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Samsung Galaxy S3 Review: Best and worst features

The 4.8in device is one of the most highly anticipated Android devices of 2012. We go through the top five features of the Galaxy S3 and also point out its niggles.

1. S-Voice needs to do some homework

Apple launched the Siri voice-activated personal assistant on the iPhone 4S, and, although it generated excitement, it is a feature that has been confined to use in social environments. We don't mind Samsung adding this feature, but the execution with S-Voice is poor.

Although the device is able to perform simple tasks, such as "set alarm" or "call mum", asking the device to do anything else is difficult.

Performance when answering questions was inconsistent. S-Voice was able to answer an easy question such as "what is the tallest mountain in the world?". But when asked to provide the "weather in Iraq", it could only tell us what it is like in Leicester Square. Indeed, when we asked S-Voice the weather for any region, it always returned Leicester Square.

Samsung Galaxy S3 - S-Voice weather

S-Voice was only able to tell us the weather of one location

Complex questions also posed a problem. Ask it something like, "find me the nearest pizza place" and you're likely to get a response along the lines of, "I'm not sure what you mean".

Samsung Galaxy S3 - S-Voice failure to understand

When using S-Voice, this screen will be a common occurrence

Trying to have some fun with S-Voice is hard work too. When asked "what is the meaning of life?", S-Voice answer "42" every time. This gets tedious rather quickly.

Speed is also an issue. Like Siri, S-Voice requires an internet connection to function. The speed at which it can answer requests on 3G varies from instant to painfully slow. At times it can take over 10 seconds to process a simple request such as "compose text".

Dictation is another letdown and the reason why this feature is unlikely to be used. As soon as you pause for breath, the device adds a full stop and you cannot add anything further to the message. At best, you can get the device to send one long sentence. This negates any productivity benefits, and we found it quicker to carry out the whole process manually.

At best S-Voice is a novelty, but one which you will stop using after hours rather than days. We would struggle to find anyone who will use it on a regular basis, other than to set appointment times or call someone when using hands free.

IT PRO VERDICT

Verdict

We've found the positives far outweighed the negative aspects of the S3. The performance, screen and gestures are ahead of other Android devices on the market and make this the number one competitor to the iPhone 4S. In time we envisage Samsung will also be able to improve S-Voice as it's a server-based system and it should accumulate knowledge to answer questions. With the S3 available for free from as little as £26 per month, even the price is more than reasonable.

OS: Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich with TouchWiz Processor: 1.4GHz Exynos quad-core Memory/Storage: 1GB RAM; 16/32/64GB internal + 64GB microSD slot Screen: Super AMOLED HD 4.8in (1280 x 720) Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n, micro-USB, 3.5mm headphone jack Other: Accelerometer, Geo-magnetic, Gyro, RGB Light, Barometer sensor, Assisted GPS / GLONASS available Bands: EDGE / GPRS (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900MHz), HSPA+21 (850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100) Camera: 8MP rear with LED flash and autofocus, 1.9MP front-facing Battery: 2100mAh Size: 70.6 x 136.6 x 8.6mm Weight: 133g

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