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Review roundup: Samsung Galaxy S III called a strong iPhone competitor

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
Samsung's new flagship smartphone, the Android-powered Galaxy S III, hits all four major carriers in the U.S. this week, and has been met positively with reviews from the mainstream media.

Reviewers generally found the Galaxy S III to be a formidable competitor to Apple's latest smartphone, the iPhone 4S. Below is a roundup of reviews for Samsung's latest handset.

Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal

Though he said the Galaxy S III lacks "any game-changing capabilities," Mossberg concluded that Samsung's latest is "a very good phone, and a strong competitor for the iPhone and other leading models." He noted that it performs well for calls, browsing the Web and photography.

Mossberg believes the Galaxy S III would be best suited for people who want a smartphone with a much bigger screen than Apple offers. He said that the latest Galaxy S phone features a "dizzying array" of new, minor "tricks" that will likely be confusing or not very useful to most users.

"There are so many of these that it can take hours to learn and configure them," he said. "I had the strong impression Samsung's designers failed to focus and just threw in as many technical twists as they could, some of which didn't work very well."

Galaxy


He gave the example of a new feature that allows users to share photos with other Galaxy S III owners in real-time. But it requires that all handset owners turn on a special feature in settings, then tap a series of on-screen buttons to utilize the feature.

But while Mossberg wasn't impressed with some of the new, more frivolous features, he did say that the Galaxy S III succeeds on the "major criteria." He noted the screen looks good, calls didn't drop on the three networks he tested, and the camera had nice features.

David Pogue of The New York Times

Pogue was even more positive about the Galaxy S III than Mossberg, calling Samsung's latest phone a handset "teeming with features aimed at humiliating the iPhone." He praised the hardware, saying the designers did a "spectacular job" creating a 0.34-inch thick handset that's even skinnier than Apple's iPhone.

He noted that the Galaxy S III display has more pixels than the iPhone 4S, though it doesn't have quite as high pixel density, packing in 306 per inch rather than Apple's 326. But he said the AMOLED screen is "bright, vivid and relatively energy-efficient."

Pogue praised the new features of the Galaxy S III as "truly ingenious" and "handy." He highlighted "Smart Stay," which uses the front-facing camera to track a user's eyes and dims the screen when they look away to save battery life, as well as "Buddy Shot," which uses facial recognition software to identify people when pictures are taken of them.

Galaxy S III


Other features touted by Pogue were "Direct Call," which automatically dials a person you are texting if you lift the phone to your ear, instant muting, which allows users to mute audio and video playback by covering the screen with your hand.

But Pogue did find that Samsung's Siri competitor, dubbed "S Voice," doesn't work as well as Apple's voice-driven solution. He said S Voice "just doesn't work well," and has a more restrictive required syntax than Siri.

Ed Baig of USA Today

Baig said the Galaxy S III is one of "the finest Android handsets I've come across," praising the 4.8-inch display and lightweight design. He also said the dual-core Qualcomm processor running Android 4.0 is "zippy," though the units "run a little hot."

Like Pogue, Baig said that Samsung's new S Voice feature on the Galaxy S III didn't work as well as advertised. He said the software was sometimes slow to respond, and gave him "mixed results."

He also called the Galaxy S III an "excellent camera phone." It features an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash that can capture full 1080p high-definition video.

"Most human beings will like the Galaxy S III, as I did," Baig said, referencing Samsung's marketing campaign touting the handset as "designed for humans."

Other takes

Additional reviews of the U.S. version of the Samsung Galaxy S III were published on Wednesday by Jessica Dolcourt of CNet, Brad Molen of Engadget, Brent Rose of Gizmodo, and Vlad Savov of The Verge.
post #2 of 57

The only 'strong competitor' for the iPhone is an iPad with Skype.

post #3 of 57
It will be a 'strong competitor' until the next Android hero phone comes out next quarter. No doubt they'll be plenty of Fandroids trading in their HTC One X for the latest and greatest.
post #4 of 57

 "relatively energy-efficient."

 

relative to what?

