integration
  • Bright, vibrant screen
  • Super small and light

Bad Stuff:

  • Keyboard is cramped
  • Multitasking is still limited
  • Photos look like 2000s webcam images

Galaxy S III in white

ManufacturerSamsung Electronics
Slogan"Designed for humans, inspired by nature"[1][2]
SeriesGalaxy S
Compatible networks

2GGSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz[3]
3GUMTS/CDMA2000/HSPA+: 850, 900, 1700, 1800 (Korean Pcs LG U+), 1900, 2100 MHz[3]

4GLTE: 700, 800, 850, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2500, 2600 MHz
TD-SCDMA (China Mobile Variant)
First releasedMay 29, 2012; 5 years ago (2012-05-29)
Availability by country145 countries (July 2012)
Units sold9 million orders before release; 70 million total (as of 2015)[5]
PredecessorSamsung Galaxy S II
SuccessorSamsung Galaxy S4
RelatedSamsung Galaxy Note II
Samsung Galaxy S III Neo
Samsung Galaxy S III Mini
Samsung ATIV S
Form factorSlate
Dimensions136.6 mm (5.38 in) H
70.6 mm (2.78 in) W
8.6 mm (0.34 in) (9.0 mm (0.35 in) on S. Korea model) D[6][7]
Weight133 g (4.69 oz)
Operating system

Original:Android4.0.4 "Ice Cream Sandwich"
Current: Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean",[8]
Android 4.4 "KitKat" (2 GB RAM variants and GT-I9301I Neo only)[9]

System on chipSamsungExynos 4 Quad (GT-I9300)
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 (U.S & Canada & Japan variants)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8228 (GT-I9301I Neo)
CPU1.4 GHzquad-coreCortex-A9 (GT-I9300)
1.3 GHz dual-coreKrait (U.S. & Canada & Japan variants)
1.2 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 (GT-I9301I Neo)
GPUMali-400 MP4 (GT-I9300)
Adreno 225 (U.S. & Canada & Japan variants)
Adreno 305 (GT-I9301I Neo)
Memory1 GBRAM (international version)
2 GB RAM (LTE versions, selected markets)
1.5 GB RAM (GT-I9301I Neo)
Storage16, 32, or 64 GB flash memory
Battery2,100 mAh, 7.98 Wh, 3.8 V Li-ion
User replaceable
Data inputs

4.8 in (120 mm) HD Super AMOLED (720×1280)

Rear camera

8 megapixel

Front camera1.9 megapixels
Zero shutter lag
HD video (720p) at 30 frames/s[6]
Development statusDiscontinued
  • Int'l version:
    0.490 W/kg 1 g (head)
    1.02 W/kg 1 g (body)
    1.02 W/kg 1 g (hotspot)[13]
  • U.S. version:
    0.55 W/kg (head)
    1.49 W/kg (body)[6]

The Samsung Galaxy S III (or Galaxy S3) is a multi-touch, slate-format smartphone designed, developed, and marketed by Samsung Electronics that runs the AndroidOS by Google. Launched in 2012, it had sold about 70 million units by 2015.[5]

It has additional software features, expanded hardware, and a redesigned physique from its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S II. The "S III" employs an intelligent personal assistant (S Voice), eye-tracking ability, and increased storage. Although a wireless charging option was announced, it never came to fruition. However, there are third party kits which add support for wireless charging. Depending on country, the 4.8-inch (120 mm) smartphone comes with different processors and RAM capacity, and 4GLTE support.[14] The device was launched with Android 4.0.4 "Ice Cream Sandwich", was updated to Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean", and can be updated to Android 4.4 "KitKat" on variants with 2 GB of RAM. The phone's successor, the Samsung Galaxy S4, was announced on 14 March 2013 and was released the following month.

