The Galaxy S3 has been around for a few months now. And it has quickly become one of the most popular phones in the world. Part of its popularity stems from its reach. There are very few carriers worldwide that hasn’t added this powerful device to their lineup. From AT&T to US Cellular, almost every US carrier has it with only software and radio differences between them. And now MetroPCS has added its name to the list. So how does the number one phone fair on the US’s first LTE network? Check out my quick review to find out.
One of the best parts of the Galaxy S3 is the fact that no matter which carrier you pick it up from, it looks the same. Unlike the previous Galaxy S devices where carriers had exclusive versions the GS3. Samsung took one of the good pages from the Apple playbook and went with a “take it or leave it” approach with this years Galaxy S device. The phone measures in at 5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches. The curves are both purposefully and beautiful; giving the Galaxy S3 a great feel while masking how big this phone really is. The GS3 is also pretty thin. Sure it is not iPhone 5(0.30 inches) or late years Galaxy S2(but only by a millimeter)thin, but this is a slender device. Samsung decided to go with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2 to minimize the thickness of the screen while still keeping it strong enough to deal with daily life.
As far as buttons and ports go, you only have what is really needed here.There are three physical buttons; power button on the right side, a one-piece volume rocker on the left, and a home button. On either side of the home button are capacitive keys for menu and back. For ports there is a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top and a microUSB/MHL port on the bottom. With the right MHL adapter you can mirror the phone on a HD monitor or TV.
The MetroPCS Galaxy S3 ships with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich with the TouchWiz Nature UX. I would hope that it gets Jelly Bean as the other US variants are starting to get it. But stranger things have happened. The TouchWiz Nature interface offers you a bevy of helpful additional features as well as a few odd ones. Features like Direct Call which allows you to call the person you are texting by bringing the phone to your ear is both creative and useful. As is Smart Stay with uses the front-facing camera track your eyes; keeping the screen on while you look at the screen. The Palm Swipe feature is fun but odd. It allows you to capture a screenshot by swiping the side of your palm across the screen. But what is best about the TouchWiz Nature UX is how fluid it is to navigate. Even without Jelly Bean’s Project Butter is very smooth.
MetroPCS went lighter than usually on the apps this time around. The main thing being that they did not rename the internet this time around. You get things like myMetro, M Studio, Easy Wi-Fi, and their App Store. MyExtra is one noticeably absent app from the normal Metro app lineup. And though it has it merits I am a little happy not to see it as I am not a fan of pop-up ads on phones(though I do love a good deal). Samsung throws in their Media Hub and Game Hub. The Media Hub is the cooler of the two(in my opinion) as you can pick up movies and TV shows from it and for now it has a larger collection than the Play Store does. Of course, you need a Samsung account to enjoy them.
Along with the normal suite of Google Apps comes a little bonus – Google Wallet. Not many devices support this app and that is mainly become the lack of support from the carriers. Well, MetroPCS has no issue supporting Google. They are only the second carrier in the US to throw their weight behind it.
Performance & Battery Life
Just like the other U.S. variants of the Galaxy S3 the MetroPCS version sports a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 chipset paired with 2GB of RAM. You can only pick up a 16GB version on Metro which will leave you with around 12GB of free storage on the device. There is a microSD card slot which can bring you an extra 64GB of space for your pictures, video, and music. It’s great for those who love to keep every song and movie they own within grasp.
Despite lacking the quad-core CPU of its international counterpart the GS3 is a speed demon. Samsung has done a great job making an interface that is both visually interesting but does not slow the phone down. The Galaxy S3 can handle everything you can throw at it within breaking a sweat.
Another thing the MetroPCS version has in common with most of its U.S. cousins is LTE. MetroPCS was one of the first to actually have a 4G LTE network. Despite being first their speeds(at least in my area) aren’t always the fastest. However, I was surprised at the speeds I got on the Galaxy S3. It seems like this phone is so great it can make what is normally a pretty slow network just a bit fast(1.01-3 Mbps down and 0.75-1.86 Mbps up). The call quality is also great with neither me nor the callers having any issues. As far as reception goes, the only time I lost signal was underground in the subway. Other than that the phone was able to hold a strong signal.
Under that back cover is a 21oo mAh battery. The battery on this phone also acts as the NFC antenna. Being a LTE device battery life is always a huge question. But I had no issue giving through a day of normal usage with it. During my review I have two GMail accounts, my Live account, Facebook, and Twitter synced to it. The emails accounts where being pushed, my social networks syncing every hour, and weather being synced every three hours the phone. During my longest test the GS3 lasted 1 day, 20 hours, and 5 minutes before it needed to be charged(it was at 5%). On my heaviest usage day I managed 19 hours before getting the dreaded critical battery warning. Of course, if you a media monger then your travel with vary.
Samsung has made the focus of the camera experience on the Galaxy S3 sharing and speed. From the quick launch gesture to the fast shot-to-shot time(as long as you are not using the flash; the Galaxy S3 camera makes it easy to capture a moment. But on the downside, most of the great sharing feature require that your friends and family own a Galaxy S3’s too. With the number of phones sold chances are there will be at least one person you know will own one. The rear sports a 8 mega pixel BSI camera sensor with a f/2.6 aperture. Up front there is a 1.9 megapixel fixed focus camera. Both can record high-def video at up to 30 frames per second; though the front is limited to 720p while the rear camera can capture 1080p video.
Software wise Samsung does a good job at making a fairly personalized experience. You can choose what settings you need access to the most and place them right on the side bar for easy access. There are a plethora of options from filters, shooting modes, and scene modes. From HDR, panorama, burst, to beauty mode; Samsung has you covered. The one thing I am not that fond of; face detection is a shooting mode and not a default option.
The image quality is among the best you will find on a cell phone. The images are full of detail and the color a fairly accurate though warm at time. The front camera lacked the ability to focus but deals with light changes very well. While recording video you do get continuous auto-focus and the ability to capture pictures while recording at full resolution. That is a big deal because more Android phone limit it to the resolution of the recording. You can not capture picture while the anti-shake mode is on so make sure you have a steady hand! The video quality is full of detail and the audio on it was clear.
The Galaxy S3 has proven itself again and again to be a king among Android devices. So it was no surprise that on MetroPCS this phone shines. It manages to magically make the normally “not that fast” LTE in my area faster. But the price is going to be a hard pill to swallow for some. $500 for a phone even without a contract may be a bit much for some but what you are getting are one of the best Android experiences available. But if you aren’t keen on blowing two paycheck on your next phone, then I would say grab the LG Motion 4G(amazing little phone). If you can part with the money, you will not be disappointed!