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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

61 Days With The Galaxy S3

I bought my Samsung Galaxy S3 (which I've named 'Pebble') 61 days ago on June 19th. Well, it's already been 2 months and I figured that's a fairly long enough of a hands-on duration to give a little review here of my experiences with the device. Here we go:

The keyboard is one of the very first things you would use when it comes to a new phone, right? I gotta say that I was absolutely HORRIFIED by the auto-correction feature of the default Samsung keyboard. The damned thing was just too aggressive to the point of replacing the words I intended with other not even remotely related words that made me go "WTF?!" and I was flabbergasted enough to the point of forgetting what it was I actually wanted to type sometimes. It has caused me untold grief to the extent of me almost smashing my phone against the wall in frustration and that's no exaggeration, k?

So for the first couple of days or so, I was typing.. no, I was correcting more than typing messages like a retard while my message recipients must have wondered why my responses have gotten so darned slow. Seriously Samsung, the default auto-correct feature is just plain ATROCIOUS (All Caps for more drama and for stressing the point). Big Fat Boo! iOS's auto-correct is miles better.

By the way, whenever I have to compare features with another smartphone, I can only compare it to the iPhone, since my previous phone, which was an iPhone 4, was the only other smartphone I've owned. So before my iPhone, I wasn't smart, so please understand that I'm not comparing my S3 with the iPhone just for the sake of it with some sinister agenda, which very act itself can actually piss some folks off as evident in lots of smartphone forums. What I'm trying to say here is that I have no choice about it based on my experiences with smartphones thus far.

Swiftkey saves the day
Good, now that we've gotten that out of the way..

But all is not lost, the customization capabilities of Android allows me to find alternatives to nip this sickening auto-correct atrocity in the butt. The solution for me came in the form of this awesome keyboard app called SwiftKey and what a Godsend that app is! After installing and configuring it to go in line with my typing requirements, I felt and am still feeling that I'm getting the best of both the iOS and Android worlds, since I've configured it using my experiences with iOS as a guide.

The great thing about SwiftKey is that it actually learns your typing habits and over time, it customizes its auto-correct suggestions based on your style of typing and the choice of words you commonly use. So yeah, problem solved for this one. There is another recommended typing app called Ultra Keyboard which I think I'm gonna install and try using.

Sounds like a hassle? I don't think so, I like to have choices. I can just stop with SwiftKey and call it a day but who knows, if I continue trying out new experiments, I might just come across something else cooler than what I'm currently using and which already seems to be more than adequate. I'm all for further progress and improvement. You have to have a sense of adventure when it comes to Android and have fun while you're at it.

Best thing is, I don't have to root, or in iOS circles, 'Jailbreak' my phone in order to change and customize how I want things to work and behave on my phone, which pleases me to no end. I know, rooting your phone or installing custom ROMs allow you more things like root & system level administrator controls but what I'm trying to get at here is that I'm impressed, even surprised, at how easy it is to change things without rooting on the get go. Loving it.

Hey, I just gave my phone a passionate kiss. Moving on..

Another thing I didn't like was the sensitive auto-brightness feature of the S3. If a passing shadow hits my screen, even for just a couple of seconds, the phone might automatically turn down the brightness of the screen to levels I usually do not like. But I found a one-touch solution for this using widgets. Further down, you will come across a screenshot of my phone with the widgets on it and I'll let the picture do the talking there.

The last thing I didn't like was where the volume rocker and power hardware keys are located. So many times, I've accidentally pressed on them because they are located too low from the top of the phone. I've rectified this problem when I got my book-style flip-over soft case for my phone though. The case creates a buffer between my fingers and the buttons to the point that I won't activate them easily by accident but still easy enough to do so deliberately.

Also, that case allows me to do a trick of convenience whenever I need to plug in the earpiece for listening to FM radio but I'll reserve that for another blog entry dedicated to the subject in the future.

