Samsung Galaxy S III initial benchmarks and hands-on impressions (Video)

Daniel Bader

June 4, 2012 10:03pm


We just got our hands on the marble white version of the Samsung Galaxy S III. As you know, all models, regardless of carrier or network speed, look identical to one another; the difference is on the inside. Samsung has managed to convince its carrier partners that a unified look across the industry is best for business, and the result will likely be faster updates and a more identifiable product.

But the business of being the King of Android is not within its complications, as we’ve already learned. The North American version of the device will eschew a quad-core Exynos processor for a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC, doubling the amount of RAM for good measure. This to ensure that it will be LTE-compatible.

In all, the Galaxy S III is a staggering improvement over its predecessor. While we’ll save the full review for closer to the June 20th release, let’s take a brief look at the hugely anticipated device from Samsung.


You notice immediately upon turning on the screen and swiping through the seven homescreens that, despite its obvious TouchWIZ-based lineage, the Galaxy S III is a different beast. It’s smooth in a way no other Android handset has been able to achieve; remember the Galaxy S II LTE was notably faster than the HTC Raider/Amaze despite utilizing the same processor. We find the same thing here: Nature UX is demonstrably smoother than Sense 4.0, and while HTC may have the advantage in aesthetics, the more I use the Galaxy S III the better it looks. It also feels smaller than its 4.8-inch display/137mm height would suggest.

The rounded edges and HyperGlaze polycarbonate backing really do improve the device’s usability; it’s no just longer about what the phone can do but how it feels in your hand while doing it. All that marketing jargon about being “designed for humans” and being “inspired by nature” is not just hype: it feels exactly like the perfect rounded stone, the one that ends up skipping multiple times down the river. It may not look futuristic in the way many Galaxy S II fans were hoping — and don’t get me wrong, some people are going to prefer the old i9100 design — but Samsung has done no one a disservice by creating a large device that in no way appears so.

The 1280 x 720 HD Super AMOLED display is definitely better than the Galaxy Nexus’ despite the PenTile matrix. Colours appear more accurate, and whites more luminous. The auto-brightness setting still suffers from awkward transitions — the screen will notably dim and immediate brighten again with no change in external lighting — but you need not worry about being able to see the screen in direct sunlight.

It’s also sharp as a tack, and I was barely able to perceive the PenTile array. It’s true the screen lacks sheer smoothness of the One X, but deep blacks and fantastic viewing angles more than make up for it. When the device is released, I’d suggest going to a retail store to compare the two devices side-by-side.

In terms of objective performance, the Galaxy S III and One X seem pretty comparable, but as I said earlier there is a perceptible improvement to Android’s smoothness on Samsung’s handset. Looking at early benchmarks it’s clear that the SGS3 is heavily optimized for performance.

It is, however, notable that the Adreno 225 GPU inside the Snapdragon S4 SoC trails that of the Mali-400 powering the international Galaxy S III’s Mali-400. While CPU-based performance is off the charts, and certainly single-threaded performance is vastly improved over the Cortex-A9 of the quad-core Exynos 4212, there is a clear tradeoff in terms of gaming performance. We’ll do more comparisons in time, but it appears that Samsung made the right choice in bringing LTE to Canada instead of quad-core.

What we can’t tell off the bat is how much of an improvement to performance the extra gigabyte of RAM will be. Samsung assures us that the extra memory will not affect battery life; whether it will improve app performance, load times and overall multitasking is something I’ll be looking at closely.

Android 4.0.4 with TouchWIZ Nature UX incorporates numerous software tweaks and gestures that make working with Android a little bit easier. My favourite so far is being able to swipe your palm over the screen to take a screenshot.

S Voice, and a number of S-named features, come off at first as a bit gimmicky, but some are more useful than others. Smart Stay, the ability to continuously read a screen without worrying about the backlight dimming, is actually quite handy; so too is watching a video clip picture-in-picture style using the detachable video app.