Following an 18-month development phase, Samsung unveiled the S III on 3 May 2012.[15] The device was released in 28 European and Middle Eastern countries on 29 May 2012, before being progressively released in other major markets in June 2012. Prior to release, 9 million pre-orders were placed by more than 100 carriers globally.[16] The S III was released by approximately 300 carriers in nearly 150 countries at the end of July 2012. More than 20 million units of the S III were sold within the first 100 days of release[17] and more than 50 million until April 2013.[18]

Because of overwhelming demand and a manufacturing problem with the blue variant of the phone,[19] there was an extensive shortage of the S III, especially in the United States. Nevertheless, the S III was well-received commercially and critically, with some technology commentators touting it as the "iPhone killer". In September 2012, TechRadar ranked it as the No. 1 handset in its constantly updated list of the 20 best mobile phones,[20] while Stuff magazine likewise ranked it at No. 1 in its list of 10 best smartphones in May 2012.[21] The handset also won the "European Mobile Phone of 2012–13" award from the European Imaging and Sound Association,[22] as well as T3 magazine's "Phone of the Year" award for 2012.[23] It played a major role in boosting Samsung's record operating profit during the second quarter of 2012.[24] As of November 2012[update], the S III is part of a high-profile lawsuit between Samsung and Apple.[25] In November 2012, research firm Strategy Analytics announced that the S III had overtaken Apple's iPhone 4S to become the world's best-selling smartphone model in Q3 2012.[26]

In April 2014, following the release of its new flagship, the Galaxy S5, Samsung released a refreshed version called the "Galaxy S3 Neo", which has a quad-coreSnapdragon 400 processor clocked either at 1.2 or 1.4 GHz. It has 1.5 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage and ships with Android 4.4.4 "KitKat".


Design work on the S III started in late 2010 under the supervision of Chang Dong-hoon, Samsung's Vice President and Head of the Design Group of Samsung Electronics. From the start, the design group concentrated on a trend which Samsung dubs "organic", which suggests that a prospective design should reflect natural elements such as the flow of water and wind.[27] Some of the results of this design were the curved outline of the phone and its home screen's "Water Lux" effect, where taps and slides produce water ripples.[27]

Throughout the eighteen-month design process, Samsung implemented stringent security measures and procedures to maintain secrecy of the eventual design until its launch. Designers worked on three prototypes concurrently while regarding each of them as the final product. Doing so required a constant duplication of effort, as they had to repeat the same process for all three prototypes.[28][29] The prototypes, of which taking photos was forbidden, were locked in a separate laboratory, accessible only by core designers. They were transported by trusted company employees, instead of third-party couriers.[29][30] "Because we were only permitted to see the products and others weren't," explained Principal Engineer Lee Byung-Joon, "we couldn't send pictures or drawings. We had to explain the Galaxy S III with all sorts of words."[31] Despite such security measures, specifications of one of the three units were leaked by Vietnamese Web site Tinhte, although it was not the selected design.[32][33]

Speculation in the general public and media outlets regarding the handset's specifications began gathering momentum several months before its formal unveiling in May 2012. In February 2012, prior to the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, there were rumors that the handset would incorporate a 1.5 GHzquad-core processor, a display of 1080p (1080×1920 pixels) resolution, a 12-megapixel rear camera and a HD Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen.[34][35] More accurate rumored specifications included 2 GB of RAM, 64 GB of internal storage, 4GLTE, a 4.8-inch (120 mm) screen, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 9-millimetre (0.35 in) thick chassis.[34][35] Samsung confirmed the existence of the Galaxy S II's successor on 5 March 2012, but it was not until late April 2012 that Samsung's Senior Vice-President Robert Yi confirmed the phone to be called "Samsung Galaxy S III".[36][37]

After inviting reporters in mid-April, Samsung launched the Galaxy S III during the Samsung Mobile Unpacked 2012 event at Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London, United Kingdom, on 3 May 2012, instead of unveiling their products earlier in the year during either the World Mobile Congress or Consumer Electronics Show (CES).[15][38] One explanation for this decision is that Samsung wanted to minimize the time between its launch and availability.[39] The keynote address of the hour-long event was delivered by Loesje De Vriese, Marketing Director of Samsung Belgium.[40]

Following the launch of the Galaxy S4 in June 2013, Samsung was reportedly retiring the phone earlier than planned because of low sales numbers and to streamline manufacturing operations.[41]


Hardware and design[edit]

The S III has a plastic chassis measuring 136.6 mm (5.38 in) long, 70.7 mm (2.78 in) wide, and 8.6 mm (0.34 in) thick, with the device weighing 133 grams (4.7 oz). Samsung abandoned the rectangular design of the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II, and instead incorporated round corners and curved edges, reminiscent of the Galaxy Nexus.[42] The device has been available in several color options white, black, grey, blue-grey, red, and brown.[43] A "Garnet Red" model was made available exclusively to US carrier AT&T on 15 July 2012.[44][45]

