Power and battery
Samsung might not be the first to launch a quad-core smartphone, but as our hands-on testing has proved, it's on par with if not better than its speedy rivals, thanks to Samsung's own 1.4GHz Exynos processor. As you'd expect from such a processor chip, performance is super-slick and we noticed no lag, even when running multiple apps.
Speaking of which, we ran the Antutu benchmarking app on the phone, which gave the Galaxy S3 an impressive score of 11,884. Sure, that number doesn't mean much by itself, but it compares well to the 10,829 score of the HTC One X and especially the 3,862 score of the Galaxy Nexus.
With such power often comes poor battery life, as demonstrated by the HTC One X. However, we found that the Galaxy S3's gargantuan 2100mAh battery coped extremely well throughout our testing. When we tested the battery using Antutu, and even when set to the most extreme level of battery draining performance, the Galaxy S3 still managed to last a reasonable 6 hours, beating the Galaxy S2 and the HTC One X by a mile.
As you'd expect from a phone that's managed to create such excitement, the Galaxy S3 runs the latest Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) operating system. This comes skinned with Samsung's 'Nature' Touchwiz overlay, a reworked version of its commonly used Android overlay.
First up, the Galaxy S3 comes with seven home screens, giving you plenty of space to add widgets, which are also resizable thanks to Android 4.0 ICS. Of course, you'll find the usual array of widgets, including weather, music player, gallery and Google+. S Memo was one of our favourite widgets, acting as a handy Galaxy Note-like note-taking app that lets you write your thoughts straight onto the screen. We weren't able to test a Galaxy S3 stylus, but scribbling with our finger proved easy enough.
Another of our favourite features of the Galaxy S3 is its ripple effect lock screen, which makes it seem as if you're dragging your finger across water. Sure, it's a tiny tweak, but it's one that entertained us every time we used it.
That's unsurprisingly not the most exciting software tweak. The Galaxy S3 also comes with S Voice and Smart Stay, Samsung's voice recognition and eye-tracking features, respectively. Smart Stay is just as exciting as Samsung talked it up to be, using the front-facing camera to see if you're staring at the screen and keeping the screen lit if you are. We found this feature worked perfectly.
The voice recognition feature is not as intelligent as Apple's Siri but does have the advantage of local UK directions. You can read more about it in our in-depth S Voice review.
S Beam is another of Samsung's snazzy add-ons, enabling users of Galaxy S3 handsets to share files between devices using NFC. Once we eventually figured out how to use it, the app seemed to work fairly seamlessly as long as the two devices were placed completely back-to-back. Pictures transferred between our two Galaxy S3 devices almost instantly, although videos took around a minute.
Another nice feature is 'Pop up Play', which lets you scale down a video you're watching and drag it around the screen. We didn't see the point at first when we got our hands on the Samsung Galaxy S3, but we soon found ourselves watching clips while tapping out emails.