Samsung Galaxy S III for Verizon Wireless review
Your girlfriend might be three times a lady, but the Samsung Galaxy S III is four times a smartphone -- at least when it comes to the US. Indeed, the manufacturer's latest flagship device has managed to hit the cellular equivalent of a grand slam stateside, as each of the four national carriers are adding it to their respective smartphone lineups. For the first time since the original Galaxy S series made its debut two years ago, customers won't have to bother switching carriers just for the privilege of using one of the best devices on the planet.
But there was a rather significant asterisk associated with the original Galaxy S's reign on American soil: even though all four major networks offered it, none of the carrier-branded iterations used the same name or design as the original model that inspired them. Fast-forward two years to , and it's a completely different ballgame -- the Galaxy S III on each mobile operator bears the same name and design. Hold an AT&T-branded model next to its T-Mobile counterpart, for instance, and you'll have a rather difficult time telling the two apart. Same with Sprint and Verizon; aside from the logos on the back and a couple other tiny differences, you're seeing the same exact phone across the board.
Not only has Verizon been waiting in the dugout for its time to step up to the plate, but an untold number of customers undoubtedly have been, too. Given its brand recognition and top-of-the-line features, the Galaxy S III has a shot at becoming the all-star in Big Red's lineup. So how does Samsung's new darling hold up on the country's biggest network? Join us after the seventh inning stretch to find out.%Gallery%
- Reasonable priceSmooth performanceBrilliant Super AMOLED HD displayCall quality and network speeds
- GSM roaming isn't available yetDoesn't offer 50GB Dropbox storage space
What is there that hasn't already been said about this esteemed collection of devices? In the US, a Galaxy S III is a Galaxy S III is a Galaxy S III. Aside from the tiniest of carrier-dependent software tweaks (more on that later), you're going to be hard-pressed to hunt down any variation in Verizon's model compared with the other three we've tested. We're still waiting on regional networks like US Cellular and C Spire to push their respective versions of Samsung's flagship device, but we have a hard time believing those models will be any different than what we've already seen. We've stressed in the past that even though this uniformity in design makes for relatively abbreviated reviews, we're immensely content with what Samsung's been able to accomplish. Essentially, the company was able to use brand cachet as a bargaining chip with the carriers so that its choice smartphone arrived in the US virtually unchanged, and closer to the global launch and at a reasonable subsidized price. (The phone does have extra RAM and a different chip, but we'll delve into that more later.) Only one other OEM has wielded this much power in negotiating with operators: Apple. Inside, the Verizon-branded GS III sports LTE band 13 (MHz) to support the carrier's 4G service, as well as CDMA / EVDO and radios for international GSM roaming. The global antennas are currently disabled, but Verizon has promised that a software update is coming sometime this summer to enable that functionality. The device, also known as the SCH-i, comes with a GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 (MSM) with a full 2GB RAM to back up all that horsepower. You also get the brilliant Super AMOLED HD display, which registers a resolution of p and offers a pixel density of ppi.
Much like its brethren, this particular iteration of the Galaxy S III offers a 2,mAh battery that can be swapped out for a spare. But it doesn't stop there: the battery cover can also be switched out. And this alludes to another triumph not only for Samsung, but for the customer as well -- given that millions of these devices will be sold and all offer the same design and nearly all of the same components, we're likely to see a massive pile of universal accessories.
Given that millions of these devices will be sold, we're likely to see a massive pile of universal accessories.
In addition to the generously sized power pack hanging out underneath the hood, you'll find a microSD / microSDXC port (sadly, no actual card comes included, so you'll need to grab one of your own should the occasion arise) next to the device's micro-SIM slot. You're going to see one key difference here that doesn't apply to the other Galaxy S III models we've reviewed thus far: a second set of shiny contacts for Verizon's brand of inductive charging. The ability to use wireless charging has been around on every model of the GS III we've reviewed so far, but those contacts are located to the left of the battery. In other words, Verizon's model gives you two options for wireless charging, a unique feature offering apart from the rest of the crowd. Aside from this, everything else remains the same as its GSM counterparts (Sprint's GSIII is different in that it utilizes an embedded SIM card).