The S III comes in two distinct variations that differ primarily in the internal hardware. The international S III version has Samsung's Exynos 4 Quadsystem on a chip (SoC) containing a 1.4 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9central processing unit (CPU) and an ARMMali-400 MPgraphics processing unit (GPU).[46] According to Samsung, the Exynos 4 Quad doubles the performance of the Exynos 4 Dual used on the S II, while using 20 percent less power.[47] Samsung had also released several 4GLTE versions—4G facilitates higher-speed mobile connection compared to 3G—in selected countries to exploit the corresponding communications infrastructures that exist in those markets.[48] Most of these versions use Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 SoC featuring a dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait CPU and an Adreno 225 GPU.[49] The South Korean and Australian versions are a hybrid of the international and 4G-capable versions.[7]

The S III has a maximum of 2 GB of RAM, depending on model.[48] The phone comes with either 16, 32, or 64 GB storage;[50] additionally, microSDXC storage offers a further 64 GB for a potential total of 128 GB.[51] Moreover, 50 GB of space is offered for two years on Dropbox—a cloud storage service—for purchasers of the device, doubling rival HTC's 25 GB storage for the same duration.[52]

The S III's HD Super AMOLED display measures 4.8 inches (120 mm) on the diagonal. With a 720×1280-pixel (720p) resolution, its 306 pixel per inch (PPI, a measure of pixel density) is a relatively high,[51] which is accommodated by the removal one of the three subpixels—red, green and blue—in each pixel to create a PenTile matrix-display; consequently, it does not share the "Plus" suffix found on the S II's Super AMOLED Plus display.[53] The glass used for the display is the damage-resistant corning Gorilla Glass 2, except for S3 Neo variant.[42] The device's software includes a feature known as "Smart Stay", which uses the device's front camera to detect whether the user's eyes are looking at the screen, and prevents the screen from automatically turning off while the user is still looking at it.[54]

The S III has an 8-megapixel camera similar to that of the Galaxy S II. It can take 3264×2448-pixel resolution photos and record videos in 1920×1080-pixel (1080p) resolution. Samsung improved the camera's software over that of its predecessor to include zero shutter lag, and Burst Mode and Best Shot, which work together to quickly take numerous photos before the best-judged frame is selected.[55] The phone can also take pictures while recording videos.[53] The rear-facing camera is complemented by a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera that can record 720p videos.[55] The phone has LED flash and autofocus.[56][57]

In addition to the 4.8-inch (120 mm) touchscreen, the S III has several physical user inputs, including a home button located below the screen, a volume key on the left side and a power/lock key on the right.[58] At the top there is a 3.5-millimetre (0.14 in) headphone jack and one of the two microphones on the S III; the other is located below the home button.[58] The S III is advertised as having an MHL port that can be used both as a micro-USB On-The-Go port, and for connecting the phone to HDMI devices. However, a retailer later discovered that Samsung had made a modification to the electronics of the port such that only the adapter made specifically for this model by Samsung could be used.[59]

The S III's Li-ion 2,100 mAh battery is said to have a 790-hour standby time or 11 hours of talk time on 3G, compared to 900 hours in standby and 21 hours of talk time on 2G.[60] Built into the battery is near field communication (NFC) connectivity, which allows users to share map directions and YouTube videos quickly using Wi-Fi Direct (through Android Beam), and perform non-touch payments at shops that employ specially equipped NFC cash registers.[61] The battery can be wirelessly charged using a special charging pad (sold separately) that utilizes magnetic resonance to produce a magnetic field through which electricity could be transferred.[62]

CNET TV torture-tested an S III by cooling it to 24 °F (−4 °C), placing it in a heat-proof box and heating it to 190 °F (88 °C), and submerging it in water—the S III survived all three tests. The phone also did not exhibit any scratches when a key was repeatedly scraped against the display.[63] However, Android Authority later carried out a drop test with the purpose of comparing the S III and the iPhone 5. The screen on the S III shattered on the second drop test, while the iPhone received only minor scuffs and scratches on the metal composite frame after three drop tests.[64]

Software and services[edit]