 

sort of a squishy review term... 

post #5 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Mossberg believes the Galaxy S III would be best suited for people who want a smartphone with a much bigger screen than Apple offers. He said that the latest Galaxy S phone features a "dizzying array" of new, minor "tricks" that will likely be confusing or not very useful to most users.
"There are so many of these that it can take hours to learn and configure them," he said. "I had the strong impression Samsung's designers failed to focus and just threw in as many technical twists as they could, some of which didn't work very well."


This alone encapsulates all the problems with Android for the regular joe-user.  Tech-saavy folks with lots of time to burn fiddling with inanimate objects will obviously be attracted to this "feature" of Android to resolve their quick 5-minute fixes.  Call it "user-choice" and "user-control", for most it's a waste of time.  

post #6 of 57

i know it's pushing phablet, but it's a great phone.

if it ran iOS i would rather use this than the iphone4 that i have.

 

i still think apple needs to do two different size phones - pack the existing 3.5" screen into a smaller case and add a big boy to compete w/ the 4.8" screen of this baby.

yes i know it won't happen, it's as crazy as offering macbook's or imac's with different screen sizes, right? stupid idea.

post #7 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


This alone encapsulates all the problems with Android for the regular joe-user.  Tech-saavy folks with lots of time to burn fiddling with inanimate objects will obviously be attracted to this "feature" of Android to resolve their quick 5-minute fixes.  Call it "user-choice" and "user-control", for most it's a waste of time.  

Yeah, but as an iPhone user and devotee, I can tell you it would be really nice if the iPhone had a little more "user-control". For example, I'd love to be able to switch my default browser from Safari to Dolphin (for me) or Mobicip (for my son), so that when we click on a link in iMessage or email, it takes us to the default browser instead of Safari.

 

It would also be nice to be able to quickly turn off certain features, such as Bluetooth. I know you can do this by jailbreaking.

post #8 of 57

I find Android generally to be a barf of features; flashy but confusing, jumbled together and half digested.

 

That said, I saw someone with a gigantic black android phone the other day and I couldn't help but love the screen.  After using the iPad for a while (bought my first one with gen 3), my iPhone screen is so small I barely want to touch it except to make calls.  Pretty much never play games on it any more.  Just don't want to.

 

To my untrained eyeballs I find this phone is very nice looking.

 

Come on Apple, give us something really gorgeous for iP5!

post #9 of 57

I really like some of those new features. While I won't be switching from iOS anytime soon, it's cool to see innovations in how users interact with the phone as opposed to innovations in how users interact with the OS.

post #10 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by desarc View Post

i know it's pushing phablet, but it's a great phone.

if it ran iOS i would rather use this than the iphone4 that i have.

 

i still think apple needs to do two different size phones - pack the existing 3.5" screen into a smaller case and add a big boy to compete w/ the 4.8" screen of this baby.

yes i know it won't happen, it's as crazy as offering macbook's or imac's with different screen sizes, right? stupid idea.

I totally agree. Some users think 3.5 is ideal for one-handed use. Others want the larger screen. Like you said, it's just like Macbook users wanting different sized displays. For all the web surfing and video watching I do, 3.5 honestly doesn't cut it anymore.

post #11 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by markbyrn View Post

It will be a 'strong competitor' until the next Android hero phone comes out next quarter. No doubt they'll be plenty of Fandroids trading in their HTC One X for the latest and greatest.

When it comes to worldwide sales, The Galaxy S series is the only Android phone that can even talk about competing with the iPhone. The One X and all the others are pretenders.

post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by desarc View Post

i know it's pushing phablet, but it's a great phone.

if it ran iOS i would rather use this than the iphone4 that i have.

 

i still think apple needs to do two different size phones - pack the existing 3.5" screen into a smaller case and add a big boy to compete w/ the 4.8" screen of this baby.

yes i know it won't happen, it's as crazy as offering macbook's or imac's with different screen sizes, right? stupid idea.

i have been thinking this for awhile. why wouldn't apple do this? i would guess it will happen next year if they want to grow market share.

post #13 of 57
Quote:
The Galaxy S series is the only Android phone that is even close to competing with the iPhone. The One X and all the others are pretenders.