The Galaxy S III is blessed with Android and comes with none other than Sammy's trademark TouchWiz UI. Put simply, if you've been an avid user of Samsung devices in the past, you'll feel right at home with the layout here -- naturally you'll find a few adjustments to accommodate Ice Cream Sandwich along with the suite of special features the GS III boasts: S Voice, Smart Stay, S-Beam and others. Your experience with these will remain the same across the board, so don't let this be a deciding factor between which Galaxy S III to choose.
For the sake of differentiation and leaving at least a little branding on the device, Verizon opted to pre-install a few apps onto the Galaxy S III. Most of these programs can at least be disabled, so you won't need to look at them or be tempted by their wiles. Below, you'll find a table listing off the unique software each carrier brings to their respective version of the phone.
|Color||Access T-Mobile||SprintZone||AT&T Navigator|
|My Verizon Mobile||T-Mobile Name ID||Google Wallet||Device Help|
|Apps||T-Mobile TV||Sprint Voicemail||AT&T Messages|
|VZ Navigator||Visual Voicemail||Sprint Hotspot||YP Mobile|
As you can see, Samsung has achieved another minor victory over US carriers: the Galaxy S III's carrier-branded bloatware is kept to a minimum, and almost all of it can be hidden or disabled. Granted, there are still plenty of Samsung apps on the device, but that's going to be the case no matter which model you choose to buy. Unfortunately, though, Verizon's decided not to offer the 50GB Dropbox storage allowance handed out by T-Mobile and Sprint.
Another important distinction, specifically for those interested in expanding the capabilities of their GS III (or simply escape TouchWiz) by flashing it with a non-stock ROM: in line with its wider policy, Verizon has seen fit to close the bootloader on its variant, which is going make this extremely difficult -- even though some level of customization has already proved possible.
Performance and battery life
Verizon's Galaxy S III takes advantage of a dual-core Snapdragon S4 (Krait) processor clocked in at GHz, uses an Adreno GPU and is supplemented by 2GB of RAM. Since we've seen this very same setup in the iterations used by AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, we came into this review knowing roughly what to expect: lower benchmarks than the international GS III's quad-core Exynos processor, but still quite fast and definitely respectable for all but the most nitpicky of power users. It's speedy, and offers virtually no lag. How did this particular device hold up in the oh-so-mighty benchmark scores of its US siblings, and how does it do against the competition? We have two tables below for you to feast upon.
|Verizon device comparison||Samsung Galaxy S III (SCH-i)|
HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE
Motorola RAZR Maxx
GLBenchmark Egypt Offscreen (fps)
|SunSpider: lower scores are better|
|US Galaxy S III comparison||Verizon (SCH-i)||T-Mobile (SGH-T)||AT&T (SGH-I)||Sprint (SPH-L)|
GLBenchmark Egypt Offscreen (fps)
|SunSpider: lower scores are better|
Given the horsepower behind the GS III, we can't say we're shocked that it beat the pants off its Verizon competitors in all but two benchmarks: the ones focused on graphics processing and battery life. Regarding the latter, the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx, with its 3,mAh power pack, is the undisputed champion not only within the network but the entire market. Keep in mind, though, that Samsung's 2,mAh battery is no weakling either, and its performance in the video rundown test seems to suggest most heavy users will easily last a full day with nary a struggle. As an aside, our unscientific, regular-use tests (consisting of taking pictures, regularly updating and checking social media, emailing, texting and even making the occasional call) showed that all but the heaviest of gamers and / or talkers will easily make it until the end of the day before needing to charge up.
In terms of graphics, the scores reflect GLBenchmark's p Offscreen test -- which puts high-res and low-res devices on an equal playing field -- and the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE barely squeezed past our protagonist. This isn't an area we'd be terribly concerned with, as the Galaxy S III has always been reliable and satisfying when gaming or undertaking any other graphics-heavy tasks.