Further information: Android (operating system), TouchWiz, and S Voice

The S III is powered by Android, a Linux-based, open sourcemobile operating system developed by Google and introduced commercially in 2008.[65][66] Among other features, the software allows users to maintain customized home screens which can contain shortcuts to applications and widgets for displaying information. Four shortcuts to frequently used applications can be stored on a dock at the bottom of the screen; the button in the center of the dock opens the application drawer, which displays a menu containing all of the apps installed on the device. A tray accessed by dragging from the top of the screen allows users to view notifications received from other apps, and contains toggle switches for commonly used functions. Pre-loaded apps also provide access to Google's various services. The S III uses Samsung's proprietary TouchWizgraphical user interface (GUI). The "Nature" version used by the S III has a more "organic" feel than previous versions, and contains more interactive elements such as a water ripple effect on the lock screen.[27] To complement the TouchWiz interface, and as a response to Apple's Siri, the phone introduces S Voice, Samsung's intelligent personal assistant. S Voice can recognize eight languages including English, Korean, Italian and French.[67] Based on Vlingo, S Voice enables the user to verbally control 20 functions such as playing a song, setting the alarm, or activating driving mode; it relies on Wolfram Alpha for online searches.[54]

The S III initially shipped with Android version 4.0.4, named "Ice Cream Sandwich", which became commercially available in March 2012 with the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus.[68] Ice Cream Sandwich has a refined user interface, and expanded camera capabilities, security features and connectivity.[69] In mid-June 2012, Google unveiled Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean", which employs Google Now, a voice-assistant similar to S Voice, and incorporates other software changes. Samsung accommodated Jelly Bean in the S III by making last-minute hardware changes to the phone in some markets.[70] Jelly Bean updates began rolling out to S IIIs in selected European countries, and to the T-Mobile in the United States in November 2012.[71][72] Samsung started pushing Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean to the international version of the S III in December 2012.[73] In December 2013, Samsung began rolling out Android 4.3 for the S III, adding user interface features back ported from the Galaxy S4, and support for the Samsung Galaxy Gearsmartwatch.[8] In March 2014, Samsung started the rollout of 4.4.2 KitKat for the 2 GB variant of the S III.

The S III comes with a multitude of pre-installed applications, including Google Apps like Google Play, YouTube, Google+, Gmail, Google Maps, Voice Search and Calendar, in addition to Samsung-specific apps such as ChatON, Game Hub, Music Hub, Video Hub, Social Hub and Navigation.[58][60] To address the fact that iPhone users are reluctant to switch to Android because the OS is not compatible with iTunes, from June 2012 Samsung offered customers of its Galaxy series the Easy Phone Sync app to enable the transfer of music, photos, videos, podcasts, and text messages from an iPhone to a Galaxy device.[74] The user is able to access Google Play, a digital-distribution multimedia-content service exclusive to Android, to download applications, games, music, movies, books, magazines, and TV programs.

Apart from S Voice, Samsung has directed the bulk of the S III's marketing campaign towards the device's "smart" features, which facilitate improved human-device interactivity. These features include: "Direct Call", or the handset's ability to recognise when a user wants to talk to somebody instead of messaging them, if they bring the phone to their head; "Social Tag", a function that identifies and tags people in a photo and shares photos with them; and "Pop Up Play", which allows a video and other applications to occupy the screen at the same time.[75] In addition, the S III can beam its screen to a monitor or be used as a remote controller (AllShare Cast and Play) and share photos with people who are tagged in them (Buddy Photo Share).[75][75]

The S III can access and play traditional media formats such as music, movies, TV programs, audiobooks, and podcasts, and can sort its media library alphabetically by song title, artist, album, playlist, folder, and genre. One notable feature of the S III's music player is Music Square, which analyses a song's intensity and ranks the song by mood so that the user can play songs according to their current emotional state.[52] The device also introduced Music Hub, an online music store powered by 7digital with a catalogue of over 19 million songs.[76]

The S III was the first smartphone to support Voice Over LTE with the introduction of HD Voice service in South Korea.[77] The phone enables video calling with its 1.9 MP front-facing camera, and with support for the aptXcodec, improves Bluetooth-headset connectivity.[78]Texting on the S III does not embody any new significant features from the S II. Speech-to-text is aided by the Vlingo and Google's voice-recognition assistant. Not unlike other Android devices, there are a multitude of third-party typing applications available that could complement the S III's stock keyboard.[79]

