Friday, 8 June 2012


One of my colleagues asked me today about the GPS on the GS3. It’s something I hadn’t yet tried, so vowed to give it a go on the way home.

I know there were a number of people who had issues with the GPS on the original Galaxy S, and a few had mentioned similar problems with the GS2. I never had any problem with my GS2, but I was only ever using the GPS function for basic driving and walking navigation, and for the Samsung Hope relay app.

Normally I would use my phone instead of a sat nav, however, with my rubbish sense of direction, I often find myself in situations where I quickly have to pull over and try to navigate my way to my destination. However, with the GS2 I found that locating satellites sometimes took quite a while before I could start moving again. This was quite annoying, especially if I got lost when trying to get to somewhere at a specific time (for me, this does happen quite often). So, for the purpose of testing the GS3, I thought I’d first set a route to take me home from work.

The first thing I noticed was that the GPS locks a lot quicker than on the GS2.  I locked onto the GPS satellites while in my car, in the bottom floor of a 2 story carpark in about 30 seconds, which is quite impressive for a first use. Using GPS Test, I was able to see that the handset had locked onto 13 satellites, with an accuracy of 24.2 feet! Pretty impressive! Further navigation attempts locked onto satellites in about 10 seconds, which is handy if you need to get directions quickly. 

In terms of navigation, I particularly like that there is an option for alternative routes – this may be present with the ICS update for GS2, but I never got round to updating mine (I preferred the handset with Gingerbread). This can be shown in the picture below.

For voice guided navigation, the nice lady who tells me where to go sounds a bit muffly compared to the crisp directions on the GS2, which is slightly disappointing. I think this is due to the speaker being positioned at the top of the handset, as the Galaxy Note and GS2 had similar crisp voice navigation from their speakers at the bottom of the device. This is quite annoying.

I also tried the walking directions, which were equally accurate, but had the same muffly voice. Again, the GPS locked on fairly quickly – about 10 seconds – and the directions were extremely accurate.

I know I haven’t tested the GPS extensively yet, but it will get a good outing over the next 
few weeks, and if anything arises, I’ll be sure to let you know. So far, all seems good, apart from the muffly voice navigation.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Samsung Galaxy S 3 - Hands on

Since the Unpacked event, I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of my very own Galaxy S3. It finally arrived - in marble white- and I've been blown away.

The Samsung Galaxy S 3 is undoubtedly a very sexy handset. The slim design with thin bezel and slightly curved edges is comfortable and stylish, and the simple design is classy and elegant. This is the first white device I have ever owned and I was a bit dubious at first, but it is very classy. The software design within ICS is more customisable than that of previous handsets, allowing for the layout to be unique to the user. I especially like the fact that additional fonts can be downloaded to further personalise the device.

Beneath the surface, the specs are equally as sexy.  The quad core processor allows for super speedy internet browsing – I’ve never experienced browsing so fast on a mobile device! Pages load seamlessly and quickly, without any lagging when loading pictures. One little niggle I have with the browser is that you can’t Swype input in the URL bar. This is a minor inconvenience, but is annoying since I was used to this with the GS2, and find it much faster and easier than typing a full address.

The camera is slicker and sharper than that of the GS2, allowing for stunning clarity of pictures. All the usual apps and settings are present- with the exclusion of the news and weather app, which I found extremely useful. I can’t seem to find the same app available for download, but have been able to source suitable alternatives. S Memo is also available for this handset, which is handy, but is not as easy to use as that of the Note, which has the added benefit of the S-Pen for easier handwriting input.

The motion features on the S3 are a great addition, and are far from the somewhat gimmicky motions found on the S2. The direct call feature – allowing you to call a contact by just lifting the phone to your ear – is extremely useful when on the go or in a hurry, and the palm to pause is great when you unexpectedly need to mute the device. Smart stay is a really excellent feature – the device recognises when you are watching the screen, and remains on without the need for constantly tapping the screen when reading emails or web articles, or watching video. When watching video, the pop-up play is a cool feature, which allows you to keep the video open in a small screen, while you continue texting, browsing or composing email. These features really enhance the appeal and performance of the device, rather than being gimmicky additions which you won’t really use.
Another useful inbuilt feature is the mobile data counter – without having to download a separate app, the device tracks the amount of mobile data used, and even tells you how this has been used. A handy, and super accurate, feature, especially nowadays when internet use quickly adds up.

