Mini and Belated Review of the AT&T GS3

About 3 weeks ago I traded my iPhone 4s for an AT&T Samsung Galaxy S 3 and thought I should post some impressions. I am running a very recent nightly of CM10.

Initial Reservations

This phone is a return to Android for me. I went from an iPhone 2g --> iPhone 3g-s --> HTC Evo --> iPhone 4s --> GS3

One of the things that bugged me when picking up this phone is the button layout, menu-home-back. I really wanted on screen buttons because I wanted the multitasking button to be front and center. It's an App word, and I'm just living in it. Unfortunately, Apple has pioneered this but hasn't quite figured out hot to manage the playground in a sane way as it grows on its reliance on apps. They didn't intend or build the springboard with hundreds of apps in mind. iOS has extremely clunky app switching, which is all the more surprising because they are the king of apps, their users spend their lives jumping between the high quality apps available to them. I wanted an experience which would allow me to multitask with Palm Pre like ease (without the Palm Pre performance issues), so I wanted a multitasking button. I figured I could remap the menu button to an app swticher button, but I was concerned with what implications that would have for the actual menu functionality. With virtual buttons, it adds a menu button where needed. On the HTC One X, it puts an ugly bar at the bottom of the display, eating into the content. Luckily, CyanogenMod 10 came to the rescue. In Apps that have the latest theme, Holo, it adds the menu onto the frame when needed. For old apps, I remapped the long-press of the menu button to the menu functionality. My biggest reservation - the button layout, was successfully and elegantly put at ease.

Display

I hate pentile layouts. I am worried about burn in. Pentile and the bluish tint hasn't bothered me yet. The contrast ratio is amazing. The resolution is a bit low as a result of the pentile nature and I wish it was higher. Overall this display is more than satisfactory.

Software

Jelly bean fixes basically everything I couldn't stand with Gingerbread. It's a bit choppy here and there, still drops a frame or two, but it flies. It is definitely not as responsive as iOS, but its extremely close. Oddly, it FEELS faster. Jumping between apps is instantaneous, with no resume time (with 2gb of ram, apps stay open for a very long time). The phone feels far more powerful than an iPhone 4s, even if it isn't, because apps never have to reload or unfreeze. Everything is just...open. Apps are cleaner than they were in the Gingerbread days, home screens are buttery smooth, information is presented well. Notifications are amazing and offer a ton of information. The mail app still seems clunky (no unified messaging, really?) but is very efficient. Uploading, sharing, everything takes less time than I am used to, is one less click away.

One last note about software, and this may not jive with everyone. There is nothing like downloading a video from bittorrent and playing it on the phone easily and perfectly, without any regard to file formats, using only apps on the market. That is functionality I am used to on a desktop.

Hardware

Let's be honest here, it feels cheap. It feels like plastic. It feels like I am going to drop it because it's a little too large to hold with one hand. But it also feels impossibly thin due to the surface area and inspires confidence in the build materials. Its fisher price plastic may not feel great, but it does feel like it could withstand a toddler. This hardware checks the boxes. NFC, large battery, status notification, removable battery, the increasingly rare expandable storage, front facing camera, etc. There is not much to complain about here.

Battery life

No appreciable difference between this and my iPhone 4s, which, considering LTE and the huge display, is great (or at least good enough to get me through my work day).

Overall

I give this device an 8/10. The hardware should feel better. I wish it wasn't pentile. The stock experience is inferior to the ASOP experience I am running (for my needs). The button layout should be forward looking and not forego the multitasking prowess for a legacy menu button. Day to day this phone is fast, face melting fast. It's big, which makes it comfortable to use and read on for extended periods of time (especially when everything of interest is firewalled at work). It's practically a desktop replacement. I may have given it a low score, but I love it.

I apologize for any awkward language, blatant omissions, and word vomit. I haven't ever reviewed any devices and I am awfully excited, so hope this makes sense.