Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III review: S to the third

GSMArena team, 20 May 2012.
Pages: 123456789101112

Retail package is par for the course

The Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III retail package contains all the basic accessories, required for the everyday use of the smartphone. There's the microUSB data cable, which couples with the wall-mount charger, or is used for charging off a computer connection and file transfers.

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The retail package

There's also a single-piece headset of reasonable, if unspectacular, looks and that's it. There's no microSD card supplied (though with 16GB of internal memory you still get adequate storage out of the box). There's no TV-out adapter either or any other extra value accessories. This might be disappointing for a flagship device, but the Galaxy S III's direct rivals don't offer much more than that, so we won't be deducting any points here.

Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III 360-degree spin

At 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm, the Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III is certainly not the most compact smartphone around, but you could hardly expect anything better with a 4.8" screen. In fact, Samsung engineers deserve credit for fitting such a massive display in a chassis, which is a mere 4.5mm wider and just over a centimeter taller than its predecessor's.

The Samsung Galaxy S III isn't too heavy either - 133g sounds more than acceptable given its size and, while it will certainly be felt in your pocket, it is by no means a burden.

Design and display

We were less than impressed with the Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III from the first official photos. The fact that the it borrowed design ideas from the last two Nexus smartphones instead of building on the sleekness of the S II was generally met with frowns around the office.

However, once we held the device in our hands, we realized that the Samsung I9300 design is actually not too bad. For one, its materials look better in person than they do on photos and the sturdy build helps a lot too. Then there's the impressively slim waistline, which really adds to the general appeal of the device.

And yes, we still feel the glossy finish is a questionable choice as it lacks the high-end vibe that a smartphone of this caliber deserves. However, the Samsung Hyperglaze coating makes sure the S III doesn't look like a $200 handset in real life as the press photos suggested.

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The S III looks more like a Nexus phone than an S II successor

Hyperglaze basically means that there's another, see-through layer of plastic on top of the back panel - similar to what we saw on the Meizu MX. This layer helps mask some of the fingerprints and is actually decently grippy.

So, in conclusion, the Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III design is the kind that's likely to grow on you. That's still not what we'd expect from a device aiming for the top of the smartphone world (hence the inclusion on the main disadvantages list), but we don't think anyone will actually mind looking at it.

Yet, as we mentioned in our preview, few people will actually be looking at the Galaxy I9300 overall design too closely. Who will bother looking at the back, when there is a screen as gorgeous as this up front?

The 4.8" Super AMOLED of HD resolution is where the Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III magic happens. The image quality is every bit as impressive as the specs suggest - tack sharp and with perfectly deep blacks, it's probably the best you can find on the market.

The colors are nicely saturated by default, but the display settings menu offers a choice between four different modes, so you can opt for more natural colors as well. We did prefer the livelier dynamic and standard modes, but the natural and movie modes will probably have their fans too. What's important here is that the S III display offers a level of flexibility that no other screen on the market can provide.

Sunlight legibility is splendid too - the HD Super AMOLED isn't the brightest around, but its reflectivity is so low that even outside in the brightest day, you'll still be able to see what's on the screen quite clearly. As a matter of fact, the Galaxy S III managed to top our sunlight legibility charts.


Contrast ratio

  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.970
  • Samsung Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955

The viewing angles are extremely wide too - there's some color loss when you reach the extremes, but the icons and text remain almost perfectly clear, giving that printed look that we love so much.

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Samsung Galaxy S III sunlight legibility test

In case you were worried about the PenTile matrix that the Galaxy S III employs - well, don't be. You'd need to be looking from such close range that your eyes will hurt before you notice any difference. It's plain to see that the HD PenTile screen of the S III is sharper than the RGB WVGA unit on the Galaxy S II, despite the increased screen size. It's just that at these ppi levels the differences are extremely hard to spot, so PenTile is nothing to be worried about.

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The Samsung Galaxy S III display vs the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S II screens

And here's how the Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III did in our dedicated display test. You can learn more about the testing process over here.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Nexus 0 112 0 247
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III 0 174 0 330
HTC One X 0.15 200 1375 0.39 550 1410
Sony Xperia S - - - 0.48 495 1038
Motorola RAZR XT910 0 215 0 361
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II 0 231 0 362
HTC One S 0 177 0 386
Samsung Galaxy Note 0 287 0 429
HTC Sensation XE 0.23 172 761 0.64 484 752

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