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Opinions below are not that of my employer!

I finally got my hands on the "mostly final" version of the Galaxy SIII today and can finally talk about it! I feel compelled to say that this thing is just great. It's sleek and thin, insanely fast, and just sexy to look at (if you find gadgets sexy that is). I'm not going to talk specs, you can look those up if you want. I'll just mention the pluses and minuses.

1. Industrial design. It's smooth and sleek. The screen is huge. It's thinner than anything else you can buy. It does not have the on-screen navigation like the Galaxy Nexus, instead it has a menu, back, and hard home key. I didn't like that at first, but it's great for taking pictures and holding the phone in landscape mode.

2. Smart Stay. Probably my favorite feature. When the phone is about to time out and turn off the display while you are reading, the camera will snap a picture (with zero shutter lag) and do a face-detect. If it finds a face, it stays awake. It works brilliantly.

3. Gyroscope. Samsung did some great stuff that detects certain gestures with the gyro. This has been on other devices but is even better on the GS3. When you are scrolling a list, you can double-tap the top of the phone to jump back to the top.

4. Camera. It's an 8MP (rear, 2MP front), zero-shutter-lag camera. It's what we wanted on the Galaxy Nexus but didn't quite get. The stock camera app is really great and has tons of hipster effects, HDR, touch focus/zoom, burst shot (hold button for consecutive snaps), and panorama.

5. HOLY CRAP, it's fast. Depending on where you get your device the chipset may be different, but the US model is no slouch. There's almost no jank in the display, it's super smooth. For you people who know how long it takes to "adb push" a full CM ROM over to /sdcard/, you'll be happy to know that it just takes a couple of seconds. The I/O bandwidth seems to be far and beyond any other device I've used.

6. Lock screen. The water-trail lockscreen is great, and very functional.

There are things I would do differently if I were in charge of the project of course (ohai CM9) , but I think we did a great job (OK, so maybe I only fixed a couple of bugs, I am just fanboying everyone else who was involved).

The bad- it's still carrier-branded in the US and comes with all the baggage that's involved. I like my technology to have a lot less fine print.

It's a solid piece of engineering and definitely pushes the state-of-the-art forward, considering that this will end up in the hands of a huge amount of people. I hope that the US market will be able to break away from the current subsidy model at some point (ohai Google) but if that's what you are out for, it's a great choice.

Check it out if you have the chance. I'll probably get distracted by some new shiny thing in a week, so take it for what it is :)
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73 comments
 
I wonder how many of these software-related features (like the top-tap and the face-detect options) could/would be ported to CM9 and other ICS ROMs.
 
+Dusty Wilson Where there's a will, there's a way. A lot of people thought things like wimax could never be ported, but TeamWin managed to do it. Since there's nothing hardcore like a 3D camera, I think that most of the stuff should be able to be ported, but some may take a while.
 
+Dusty Wilson Someone just needs to code them and not violate anyone elses patents (I hate software patents, but I'm not willing to put CM in the middle of that mess).
 
Will it run CM9 as a first tier port? I buy devices to run CM, not "Android". :-)

In fact, aren't the nexus series devices special in that their Android ports are developed directly in the AOSP tree? If I buy the GS3 instead of a galaxy nexus, can I expect equivalently good open source support?
 
+Andrew Clunis If you want the best supported device for CM9 then you want a Nexus. You'll have to decide the philosophical trade-offs yourself.
 
+Steve Kondik I certainly have hope that these features would be coded and integrated into CM9 or elsewhere. I care little for software patents, even as a programmer myself.
 
+Dusty Wilson doesn't mean that the CM team will be willing to deal with all those headaches of using patented software in their ROMs.
 
+Dusty Wilson Recklessly breaking the law by just stealing ideas though? Not such a good idea these days. You need to choose your battles well.
 
There are some nice features and hardware is good. But as an owner of GS2, I can tell you: you will cry when next major update from Google comes out.
Sorry, but I got my lesson. Only pure Google experience phones for me.
 
+Steve Kondik Not recklessly. I would suggest that the person implementing the feature would try to avoid patent issues. My mention of patents was to simply say I think poorly of them myself. The courts apparently still care about them and that will presently affect how things are done.
 
i can not wait for this thing to drop for T-Mobile! im buying day one!
 
When the phone is about to time out and turn off the display while you are reading, the camera will snap a picture (with zero shutter lag) and do a face-detect. If it finds a face, it stays awake. It works brilliantly.

How does this thing impact battery life though?
 
I have the galaxy nexus and love it. I just got htc one x and have to say my nexus feels cheap and plastic. Hope build quality is better with S3
The htc one build quality in my book is a 9 out of 10
 
Question: After using the device, what is your opinion on there being a menu button on the device even though Google is clearly trying to phase it out in Android? Would you have preferred it being recent apps with the menu button appearing on screen just like the One X/S when necessary?

