I own an iPhone 4s and have owned every iPhone since the very first one. I like the iPhone. But I have recently tired of Apple’s closed systems, PR policies which limit valuable and necessary information that consumers need to make informed decisions as well as other business practices. Accordingly, I have decided for the first time since the 1980s to venture outside the Apple eco-system.
While I still own and use an iPhone, I wanted to take a crack at the newest Android phones. I ran a poll on Google+ and the Samsung S3 was most often recommended. I got one of the first ones to land on U.S. shores and this is my quick review.
Let me preface this by saying I have experimented with other versions of Android. I hated them. I mean really hated them. The first two tries left me frustrated and un-impressed. But I kept hearing about “Ice Cream Sandwich” and a new version of the OS and phones to go with it and here I am.
My primary interests in a smartphone are that the phone works, I can get email and that there is a decent camera. The S3 offers all of those things, all-be-it in a manner that is not nearly as intuitive as the iPhone.
Let’s start with the impressive camera. It’s an 8-megapixel camera. It offers a burst mode, face recognition and the kind of photographic control you’d more likely expect in a DSLR. There’s a built-in HDR mode that’s not all that impressive (neither is the native iPhone built-in HDR mode) but the built-in pano mode is nice. Overall, I’d say that the camera is as good or slightly better in the S3 than the iPhone 4s, but the chip is nothing special and I suspect that the iPhone 5 will offer a new generation camera chip. That means the jury is out on whether or not the S3 cam will win any awards. If you’re shooting video though – then the S3 really shines. The video from this thing is amazing.
The problem comes when you need to get the pictures off the S3. If you’re coming from the Apple eco-system you’ll hate this process. You have to download an app and then jump through a bunch of hoops to get the images onto your computer. For people who are afraid of computers this will be a turn off. Those of us used to just attaching our iPhone to the Mac and then seeing our images show up in iPhoto will have to get used to this new way. I think it’s the biggest turn off for me personally because I’ve been spoiled. I figured it out. It’s not hard, but why can’t Android work something out that lets you just attach your phone and have the images show up on Picassa? There should be something easier than the current solutions in my opinion.
Another problem is the lack of standards. I posted a series of questions about Android on Google+ and consistently got three sets of answers to the same set of questions. In each case, although well-meaning, two groups of people consistently gave me incorrect information. They were sure they were right and they were not. The problem? There are no standards when it comes to Android phones. Each manufacturer, i.e., Samsung, HTC, etc, implements the operating system differently. And then each app maker does things a little differently so while the answer will ALWAYS be the same when you ask how to do something with an iPhone (running the current iOS) that is not the case when you’re using Android. It’s been frustrating to say the least. I’ve figured most of the major stuff out but on an iPhone it took five minutes. On my S3 it took five days.
As for the rest of it – well the screen is much larger and brighter than the one on the iPhone. The button placement is questionable. I often accidentally turn the phone off due to the button placement. The battery life is insane. It lasts MUCH longer than the one on the iPhone. I don’t know how they did it, but Samsung got that one right. Oh yeah, the battery is user replaceable. That’s something you will never be able to do on an iPhone.
I like the S3 and am trying to get by with it as my only phone. As a camera it is tied or maybe even better than the iPhone. I can’t commit to getting rid of my iPhone just yet. The ease of use, inerface and user friendly Apple eco-system is powerful enough to hold my attention. But I’m going to dedicate myself to trying to use this S3 as often as possible and maybe over time my opinion will change. If you’re already an Android person and you’re looking for a smart phone with a great camera, great battery life, a beautiful big screen and all the features you need to take great shots this is your ticket.