On 18 June 2012, Samsung announced that the S III would have a version with enterprise software under the company's Samsung Approved For Enterprise (SAFE) program, an initiative facilitating the use of its devices for "bring your own device" scenarios in workplace environments.[80] The enterprise S III version would support AES-256 bit encryption, VPN and Mobile Device Management functionality, and MicrosoftExchange ActiveSync.[81] It was scheduled to be released in the United States in July 2012. The enterprise version was expected to penetrate the business market dominated by Research in Motion's BlackBerry, following the release of similar enterprise versions of the Galaxy Note, Galaxy S II and the Galaxy Tab line of tablet computers.[81][82]

A separate "Developer Edition" of the S III was made available from Samsung's Developer Portal. It came with an unlockable bootloader to allow the user to modify the phone's software.[83]

Model variants[edit]

SCH-R530SCH-I535SCH-S960LSCH-S968C[94]GT-I9308[95]SCH-I939[96]GT-I9301I (Galaxy S III Neo)[97]
CountriesInternationalSouth KoreaCanada, United States[98]JapanUnited StatesChinaChina, TaiwanInternational
CarriersInternationalInternational (LTE)KT, LG U+, SK TelecomMobilicity, T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Wind, VideotronAT&T, Bell, Rogers, Telus, Koodo, SaskTel, Virgin, FidoNTT DoCoMoauCricket Wireless, U.S. Cellular, MetroPCSVerizonSprint, Straight Talk, Net 10,[99]Straight TalkChina MobileChina TelecomInternational
2G850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
850, 1900 MHz
800,[N 1] 850, 1900 MHz
 ?900, 1800, 1900 MHz
800, 1900 MHz
CDMA900, 1800, 1,900 MHz
850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
3G850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz
WCDMA 850, 900, 2100 MHz
850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100 MHz
850, AWS (Band IV), 1900, 2100 MHz
850, 1900, 2100 MHz
800, 1700 (Band IX), 2100 MHz
CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev-A
800 MHz, 2100 MHz
CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev-A850/1900 MHz EVDO1880, 2010 MHz
CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev-A
2100 MHz
850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz
NoGT-I9305: 800, 1800, 2600 MHz[102][103]
GT-I9305N: 900, 1800, 2600 MHz[103]
GT-I9305T: 1800, 2600 MHz[104]
SHV-E210K: 900, 1800 MHz[105]
SHV-E210L: 850, 2100 MHz[100]
SHV-E210S: 800 MHz[106]
T999L Model Only:
700 (Band 17)
1700 (Band 4) MHz[107]
700 (Band 17), 1700 (AWS) MHz2100 MHz1500(Band 11), 800(Band 18)700 (Band 12), 1700 (AWS) MHz700 (Band 13) MHz1900 (Band 25) MHzNo
21 Mbit/s HSPA+100 Mbit/s LTE42 Mbit/s DC-HSPA+
T999L Model Only:
100 Mbit/s LTE
100 Mbit/s LTE75 Mbit/s LTE100 Mbit/s LTE75 Mbit/s LTE100 Mbit/s LTEN/A2.8 Mbit/s TD HSDPAN/A21 Mbit/s HSPA+
FM radioNoT-DMBNo1segFM radio
Dimensions136.6 mm × 70.6 mm × 8.6 mm (5.38 in × 2.78 in × 0.34 in)136.6 mm × 70.6 mm × 9.0 mm (5.38 in × 2.78 in × 0.35 in)[7]136.6 mm × 70.7 mm × 8.6 mm (5.38 in × 2.78 in × 0.34 in)137 mm × 71 mm × 9 mm (5.39 in × 2.80 in × 0.35 in)139 mm × 71 mm × 9.4 mm (5.47 in × 2.80 in × 0.37 in)136.6 mm × 70.7 mm × 8.6 mm (5.38 in × 2.78 in × 0.34 in)136.6 mm × 70.6 mm × 8.99 mm (5.38 in × 2.78 in × 0.35 in)136.6 mm × 70.6 mm × 8.6 mm (5.38 in × 2.78 in × 0.34 in)
Weight133 g (4.7 oz)138.5 g (4.89 oz)[7]133 g (4.7 oz)139 g (4.9 oz)141 g (5.0 oz)133 g (4.7 oz)141 g (5.0 oz)133 g (4.7 oz)
Android 4.0.4 with TouchWiz "Nature UX" graphical user interfaceAndroid 4.1.1 with TouchWiz "Nature UX" graphical user interface[108] (OTA upgrade to 4.3 available, and now shipping with 4.4.4)Android 4.0.4 with TouchWiz "Nature UX" graphical user interfaceAndroid 4.1.1 with TouchWiz "Nature UX" graphical user interfaceAndroid 4.0.4 (or Android 4.1.2 on Straight Talk), with TouchWiz "Nature UX" graphical user interface (OTA upgrade to 4.3 available, and now shipping with 4.3[109][110])Android 4.0.4 with TouchWiz "Nature UX" graphical user interfaceAndroid 4.4.2 with TouchWiz "Nature UX 2.0" graphical user interface
SoCSamsung Exynos 4 Quad (Exynos 4412)[111]Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MallepallySamsung Exynos 4 Quad (Exynos 4412)Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960Samsung Exynos 4 Quad (Exynos 4412)Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8228
CPU1.4 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A91.5 GHz dual-core QualcommKrait1.6 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A91.5 GHz dual-core QualcommKrait1.4 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9[112]1.4 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7
GPUARMMali-400 MP4Qualcomm Adreno 225ARMMali-400 MP4Qualcomm Adreno 225ARMMali-400 MP4Qualcomm Adreno 305
Storage16/32/64 GB[51]16/32 GB16/32/64 GB[51]16/32 GB[113]32 GB16/32 GB16 GB