Comparing the I to the trio of other US variants isn't going to make your decision any easier, since the benchmarks we ran are in parity with each other. It's better in a couple areas and worse in a couple others, but none of the scores are set to any sort of extreme -- in other words, the Verizon GS III doesn't stand out of the crowd for better or worse.
Using GPS (which in the GS III is paired up with GLONASS support) was a solid experience, as the phone was able to track down our position within 40 meters in less than five seconds. It took an extra 15 ticks or so to hone in on our exact spot, but this is something we typically see in smartphones and didn't come as any significant concern to us.
As expected, we were quite happy with the call quality on the Galaxy S III. We didn't encounter any dropped calls, and voices came in perfectly clear. The external speakers were incredibly loud, and we were able to listen to conference calls -- and music -- on the speakerphone from every room on the same floor in our house. You may not be able to hear the finer details of your tunes, but plugging in a standard set of headphones solved that problem for us (and very much so, we might add).
Update: We've had the opportunity to run a full round of speed tests on Verizon's LTE network in Salt Lake City, and full signal strength yielded max results of 25Mbps down / 15Mbps up; running the same tests in Chicago gave us 35Mbps down / 20Mbps up.
Eight megapixels of rear-facing goodness are coming your way on the Galaxy S III camera, and it's as great an experience as we'd expect from Samsung. And despite the wide availability of Verizon handsets that offer this particular resolution, Sammy's flagship still comes out on top. Granted, the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE comes pretty close in its overall performance here, but it lacks the ImageSense capabilities found in the HTC One series that we've come to admire.
We also appreciate the breadth and scope of the settings found in the Galaxy S III camera UI: Samsung spares no expense in its offerings here, with full access to white balance, ISO, exposure adjustment, shooting modes and scene modes, effects, macro focus and panorama. You can use the viewfinder to change your point of focus, and hold down the shutter button if you want to lock your exposure prior to taking the shot. This particular camera will, without a doubt, give you the best array of customization options found on any phone on the market today.%Gallery%
Ultimately, we don't see any telltale signs that your experience with this specific model will differ from what you'd have on the I or any other US iteration. Please check out our review of the global Galaxy S III to get an in-depth assessment of the camera's performance, and our companionreviews of the US GS III devices all contain additional details and complete photo galleries from each individual model.
Video on the Galaxy S III is capable of capturing p, and movies taken in p or higher were smooth and full of color. When taking footage in the middle of the day the sensor rarely needed to autofocus (the exception being when quickly panning to a different vantage point), but low-light situations didn't seem to fare as well -- when capturing video indoors, for instance, the camera needed to refocus on more occasions, but it didn't get in the way of an enjoyable experience.
Pricing and comparison
Verizon's adaptation of the Galaxy S III will be offered in 16GB and 32GB flavors, and you'll be able to grab them for $ and $, respectively. That's with a two-year contract, of course -- going the non-subsidized route will cost you $ or $ The on-contract price tag is on par with AT&T and Sprint's offerings and lower than T-Mobile's (which is going for $ and $ after a mail-in rebate), which means we once again depend largely on network performance as a key differentiator.
The Galaxy S III easily stands above its competition on Verizon's lineup.
What if you're already a loyal Big Reddite? In that case you'll be judging this against the rest of the carrier's smartphone lineup, and the GS III easily stands above its competition. Verizon's high-end Android offerings include the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx ($), Droid 4 ($), HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE ($) and Samsung's own Galaxy Nexus LTE ($). Of course, making the ultimate decision of which device to choose is becoming increasingly difficult as more and more tantalizing options enter the market -- believe us, we empathize. In an attempt to help you compare, we've compiled a handy comparison table. Unfortunately, we don't have enough room to add stats for all of the aforementioned devices, so we've whittled down the choices to three (although feel free to read our in-depth reviews of each handset linked above).
