Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III preview: Second encounter

GSMArena team, 8 May 2012.
Pages: 1234567

User interface

The Samsung Galaxy S III runs on the latest Android available at the moment - 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, which has been heavily modified by the latest TouchWiz UI from Samsung.

Before we delve into the details, check out a short video demo of the new interface:

The interface bears a strong resemblance to an ICS-running Galaxy S II (no surprise here), though Samsung did update the lockscreen to make it fit better with the nature-inspired design of their latest flagship.

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The lockscreen packs a ton of new functionality

The lockscreen no longer draws a circle around your finger, so you don't have a visual cue about how far you need to swipe to unlock the phone. There are ripples as you drag your finger accompanied by water-drop sound.

You can also enable a news ticker at the bottom of the lockscreen, which is a great way to stay up to date on current events. You can also expand the tickerto view all news items.

We're not done with the lockscreen - there are four shortcuts at the bottom that can be used to quickly jump to an app. Since there is no circle to drag them into, you just swipe them up. You can, of course, customize which shortcuts reside here.

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The lockscreen has extensive customization options

There's one more trick - you wake the phone (tap the power button or the home key), then press and hold the screen and rotate the phone horizontally. It will unlock and start the camera as soon as it's in the right orientation to snap a photo.

The dock at the bottom of the screen seized the opportunity to accommodate another shortcut - the bigger screen now fits five custom shortcuts or folders. The rightmost one opens the app drawer as usual.

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The dock at the bottom of the screen now has four customizable shortcuts

Speaking of the bottom of the screen, you'll notice that there aren't any on-screen control keys - Samsung decided to stick with their traditional hardware Home button flanked by capacitive Menu and Back buttons.

The notification area shows the same number of toggles as before - five - but one of them has been replaced. You get Wi-Fi, GPS, Silent mode, Screen rotation and Power saving (which replaced the Bluetooth toggle).

That's quite deliberate - Ice Cream Sandwich comes with Android Beam, which uses NFC for sending files, bookmarks and links, and the Galaxy S III builds on that functionality with S Beam - it does the NFC handshake, but switches to Wi-Fi Direct to speed transfers up.

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The notification area has more toggles

Anyway, there are five more toggles just off screen. You can scroll them sideways to reveal more functions - Notifications (toggles icons in the top row of the screen), Mobile data, Bluetooth, Driving mode and Sync.

Even though the dock at the bottom fits five icons, the homescreen and the app drawer fit only four on a row. However, there are now five rows in the drawer so you still get more shortcuts per page.

Following the ICS convention, the app drawer has a tab that lets you pull out widgets to the homescreen easily. This wasn't available on the ICS-running S II.

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The app drawer houses both app shortcuts and widgets

Once you get several apps running, you can use the task switcher to go back and forth between them. It's an ICS-style vertical list with a screenshot and a name for each app. Swiping an app sideways removes it from the list.

There's a button at the bottom of the list to bring out Samsung's home-brewed task manager as we saw on the updated Galaxy S II, but now there's an extra button, which lets you clear the list.

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The task switcher has two custom buttons courtesy of Samsung

Let's go back to the homescreen and the widgets. Ice Cream Sandwich comes with various widgets and Samsung have added more still. Some widgets are resizable too - a feature we've seen in some custom UIs is now available natively in ICS.

As usual, you can pinch to zoom out and easily manage homescreen panes - add, delete (but you can't have more than seven) or just rearrange them.

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You can have at most 7 homescreens

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