Editorial: Engadget on the Samsung Galaxy S III

Was it everything you imagined? The Galaxy S III didn't really slap us silly with hardware spectacle or a particularly brave design and instead plowed into software additions and contextual features. There was plenty to chew over and plenty of discussion followed its big reveal, spilling out over the last few days -- this was a big launch for not only Samsung but Android itself. We've got the six editors who spent time with the device to offer up their own thoughts on this new Android Olympian.

Mat:

After that placeholder housing leaked ahead of last week's big show, I expected a design shake-up that would grab me like Nokia's Lumia 800 or even the iPhone 4 -- something a step away from Samsung's legion of 2011 devices. But we got another plastic phone that attempted to rescue itself with a fancy paint job. Yes, it feels as solid as a Galaxy Nexus, but it's as if Samsung threw all of its Galaxy family into a design melting pot and this is what averaged out. Even borrowing some construction from its solid Bada siblings would have worked for me. Design aside, a HD Super AMOLED screen reduces the PenTile complaints to a negligible level for me and Samsung's home-made processor looks like it'll do the business. Also, despite that 4.8-inch screen, the phone felt at home in my hand -- just about.

I have a soft spot for those new gesture features, despite the fact that it's not a straight-shooting stock Android build. Throw in that microSD slot and it's convinced me to hold that impending One X purchase and wait for the end of the month -- and I doubt I'm alone.

Richard Lai:

We all knew pretty much what to expect from the Galaxy S III (even without the leaks): quad core, big display and slim body.

As for S Voice, Best Photo and Smart Stay, they do sound fun, but only time will tell whether they deliver what they promise -- especially S Voice

Fortunately, this time Samsung's put more focus on the appearance, build quality, battery life and practicality of its latest flagship device, so we can somewhat forgive the missing "plus" in the HD Super AMOLED display. Also, don't forget that unlike the One X, the slimmer Galaxy S III comes with microSD expansion and a removable 2,100mAh battery! On the software side, I'm most interested in S Beam, Buddy Photo Share, AllShare Play and Pop Up Play, all of which I believe will make the phone one of the handiest devices on this planet. As for S Voice, Best Photo and Smart Stay, they do sound fun, but only time will tell whether they deliver what they promise -- especially S Voice, the supposedly beefier version of Apple's Siri. All in all, there's a lot to look forward to here.

Sharif:

It doesn't suit tech fans' interests to come across as impatient or easily led. When armchair reviewers bemoan the lack of an obvious hook to the Galaxy S III, that's the risk they take -- that they'll eventually force manufacturers like Samsung to make crazy hardware claims as a prerequisite to selling devices, even if those claims later turn out to be empty promises.

Agreed, there's no immediate frenzied killer of a spec with this particular handset: no impossibly beautiful full RGB non-PenTile 1280 x 720 slab of deliciousness, no f/0.95 42-megapixel camera, no Philippe Starck unibody carved out of asteroids. But having played with the GS III for a little while, I got the sense that it could be an all-rounder of a superphone that -- like the Galaxy line itself -- steadily builds an avid following. It looks like it could only have been born in 2012, it feels like something I'd happily carry around all day, and it delivers a wealth of new Quad-powered software features that, over time, could turn out to be less gimmicky than the label "software feature" may imply.

So, I'm choosing to stay open-minded until I get some proper review time with this subtle, "nature inspired" phone -- and in the meantime I'm going to consciously overlook the fact that even Mother Nature's lowliest creations (pebbles, crevasses, wasps etc.) don't stoop to sharing each other's sub-pixels.

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Zach Honig:

There's no question that software is Samsung's focus with the Galaxy S III. It's a beautiful handset, sure, but so is the Galaxy Nexus. Some of the features represent the company catching up with its competitors (S Voice vs. Siri is the first that comes to mind), while others, such as the facial-recognition-based photo sharing tool, are quite innovative. On the hardware front, I'm a stickler when it comes to bezels, so I'm really a fan of the design here -- the nearly perfect 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display looks fantastic with a narrow white or blue border, and it's plenty bright and vibrant, even when viewed from an angle. I'm sure I'll catch a few annoyed glares from my coworkers for this one, but for me, the S III's display is simply too small.

If you're dead-set on the new Samsung flagship, you can at least rest easy knowing that it'll ship in the not-too-distant future

The Galaxy Note has been my go-to handset since I picked one up in London last November, and I couldn't be happier with its huge (oversized, some may say) display. I tend to use it discretely to avoid the constant barrage of questions (or jokes, depending on the time of day) -- in both cases, I assume the stranger on the other end must simply be jealous of my jumbo acquisition. I've seen quite a bit of Samsung/HTC banter over the past few days, and while it's not easy picking sides, I'd have to say that I wouldn't hesitate to pick up an HTC One X (assuming it had a larger screen, of course), if only because it's available now. If you're dead-set on the new Samsung flagship, you can at least rest easy knowing that it'll ship in the not-too-distant future. As for me? I'll be holding out for the next Note.

James:

Ah, the Samsung Galaxy S III. Possibly one of the most hotly anticipated Android phones ever. That's on a personal note, I'm not referring to the massive hubbub that lead up to its release. Why was it so important to me? Mainly because I had just purchased the Galaxy Nexus, and if any phone was going to belittle my decision to do so, it would be this one. So, did I move to soon? Should I have waited? The short answer, I feel, is no. The Galaxy S III looks like a solid device, and throughout the launch presentation I definitely found myself wanting one. But, once the lights came up and the stirred emotion settled, the jealous feelings drained away. For me, the main issue I have is a software one.

Samsung has persisted with its TouchWiz skinning of Android. It's not terrible, it's not even all that bad, but, somehow, in my short time with the phone, it made the experience feel a little bit dated. There are some neat extras that show a good level of thought has been put in (like the pick-up-to-call-who-you're-texting thing) and I'm sure this all conspires to create a fluid experience. For me, however, Android is all about stepping out of proprietary environments, and layered ecosystems and skins just fly in the face of that. So, thanks Samsung, the phone looks lovely and all, but I'm still fine with that stock Android you made.

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Dan:

It's to the Galaxy Nexus as the iPhone 4S is to the iPhone 4: an evolutionary step that will only outrage those who've gotta pay the ETF. The Hyperglaze coating masks the company's reliance on flimsy plastics, while the natural features try to humanize the device. Overall, it's a bag of little software tweaks and powerful hardware, but despite all that, I'm not going to buy one on launch day.

For a start, I want to see what those always-on features does to its battery life and how easy it is to use S-Voice when you're stuck on a busy commuter train. Then I want to see what the USP for the content hubs is, after all, studios dictate movie pricing, so why use this over Google Play? Finally, there's Natural TouchWiz, I want to know how many of those "inspired by nature" features I can turn off, because all that trickling water did was inspire me to go to the bathroom.

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Editorial: Engadget on the Samsung Galaxy S III