Samsung Galaxy S3 4G

Samsung has slipped 4G into the GS3 mix, but sacrificed battery greatly in the process. This is the still same great phone we saw earlier in the year, but the shorter battery cycles will be a deal breaker for many.


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Here come the 4G phones. What started out as a slow trickle has now become a steady stream, and Samsung's Galaxy S3 4G is set to be one of this year's biggest sellers with long-term evolution (LTE) speeds. But is it worth your hard-earned money?

Quick specs

  • Screen: 4.7-inch
  • Processor: quad-core 1.4GHz
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Platform: Android Jelly Bean
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC

There are several differences between the new 4G version and the original Galaxy S3, but none of these changes are on the surface (with the exception of a few new colours). To save you from reading the same review over again, we'll instead refer you to the original Samsung Galaxy S3 review if you want to know our thoughts on this handset's aesthetics.

User experience

Those picking up a 4G Galaxy S3 in the first weeks after it comes out will have the advantage of getting the Jelly Bean version of Android first. This adds a number of useful new features and tweaks, though after Samsung adds its own layer to the top of it, it does end up looking very much the same as the software on the original GS3. Two of our favourite new elements are the expanded notifications in the pull-down window and Google Now. For a detailed look at both of these features, check out our review of the Jelly Bean update.

Performance

There are a few fairly significant changes under the hood, though. There is now 2GB of RAM, double the memory of the original, and LTE is built in to the quad-core Exynos processor. Now, we're never going to knock having more power in a phone, but it is hard to gauge just how great an effect this extra RAM has on the performance across the system. The GS3 4G benchmarks pretty much the same as the original GS3, with a slightly lower Geekbench score, a slightly higher Vellamo score and a virtually identical Basemark 3D benchmark result.

Battery life is the big difference, and the 4G model comes off worse for wear. We can't say with absolute certainty that 4G networking is the culprit, but we did collect some pretty damning evidence.

These two graphs show a battery cycle on 4G and 3G, with the thicker vertical lines indicating 12 hours. Usage was similar on both days; if anything, it was heavier on the day when 3G was used.
(Credit: CNET Australia)

The real problem here is that there is no option to just turn off 4G. In the settings, under Wireless and Networks, you can switch 4G off, but only by selecting either just WCDMA (3G) or GSM (2G) — not a combination of 2G and 3G. In a densely populated area with strong 3G coverage, this isn't necessarily a problem. In Sydney, we found that we could drop back to just WCDMA and continue using the phone as we normally would. But if you live in an area where your phone regularly switches between 2G and 3G, this could be a major deal breaker.

Is it worth it? This is one of the speed tests we ran on the GS3.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

When we switched the phone into Airplane mode and ran our usual video-playback tests, the GS3 4G rated at the same level as the 3G version of the phone — about seven and a half hours. This suggests to us that 4G is the battery sap, and it should be something that you strongly consider before signing up for a 4G version of this phone. For some people, the phone's 12-hour battery life will be sufficient, but for many it is not enough to see them through a standard working day.

Overall

When you boil it right down, it's a pretty straight trade-off between 4G speeds and battery life, and that will ultimately be your decision to make. For us, this is a bad swap. There's no point in having blazing-fast data speeds if you have no battery life to power the phone, and 12 hours of moderate use is not enough by our standards. — especially when you have a perfectly good non-4G version of the phone to choose.



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matteroonie
8
Rating
 

"Good"

matteroonie posted a review   
Australia

The Good:The phone

The Bad:Battery, but easily compensated for

You just get Deep Sleep Battery Saver (free) app. Then it lasts for days, with no drain like that depicted. We all know the GS3 is a good phone otherwise

Aveshm
1
Rating
 

"Product only lasted 8 months"

Aveshm posted a review   
Australia

The Good:the camera on the phone

The Bad:It only worked for 8 months and no customer service to resolve the issues

Interesting experience with Samsung. I purchased the phone 8 months ago in the UK. It worked well until month 8 in Australia... then stopped. The response from Samsung Australia... we can not touch it! Dissappointed about the service, but more importantly, why a product using the latest technology will only last 8 months before it fails to charge or restart.

DavionL Facebook
9
Rating
 

"After almost one year use The Samsung is for me the absolute winner. The S3 4G is a bit to short in use so i have to take that in my descission"

DavionL posted a review   

The Good:Stunning big screen, Not to big, fits perfectly in the hands. Cool design, Very smart features. Simple operatingsystem. A good batterylife and most of all, useable in heavy conditions. Maybe i'm lucky that i never exepreinced any problems with both Phones. But But i have a double portion with both the HTC and the LG optimus. The SGS3 became best smartphone of 2012-2013. And i know why.