The addition of 50GB of Dropbox space is great, as well as the fact that images and video taken with the handset are automatically uploaded, ensuring that you never lose important images. The device ships with 16GB memory, and can take up to a 64GBmemory card – plenty of space for storing anything you could possibly want.

So, it may have taken a while for my network provider to sort my micro sim, but I was very glad when they did, as it meant I could use this as my main handset. At first I was afraid I may be neglecting my trusty S2, which has served me very very well, but the ease of use and stylish design have me convinced that the Galaxy S 3 definitely is designed for humans, and not for sheep!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Samsung Galaxy S III - Unpacked 2012

So, on Thursday I had the fantastic opportunity to join my fellow Mobilers at Unpacked 2012 - the worldwide launch of the Samsung Galaxy S III - in Earl’s Court in London. We met up early for breakfast, and the air was filled with speculative chattering about what this next device might be. We had all seen the supposed leaks, but were unsure how the final handset would turn out. At 12pm we made our way to the exhibition centre, where we were to receive a briefing and demo of the handset, before helping with the press launch later that night.

As the slideshow began, the room fell silent – what would this device have in store for us- would it live up to the speculation that it was ‘the next big thing’? Well, it did!

The Galaxy S III has been ‘designed for humans’, taking its design inspiration from nature; the look and feel of leaves, pebbles and water. This theme runs into the software of the device, as well as the hardware.  It will be available in wither blue or white, and will be launched in the UK on 29 May.

And now to the specs.  The GS3 packs some top-notch hardware –
·         4.8” display with 306ppi
·         8mp camera with burst shot and best photo settings (1.9mp front camera)
·         Exynos 1.4 GHz processor
·         HTP40 WI-FI
·         Bluetooth 4.0
·         Extremely thin bezel with hyperglaze skin back cover, and only 133grams in weight
·         Improved motion features – tap to top, shake, smart stay and direct call
·         Notification light
·         S Voice
·         Face and voice unlock
·         Pop-up play
·         Allshare

The processor ensures a speedy response when browsing and multitasking, and allows for the use of the pop-up play feature. This allows e user to watch video in a pop-up screen, which can easily be repositioned on the display, while browsing the web or composing text.

The 8mp camera produces stunning stills on the 306ppi 4.8” display. The burst shot feature takes 20 photos in quick succession; essential for photographing moving objects. The best photo feature then chooses the best picture based on smile detection, blink and blur. 

Smart stay ensures that the display remains lit without dimming while your eyes are focussed on the screen. As soon as your eyes look away, the screen will dim. This is a handy feature which really comes into its own when reading E-Books or browsing lengthy web articles. The direct call feature is also extremely useful. It allows you to make a call just by lifting the handset to your ear, essential for when another text reply just isn’t suitable.

The face and voice unlock feature builds additional security against the face unlock feature seen in the recent Galaxy Nexus. The GS3 can be unlocked by face and voice only, eliminating the risk of using a photo to unlock.

The Allshare feature allows you to share files with other handsets using 3G or WI-FI, or allows streaming of files from your PC to the handset, even when you are outside the home.

The S Voice feature has been compared to IPhones Siri, but in my opinion this is much slicker. S Voice can recognise 6 languages, including both British and American English, and can be used to command the phone as well as bring up weather or calendar information. In terms of usability, it’s very easy, and I must say, I’m impressed that it can even recognise my Northern Ireland accent, a feat which no handset has ever been able to accomplish. I’ll be glad to be able to use the voice feature on the GS3 without having to put on a rather posh English accent!

Also unveiled at Unpacked 2012 were a range of accessories for the GS3. These included a range of cases, a wireless charging dock, a wireless docking station and an Allshare Cast dongle, which allows the user to use the Allshare function with a non-WI-FI enabled TV. The Samsung Pebble was also on show – a smallMP3 player, somewhat akin to the iPod shuffle, but taking the same natural design as the GS3. This will pack 4GB of storage and is available in the same blue and white colours as the handset.