Well i'm keeping my Galaxy Nexus backup phone - I don't see anything worth trading 'up' to and I prefer the stock OS. In having both an iPhone and Android phone, I find that I still reach for the iPhone first unless I'm wanting to some nerd activities like WiGLE and Pixie (capture network traffic). I'm still honked off at Apple killing off WiFi scanning.
post #14 of 57

My first questions as always is: How's the battery life, not today or next week but after a couple weeks of use.

A friend of mine purchased the Samsung Note because he saw someone else editing a document on theirs.

He returned it a couple days later because it wouldn't run more than 4 hours after charging it up!

I had a Samsung Galaxy II for a trial phone and experienced the same issue.

A V****on rep had a Motorola Droid Razor and said he made it from 6 in the morning until about 2, he couldn't make it a full work day.

I told a co-worker to get the new Nokia phone (she doesn't like iPhones) and she's fixing to return it for the same problem, no battery life!

It seems to me they would make these phones a little bit thicker, with a bigger battery for a longer running time, and use that as a major selling point!

 

I have an iPhone4 and constantly get 2 days from a single charge! Sometimes 3 with light use.

 

My first question will always be... How's the battery life?

post #15 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jusjeff View Post

My first questions as always is: How's the battery life, not today or next week but after a couple weeks of use.

A friend of mine purchased the Samsung Note because he saw someone else editing a document on theirs.

He returned it a couple days later because it wouldn't run more than 4 hours after charging it up!

I had a Samsung Galaxy II for a trial phone and experienced the same issue.

A V****on rep had a Motorola Droid Razor and said he made it from 6 in the morning until about 2, he couldn't make it a full work day.

I told a co-worker to get the new Nokia phone (she doesn't like iPhones) and she's fixing to return it for the same problem, no battery life!

It seems to me they would make these phones a little bit thicker, with a bigger battery for a longer running time, and use that as a major selling point!

 

I have an iPhone4 and constantly get 2 days from a single charge! Sometimes 3 with light use.

 

My first question will always be... How's the battery life?

Battery life info with the iPhone and a bunch of Android phones. iPhone is still the best, but some of the Android phones are getting close.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6022/samsung-galaxy-s-iii-review-att-and-tmobile-usa-variants/3

post #16 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuddyRevell View Post

Battery life info with the iPhone and a bunch of Android phones. iPhone is still the best, but some of the Android phones are getting close.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6022/samsung-galaxy-s-iii-review-att-and-tmobile-usa-variants/3

The best for stock battery use on most common tasks is the Razr Maxx. No one else is even close for now. Of course they have one ginormous battery, tho the device profile wouldn't indicate that.

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post #17 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylersdad View Post

Yeah, but as an iPhone user and devotee, I can tell you it would be really nice if the iPhone had a little more "user-control". For example, I'd love to be able to switch my default browser from Safari to Dolphin (for me) or Mobicip (for my son), so that when we click on a link in iMessage or email, it takes us to the default browser instead of Safari.

 

It would also be nice to be able to quickly turn off certain features, such as Bluetooth. I know you can do this by jailbreaking.

This is a tough one. It is easy to get feature bloat which translates into confusion and complications. Windows XP is a fine example of this - offers up granular control over everything leaving all but the most tech savvy Windows expert scratching his or her head. (I admit it for a while I dabbled in the PC world in spite of being a Mac user). But yes, there are some seemingly simple features that could be included on the iPhone, such as the ones you mention. 

post #18 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shogun View Post

Come on Apple, give us something really gorgeous for iP5!

Oh no you didn't! Tallest is going to get you now...

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post #19 of 57
Quote:
Other features touted by Pogue were "Direct Call," which automatically dials a person you are texting if you lift the phone to your ear, instant muting, which allows users to mute audio and video playback by covering the screen with your hand.

Stupid useless features. Nobody is going to use that. A lot of flashy useless things to impress for the moment but that doesn't have any impact in day-to-day use.