|Galaxy S III||Droid Incredible 4G LTE||Droid RAZR Maxx|
|Pricing||$ / $||$ after rebate||$|
|Dimensions||x x inches ( x 71 x mm)||x x inches ( x 61 x mm)||x x inches ( x x mm)|
|Weight||oz. (g)||oz. (g)||oz. ( g)|
|Screen resolution||1, x pixels (ppi)||x pixels (ppi)||x pixels (ppi)|
|Screen type||Super AMOLED HD||Super LCD||Super AMOLED|
|Internal storage||16GB / 32GB||8GB (GB available)||16GB|
|External storage||MicroSD / MicroSDXC,||MicroSD, none included||MicroSD, none included|
|Rear camera||8MP, AF, LED flash, f/||8MP, AF, LED flash||8MP, AF, LED, f/|
|Radios||CDMA / MHz; LTE MHz; GSM / UMTS roaming (currently disabled)||CDMA / MHz; LTE MHz; GSM / UMTS roaming (currently disabled)||CDMA / MHz; LTE MHz; GSM quad-band; UMTS / / / (global roaming enabled)|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM||TI OMAP|
|CPU||GHz dual-core||GHz dual-core||GHz dual-core|
|MHL||Yes (special adapter required)||Yes||Yes|
|WiFi||b/g/n||GHz: b/g/n; GHz a/n||b/g/n|
|Operating system||Android , TouchWiz UI||Android , Sense 4 UI||Android , Motorola UI|
And there you have it. Our series of reviews of the esteemed Galaxy S III may be coming to a close, but its saga is just beginning. When it comes to US offerings, the circle of life is now complete for the Galaxy S III. The device -- this leader of the Galaxy brand, most likely until next summer -- is now fully represented on each of the four national carriers. This is an accomplishment that no other high-end phone has been able to pull off in a long time (unless you count unlocked iPhones working on T-Mobile). Fortunately, the model of choice is actually one of our favorites regardless of the network, offering amazing performance, new and unique software features, a beautiful display and plenty of other things that give your user experience a turbo boost. And on Verizon, it's rivaled by few, if any, competitors. Unless you crave a smaller screen or need your phone's battery to last an extraordinarily long time, it's difficult for us to steer Verizon customers toward anything else.
Verizon was Engadget's parent company between June and September
Samsung Galaxy S® III - Support Overview
Samsung Galaxy S® III - Support Overview
Activation, Setup & User Guides
Back Up & Transfer Content
Battery & Power
Calling & Dialing
Camera, Photos & Videos
Date & Time
Device ID & Info
Find My Phone
GPS & Location Based Services
Gestures & Motions
Google Backup & restore
Internet & Web Browser
Lock, Unlock, Password & Security
Navigating & Multitasking
Near Field Communication (NFC)
Operating System & Software
Sounds, Volume & Audio
Text & Multimedia Messaging
Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts
Visual & Hearing Accessibility
Wi-Fi & Network
U.S. Galaxy S3 pre-order, release date and pricing – what you need to know
Samsung announced on Monday that its Android flagship smartphone will be available from five U.S. carriers this month, with prices starting at $ Soon after that, we saw Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and U.S. Cellular announce their own Galaxy S3 versions alongside availability details for each carrier.
In case you’re interested in buying the Galaxy S3 in the US but you’re not sure what carrier to pick, then we got you covered, as we’ll tell you everything you need to know before making the purchase.
What you get?
The Galaxy S3 offered by the five carriers is identical to the international version design-wise, which is certainly surprising considering the garden variety of Galaxy S and Galaxy S2 designs that hit the U.S. in and , respectively. For once, carriers were not able to convince Samsung to design custom Galaxy S3 versions, which is a step in the right direction. However, crapware apps from each carrier selling the Galaxy S3 will surely be found on board.
But the Galaxy S3 is not entirely similar to the international version when it comes to internal components. Instead of the quad-core Exynos processor that equips the international handset, U.S. versions will come with a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU. That’s even if your chosen carrier will not offer LTE support in your market anytime soon. In addition to that processor change, the U.S. Galaxy S3 version will also sport 2GB of RAM, double than the international version.