Bored yet? No? Jeez, you are quite the masochist, aren't you? Very well then, read on..

Anyway, the default auto-correct, auto-brightness features and the location of the above-mentioned hardware keys are the only things I didn't like about the S3 (rectified). Other than these, I love everything else about the phone - things like the gorgeous screen, the ability to download anything off the big bad Net, the ability to download torrent files with aTorrent, watching any video I want off the Net, the awesome camera that snaps photos at an insane speed, the different launchers that allow you to theme your phone, the..

Oh wait, the launchers. Did you know that default TouchWiz doesn't allow you to rename icons and even if you were to manually sort the icons within folders alphabetically on the home screen, the sorting will become undone everytime you restart the phone? All these limitations are ironed out with the launchers. Yup, they can perform alphabetical sortings at a touch that maintain themselves upon phone restarts, allow you to change the icons and rename them, besides giving your homescreen new function behaviors and new looks which you can easily toggle between different themes and different launchers. Freaking Awesome.

Oh boy, there are lots of great things I wanna talk about the phone and Android but if I tried, I could probably write a mini book and that's not what I'm intending. So, I'll let the following few screenshots of my phone in action do the talking for me (click on them to bloat them up). If you come across anything mentioned in the pic captions you fancy, just search for it at the Play Store or sideload it from another source:

Home screens powered by Nova Launcher,
HD Widgets and Widgetsoid.

Go Launcher & Circle Launcher in action

The Llama app for automated tasks,
freeing you from manual intervention

My alternative voice assistant.

Thanks to my Sandisk 32gb SD card, I've got my
S3 to swallow my favourite movies, anime & manga.

Conclusion: I don't think I could show you every nifty thing on my phone in just one blog entry (which is getting too long already as it is), so I'll just sum things up here: The flexibility and customization capabilities of Android coupled with the bombastic hardware of my S3, like its quad core processor, for eg, is making my mobile experience quite an orgasmic one, for lack of a naughtier word. It's basically a geek's wet dream come true. Splash.

Sure, some apps have stability issues due to the fact that there are too many different Droid phones with different specs for every app to cater to (fragmentation), like Plants vs Zombies, for example, which currently is not compatible with the S3. Bummer. But that's due to no fault of the phone itself, that's just how things are due to fragmentation. Still, that's not something that should be ignored. I would say that an estimated 90% of the apps I've gotten my mitts on work properly.

And the 2100mAH battery: reviews on the Net regarding the battery have been a mixed bag. Some folks claim excellent S3 battery life while some claim the opposite. For me, the very first thing I'll always do whenever I get a new phone is to go into the phone's settings and turn off features and functions I hardly use. In the case of my S3, I've turned off things like the gimmicky Smart Stay function as well as the GPS, location services, bluetooth, NFC, S Beam, etc - functions that I'll only turn on as and when I need them, which is never constantly all the time.

I'm happy with my battery life on daily moderate to heavy usage and I've even bought a casing charger just in case. My battery can last me an entire day and hasn't gone flat on me on a typical workday from me unplugging it off the charger at 6 plus in the morning till I get home around 8pm or so. It's really up to the user to take care of all these settings that will help your battery survive longer.

Also, settings within certain apps are things you have to pay attention to too, since some of them can suck up battery juice if you give them free rein. It's good practice to go through apps settings first on the very first time you launch them.

No excuses if you don't and finding your battery going pancake on you outside of a reasonable and acceptable time frame, unless you happen to have a faulty battery, that is. The same principle applies to any other modern smartphone. Perhaps I'll blog about battery conservation and maximisation in the future.

Remember: default states and statuses usually suck and are just begging to be modified. You have to help yourself on that.

In closing, in case the question of whether I've regretted having bought my S3 and switching over to the Android platform is going through your mind, my answer is:

Regret? Are you kidding me? I'm gonna go kiss my S3 again.

- De Lion Speaks

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