Samsung Galaxy S III gets reviewed -- the good, the bad, and the copied

Samsung is Apple's biggest competitor and the Galaxy S III will be one of the iPhone 5's biggest competitors come this fall. Alex Dobie from Android Central has done up a complete, and completely massive Samsung Galaxy S III review and come away with his socks knocked off, if not knocked totally for a loop.

Whether you judge a phone’s speed by benchmark numbers, what it can do, or just how quick it feels, the Galaxy S III is the fastest Android phone money can buy -- and that in itself is an achievement. But it’s obvious that Samsung isn’t miles ahead of the Android competition, as it was last year. That means the choice between its flagship and HTC’s is not as clear-cut as it’s been in the past. In fact, the argument between the Galaxy S III and HTC One X is one we’ll save for another day. But in spite of the Galaxy S III's identifiable weaknesses and foibles, the overall package that Samsung delivers is still exceptionally good. And that makes it a device we can enthusiastically recommend to high-end smartphone buyers.

The overall package is remarkably thin, and draws a lot of inspiration from the late, lamented Palm Pre's river stone stylings, including screen ripples and nature tones.

Compared to the current iPhone 4S -- even compared to the rumored 4-inch, 16:9 inch iPhone 5 -- the Galaxy S III has a positively enormous with a 4.8-inch screen. That's 4.8 inches of PenTile HD SuperAMOLED, however, that boasts more pixels than an iPhone Retina Display (1280x720 vs 960x640). It isn't as crisp or clean as the iPhone (or HTC One X) LCDs, however, but most people won't notice or care.

The internals are no less porny -- a 1.4Ghz quad-core Exynos chipset with 1GB of RAM, and the same excellent Sony camera sensor found in the iPhone 4S. This isn't the LTE version yet, however, so the HSPA+ radio maxes out 21Mbps down and upload speeds up to 5.7Mbps (not even reaching new iPad DC-HSPA+ 42Mbps potential). It does support NFC and Wi-Fi Direct.

The Galaxy S III ships with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich which should go a long way to jump-starting the tiny 7% adoption rate Google's latest smartphone OS currently suffers from. Rather than stock Android, however, Samsung has one again shellacked their own TouchWhiz interface. That's a good thing for new smartphone users, for whom it should make things easier and more approachable. For more experienced users, and those who value refined, consistent design language, it's less ideal.

The calendar widget looks completely different to the music widget, which in turn has nothing in common with the clock and weather widgets. It’s small things like this which demonstrate that Samsung doesn’t quite understand UI design as well as competitors like HTC.

Likely because Apple hasn't yet produced a widget system for Samsung to draw inspiration from, not that they didn't get their fare share of inspired by Apple in Cupertino in here as well.

While not Chromebox-level egregious this time, we do get the AirPlay-like AllShare Play -- which actually one-ups Apple by handling device-to-device streaming as well. More comically, we get S Voice which could have been a rival to Apple's Siri but instead is an almost exact clone when it comes to interface. Now Siri's UI is certainly slick, but not so much that seeing someone else innovate something better wouldn't have been welcome. (Which is pretty much exactly how we feel about Apple pinching Notification Center from Android last year.)

Still, Samsung is styling the Galaxy S III as the best, most hotly anticipated phone in the world and, interestingly, unlike last year it may not even be the best phone on the Android Platform. That's thanks to HTC getting back in the game in a big way with the HTC One X. And that's a good thing for Android and for smartphones.

Those are just the highs and lows. There's a ton more to read, so head on over to Android Central's definitive Galaxy S III review, check it out, then come back here and let us know what you think.

Does is set the bar higher for Apple and the iPhone 5? Does it increase the stakes for iOS 6 and WWDC 2012?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.