By CHONG JINN XIUNGbytz@thestar.com.my
The latest Android smartphone from Samsung is chockful of features.
THERE are a lot of Android smartphones in the market but few are as highly sought after as the Samsung Galaxy S III.
The South Korean company's flagship model has a lot of funky new features but let's start with the design. The S III is slim and lightweight although it's a tad thicker than its older sibling, the S II. However, you'll hardly notice the increase in bulk.
It has a plastic back and fake brushed metal sides which seem out of place for a premium smartphone. The S III is also more curved and rounded than the S II, and is available in two colours - blue and white.
One of the reasons the S III is larger than its predecessor is because of the huge 4.8in display which is made from Corning's hardy Gorilla Glass 2. The Super AMOLED screen is sharp and bright, and is great for viewing photos and movies.
There is only a single physical button on the front and two hidden touch-sensitive keys that light up when they are pressed.
The keys are too close to the edge - it's easy to accidentally touch them. When using the camera, for instance, we unintentionally hit the back key many times which exited the camera mode.
The S III has a removable battery which you have to take out to insert the microSIM and access the microSD slot if you wish to expand the phone's memory. Also, only the 16GB version of the phone is available locally.
Samsung's TouchWiz interface and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) run very smoothly thanks to the powerful 1.4GHz quad-core processor that powers the phone.
Apart from the standard Android features, the S III has a few cool tricks up its sleeve. For instance, if you are reading or replying to a message, you can just put the phone up to your ear and it will call the sender.
The Pop up Play feature, on the other hand, lets you continue watching a video even when opening other apps. So, you could be watching a video while checking your e-mail messages, for instance.
There is also S Voice which allows the phone to be controlled with your voice. It allows you to initiate calls, dictate text messages, schedule meetings and even launch applications.
Samsung has yet to perfect this feature - S Voice isn't very accurate and chances are you'll have to repeat many times before it gets it right.
Also, it also doesn't help that S Voice responds with a robotic tone.
If you are big on games, the S III has the graphics capability to impress. Games like ShadowGun and Temple Run ran smoothly without glitches.
In terms of battery life, the S III lasts a day before requiring a recharge which is more or less like most Android smartphones.
The S III's camera may not have the highest megapixel count but it performs great. The 8-megapixel camera is really fast and it'll let you start shooting photos at a moment's notice.
It also has a burst mode which captures six images in quick succession so that you can pick the ones you want - this is really handy for capturing fast moving action.
The camera app only allows you to view four shortcuts but you get to customise it to the ones you want such as focus mode, exposure value, timer, white balance and many more.
There are also modes like HDR and panorama but these are strangely buried within the Options menu.
The camera records full HD videos and it's very impressive. It may not have as many options as when capturing still images but it still produced very good videos in high definition.
You can also snap pictures while recording videos which is a feature of Android 4.0.
The Samsung Galaxy S III is definitely one of the best premium Android smartphones in the market.
The look may not have changed much but the S III is impressive both on the hardware and software fronts. It has a great screen, performs really fast thanks to its quad-core processor, and has a good camera for stills and videos.
Of course, it can also handle just about any game on the Google Play marketplace.
One or two features are a bit lacking. For instance, S Voice needs to improved to recognise voice commands better.
The S III isn't cheap but for the price of RM2,199 it has a lot to offer.
Pros: Sharp and bright screen; quad-core processor runs Android 4.0 smoothly; camera great for stills and videos; lots of additional features.
Cons: Battery lasts only a day; S Voice could be better.
Galaxy S III
NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900/2100
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
DISPLAY: 4.8in Super AMOLED screen (720 x 1,280-pixels)
CAMERA: 8-megapixels (rear) with autofocus, LED flash; 2-megapixel (front)
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC, DLNA, micro USB
PROCESSOR: Quad-core 1.4GHz Cortex-A9
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD (up to 64GB)
STANDBY/TALK TIME: 790 hours/11 hours
OTHER FEATURES: A-GPS, Direct Call, S Voice, Pop up Play, full HD video recording at up to 30fps
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Electronics Malaysia (SME) Sdn Bhd, 1-800-88-9999