Two recent articles emerged on The Verge, Vlad Savov’s “How Samsung broke my heart” and sooper_verge12 forum user’s “How Samsung Renewed My Love”. I agree with Vlad, but upon reading the forum article, I felt compelled to explain why I disagree.
Here’s why I think Samsung’s just-announced Galaxy S III is a disappointment, and also a lead to a potentially game-changing move by Samsung, for Microsoft.
Features / OS Additions
Samsung has multitude of S-branded additions to its device, but most of them do not truly add to the experience, some times bordering on gimmick.
Of course, the newer device will always be better than its predecessor, but that’s not the point.
Samsung thus has only a few notable features, like the Smart Stay eye tracking feature which keeps the phone awake when it sees you’re reading the screen. Other features are merely simple additions to existing features like Android Beam, and they’re even hard to sell.
In what scenario do you see yourself touching someone else’s phone to share media. You will probably be prompted to go see a Facebook timeline for a link instead.
To make things even less of a comparison factor to other competitors, Android’s open platform means a clone of the Smart Stay eye-tracking feature will undoubtedly come out for every other device with a front-facing camera out there. It’s not built in, but it won’t change your life either.
And then there’s the camera. While Apple has released a stellar camera on the 4S, others have failed to bring out truly competing optics. Samsung was thus poised to take over the champion position with the S III, but instead came out with a status quo improvement that’s mostly software-based.
If you’re looking for the best camera in a superphone, you’ll still be heading to Apple.
Let’s face it, the S III looks like it just came out of the rounded corner and embossed craze back when it became possible to implement fancy graphics in GUIs; you know, Windows XP era.
It’s telling when you put the S III and the One X side-by-side. The One X simply looks gorgeous in comparison, and in stores, this is gonna show, not even counting the cheap plastic materials and the lack of a unibody.
There’s a problem when your flagship device looks like a budget phone.
And then comes the hardware. It’s not bad, but it’s not impressive either. With only 1 GB of RAM, a slightly beefed up version of the S II’s GPU, a quad core CPU based on a previous generation ARM A9 architecture and a PenTile AMOLED display to top it all, the S III leaves itself wide open to competition.
There’s no reason, except for very little improvement in benchmarks, to go with the S III solely on specs versus the competitors.
Even the now frail LG is including twice the RAM in its next gen offering; 2 GB. Last year, the opposite was true. LG’s Optimus 2X came out with only 512 MB of RAM, half the S II’s, and look at how that turned out.
But perhaps more strangely, Samsung had already announced the its new ARM A15 based Exynos 5 chip, going instead with the 4 for the S III, giving credence to the rumors that Samsung may be keeping its best show for another platform, Windows Phone 8.
Whatever it is, it’s clear to me that the S III is not the superphone we were expecting. It’s almost unthinkable that such an important device be so underwhelming. Something must be up.
Is Hardware Really Important
In the end though, the hardware capabilities of a device do not count as much as they used to. There are innovations to be had elsewhere, but the S III fails to deliver here too.
Undoubtedly, if you like the design, it’s a great improvement over its predecessor, and a great choice for those who still own a first-generation Galaxy S and are looking to upgrade while staying with Samsung.
But for an avid smartphone enthusiast, I’d stay put and wait for other devices. The Exynos 5 is bound to be used in a smartphone in 2012, and competitors may have better offerings down the line.