On 19 September 2012, security researchers demonstrated during Pwn2Own, a computer hacking contest held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, that the S III can be hacked via NFC, allowing attackers to download all data from the phone.[114]

In December 2012, two hardware issues were reported by users of the S III: A vulnerability of the Exynos SoC allowed malicious apps to gain root privileges even on unrooted devices, and a spontaneous bricking of the unit, called the "sudden death vulnerability", that occurs about six months after activation. Samsung has been replacing the mainboards of affected units under warranty.[115][116] In January 2013, Samsung released a firmware update that corrected both issues.[117]

Affecting both Galaxy S II and III, some units can have high memory use without apparent cause, in itself causing units to be unable to store any more data and making the units memory to be 'full' when apparently not using all of the units internal memory available. In October 2012 Samsung noted that this was caused by a mass caching archive running in the background of units operational tasks. This copied and saved media, tasks and app information to a background archive which was not accessible to the user without change and re-writing of the phones operational script. When this has been altered access can be gained and the cache can be deleted and no further caching will occur unless requested. This issue was resolved for the Galaxy s IIII (and Later) model.

As of mid-2013[update], two S III explosions were reported. The first involved a man from Ireland,[118] while the more recent incident occurred when a Swiss teenager was left with second and third degree burns in her thigh caused by her phone's explosion.[119]

In October 2013, Samsung acknowledged swelling and overheating issues with the Li-ion batteries in many S III phones, and offered replacement batteries for affected devices.[120]


Commercial reception[edit]

According to an anonymous Samsung official speaking to the Korea Economic Daily, the S III received more than 9 million pre-orders from 100 carriers during the two weeks following its London unveiling, making it the fastest-selling gadget in history.[121] In comparison, the iPhone 4S received 4 million pre-orders prior to its launch,[122] while Samsung's previous flagship phone, the S II, had 10 million handsets shipped within five months. Within a month of the London unveiling, auction and shopping website eBay noted a 119-percent increase in second-hand Android phone sales. According to an eBay spokesperson, this was "the first time anything other than an Apple product has sparked such a selling frenzy."[123]

The S III was released in 28 countries in Europe and the Middle East on 29 May 2012.[124] To showcase its flagship device, Samsung afterwards embarked on a global month-long tour of the S III to nine cities, including Sydney, New Delhi, and cities in China, Japan, South Korea and the United States.[125]

The S III has helped Samsung consolidate its market share in several countries including India, where Samsung expected to capture 60 percent of the country's smartphone market, improving on its previous 46 percent.[126] Within a month of release, Samsung had a 60-percent market share in France, while the company controlled over 50 percent of the German and Italian smartphone markets.[127] Over a similar period the S III helped increase Samsung's market share in the United Kingdom to over 40 percent, while eroding the iPhone 4S's 25 percent to 20 percent in the country.[128] The S III was scheduled to be released in North America on 20 June 2012, but because of high demand, some US and Canadian carriers delayed the release by several days, while some other carriers limited the market at launch.[129] The S III's US launch event took place in New York City, hosted by Twilight actress Ashley Greene and attended by dubstep artist Skrillex, who performed at Skylight Studios.[130]

