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printed September 16, 2014
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Review: Samsung Galaxy S III for Sprint

Form Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  11  

Is It Your Type? Body Performance  

Screen

The GS3 sports a 4.8-inch, 1280 x 720-pixel HD display. It uses Samsung's Super AMOLED technology and a PenTile pixel design. The GS3 is the first smartphone to get a PenTile display right. Every other PenTile display I've used really bugged me. The GS3's doesn't. What does that mean? You're going to love the display. You're really going to love the display. It is incredibly bright, works perfectly outdoors, and is razor sharp. Pictures, web sites, video content, you name it... it looks fantastic on the GS3's vibrant and impressive screen.

Signal

CDMA -- The GS3 performed very well on Sprint's EVDO network around the metropolitan New York City area. I'd say the GS3 performed a bit better than the average Sprint phone on the 3G network, especially close to where I live. I was able to make and receive calls consistently. None dropped, and I didn't miss any. The connection to Sprint's data network was persistent, though the GS3 struggled a bit under poor network conditions.

LTE -- I was able to test the GS3 on Sprint's LTE network in and around Kansas City. The GS3 had difficulty finding the network from time-to-time, but I'd chalk that up to the network coverage itself and not the phone. When it connected, LTE was fast as heck. Avergae download speed was about 15Mpbs, with a peak of 22Mbps. It didn't come close to matching the fastest speeds I've seen on AT&T's LTE network, but it was fast enough to download 15 Android app updates, totalling several hundred megabytes, in less than two minutes.

Sound

I was very pleased with the quality of calls I made with the GS3. At one point during testing, I spoke with my Mom. She thought I was calling from a landline, so clear was the conversation. To my ear, my Mom sounded as if she were standing in the room with me. Sure, there was a little bit of background hiss, but it's only audible when the volume of the earpiece is cranked all the way up. Speaking of which, the volume is very good. It's loud enough that it won't be a problem to hear your callers even in somewhat noisy spaces. The speakerphone wasn't as impressive. It lost a bit of quality as well as volume. It suffices, but wasn't the best speakerphone I've tested by any stretch. Ringers and alert tones could definitely be a little bit louder, but the vibrate alert is good.

Battery

The GS3 did very well in terms of battery life when in CDMA-only areas. I had no problem coaxing about 30 full hours of use from it (7AM - 1PM the next day) with the 3G, Wi-Fi, and GPS radios all on. My use of the device during the test period covered typical behaviors, including email and RSS triaging, checking social networks, listening to some music, browsing the web, downloading apps from the Google Play Store, and perhaps an hour's worth of phone calls.

I used the GS3 for a full day in Kansas City, and the battery did surprisingly well. It had 10% power left after 24 hours, and that included a full work day of checking email and RSS. For those in Sprint's few LTE markets, plan to charge every night. If you forget, you won't be totally up a creek until mid-morning.

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