After the product training, we all set off to the main exhibition hall to show off the features of this fab handset to the world’s media. As soon as they were invited to view the handset, 3000 of the world’s press began hurtling towards us, tripping each other and pushing people aside, to be the first one to get those all-important pictures and videos to showcase to the world. The next couple of hours were spent providing demonstrations of the handsets features, and I was tasked with showing off the Allshare Play function (as you can see in the above video). I absolutely loved it, and wish I could do this every day!

After a very busy few hours of promoting, it was time to leave. As we left we were all presented with a lovely Jo Malone candle, which is now burning in my house and making it smell delightful! This was packed nicely inside a Samsung bag, with a gift tag declaring ‘thanks for being our inspiration’ – what a lovely treat! These were given to all of the media present by some very beautiful ladies, as a reminder of the day Samsung launched the next big thing.

From my experience at Unpacked 2012, I can honestly say that the Samsung Galaxy S III is a very attractive handset. The features and design will ensure that it really is the market leader, and this theory will no doubt be proved when it goes on sale on May 29th. I’m already waiting to get my hands on one!

Friday, 16 December 2011

My Samsung Christmas wish

On my Christmas list this year is definitely a Samsung Smart TV. I saw these TVs for the first time at Eurogamer, and I was blown away. Aside from the fact that they are stunningly beautiful, the features on these TVs are amazing! They are slim, and look great on a stand or mounted on the wall – the design really is a work of art.

I’m not a big fan of 3d TVs; I think they’re a bit gimmicky and play havoc with my eyes. As such, I’d love to have a 2d smart TV, which allowed me to watch films in stunning clarity, browse the net without having to reach for my laptop, and easily update my social networks from the comfort of my sofa.
Of course, if I had a smart TV, a shiny new Samsung blu-ray player would also be a must. Why watch standard dvds when you can watch amazing HD blu-rays? Coupled with the super crisp clarity of the Smart TV, my viewing experience would be perfect!

The only downside I could see of having a smart TV would be that my boyfriend would be fighting to play Xbox on it. So Santa, if you could bring two, that would be fabulous!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Galaxy Nexus

The new Galaxy Nexus is an aesthetically pleasing handset, with a sleek curved design. It’s slightly thicker and larger than the Galaxy S 2, but still feels nice in the hand. The toughened, scratch-proof glass is very resistant to scrapes and knocks, and would definitely manage to survive in pockets with keys and other items which tend to damage phone screens. Just take a look at Dom’s scratch test to prove it -

With the new Ice Cream Sandwich operating system and speedy processor, there is no doubt that the Nexus can perform quickly, but the stock OS seems bland compared to previous handsets which included Samsung Touch wiz. The menu layouts are easy to understand, though, but just seem to lack some of the lustre found on Samsung’s other Galaxy range of handsets. This could be down to the change in OS, or the fact that the device is a beta model.

For a handset like this at the top of the market, it is disappointing to see only a 5mp camera. I have not been able to properly test this feature, due to some unsightly green marks all across the camera, which prevent the taking of pictures – this is undoubtedly due to the fact that my particular device is a beta, pre-release version.

The screen quality is another slightly disappointing feature of this handset. The difference between the Nexus and the Galaxy S 2 is clear, with the S2 having a far crisper, sharper display. The Nexus screen appears dull, even when on full brightness, and pages appear grey instead of white.

The integration with Google+ is great, as this allows not only Gmail to be linked to the handset, but also Google messenger and your G+ account. The task manager also looks great, but after a weekend of use, I still haven’t managed to figure out how to actually close apps!

The integration of a notification light on the Galaxy Nexus is a definite plus, as it was one feature lacking in the flagship Galaxy S and S2. This does come in extremely handy. However, the Nexus does not have a MicroSD slot, which I personally think is a bit of a let-down – the SD slot allows data to be transferred between handsets, and easily removed without having to connect to PCs to back everything up. This is probably down to Google beginning to move into the Cloud, but it may annoy many consumers, who feel that a card slot is necessary on any handset.