I'm not impressed at all.
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post #20 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by markbyrn View Post

It will be a 'strong competitor' until the next Android hero phone comes out next quarter. No doubt they'll be plenty of Fandroids trading in their HTC One X for the latest and greatest.

 

I've always wondered how do they even keep up.  I generally buy a new phone every 1-2 years.  In the past 5 years, I've only owned 4 phones (Blackberry 8800, iPhone 3GS/4/4S).  I bought the 4S, only because I switched from AT&T to Verizon.  And I admit that I'll probably go for the iPhone5, but mainly because my unlocked 4S should be worth around $400 if kept in excellent condition.  

 

I still cant understand why these Android guys constantly buy the latest & greatest everytime it comes out?  Just a couple of months ago it was the OneX.  Before that Galaxy Note, the Galaxy Nexus, the Droid Rzar and of course the SGS-II.  Seems like theres a new iPhone killer every month, and the Android faithful are singing its praises about how they must have it.  But for what?  Its a phone.  What exactly does one do with a phone, that requires this upgrade cycle of a few months.  Is it the specs?  Is it the increasingly large screen?  Is it more HDMI ports?  I just dont get it and I consider myself a techie.  I attend CES, I read tech blogs every morning and I make sure to watch the latest & greatest tech announcements as they happen.. but I dont empty my bank accounts chasing it.  

 

Hell my 50" 720p HDTV, bought in 2005, still works well enough that I wont replace it.

post #21 of 57

"But it requires that all handset owners turn on a special feature in settings, then tap a series of on-screen buttons to utilize the feature."

 

Wow if this is now to complicated for the average user we in big trouble as a society.

post #22 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

The only 'strong competitor' for the iPhone is an iPad with Skype.

 

Hopefully Apple is not so complacent. The competition is catching up fast.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by desarc View Post

i still think apple needs to do two different size phones - pack the existing 3.5" screen into a smaller case and add a big boy to compete w/ the 4.8" screen of this baby.

 

Totally agree. We don't need a multitude of iPhones like they have with Android - like you say 2 sizes would pretty much cover all the bases.

post #23 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

The best for stock battery use on most common tasks is the Razr Maxx. No one else is even close for now. Of course they have one ginormous battery, tho the device profile wouldn't indicate that.

The One X and Galaxy S III aren't that far off.

post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


This alone encapsulates all the problems with Android for the regular joe-user.  Tech-saavy folks with lots of time to burn fiddling with inanimate objects will obviously be attracted to this "feature" of Android to resolve their quick 5-minute fixes.  Call it "user-choice" and "user-control", for most it's a waste of time.  

 

Actually that is the strength - if the regular joe does not have the capacity or time to deal with it that is not a reason for the feature to be excluded - those that can and willing will use it. If "Joe" wants to just make calls, text and go online - they can. if the tech savy wants to dig in and learn every feature - they can. The idea that everything need to be Stupid proof is nonsense.

post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by agramonte View Post

"But it requires that all handset owners turn on a special feature in settings, then tap a series of on-screen buttons to utilize the feature."

 

Wow if this is now to complicated for the average user we in big trouble as a society.

The idea is that features like that are the kind you like to be able to use like making a call -- pick the contact (or favorite) and tap - voila. The feature Walt was talking about was supposed to be for sharing pix in "realtime" --- now if both users have to go to settings and then both users have to tap buttons on their phones to take advantage of this it hardly seems worth it. I got the feeling it was considerably more difficult to use than FaceTime which just works with one extra tap.

post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

The best for stock battery use on most common tasks is the Razr Maxx. No one else is even close for now. Of course they have one ginormous battery, tho the device profile wouldn't indicate that.

You got to be kidding me. Look at the battery capacity.

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post #27 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

The idea is that features like that are the kind you like to be able to use like making a call -- pick the contact (or favorite) and tap - voila. The feature Walt was talking about was supposed to be for sharing pix in "realtime" --- now if both users have to go to settings and then both users have to tap buttons on their phones to take advantage of this it hardly seems worth it. I got the feeling it was considerably more difficult to use than FaceTime which just works with one extra tap.