Verizon Galaxy S3
Verizon was the first carrier to announce the Galaxy S3. The device is now available for pre-order and it will cost either $ or $, for the 16GB or 32GB version, respectively. Those of you not interested in getting a new two-year contract with Verizon will be able to purchase the handset for full price – that’s $ or $, depending on the model you choose. Verizon’s Galaxy S3 release date was delayed due to unknown reasons, and is now scheduled for July 9.
What’s worth remembering about Verizon is that the carrier has the largest LTE coverage in the U.S. at this time, so if it’s LTE support that you’re interested in, Verizon could be the way to go.
AT&T Galaxy S3
The second largest mobile operator in the country was the last one to unveil Galaxy S3 launch plans. Initially, AT&T put out a sign-up page for the handset followed by a proper press release. AT&T will sell only the 16GB Galaxy S3 version, also priced at $ The carrier will offer customers a 16GB microSD card for $39 – thus they’d end up with a 32GB Galaxy S3 that costs $ The phone will be available for pre-order starting tomorrow, June 6, although we have no idea when the device will ship.
AT&T’s Galaxy S3 will also come with LTE support, but AT&T’s “real 4G” network can’t be compared with Verizon’s when it comes to coverage. However, AT&T’s “fake 4G” network – it’s HSPA+ network that’s also referred to as 4G, just like T-Mobile’s corresponding network – offers superior data speeds than Verizon’s and Sprint’s 3G CDMA networks, and covers “more than million people.”
Sprint Galaxy S3
Alongside T-Mobile, Sprint was not afraid to announce a release date for the Galaxy S3. The carrier will have it in stores on June 21, with pre-orders starting on June 6. The smartphone will cost $ or $ with new two-year contracts, just like Verizon’s models. Full price for the Sprint Galaxy S3 appears to be in line with Verizon’s too.
The carrier plans to roll out its LTE network in more and more markets later this year, but you may have to keep relying on 3G when it comes to browsing the web from your Galaxy S3 until that happens. The good news is that Sprint has not canceled its unlimited data plans yet, so that could be a good reason to purchase the Samsung phone from this carrier.
Furthermore, Sprint’s Galaxy S3 will come with Google Wallet support too, in case NFC payments are on your agenda.
T-Mobile Galaxy S3
T-Mobile will also launch the Galaxy S3 on June 21, but the carrier is not offering the handset for pre-order. Furthermore, T-Mobile has not specified pricing details at this time although we would expect them to be in line with the competition’s.
What some T-Mobile customers will find annoying is that T-Mobile will sell them the same LTE-ready Galaxy S3 version, even though T-Mobile does not have offer LTE support yet. Some people would argue that the carrier should have gotten the international GSM version that packs that Exynos quad-core processor instead of the LTE model that comes with the dual-core CPU.
However, T-Mobile has its own “fake 4G” network in place, which you could find more suitable for your needs in certain markets than other 3G networks from the competition.
U.S. Cellular Galaxy S3
While U.S. Cellular is just a regional mobile operator that can’t really compete with any of the Big Four, some Galaxy S3 buyers will choose this carrier instead of going with any of the four offers mentioned above. That means they’ll have to wait a while longer to get their Galaxy S3 unit as U.S. Cellular will start pre-orders on June 12 and launch the device only at some point in July.
U.S. Cellular will carry both the 16GB and 32GB of the handset, but pricing details are not available at this time. We’ll also remind you that U.S. Cellular has its own 4G LTE network, so if LTE is a major selling point for you, then you should also consider U.S. Cellular’s Galaxy S3 offer.
Those of you interested in getting your hands on an unlocked GSM international Galaxy S3 version – in order to try out that quad-core Exynos CPU that’s found on board – can purchase the device from Amazon and other similar retailers, although you’ll have to pay full price to get it. Or, you could enter our second Galaxy S3 competition to win a free Galaxy S3 unit.
What carrier will you choose for your Galaxy S3 model?
NewsAT&T, Phones, Samsung Galaxy S, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon
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