All in all, I was expecting great things from the Galaxy Nexus, but it seems like a step backwards from the Galaxy S 2 instead of a step forwards. Hopefully this will change when I have a chance to see a final retail version, but for now, I think I’ll stick to the GS2.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Samsung Galaxy Note - First Look

Upon opening the box of my new Samsung Galaxy Note, my first thought was ‘wow, it’s huge!’ With a 5.3 inch screen, it’s bigger than any handset currently on the market, but is very thin and light in comparison to the screen size - At only 178 grams, the Note is lighter than many other smartphone devices out there. Although many people have noted that it is difficult to use with one hand, this is probably not something to worry about, as many people tend to use one hand to hold the device and the other to enter text – at least that’s the way I always do it!
As soon as the Note is powered on, the effects of the Super AMOLED screen are clear – a crisp, bright display with sharp colours. As usual, Samsung’s Touchwiz interface makes the layout familiar and easy to use – anyone who has ever used a Samsung Android device will be able to pick this up and use it straight away. With Android 2.3, the OS is slick, and, even better, this device will be getting the latest Ice Cream Sandwich OS very soon! As this is not quite the same size as a tablet, applications can run smoothly and look just as good as they do on a smaller screen like the GSII.
The Galaxy Note packs a speedy 1.4GHz processor, which allows for seamless multitasking without compromising on the speed of the device in any way. This also ensures that applications run without lag, helping to improve the overall user experience. The Note also includes Flash support, allowing for a variety of web based games and videos to be played, which look stunning on the large screen.
The 8mp camera (complete with flash) has a similar quality to that of the Galaxy S II. Photos are clear and sharp, with the ability to edit images as desired. Again, the HD video recording is of good quality, and the front facing 2mp camera allows for video calling or mirror type applications.
However, the coolest feature of the Note has got to be the S –Pen. This allows the Note to be used almost like the PDAs of old – typing and tapping with the pen. However, the difference between this and old-style PDAs is that the Note can also be used by tapping with fingers, like a normal phone handset. The S-Memo feature allows the user to capture screen images, and use the pen to make notes on these, highlight important areas or just draw. I’ve spent so much time this weekend since unboxing the handset just doodling – it’s so easy to use, anyone can produce stunning pieces of art. The S-Pen also makes the larger screen easier to manage, removing the need for awkward figure gesturing on the screen, and it tucks away neatly inside the Note when you’re finished, so no annoying dangly attachments or fear of losing it.
Although the Note may not fit perfectly into my pockets (being a small person, I have small pockets!) it certainly fits in my handbag! Yes, it may be large, but for someone like myself who tends to text and browse more than I make calls, this is not a problem. Web pages look more natural on the 5.3 inch screen, compared to a smaller screen like those found in most other smartphone devices, and are much easier to read and navigate. However, if you are someone who is looking for a phone to make calls, I would stick to the Galaxy S II – I will be keeping mine close by for the few calls I make. All in all, the Galaxy Note is a very attractive device, and although the size may put some people off, the benefits are far greater than any other device I have encountered thus far. Personally I think I will keep this device close by for use in meetings, general doodling and internet browsing, but for calling, I think I’ll stick to something that doesn’t look so ostentatious when sat against my ear!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Eurogamer & WCG

I was lucky enough to be able to attend this year's Eurogamer expo, incorporating the Samsung sponsored World Cyber Games. This was a fantastic opportunity to see and preview upcoming games releases, including Battlefield 3, Call of Duty and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. I also had the chance to play with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, and to see the White S2 in the flesh (I prefer the black one!).My highlight definitely had to be the Alienware 3D gaming chair – I was useless at it, but it was absolutely fantastic, and the 3D graphics were stunning!

 I started the day by visiting the Samsung stand, where the gamers were beginning to gather. As the London Excel filled up with people, the hype at the WCG stand was clearly visible. Serious gamers sat for hours, battling with each other to become the world champion. And while this was going on, hundreds of people were milling around the Excel, trying out the games and generally enjoying the (extremely geeky) atmosphere. As we walked around, we had the chance to meet R2D2, Darth Vader and various other Star Wars characters, all there to enhance the experience at the Star Wars stand.

 I’ve included the link to my Flickr photoset below, so you can get a feel of the Expo, and the kinds of things that were going on.

 The Expo was a really good experience, and I felt very lucky to be able to experience some unreleased consoles and materials, as well as enjoying some retro games, including GameCube, Atari and Nintendo 64!