To me, this is the only thing that lets it down - it doesn't feel like a 4.0 phone.
 
You lucky man! Get me a job where you're working ;)
 
+Lewis Putz : there're many app that doesn't have ICS target yet. So they will display a menu button. if the device have a hard key and doesn't have a menu button, then there will be a bar with menu button in the bottom of the screen. So menu button will be better, unless they go with onscreen button
 
+Adam Sobotka I have the Sprint version of the Galaxy SII and CM9 works beautifully on it... I've been enjoying ICS for a few months now... ;-) CM9 will almost certainly hit Samsung early on, which makes sense considering Samsung hired the dude... 
 
+Kevin Niven my wife's cheap feeling plasticy Epic Touch got hit across two desks to the classroom floor, skided out the door and across the sidewalk... Not even a scratch... I'll take cheap feeling but durable as hell any day of the week and twice on Sundays
 
+Công Nguyễn No doubt. Seems to work for HTC though and I've not seen any negativity about their implementation?

Some would argue though: what better way to get people to update their apps?
 
+Steve Kondik how well it can work with stylus, like C-Pen? Is there some apps to make it experienced like wacom?
 
I hope the signal reception is better than the galaxy nexus, which was great at everything but being a phone.
 
I wish they would just pull the phone part out but leave the mobile data part...
 
+Abhilash Kuduvalli There shouldn't be much of a battery issue. The main cause of battery consumption in every new smartphone is the screen. Since the screen will already be on, a simple check every 30 seconds / 1 min (till timeout) and a picture isn't making much of a difference.
 
Pretty good phone, but I HATE touchwiz !
 
TouchWiz! :) Some of TW features seem to be cool, but you can choose other launchers and that's the beauty of Android. The hardware seems a good deal better than anything else out there, so far.
BTW, +Steve Kondik (or anyone) - Is there a reason we would want 2GB RAM on our phones?
 
What does smart stay do if you wear sunglasses? Does it revert to a timer?
 
+Chris Medico I guess. But that doesn't mean the phone'll need 2GB RAM to function. Even my desktop manages very well on little more than that amount. I really can't see how 2GB on a phone will be used unless you're gaming hardcore. It's a phone, not a computer, after all. I multitask on my GS1 heavily and manage fine (with CM9 :) ).
Personally I deem 2GB or 12 megapixel camera etc useless (and pricey) hardware bumps, that hardly anyone will utilize fully. It'll take years for the software to catch up with the hardware, and these numbers simply don't count for any real advantage.
 
+Steve Kondik Nice :), but it's kinda sad, now that you work for Samsung, that all your phones from other manufacturers seems to be abandoned. I have a HTC G2 and... well, you are the maintainer at CM development. I bought it just because it had CM support and I knew that you, as the responsible for releasing CM for it, would fix CM9 problems and we would have CM9 nightlies soon. But that didn't happen... as you now work for Samsung. That's OK, you are doing all for free, for the community. And well, we have other teams compiling CM9 for HTC G2. It works nice, but an official CM9 support would be awesome! Have you ever considered passing your maintainer responsibility to another dev? Thanks for your attention and sorry for the bad English :-)
 
+Vitor Gatti Not so at all, the Galaxy Nexus being practically a Galaxy S II is why most development right now is on Samsung phones. The G2 will probably see official work when all the pieces are released, ie when Desire HD camera drivers come out. It might not, but it definitely won't see a release without those. There is no bias towards Samsung in CM.

As for the Galaxy S III, thanks for the first impressions! I'm torn between waiting for an off contract new nexus and springing for the GSIII. The thing the keeps pushing me towards GSIII is the likelyhood that a new nexus won't have an SD slot. Sexy phone....
 
is there any chance the Tmo version retains the Exynos? :)

How do you feel about the nature UI vs stock experience? Is it good enough for all of us tech geeks, or will we be seeing a large push for stock ROMs on the device?
 
+William Gunther yes this is such a total pain , i dumped HTC because i never was able to find a recent / functional vendor tree for rom cooking , i'm now with a GNEX and not considering getting out of the nexus / lunch natively supported devices.
 
+Steve Kondik was it you that convinced Samsung that using boot.img and a recovery partition was a good idea? If so, thanks! :-D

...also, does it support fastboot now?
 
