Samsung made a pretty big splash with the Galaxy SIII smartphone, unveiled on Thursday night in London.
Whether it's the quad-core processor, Android 4.0, voice-recognition software or that screen, the device exudes AAA quality. But the tech specs only tell half the story, so we went hands-on with the Galaxy SIII.
Sharpness, sharpness everywhere
Our initial run-through with the device left us wanting more, with the 4.8-inch display capturing our attention first. The screen, with a 1280 by 720 resolution, continues the industry trend of HD screens, and this one looks pretty sharp.
The HD Super AMOLED screen is vibrant too, playing host to rich colours and an incredibly fast refresh rate.
Samsung's done a great job with the lockscreen itself, replete with water effects when you touch it. And I have to admit, it's pretty fun to just "swim" your finger around, watching the water ripple. It's the first clue that Samsung's been inspired by nature for its new flagship device.
Sifting through the various menus was a pleasant experience as well, featuring no lag and swift transitions. Starting up applications and the like was equally fast too.
The Korean giant is so confident in the device's quad-core processing power, that it also lets you window videos, allowing you to type emails, browse the net and more while watching your video clip. It's all pretty smooth, with the window being resizable and draggable.
Then there's the 8MP camera, featuring zero-shutter lag, autofocus and a variety of other neat features. The picture quality is excellent indeed, and the device also lets you film HD video and take photos at the same time.
Taking pictures was a snappy experience (pun intended), with the aforementioned zero-shutter lag meaning you can take dozens of photos in the space of a few seconds. Even in the unpredictable light of the demo floor, the handset managed to take some great photos.
The camera has a few other neat tricks as well, such as the Best Photo feature, automatically selecting the best snap during burst mode. It sounds great in theory but during the on-stage demonstration it chose a rather awkward, mouth agape pose for the host.
Whether it was a once-off or a sign of things to come, we don't know, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt on this.
Another neat camera trick is the Buddy Photo, which recognises your friend's face, tags them automatically and then gives you the option of sending the snap to them.
A phone that understands you...?
Moving on to smart functions, the Galaxy SIII features plenty of new tricks up its sleeve, with the S-Voice system being one of them.
For all intents and purposes, the S-Voice feature is Samsung's version of Apple's Siri, and works similarly too. Whether you want the weather, need to text someone or simply want to navigate to a specific section, S-Voice recognises the command.
In practice, the device had very little trouble recognising my accent. However, a simple query about the weather in Cape Town gave me the weather alright - for Fulham. Nonetheless, the speech recognition is pretty polished.
Then there's the facial recognition, via the front-facing camera, which recognises your eyes, preventing the screen from going dark, while reading for example. It's another tiny yet slick touch, and one that will probably be seen on other Galaxy phones.
The other intelligent feature is the Smart Alerts system, making use of vibrations when you pick up your device, "telling" you how many missed calls and texts you have.
And if you'd like to call the person in question, simply hold your phone to your ear directly from the missed call/text menu, and you can initiate a call, no button required.
Despite being such a large device, the fact that it weighs 133 grams and is ridiculously thin means that it's pretty comfortable to hold.
The Galaxy SIII is made of plastic for the most part, with Samsung calling the manufacturing technique "hyper glazing". So the rumours of a ceramic casing were not entirely accurate. Despite being made of plastic, it doesn't feel like a cheap, flimsy device though.
The device will also be available in two colours, Pebble Blue and Marble White, with both looking pretty neat.
With a large screen, comfortable form factor and slick performance, the Samsung Galaxy SIII has all the tools to be even more successful than its predecessor.
Hadlee Simons was a guest of Samsung in London at the Mobile Unpacked event.