 

But not everything can be a one tap feature - not everything done on an ipad, iphone, or OSX are a one tap event yet we consider the outcome as a benefit so the extra effort is justified. 

post #28 of 57

I know. Gigantic for a stock battery is an understatement.

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post #29 of 57

From this video I think the sharing Mossberg is talking about is just a one-time set-up (swipe to turn off-on), and not something that has to be done every time you want to use it.

http://youtube.ng/watch?v=Vu4MDPd2GYI&feature=plcp

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post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

The idea is that features like that are the kind you like to be able to use like making a call -- pick the contact (or favorite) and tap - voila. The feature Walt was talking about was supposed to be for sharing pix in "realtime" --- now if both users have to go to settings and then both users have to tap buttons on their phones to take advantage of this it hardly seems worth it. I got the feeling it was considerably more difficult to use than FaceTime which just works with one extra tap.


You are being disingenuous - as is Mossberg.  By your reasoning, Bluetooth will never catch on or be useful because users will have to turn it on, pair devices and then select files to transfer or whatever.

post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

From this video I think the sharing Mossberg is talking about is just a one-time set-up (swipe to turn off-on), and not something that has to be done every time you want to use it.

http://youtube.ng/watch?v=Vu4MDPd2GYI&feature=plcp

Some of those features are kind of slick--especially the one where you can call somebody if you're looking at their contact info simply by holding the phone to your ear.

 

Dummy that I am, I would probably never remember to use it, though.

post #32 of 57
One place where Samsung's Galaxy phones are smoking Apple is in the phone's SAR rating. Apple's phones have consistently been in the 1.1 - 1.17 watts per kg range. Samsung's Galaxy phones are typically at about 0.3. The FCC allows a maximum of 1.6 watts/kg

It's disappointing that Apple doesn't lead in this regard either, especially considering the potential links to brain cancer and the cause of death of their founder.
post #33 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylersdad View Post

Some of those features are kind of slick--especially the one where you can call somebody if you're looking at their contact info simply by holding the phone to your ear.

 

Dummy that I am, I would probably never remember to use it, though.

I have a minimum of two (home/mobile) phone numbers stored for 90% of my contacts, and up to five for some. Which does it decide to call? Even if there's a "default" option, how would it know I want to call my boss's cell to let her know she forgot her purse at work instead of calling the work number I call when I need to let her know I'm running late? Et cetera. If you can't open up the contact card and tap on the number you want to call? You're probably not smart enough to program the information into the contact card to begin with, and so this feature would be worthless to you anyways.

post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by skottichan View Post

I have a minimum of two (home/mobile) phone numbers stored for 90% of my contacts, and up to five for some. Which does it decide to call? Even if there's a "default" option, how would it know I want to call my boss's cell to let her know she forgot her purse at work instead of calling the work number I call when I need to let her know I'm running late? Et cetera. If you can't open up the contact card and tap on the number you want to call? You're probably not smart enough to program the information into the contact card to begin with, and so this feature would be worthless to you anyways.

It would use your default. Most phones allow you to select a default number for a contact. If you want to call a different number for the contact, you'd press the button for that one and not use gesture to make the call.

 

It seems silly to remove a feature or even discount the usefulness of a feature just because it may not be useful in 100% of the use cases.

post #35 of 57

Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


This alone encapsulates all the problems with Android for the regular joe-user.  Tech-saavy folks with lots of time to burn fiddling with inanimate objects will obviously be attracted to this "feature" of Android to resolve their quick 5-minute fixes.  Call it "user-choice" and "user-control", for most it's a waste of time.  

 

I think you have it completely backwards.
 
There is no doubt in my mind that I miss some features of my Android, but I also have no doubt my iPhone is WAY more usable than my Android.  So I agree with the assumption that complexity and lots of features go hand in hand.
 
Where I think you're wrong is about "regular joe-user" being bothered by Android features or complexity.  I think a “regular-user” will only use their phone to post on Facebook, check email, and occasionally play a casual game.  Android is completely sufficient for doing those things and most Android device work great when doing so. But due to the fragmentation of Android, it is when you start to installing lots of apps and experimenting with your phone settings when Android starts to get bogged down and sluggish. Usually, it will be fine at first, but performance degrades and eventually you may need to wipe to get performance back to par.
 