+Kevin Niven there is a difference between build quality and build materials, and I think you are confusing the two as many other people do

The One X may use build materials that give you the feeling of holding something expensive, but because a device is made with cheaper build materials (Nexus) does not mean that the build quality would suffer, I have not seen any articles or reviews about Samsung devices having build quality issues, such as flaking or screen bending even with it's cheap plastic, as cheap as Samsung device may feel, they have excellent build quality
 
+Steve Kondik what exactly do you do at Samsung? Maybe you could implement some hidden key in the Sammy-Rom's. Like hold "Power on, Vol down and Home" at the same time and it boots up in CM9 ;-D hehehe
 
Good question +Espen Fjellvær Olsen but I unfortunately I don't think that things would get better in this regard just yet, I am seriously considering bypassing this great device to get a Nexus later this year/early next year, and rumours are that I may have quite a selection. If the rumours of having a line of Nexus devices this year are true, I am wondering if they will all have the same hardware on the inside with the different manufacturers being given a free reign on the design of the device
 
+Espen Fjellvær Olsen not sure what you mean... CM9 Alpha 1 works awesome on my Epic Touch... Going to install CM9 Alpha 3 probably today...
 
Not going to lie at first glance i thought the sgs3 looked cheap very cheap. But ill have to hold my final judgment till I can play with one. I'm looking for a phone that has a flipping great camera ( My son runs cross country track) and I'm always snapping pics.
 
I currently have a s2 skyrocket. By simply looking at the specs, it doesn't convince me to get the s3 when it comes out. But I will need to wait to test the final product to make the final decision. So far, I'm liking Samsung's quality.
 
+Ron Katzir I think 2 GB of RAM is to allow enterprises to run VMware's phone virtualization. I read somewhere that Samsung was partnering with VMware (some LG phones already support running VMware and Samsung is not going to let LG have the enterprise market). People that end up running two Android instances simultaneously on their phones will be glad for the 2 GB of RAM.
 
+Bob Highmiller I hear Samsung did some cool camera tweaks, like hold down the button to take a quick succession of photos
 
+James Pakele I read the same thing that why in not passing judgment just yet I have had the chance to demo the htc one x and the camera on that is crazy good... And a big FU at&the for the locked bootloader
 
Hope it functions as a good phone when it comes to in call audio quality. Most smartphones perform badly when it comes to simple phone features
 
+Steve Kondik
First off,
Thank you for all your contributions to Android Community, social & dev...
I really enjoy'd reading this.
I have a quick question that people forget to ask in the forefronts...
How loud is the SIII's phone speaker?
I miss having extremely loud ringtones etc like with the OG Droid.
I hope the SIII is louder than the
Galaxy Nexus.
Please chime in & let us know please!?
 
Smart Stay sounds awesome! Maybe someone will write a similar patch for CM9. Eh? Or even just an app would do I'm sure.
 
+Steve Kondik You indicate a strong desire to get away from carrier mangling. I'm sure Samsung does too - why don't they at least offer unlocked unsubsidized devices in the US with a warranty? Right now, if you want unlocked Samsung devices in North America, you only have the option of grey market imports with no warranty. It's not like distribution is difficult to solve thanks to companies like Amazon and Newegg which already carry the grey-market no-warranty imports.
 
Is this the 2 core CDMA or 4 core GSM version? I'm on verizon and worried that the 2 core version is going to be a dog comparativly and lack 3p ROM support.
 
I hate these teaser posts lol. You say you can finally talk about it, then you open more questions then answers and ignore those questions in the comments.
 
Nice write up...I'm buying the unlocked international version, can't stand the carrier branded US versions. Hopefully Google will take the lead in breaking carrier monopoly and make the carriers understand that they are just dumb pipes :)
 
Promising but I still think I will stick with CM9 on my International GS2 and wait for the next Nexus (Nexi? Nexuses?).
 
I think it would be nice if Google developed Android out in the open a bit more, so that enhancements such as those to Beam, the face watching, all those advances, could be pushed upstream and become part of the core OS, rather than relying on OEMs to develop similar things to each other; that investment could then be used elsewhere.
Rob M.
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Will the GSIII push Codeworkx completely over the edge?
 
What about galaxy w i know its not a high end phone but theres rumor about cm9 on it and the question is samsung will never update this phone to ics that means no camera driver so how this phone camera will work on cm9 or it will never work?
 
+Leon Tumatar that depends of the devs, I have a DX (motorola) that is stuck with GB, but now thanks to all the devs is almost fully functional (there is no mute on the calls and no hw accel for now...) but is fully functional for daily use. And samsung releases the kernel code so is not so hard to update a device to ics (moto is really hard)
 
I really love Samsung phones. Samsung S III in partiular. I just wish I could afford to buy it here in the Philippines. I have Samsung Galaxy Y.
 
+Adam Sobotka Unfortunately you are right... Damnsung dont Provides JB for SGS2... Are you a forecaster :D?
 
+Kevin Wulfes well, they never provided ICS (I don't count that bastardized version which might be 4.0 technically), so my hopes was really low on JB :-)
 
I don't know anyone in Samsung but you, so can you pass this along to whoever fixes TW bugs? The IPSec Hybrid RSA VPN would connect but there will be no traffic. Someone described it best at this link (similar but with different VPN mode). (Can't link. Google "Galaxy S3 IPSec Hybrid RSA". Its the Google Code link issue 33821)
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