The Galaxy SII made a huge splash upon its release in 2011, featuring a dual-core processor, fast graphics chip and a sharp camera.
Samsung's smartphone proved to be a huge hit, with tens of millions of units being sold around the world.
Thus, developing a successor to such a well-received device, despite being a no-brainer, was no easy task for the Korean giant. Enter Samsung's Galaxy SIII.
A good, albeit uninspired design
Upon unboxing, we were greeted with a phone that, aesthetically at least, underwhelms when compared to the likes of the Lumia 800.
First of all, instead of exotic materials, the phone largely makes use of "hyperglazed" plastic. But that's not entirely a bad thing however, giving the phone a smooth feel and a shiny look.
The next thing you'll notice about the device are the rounded edges, a departure from the square brick form-factor that seems to dominate the smartphone landscape. Then there's the metallic "ring", akin to the iPhone 4/4S, that runs along the edges of the device.
At the top of the phone you'll find an earphone jack, while the bottom of the phone plays host to a USB port. The volume rocker sits on the left-hand side and the power/unlock button can be found on the right-hand side.
It's all very well-placed, especially the power-button, with users able to unlock their phone without having to shift their hands. The HTC One X on the other hand, features a power button at the top of the device, forcing users to shift grips to unlock their device.
However, the star of the show is the 4.8-inch display, with some wide viewing angles and a 720p HD resolution to boot. Photos are crisp on the screen while videos are pretty sharp as well.
Rounding out the hardware is a physical home button, flanked by a pair of capacitive buttons (namely, options and back).
A pretty, yet powerful experience
Turn on the SIII and you're greeted by an oddly beautiful update of Samsung's TouchWiz skin.
The lockscreen eschews the wheel-turning of previous TouchWiz devices in favour of a pretty water effect, with the ripples following your finger. It's the first sign that Samsung has succeeded in actually carved out an identity on their smartphones.
The default widgets have also seen an overhaul, with the weather and clock widgets in particular being minimalistic and uniform.
A pretty skin means nothing if the device performs poorly though, but the SIII is one smooth machine.
Swiping through menus, opening apps and transitioning between screens is a slick experience, with nary a hiccup to be spotted. Even Grand Theft Auto 3, one of the more demanding smartphone titles out there, looks fantastic and runs smoothly.
All of this is possible thanks to the 1.4Ghz quad-core processor lurking underneath, complete with 1GB of RAM.
In fact, so confident is Samsung in the device's horsepower that they've thrown in a video mode called Pop-Up Play.
This feature lets users watch a video in a window, overlaid over whatever they're doing. So for instance, if you'd like to browse the internet while watching a clip, it's possible. The feature is pretty smooth, with little lag to be had.
Pop-Up Play is just one trick that Samsung has managed to integrate into the SIII, with plenty more features on-hand.
Another innovation, also seen on the HTC One X as well (review coming next week!) is the camera, which lets you shoot full HD video and take snaps at the same time. It's a significant improvement upon existing devices, currently forcing users to choose either camera or video modes.
The camera, which has zero-shutter lag, takes some great photos, especially outdoors, although the One X bests it in low-light conditions. The camera features your usual range of extra modes and features, along with a few Samsung-specific features.
Being an Ice Cream Sandwich handset, all of the platform's features are present and functional, including Face Unlock, a bandwidth manager, connectivity shortcuts in the dropdown bar and more.
Page two: Unique features and more!