I’m also thrilled that Samsung kept the physical home button on the Galaxy S III, though its short-and-wide design makes it a bit more difficult to consistently activate. On the flip side, the lack of a dedicated camera shutter button is disappointing, but the interface has received a nice overhaul and shutter performance has been dramatically improved. A subjective look at some photos from the 8MP sensor is encouraging, and we’ll be doing a comprehensive camera comparison between the iPhone 4S, HTC One X, Sony Xperia S and Galaxy S III.

Based on information gleaned from extended usage of the HTC One X, the 2100mAh battery inside the Galaxy S III should last a long, long time, likely more than the quad-core Exynos version. The Snapdragon S4 SoC is a very efficient chip and based on early tests of the international version, Samsung has done a great job optimizing Android 4.0.4 for extended usage.

So that’s it for now. We’ll be working on a full review in the coming days, and will also test the AWS version announced for WIND and Mobilicity. So far we love the rounded design, the hidden LED notification light, the size and weight combination, the performance and the screen.

Is it the best Android phone on the market? It could be, but the HTC One X (and the One S, in fact) make for some pretty fierce competition. What we’ve seen so far points us to believe that Samsung is not resting on its laurels, and intends to waste no time selling millions of handsets this year.

Mainly, it is the culmination of three long years of honing smartphone design into a fine art. To that end, Samsung should feel very proud of itself.

  • Steve Dion

    doubling the amount of RAM for good measure, 2Gb? Is that correctz? Thought they just changed the processor.

    • purdy44

      For the North American version, they went with the dual core S4 and coupled it with 2gb of RAM. They definitely didn’t have to do it, but Joe Public is still under the impression that more is always better. So when people heard that the North American version was ONLY getting a dual core equipped phone, Samsung was quick to put that uneasiness to bed by upping the memory.

    • Tom

      @purdy44
      I agree that that is probably what motivated Samsung to up the RAM, and that it probably won’t have much impact now, but that 2G of RAM will probably be a godsend when running Android 5 or 6 on this thing.

  • Mohit

    Wow cant wait for the full review. Please let us know if its worth an upgrade from SGS2

  • kman

    this phone could mean the end of the line for my 9900. I don’t see bb10 topping Android at this point.

    • johentie

      funny.. i have a SGS2 LTE and a 9900 for work.. i will upgrade to the S3 then to the BB10 device as the UI and new OS seems pretty cool..

  • Dalex

    So as a Samsung Galaxy S2 I9100 (international), do I wanna upgrade to the S3? Or do I wanna get the One S instead (I’m on the Telus so it will have both of them).

    The S3 has the better display and battery I’m assuming. Camera too I imagine since even the S2 has a better camera than the One series, but with less functions (burst shot, video captures, etc.).

    The One S is stunning with an aluminum construction and a more comfortable feel and use at 4.3 inches.

    They both have an S4 SoC so I’m guessing the performance is about equal, and I’m not sure how much of a difference the extra GB of RAM will make (probably not that much). I don’t really care about Sense vs Touchwiz since I’ll probably root it/unlock the bootloader/install a new ROM within a few weeks of purchase…

    Decisions, Decisions….

    • xenodice

      Go with the one s. Ive had vibrant for 2 years and whent with the one s when i seen the s3 had dual core. so love the htc was scared at first but the small differences are nothing

    • ExcessDan

      S3, no doubt. The One S is nice but you’ve got the extra features that Samsung has added like S-Voice, the work they’ve put into the camera and little gestures and the like but you also have the bigger screen size and resolution (One S doesn’t do 720p), and the 2GB of RAM to further futureproof your phone for our shitty 3 year contracts. Also with the One S there is no SD card slot to expand your space, no removable battery and no LTE. But hey its 99 on a 3 year instead of 130.

  • Like It Is

    Definitely go with GS3. There’s a reason why their phones are smoother than other Android phones, including HTC’s new One series. TW has come a long way. Samsung did the right thing with GS3 design. The hyperglaze will resist dirt and wear a heck of a lot better than the One X. I’m constantly getting black marks on the thing. The issues with multitasking on the One X is a real problem. The common theme I’m hearing in reviews is how nice this phone looks in person and how amazingly comfortable it feels in the hand. The One X is a great phone, but I’m selling it, and will pick up the GS3 on launch day regardless if my One X sells or not.