So to me it is the power user that is most bothered by Android.  These are the people that constantly use of their device throughout the day and uses various apps to organize their life.  Those people find Android tedious because it does not stand up well to that kind of usage in either performance or battery-life.  For me and 2 other people I know, that was the case.  We all got frustrated with our Android devices and one by one switched to iPhone.  And we're all happier from doing so.
 


Edited by rednival - 6/20/12 at 12:19pm
post #36 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by icibaqu View Post

One place where Samsung's Galaxy phones are smoking Apple is in the phone's SAR rating. Apple's phones have consistently been in the 1.1 - 1.17 watts per kg range. Samsung's Galaxy phones are typically at about 0.3. The FCC allows a maximum of 1.6 watts/kg
It's disappointing that Apple doesn't lead in this regard either, especially considering the potential links to brain cancer and the cause of death of their founder.

First of all, Jobs had pancreatic cancer not brain cancer. Also, I just the SAR Rating for the Galaxy S III and it's 1.49 W/kg to the body:

http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_i9300_galaxy_s_iii-4238.php

Don't spread the FUD here - you'll get called on it.
post #37 of 57

In my line of work I come into contact with all sorts of phones from iPhones to Android (I have an Android for work) to Windows Mobile (haven't really seen a lot of Windows Phone 7 devices yet though).

 

iPhone is streaks ahead of everyone in terms of simplicity. Android is at the bottom of the list.

 

My first contact with Android came when I was in parliament and the co-leader for the Green's asked me to put her phone onto the Telecom network. It took me half an hour to find the correct setting because it was labeled something that made no sense. That was a Galaxy S.

 

A kid at polytech that my wife works at had a Galaxy S III and he said it is the hardest phone to use he's ever had. Samsung doesn't know what its target audience is and let's face it most people buying these phones in New Zealand are really after and iPhone without paying the price... only the price they do pay just in a different way.

 

Windows Mobile is far more simpler than Android but it is also kludgy and feels wrong to use.

 

Sure you can claim an iPhone needs a larger screen but people will end up hating them. Does no one look to the past anymore? We had 5" phones before with Palm and no one really liked them. I guess having a touch screen will make things different but I'm not so sure. The resolution will not be better than the current iPhones in fact it will be worse. There won't be any real selling point to a larger iPhone. "It's bigger" isn't a very good marketing line is it?

post #38 of 57

i think this phone is ugly.

and it runs 'hot'? who the hell wants that? i think the galaxy nexus looks better and they should have just kept its form factor, lack of physical buttons, and just updated the specs and display. i don't know why these companies can't understand the notion of trying to perfect something rather than just keep slinging sh*t out there hoping it will stick.

plus, the pics i have seen of the iphone 5, if they are real, will just put more distance between android sets. i like the design of it.

post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by screamingfist View Post

i think this phone is ugly.

and it runs 'hot'? who the hell wants that? i think the galaxy nexus looks better and they should have just kept its form factor, lack of physical buttons, and just updated the specs and display. i don't know why these companies can't understand the notion of trying to perfect something rather than just keep slinging sh*t out there hoping it will stick.

plus, the pics i have seen of the iphone 5, if they are real, will just put more distance between android sets. i like the design of it.

My iPhone 4 runs hot. When I use it to call somebody or use 3G data, it gets very warm. My son's iPhone 4S gets even warmer.

 

Based on the majority of the reviews for the S III, it's not just more sh*t, it's a worthy phone. Just because you don't see the value in it, doesn't mean there aren't a host of others that do.

 

As for me, I'm waiting for the next iPhone. I was tempted by the S III and it's enormous screen, but I'm more excited to see what new features the new iPhone will have.

post #40 of 57

I've heard many good things about this phone. I've not had a chance to use it yet myself, but truth be told there are aspects of Android that are nice. Maps, for example. Looking forward to iOS 6 and Apple's Maps.

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