My Experience With a New Samsung Galaxy S3

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galaxy-s3Back around Christmas, my wife and I were ready to upgrade our phones. We’d been using the first generation Samsung Galaxy S phones, and had nothing but good experiences with the build quality, and since we’d been Android users since pretty much the beginning, upgrading to one of today’s best Android phones was a no-brainer.After a few weeks, we really love our Galaxy S3s.

I was a bit concerned at first, since our carrier (T-Mobile) had pretty much rendered our previous Galaxy handsets useless with copious amounts of crapware bloatware junk, that I was forced to have to root both, simply to free-up enough memory to make them work.

I’m pleased to report that the S3 was a better experience, although it still came with its fair share of rubbish, which, as usual, cannot be uninstalled without rooting. Why is that still legal, when the only solution is to root the phone, which voids the warranty? That’s a topic for another day.

Hopefully, your carrier is more ethical, and at the very least, T-Mobile has gotten a lot better about not using every last bit of memory to install refuse you don’t need, and will never use.

Looking beyond the carrier shenanigans, the device itself is a marvel. Blistering speed, fantastic display, and within 24 hours, it had updated itself from the factory installed Ice-cream Sandwich version of Android, to the latest and greatest, Jellybean, which is a big step forward on nearly every level.

Samsung’s Android Modifications

While Android is truly becoming a technological masterpiece, most manufacturers feel the need to “mess with it.” I get it… They all seem to feel the need to differentiate their offering from the competing Android manufacturers, but in many cases, those modifications to the operating system only serve to make the Android experience unnecessarily confusing.

In my book, Samsung is one of the worst offenders.

While they make some really, really good hardware, these guys seem pretty clueless when it comes to great software. I first realized that when I bought a Samsung Blu-Ray player several years ago. Form a hardware standpoint, it was really a work of art, setting the standard (at the time) on specs, and features.

However, their integrated streaming media system (Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, etc.) was (& remains) an absolute joke – Without a doubt, one of the worst, most inconsistent patchworks of user experiences available.

Samsung should stay out of the software business.

The Galaxy S3 is no different in many areas. A great case-in-point is the calendar app, which doesn’t follow the design & usability aesthetics of the rest of the system. In fact, it looks like a rustic downgrade from the old Android calendar we’d used on our previous phones, with much more limited functionality, and a counter-intuitive interface.

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to simply download the “official” Google calendar app to replace it, but I found myself scratching my head, asking, “What were they thinking?”

I wish that the hardware makers would accept that while making their software different might help them differentiate their offerings in the marketplace, “different” must not only be at least “as good as,” it should be “better than.”

Until they can do that, I wish they’d just stick to innovating at the hardware level.

Next time (in a couple of years), I think I might go the Nexus route, and skip the half-baked manufacturer software modifications altogether.

The Hardware

There’s nothing bad I can say about the specs and build quality of the S3 handset. The camera is fantastic, the speed is wonderful, and the battery life is much better than average.

The phone is the first we’ve owned that has NFC, and while that’s something I’m really excited about playing with, I’ve yet to find a compelling reason to. Phone-based payments & other NFC applications are still in their infancy here in the US, and while there are some “novelty applications” (such as NFC stickers & key fobs) I’ve been anxious to try, NFC (at the moment) strikes me as one of those “cool to have once someone comes-up with a compelling application I can use). But, I can see the potential.