  • EH

    Is the 4G standby icon LTE or “fake 4G”?

    • Sean

      4G = HSPA+
      LTE= LTE

  • jellmoo

    Out of curiosity, what about benchmarking against the One S?

  • Michael

    Do an unboxing to tide us over for now!
    (Even though you’ve already opened it)

    Unboxing, launch time, minimal features, smoothness, turn off time..

    :D
    I’m too excited for this phone – I need a life.
    MAKE THIS UNBOXING PLEASE! :)

  • Brent M

    Correct me if i am wrong. But isnt the non LTE version of this phone quad core?

    I remember hearing that they dropped the specs of the processor on the LTE variant because LTE rapes battery life.

  • Art Vandelay

    One X:
    – better camera features & UI (for example: touch-exposure) but worse image quality unfortunately.
    – better screen, sharper, no burn-in effect.
    * major issue: battery will lose about 30% of its original capacity after a year and not user replaceable.

    S3:
    – replaceable battery (very crucial since Li-Ion battery do age)
    – expandable storage
    * major issue: AMOLED screen aging & burn-in issues, most AMOLED screens will show burn-in marks after approx 6 months of regular usage. Don’t believe me? Try downloading a screen test app and set your screen to blue full screen, check the status bar area.

    • John

      Millions of galaxy owners never see a problem with burn in. Why would I ever set my screen to blue full screen? If you are that obsessed over something that’s that is not visible under normal usage I don’t know how you would put up with the washed out blacks on LCDs in a dark room.

    • Art Vandelay

      Samsung AMOLED screens also have colour banding and black crush issue. I’m glad that it doesn’t bother you. It’s obvious lcd technology has surpassed AMOLED. You can only pick on the black level which is much improved on SLCD2 while AMOLED still has all those issues since day 1.

      – inaccurate colour reproduction
      – colour banding & black clipping (black crush)
      – consume a lot more power when displaying non-black colours especially white
      – pentile
      – burn-in
      – poor visibility in direct sun light

  • kameko

    Thats the ugliest flagship phone I’ve ever seen.

  • JR

    You don’t need a dedicated camera button. Hold down on the lock screen and tilt your phone horizontal. Boom, instant camera! Quicker than unlock-camera button.

  • Tom

    It does look a bit ugly but I’ve always wanted maximum screen real-estate relative to the size and weight of the phone, and Samsung is really delivering on that.

    Looking forward to the Galaxy S4 which will probably have no bezel at all.

    • ExcessDan

      it looks ugly because they keep sending out the white ones to review

  • Anthony

    where’s Sam? He is not all over yet?

    • zakazak

      Apple fans (tards) kidnaped him and locked him at starbucks lol

  • zzZZzz

    Based on those benchmarks, my One S is roughly similar in results…just did a bunch of tests myself and it’s +-0.5% the same as the Gs3. I think I’ll stick to my phone.

  • Mango

    Don’t worry BB10 got this!!! RIM all the way!!!! Woooo!!!!

  • Alex

    True Story:

    “Was: OMG I need that phone!!!! Let’s sign in to that pre-sale list!!

    Then: “Outright price for 16GB: 899$, 32GB: 959$”

    O____O’

    I’ll stick to my Nexus S ;(“

  • HTC One S FTW!!

  • SAM

    When I write some thing every one tell me to stop trolling!!! Definitely this phone is great and even the iPhone 5 will not catch-up with this phone at all with 4″ but this phone is not enough for me I need. A bigger screen
    Thanks for asking

  • SAM

    We should say actually where is the apple fan?
    Hay apple fan what do you think are you going to give me a thumb down?

    • MonkeyFace

      Just giving you a thumbs down for bad grammar.

  • LEKO

    Personally, from what I have read on the Internet, here is the reason I thing the SGS3 is better compared to the HTC One:

    – Multitasking issue with the HTC One. HTC messed with the kernel and it kills process/apps. If you switch from an app to another, you may lost the app state. :(

    – The physical button issue with the HTC One. The HTC One does not have a menu button. So, when an app needs a menu button, HTC decided to add a software button. So, on certain apps, you get a big large “menu button” at the bottom or right of the screen.