The Bad:Sure there are always points to work on. The apps of samsung are a bit to simple for thoose great phones. And the appstore sells a lot good apps but also a lot more rubbish. I hope they change that in the future. The working on a bigger battery 3000mah instead of the 2100mah used in this versions. I believe that would do some with the weight and design, but having more power is always good i guess.

Dear readers,

I've read all the good and bad comments about this phone. In most of case, it's about personal preferences. I use every year different phones at the same time. Because of my complex work. Have four jobs. Parttime, but all together pretty much.
I use thoose phones (3) every day. They got never turned of. I bought the SG S3 G4 nine weeks ago. It's true that samsung puts a lot of software on theire products, most people should never use. I use all types in heavy duty. GPS, WiFi, Network etc. all on. Let me tell you this. I selled my HTC one x, because after five month he could be operative for max 5 hours. My second is the SG S3 without G4 and he still works on full duty for at least 10 hours. I bought the LG Optimus G instead, but thats my worsed choice for last year. My SGS3G4 was as perfect as her older sister, Both accurate and very easy to use and carrie.

I have deinstalled all the for me unnececary software on al my devices. Both Galaxy's run under safemode, but thats all. I've done allready a tryout for two weeks by turning of all the batterydraining features and guess what. Both devices where perfectly operational for more than 14 hours. Having said that, the S3 without G4 still had about 21% left at that time The G4 version was nearly dead.

But the LG was just way to small and to weak for thoose Galaxy's. Samsung did a very good job, again. The one-x from HTC had almost every week problems. Just fall out because of the heat, or a software crash, but i bought myself another problem with the LG Optimus. I should have known. Stupid but ok.

LG is alleady back to the store for the second time because of a memory problem. Lost all my data voor de second time now, and to be honsest, he is more at the service center than usefull for work.

I've learned my lesson. My next phone will be deffinently a Samsung. In my early years i swore I-Phone was top of the bill, but, now i know much much better.
Out of my vision, Everything went perfect with both Samsung phones. I love te big screens. the great technology smart stay which work realy realy good for me. The perfect integration with google agenda's, and stuff. I linked everything with eachother. If i change it here it changes everywhere it sould. The big screens let you think in first, wow thats big. But the light weight and de curved lines makes this phone feel like its the perfect size. It couldn't be all good, but i believe they hit with this phone the the line of perfection.

Denis.O
4
Rating
 

"Samsung Galaxy SIII 4G - The Bad"

Denis.O posted a review   
Australia

Out of the box and on paper the Samsung Galaxy SIII 4G looks as if it could quite well be an exceptional phone.

Straight to the Business.

Initial setup

My SGS3 came from Optus (Bought on 26/11/2012) loaded with their proprietary software others may refer to as 'Bloatware' and firmware version Android 4.1. Its initial setup was well thought out by Samsung but did annoy me in the fact that it was asking the user to create so many different accounts for optimal usage of this smartphone.

After setting up the SGS3, Registering with Various free services (as recommended) the SGS3 had trouble with:
- Receiving SMS and MMS (later resolved)
- Call quality issues (Microphone Issue)
- Short Battery life (only 6hrs on standby)
- Spotty Data connection even with full reception
- 'Running Hot' (phone was physically hot to the touch)
- Notifying me of Incoming Emails
- Linking to my Hotmail Account

Some of these issues were fixed within a few days of troubleshooting, others required the phone be sent back to Samsung via the friendly staff at Optus.

Google play store - android app store

The Google Play store is mostly unregulated as a simple search would find over 100 results with only 10-20 actually pertaining to the term you had searched for. On the upside, Google is almost now matching Apples App Store in numbers of applications available, the quality of them on the other hand is questionable when compared to Apples App Store.

Android 4.1

The OS preloaded on the SGS3 is Androids own 'Jellybean' (Android 4.1), stock it looks beautiful, operates well and is as claimed by Google "As Smooth As Butter" and let me tell you it is!. But unfortunately Samsung has layered (like most android phones now days, except the Nexus) this with their own User Interface called 'TouchWiz'. The result is a clusterfuck of options, a power struggle between the two, it seems as if there is no attempt at integration from either side. For example the user has options to use Google Now or Samsung's S-Voice, Google Navigation or Samsung's Navigon, Google Calender or S-Calender, the list goes on each app with an individual theme pertaining to their own.

Samsung's new 'Motions' add A cool new dimension to this smartphone, although they seem quite gimmicky they make pretty good party tricks, i ended up turning the majority of these marketed 'Motions' off due to:
- Flip to mute/Silence is a poorly thought out idea as the only speaker is on the back of the phone!
- Swipe to screen shot became an annoyance as, if it is in your pocket with the screen facing your leg, as you walk your left (or right) leg will effectively be taking screenshots of the phones lock screen

This OS however does give you the option to customize pretty much everything and anything on the SGS3, there are plenty of free customization apps available from the Play Store but the most decent ones are usually paid for.

