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printed November 22, 2014
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Review: Samsung Galaxy S III for Sprint

Form Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  11  

UI and Communications Imaging/Media  

Camera

The GS3 includes an 8-megapixel shooter that is literally bursting with options (pun intended). The GS3 does not have a dedicated camera button, but the camera can be launched via the lock screen shortcut. It takes a hair longer than I'd like it to to load, maybe 2 or 3 seconds.

The layout of the camera controls is typical for a Samsung smartphone. There is a control strip down each side; the viewfinder is positioned between them. The left strip - which is fully customizable - offers access to features such as the flash, exposure controls, scenes, shooting modes, and so on. I particularly like the automated panorama setting, which makes it so easy to take panoramas that my 7-year-old could do it. The results weren't half bad, either. The right control strip, as usual, includes a large on-screen shutter button, a toggle for the camera/video camera and a link to the photo gallery.

Once you've spent a moment familiarizing yourself with the controls and perhaps even customized them to your own liking, the camera is a breeze to use. It focuses and shoots photos faster than a blink. You can choose to use touch-to-focus if there is something in particular you want to be in focus. It's a fast and feature-rich camera.

 

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Gallery

The GS3's gallery application is very close to the stock Android 4.0 gallery app. The GS3 automatically syncs your Picasa and/or Google+ photos if you have them, as well as other configurable online accounts, including Flickr.

The basic view includes a mish-mash of photos from all your accounts in one epically huge grid. Using the tools at the top of the page, you can shift the view to specific folders or collections of photos.

When it comes to handling photos, the GS3 falls a bit short. Sure, images can be shared via every network or online service possible with but a few swipes, but editing options are few. Images can be cropped and rotated, as well as renamed. That's it. There are no filters nor other options to adjust the appearance of photos. That's kind of crummy. There’s no third-party photo editing app on board, either.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Photos

As with the other variants of the GS3, I was generally pleased with the results from the camera. I found it to be very accurate to the scene. Focus was perfect, exposure spot on, and colors looked vibrant and rich. My biggest complaint would be the presence of grain, which I noticed on some brightly lit outdoor shots that should have been clean as a whistle. I noticed the grain a bit on the other variants of the GS3 as well.

Can the GS3 replace your point and shoot camera? Absolutely. Leave that thing home. You can rely on the GS3 to capture all those important moments that come out of nowhere. Can the GS3 replace something as advanced as an entry-level dSLR? Probably not, but it's close enough that most people won't be able to tell the difference.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Captured Video

The GS3's video camera impressed me. I thought it did an excellent job, especially at higher resolutions, like 1080p. Focus and exposure were incredible, and colors looked good, too. I got some shaky results from time to time, but that was probably just as much my fault as the GS3's.



Music

There are so many options for listening to music on the GS3, it's hard to pick. Naturally, a simple music player and Google Play Music are on board. The media player will find and play back any music files stored on the device. It’s limited in functionality, but wins points for its simple nature. I find using Google Play Music a bit more frustrating, but it scores well for offering such a vast array of music and features. You can use it to stream and/or purchase full music tracks in addition to renting movies.

Then there's the Samsung Media Hub. The Media Hub lets GS3 owners rent/download movies, videos, and television shows. It requires an account with Samsung and a credit card on file. Based on what I saw, the Google Play Store has a richer set of options than the Media Hub. If you need more options than this, you may have a music problems.

Music sounded great played back through each and every service. The plain music app has an EQ, but even the apps that don't have their own customizable sound controls still manage to get the mix neutral enough that it sounds good to my picky ears.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Prerecorded Video

Pretty much the same goes for video. The GS3 has the native YouTube application, a simple video player app that will work with any content on the device, and the Google Play Video app. This last option is reserved for watching movies or TV shows you've rented or purchased from the Google Play Store. All of these apps work well, and offer easy controls for watching video. Sound is also excellent. The luscious display makes the experience all the better.

Sprint didn't preload any other video or music services on the GS3, not even its own, branded TV apps.

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