    These two problems were created “by design”. This disappoint me a lot. There may be other point I miss…

  • John

    Man that thing is FUGLY!!!

  • vn33

    Shall I rent my soul to Telus for the next three years to own this ?? Very tempting !!

  • Cancuckle215

    My SGS has burn in after 2 years of fairly consistent use.

    • Fandroid

      No it doesn’t. You’re wrong and you don’t know anything. Android is the best.

  • Bob c

    I wanna start a poll so you guys think I should take back my one S and wait for the g3?

  • Radapple

    I’ll never understand buying a phone with a non-removable battery (like the one X). That cinches this phone as #1 for me!

  • trivex

    Can we get a proper benchmark against the international S3? Need to see how the Adreno 225 GPU stacks up against the Mali 400.

  • Hammam

    I’ve had SGS for almost 2 years and have no screen burn, don’t listen to the trolls.

    Speaking of trolls, where the dude that says in every post:

    “Will RIM be ok?”

  • Linutor

    So, Apple sells factory unlocked iphones at their stores for people who don’t want a contract. Is it possible to get an unlocked Galaxy S3 in a similar fashion, with the full warranty?

  • Cancuckle215

    Damn. Hopes and dreams crushed. Didn’t get the international version because I didn’t want to pay the $800 for it. Now I find out that I can’t buy the damn thing outright on launch day in Canada. KAAAAAAAHHHHHHHNNNNNN!

  • Jamie

    Please confirm if the SGS 3 LTE model has an FM Radio! Usually the N.A. variants do not include the FM Radio so I am really interested if it does or not

  • Patrick

    This phone is the balls! And I love balls! Can’t wait! It beats HTC One X simply by removable storage and battery. HTC what were you thinking? SENSE = Nonsense. Touchwhiz = Whiz!

  • vlachos

    This phone looks as sweet as balls!!

  • samsungion

    Is it bad that I want this phone even though I got the sgs2 last year imported for 800 bucks? Is there somewhere I can get help? Lol.

    • Amanda

      It’s ok, just remind yourself that there will be a GS4 a year latter that you will want more than the GS# and a GS5 a year after that.

  • Jordi

    Gimme Exynos with 2GB of RAM, please and thank you.

  • TG13

    Well because of my-not so lovely bb bold 9700 crapping out on me and not working, I’m on the verge of getting a new phone!
    And because I’ll never go back with the ancient RIM company, Should I get the sg3? And What Color looks better?

  • I9300 OR T999?

    I’ve seen the I9300 benchmark (5324). Beyond The T999 (5099), so does that make the I9300 a beter version? If so i’l just get the I9300 in the hopes that 1900 band change eventually hits by the fall of this year, heck im not gonna be able to get it until august or september anyway. Whats yall’s opinion? Aside from performance you wont have all that bloatware and more international GSM compatibility.

  • Michael

    Daniel’s phone wasn’t fully charged when he started the day!
    He’s at 8 1/2 hours, 6:30PM and still at 39%!
    Amazing battery life.

  • vlachos

    If you don’t have coin for the phone now, wait for the quad core LTE coming later this year. Confirmed with a Samsung source but its on the downn low. If you don’t believe that its possible, check out the Korean version with 2GB Ram, quad core Exynos and LTE capability. For me, I need the latest and greatest so am going to settle with the dual for now and grab the quad later. If you wonder why, its because I got a good job and got the coin. For those that don’t, I suggest trying harder in school or get better at singing because this shiz will get better and better. I’m talkin 48 core phones in the foreseeable future with 2 TB Ram. Just plug into monitor and it’ll be a desktop PC, your wallet, your girlfriend. All that shiz! Like I said a while back, this phone is the balls! It will take 8 more bites out of apple aside from the one samsung alredy bit out a few years ago (hence the apple logo with a bite in it)

  • Redflea

    Can you please focus on battery life in detail in your next review…that’s the only issue I’ve had w/my LTE GNexus, and would love to know how much this phone improves battery life!