S3 Power Bank review added to post #74
Following on from my popular S2 review I thought I'd post an S3 review, I'll be actively updating this as always but to note, my Pebble Blue S3 isn't due until the 13th June due to that manufacturing delay that you guys will have read all about so my intiial review and impressions are on the Marble White version belonging to my dad which landed today.
I will be comparing most things with the S2 (naturally) but I won't do a comparison on daily usage differences until I've had my own S3 a full working week so will only cover things that are immediately obvious and comparable.
Firstly, let's get the bad stuff out the way.
1: You cannot change brightness by sliding the notification bar like on the S2. This is rather lame and I can't wait to root my handset and get a custom ROM with that feature baked in.
2: Auto brightness is rather conservative compared to the S2. Even in normal lighting the brightness is a bit low.
2b: This part would not bother me as I adjust brightness via sliding the bar up top but since auto brightness isn't as aggressive as I'd prefer, custom ROM is the way to go (for me).
3: The Galaxy S2 MHL cable does not work on this. I tried multiple chargers, the S3 charger outputs 1amp vs 750mA of the S2 and even that didn't work. Looks like MHL dongle owners of the S2 will want to sell up and upgrade to the S3 one.
5: The LED and button backlights do bleed through the white chassis surround, the same is visible on the white S2.
6: The music volume via headphones at max level 15 isn't as loud as 15 on the S2 by a value of about 1.
7: There is a wake delay of about 1 second from when the screen is off and the phone in deep sleep, just like on the S2. Some people dislike this while others don't care either way. I'm in the latter group.
8: The home button delay is there too, just like on the S2. This I didn't expect to go because it's by design. The delay is to allow the home button to be double pressed for waking up S-Voice.
9: You can't long press the notification toggles to access settings for those toggles. You couldn't do this on the S2 either but custom ROMs and themes allowed for this. Since Samsung adopted a lot of tweaks from S2 custom ROMs I would have expected them to adopt this too as it gives quicker access to settings for specific things instead of having to go through the main Settings menu each time.
10: On my dad's handset the screen had a redder tint compared to my S2. Now here's the thing, I think this is the S2 panel lottery scenario at play here again. Some screens have varying amounts of tint toward a certain colour compared to other handsets. My dad's S2 has a screen that's more blue than mine, for example whereas mine is closer to natural daylight white (6500K). I reckon the S3 is going to be exactly the same here. Without putting phones side by side you'd never tell the difference though unless you're used to using a certain colour tone on a screen for years on end or something I guess. I'll be able to confirm this theory once I put his S3 next to mine later this month.
Now the good stuff.
1: Camcorder exceeds expectations in all but one area, the microphone. The S2 microphones pick up more bass than the S3 one does recording video.
I suspect this is a media profile setting that can easily be modded on a custom ROM because this was certainly the case on the S2 before ICS rolled out which improved sound recording quality in the camcorder.
1b: Camcorder has manual touch focus which works very well:
2: Camera HDR mode works well too:
3: Wireless performance is sublime. On my S2 connected at 65Mbps I can FTP files to and from the phone at 2-3MB/s (write) and 3-4MB/s (read). This is on the 2.5GHz band as the 5GHz band is not fully supported.
On the S3 I was connected at 150Mbps and got:
4: S-Voice seems to work well and really quick although I suspect that's in part to my fast broadband connection I have a very British accent and had no trouble giving it commands and getting the correct results.
Works better than Siri in this regard and a heck of a lot better than the voice commander on the S2.
5: The speaker is about similar to the S2 I found. Maybe a bit louder actually but I haven't looked deep into this as I find the S2 one perfectly fine anyway.
6: The Wolfson sound chip is quite good.
I tested this hotswapping both headphones (Sennheiser HD595 and Phonak Audéo PFE102) and chose to play some Flight Of The Conchords songs, specifically the Mutha'uckas track as it has some excellent guitar string starting off with a nice bass segment and then vocals.
On the S2 the bass is a bit louder, more boomiy I'd say, whereas on the S3 the sound was more relaxed and spacious and because of that I was able to pick out the instruments in the background better as well. Using the stock headphones or any normal pair of highstreet cans (lol Dr Dre Beats) people may not tell much difference really. Bottom line? Invest in good headphones!
7: Everything is smooth (already mentioned by others).