Samsung's stock apps feel unfinished, the gallery is not user friendly only being able to delete photos individually while viewing from certain menus, open up a new tab in the stock web browser and enjoy the unfinished sporadic browsing of tabs (try it on a display model, you will see what i mean).

Hardware

The SGS3 is A gorgeous looking Smartphone, mine was colored 'Titan Grey'. It picks up smudges quite easily due to the high gloss finish and the screen can become a little hard to see when used outdoors.
A major annoyance is that this is a 'flagship' mobile, yet feels as if it could break quite easily, cheap flexy plastic to cover the back and an ovaled glass screen designed for a much nicer feel in the hand, this thing was designed to break, Gorilla Glass or not. Grip it tight enough in your hand and the SGS3 will creak, run your nail along the outer rim of the screen were the glass meets the plastic and you will feel how uneven it is, remove the back cover of the phone and feel how the plastic bends and contorts, this is not a solid piece of hardware.

Conclusion

I will upload a more detailed review of the SGS3 later on as I believe I may have missed a few points (possibly even when a larger selection of ROM's are released for the i9305 model). But until then i recommend that you do not buy this phone, sure you could fix it up to your likings with the help of a few additional third party apps, but that's not the point.

You purchased A product, the product should work, it should not require additional user input, the setup and operation of a flagship device should be as easy as inserting a Sim card and typing in your name, nothing else.

The SGS3 almost feels as if it was rushed off the production line. An unfinished product.

The Question is would you risk flushing your money into A product such as this.

Bails
7
Rating
 

"Keeping me happy at present"

Bails posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Large Screen

The Bad:Intergration with Exchange

I purchased a S 3 4G last week. Decided to move from the iPhone 4s as I wanted a larger screen and the iPhone 5 was not in this space. I use the phone for business so e-mail and diary from exchange was an important issue.

Likes:-

Large Screen
Feel in my hand, and lighter weight in my pocket. ( Fit )
Web speed
Can read and surf the WEB
Can customise , many different options .

Things I dislike:-

Poor intergration with exchange server.
Functionality lost if using exchange, must use pin to unlock
Some apps are not as refined, Navigon works very well except for the speeed cameras, no sound ???

 

jazzman1969 posted a comment   
Australia

I was seriously looking at this phone as my next purchase. My question is, if you turn off 4G as discussed, and use this phone as 3G only then is the battery life comparable to a 3G only S3?
I know this defeats the purpose but I'm buying outright and not on a 4G network yet.
I would appreciate it if someone lets me know as I'm buying in a week.

 

KieronR posted a comment   
Australia

Essentially when I don't have 4G running it's a GS3 that's even better at multitasking. I've already noticed a few differences but common sense tells me wIthaca bigger & better apps & games the extra RAM & processing power will come in very handy.

 

DavidO3 posted a comment   

Just spoke to tech support at Samsung.com.au and they assured me that the s3 4g would automatically switch down to 3g and 2g depending on availability. They also said that with 4g switched off and 3g selected, the phone would stll automatically switch between 3g and 2g depending on availability.

 

DubDub posted a comment   
Australia

To be expected really, but I still find it amazing a phone with a screen that size can have even reasonable battery life. I remember when the Desire HD came out just how laughable its batt life was.

But the solution of "just turn off your 3G/4G" to conserve battery life just doesn't wash with me. What's the point of having a smartphone and disabling features to make usable in the real world. It's like driving a Ferrari 10Kph below the speed limit.

The fact that 4G can't be switched off individually by unticking, leaving 3G and GSM active is really crippling. Hopefully ths can be fixed with a software update. Despite my previous comments I can see this being a solution if it was possible, as 4G is only really needed occasionally. Without 3G, you got pretty much nada app functionality.

 

NathanS2 posted a comment   

im just wondering is the battery life still bad if you have your internet turned off through out the day and turn it on only when needed?


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User Reviews / Comments  Samsung Galaxy S3 4G

  • matteroonie

    matteroonie

    Rating8

    "You just get Deep Sleep Battery Saver (free) app. Then it lasts for days, with no drain like that depicted. We all know the GS3 is a good phone otherwise"

  • Aveshm

    Aveshm

    Rating1

    "Interesting experience with Samsung. I purchased the phone 8 months ago in the UK. It worked well until month 8 in Australia... then stopped. The response from Samsung Australia... we can not touch..."

  • DavionL

    DavionL

    Rating9

    "Dear readers,

    I've read all the good and bad comments about this phone. In most of case, it's about personal preferences. I use every year different phones at the same time. Because of..."

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