Really sharp, colourful display; Snapper is crammed with features; Quad-core processor; support for 4G.
S-Voice is disappointing; Few updates from first Galaxy S3.
Samsung has not changed a lot from the original Galaxy SIII apart from of course the addition of 4G support. However, the Galaxy S3 LTE is still one of the best handsets of 2012.
We’ve already seen the ultra impressive Samsung Galaxy S3 this year, which brought us loads of features, a big, colourful display and some fabulous extras – and we’ve seen the smaller version, aptly named the Galaxy S3 Mini – and now there’s another to add to the triumvirate in the shape of the Galaxy S3 LTE – which has the added bonus of 4G support for ultra-fast download speeds.
One of the changes from the Galaxy S3, which sported the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS, is that the S3 LTE is loaded with 4.1 Jelly Bean – which offers the user a very smooth, very enjoyable user experience. The nature theme that was included in the original is continued here – with a number of themes and wallpapers. And Samsung has included a number of ways to carry out every task – whether you want to zoom into a web page or mute your phone, there are options for you, ranging from flicking a finger to shaking or tilting the handset.
Say, for example, you want to move between the various desktops. On most phones you’d do this by flicking a digit across the display. But on the S3 LTE you can do it by using the desktop bar under the shortcuts, or pinch your digits together to get an overview of all the desktops – then you can just tap the one you want. You can tweak everything from the keyboard to the camera menu to get them just the way you want them.
If you get a new text or email, a small light will flash above the display – pick the phone up when you have a notification and it will vibrate at you to make sure you’ve got the message. The notifications tab is also excellent – it gives speedy access to media controls, settings and so on.
Big and bold
The phone sports the same rounded, inspired by nature design as its predecessor and comes in a number of colours. Shades range from bold white to graphite. It has a decent heft when held in the hand and feels pretty solid, with no give if you twist or pull it. Nevertheless, we don’t think it would survive a drop on a hard surface, so keep a firm grip on it.
The border around the screen is really slim, which means that even with that massive 4.8in display, the handset is not as big as you might expect – having said that, it’s not really suited to anyone with tiny hands. It still slips into a pocket or bag with ease though.
Unsurprisingly, Samsung has made no changes to the excellent, sharp 4.8-inch screen. Viewing angles are amazing, colours leap out at you and motion blur is non-existent – excellent for watching action films or sports. The screen is also bright enough to enable the user to view it under direct sunlight.
Streaming HD movies is speedy, thanks to the 4G support (if you’re in a hotspot), and listening to your favourite tune is a delight. Use a good pair of earphones and your music will be clean and crisp. The on-board music player has a basic set of features that should be fine for most listeners.
We’re glad to see the return of Pop Up Play, too. This means that should you be watching a film, and then need to check a text or email that’s just arrived, you don’t need to quite out of your movie. What you do instead is to shrink the film into a small window, which can be moved around the screen as you need. Then you can get on with whatever it is you need to do in the background – although you can’t play with apps. It shows just how versatile the S3 LTE is.
A few extras
There are other extras on board that Samsung has included to make your life easier. For instance, lift the handset to your ear and it will automatically call someone you were texting, or share a picture with a mate by tapping your handsets together. The only disappointment is S-Voice, Samsung’s voice recognition facility that just doesn’t work well.
The camera, however, is no disappointment. There are rafts of features including the facility to take still snaps while shooting video, and a Burst mode as well. The shutter has no lag so takes the snap straight away, and Burst modes takes up to eight images. You can also tweak ISO, exposure, white balance and so on for greater control.
Once your image is taken, you can edit it in in-camera before sharing it in a number of ways. Of course there’s the usual text or email choices, but it can also be uploaded to sites such as Google +, Picasa, Dropbox, S Memo and Flipboard. Tag your friends in the pictures too (you can even use the tags to make contact directly with them). You can also use the Buddy Share feature to share photos via email. There’s so much to choose from, but Samsung has ensured that it’s so user friendly that you never feel overwhelmed by the number of options.
There’s also a 1-9-megapixel front-facing lens – but beware, it offers really crisp images and captures plenty of detail – check the mirror before calling friends!
Battery life is impressive – a good seven hours when streaming video – really good when you consider the screen’s size and brightness. And with moderate use you should get a good day out of a full charge.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE has some amazing features, quad-core power and a bold, bright Super AMOLED display. The snapper is packed full of features and offers excellent sharing capabilities, plus the design is solid and appealing. There’s little not to like about this phone, which is why we have to say it is 3G's favourite handset of 2012.
|Type of device||Smartphone|
|Operating System||Android 4.1 Jelly Bean|
|Dimensions||137 x 71 x 8.6mm|
|Processor speed||1.4GHz quad-core|
|Screen size||4.8 inches|
|Screen type||Super AMOLED|
|Resolution||1280 x 720|
|Display type||16 million colours|
|Memory card slot|
|Secondary camera||1.9 megapixels|
|Special camera features||LED flash|
|Music player||MP3 / AAC / ACC+ / e-AAC+ / WMA / WAV / MIDI / OGG / FLAC|
|FM Radio description|
|Video player||H.263 / H.264 / MPEG4 / WMV / AVI / DivX / Xvid|
|Handsfree speaker phone|
|What's in the box||Charger|
|Battery life multimedia|
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