8: The screen is much nicer coming from the S2 (apart from the redder colour as mentioned earlier). It's got more onscreen when browsing and text is easily readable. I noticed no pixel issues from Pentile.
9: USB transfer seems blindingly quick. It's using MTP so Windows doesn't display the transfer speeds over that connection but all the camcorder videos I recorded and transferred to my PC seemed to transfer way quicker than they do on my S2 over the same connection.
10: Galaxy S2 owners who bought the Zenis desktop cradle are going to love this, the S3 is a perfect fit. Just use the rubber seat if you don't use a case on the S3 and remove it if you do. I don't know what 3rd party cases will work on this dock though but without the seat there's a few mm room to work with so all mesh case style cases I'd imagine will be just fine here. With the rubber seat attached, there is no sideways movement, it fits perfectly. you do need to use two hands to undock the phone though.
Pics of Zenis dock on are at the end of this post. You can buy the Zenis dock on eBay for about £10 now you lucky buggers, I paid about £31 for mine when I got the S2!
I have the black dock but my dad has the white one so he's chuffed to bits when I showed him this.
11: The material of the casing and general feel of the phone is excellent. feels as solid as the One X does but is a lot more comfortable to hold and to use, more than the S2 as well.
The back panel does attract more finger prints than the screen though.
12: Even though the screen is quite a bit larger than the S2, the S3 doesn't feel much bigger than the S2 at all, it feels smaller in fact due to the thinner profile. It's a bit taller but barely much wider.
13: The front of the S3 screen edge is bevelled and there are no areas that dust can collect like on the S2. Excellent!
14: Too early to comment on battery life but at 50% ish brightness I started using it at 88% and the battery dropped to 83% after a few hours of usage and testing. That's a lot better than my S2 using the extended 2000mAh battery.
That's about it for now and I think I have covered all the things that have yet to be covered in any online review but if anyone wants me to do any specific tests and whatnot then I'd be happy to comply.
I'll leave these pics right here...
I look forward to my blue S3, and then rooting it...
UPDATE 2012.06.02 - Zenis dock with S3 attached to a case:
The first half was recorded using the S3 @ 720p, I've noticed that 720p mode is worse than the S2 in 720p but 1080p is way better.
Shame the video sound isn't as good as the S2 though but I'll be looking for a custom ROM update that ups the microphone gain and bitrate for camcorder audio in due time on my blue S3.
UPDATE 2012.06.08 - Comparison of my Pebble Blue and Marble White.
Now to end all questions regarding colours and shades
Yes, the home button on the blue is definitely blue/purple compared to the darker, almost black/brushed look in dim lighting whereas in normal or daylight it looks a pale shade of dark grey/black with a hint of blue under the glaze.
Both white and blue do have a different shade from an extreme angle from either side. The white is less obvious of course.
I reckon this new blue is more of a tonic/metallic blue as opposed to the pebble blue which was definitely more purple/lighter blue.
I've applied the screen protector which came free with the Rock case and managed to get one or two air bubbles and it doesn't cover the entire front, there's 1mm or so margin around the edge, basically where the rounded bevel starts on the glass. So be wary when buying cheaper screen protectors.
The Zagg Invisible Shield covers the entire glass area nicely.
I'll post battery rundown thoughts from using my own phone, the white one is my dad's and he's a bit random as to usage Give me the weekend!
UPDATE 2012.06.09 - C-Pen Stylus review
I also received the - Samsung Galaxy SIII stylus (C-Pen) and here are my thoughts on it having used it in S-memo and Draw Something among other things.
In S-Memo, the ability to change brush sizes and brush types makes the C-Pen quite useful for drawing and colouring but it's not as smooth or as fine tipped as the Galaxy note's S-Pen. It's capacitive of course and not pressure sensitive like the S-Pen. I wonder if the S-Pen will work on the S3, if not out the box then perhaps via a custom ROM...
Anyway, in Draw Something I found using my fingers was actually better due to the limited brush options available in the game. I found that drawing circles ended up a funny shape towards the end as the capacitive tip was too fat to be used as a fine liner or for detailed work in this kind of game.
All in all, I'd say it's a cool looking accessory and has its uses but apps need to add support for it with plenty of brush options otherwise you're better off using your finger, at least in Draw Something...for now