Samsung estimated that by the end of July 2012, the S III would have been released by 296 carriers in 145 countries, and that more than 10 million handsets would have been sold.[131] Shin Jong-kyun, president of Samsung's mobile communications sector, announced on 22 July that sales had exceeded 10 million.[132] According to an assessment by Swiss financial services company UBS, Samsung had shipped 5–6 million units of the phone in the second quarter of 2012 and would ship 10–12 million handsets per quarter throughout the rest of the year. An even more aggressive prediction by Paris-based banking group BNP Paribas said 15 million units will be shipped in the third quarter of 2012,[133] while Japanese financial consultant company Nomura placed the figure for this quarter as high as 18 million.[134] Sales of the S III were estimated to top 40 million by the end of the year.[135] To meet demand, Samsung had hired 75,000 workers, and its South Korean factory was running at its peak capacity of 5 million smartphone units per month.[121][136]

A manufacturing flaw resulted in a large portion of the new smartphones having irregularities with the "hyper-glazing" process. The mistake caused an undesirable finish on the blue back covers and resulted in the disposal of up to 600,000 plastic casings and a shortage of the blue model.[19] The issue was later resolved; however, Reuters estimated that the shortage had cost Samsung two million S III sales during its first month of release.[137]

On 6 September 2012, Samsung revealed that sales of the S III had reached 20 million in 100 days, making it three and six times faster-selling than the Galaxy S II and the Galaxy S, respectively. Europe accounted for more than 25 percent of this figure with 6 million units, followed by Asia (4.5 million) and the US (4 million); sales in South Korea, the S III's home market, numbered 2.5 million.[17] Around the same time of Samsung's announcement, sales of the S III surpassed that of the iPhone 4S in the US.[138]

In the third quarter of 2012, more than 18 million S III units were shipped, making it the most popular smartphone at the time, ahead of the iPhone 4S's 16.2 million units. Analysts deduced that the slump in iPhone sales was due to customers' anticipation of the iPhone 5.[139]

By May 2014, the S III had sold approximately 60 million units since its 2012 release.[140] In April 2015, the total sales number was reported as 70 million.[5]

On 11 October 2012 Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S III Mini, a 4-inch (100 mm) smartphone with lower specifications compared to the S III.[141]

Critical reception[edit]

The reception of the S III has been particularly positive. Critics noted the phone's blend of features, such as its S Voice application, display, processing speed, and dimensions as having an edge over its competition, the Apple iPhone 4S and HTC One X.[42][53] Vlad Savov of The Verge declared it a "technological triumph",[142] while Natasha Lomas of CNET UK lauded the phone's "impossibly slim and light casing and a quad-core engine", calling it the "Ferrari of Android phones",[53] a sentiment affirmed ("a prince among Android phones") by Dave Oliver of Wired UK and ("king of Android") Esat Dedezade of Stuff magazine.[143][144] Gareth Beavis of TechRadar noted that the S III is "all about faster, smarter and being more minimal than ever before while keeping the spec list at the bleeding edge of technology."[145] Matt Warman of The Daily Telegraph said, "On spending just a short time with the S3, I'm confident in saying that it's a worthy successor to the globally popular S2".[146]

Upon release, a number of critics and publications have made references to the S III, Samsung's 2012 flagship phone,[147] as an "iPhone killer",[148] responding perhaps to Apple's favourable customer perception.[149] The label owes itself to the S III's use of the Android OS—the chief rival of Apple's iOS—as well as its design and features that rival the iPhone 4S such as Smart Stay, a large display, a quad-core processor, Android customizability, and a multitude of connectivity options.[150]

The S III was the first Android phone to have a higher launch price than the iPhone 4S when the Apple product was released in 2011.[151] With the S III, Tim Weber, business editor of the BBC, observed, "With the new Galaxy S3 they [Samsung] have clearly managed to move to the front of the smartphone field, ahead of mighty Apple itself."[124]

Conversely, reviewers have opined on the design and feel of phone, calling its polycarbonate shell "cheap"[152] and having a "slippery feel".[145] The S Voice was described as "not optimised" and "more rigid than Siri" with its poor voice-recognition accuracy, with instances when it would not respond at all.[145][153]

The Galaxy S III's launch at Samsung Mobile Unpacked 2012 (3 May 2012).
Back view of the Japanese S III model, SC-06D
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