As the unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S3grew nearer, the internet was swirling with unfounded rumors. Next-generation specs were being thrown out, and hopes were as high as could be. When the device was finally announced, it didn’t live up to the hype. Although, there’s probably nothing that could.
There might be an urge to dismiss the Galaxy S3 as a mediocre, somewhat unattractive device, but that’s not going to stop Samsung from selling a huge number of phones — 9 million have already been pre-ordered. The Galaxy S3 has success written all over it, but not for the reasons you expect.
The Galaxy S2 legacy
The first thing you should consider before getting too down on the Galaxy S3 is that it’s the successor to a wildly successful phone. The Galaxy S2 took the Android world by storm, eventually passing the 20 million unit mark in February 2012. Samsung even overtook Apple in smartphone sales in late 2011, largely on the strength of the Galaxy S2.
This rousing success has made Samsung the premier Android OEM, and that encourages trust. There are consumers that will buy Samsung phones out of loyalty. Even those that haven’t had a Samsung Android phone before have seen them around. You’re likely to spot more Galaxy S2 variants floating around than any other brand.
If someone shows you their Android phone, it’s probably a Samsung. That goes a long way to building brand image, and leading people to try the Galaxy S3 when the time comes for an upgrade. The Galaxy brand, especially after its fusion with the Nexus line, is perhaps as well known as the Droid branding from Verizon.
Software with a good first impression
There are probably reasons to dislike the new TouchWiz Nature UX skin on the Galaxy S3 when it’s compared to stock Android 4.0. However, these are aesthetic concerns and not everyone will agree. What will be clear when people pick up a Galaxy S3 is that the phone has some genuinely useful features.
People are going to be impressed with Smart Stay, the eye-tracking feature that keeps the display on while you’re looking at the phone. That will probably demo very well in a retail environment and get people interested in the phone. Likewise, Samsung’s foray into the voice-enabled future with S Voice is going to be a killer way to get noticed.
In testing the leaked S Voice app, I found it gets the job done. Samsung has built in some witty banter, though not to the same degree Apple has with Siri. Still, when people stand in the store and ask the phone questions and get real responses, that makes the phone more attractive. It doesn’t really matter if S Voice sits unused after that.
Even Apple has to deal with constant complaints from users that don’t much care for Siri after the honeymoon period. Features like Smart Stay and S Voice are just good selling points — a way to get phones out the door — and Samsung knows that.
When Android phones first started scaling up in the screen department with the 4.3-inch HTC Evo 4G and the original 4-inch Galaxy, there have been naysayers that claimed these phones were too big to succeed. Well, after a few years people are still falling all over themselves to buy these “hummer phones.” Even the Galaxy Note with its comical-sounding 5.3-inch panel has been selling very well. People like larger screens more than anyone could have guessed. That’s why the Galaxy S3 is going to appeal to the mass market.
With a 4.8-inch display, it will have the luxury of ample screen real estate. At the same time, the thin bezel keeps it from feeling outlandishly large. Reading, typing, playing games, and browsing the web will be better on this screen. The impression people have of a phone tends to be better when the screen is larger because they are just easier to use.
The display has taken a lot of heat for having aPenTile subpixel arrangement like past phones. While this is not as desirable as a true RGB panel, most consumers aren’t going to notice or care. The battle over PenTile is being waged among the tech-savvy minority. When someone looks at the Galaxy S3, most of the time they won’t be scanning it from 2-inches away to check for PenTile fringing.
Samsung is betting on the high contrast and vibrant colors of Super AMOLED to grab people’s attention — and they probably will. AMOLED screens are great looking, especially in retail environments with harsh fluorescent lighting. People might not be as happy with the screen when they get it out in the daylight, but AMOLED looks phenomenal indoors.
A phone for all carriers
Samsung has a good relationship with carriers in the US, and that’s probably going to mean a variant of the Galaxy S3 for all of them. When each carrier gets the chance to customize a Galaxy S3, they’re going to promote it like there’s no tomorrow. Commercials and in-store advertising coming from all of the big four networks will all contribute to Samsung’s total sales.
If you don’t care for the smooth lines and unusual proportions of the Galaxy S3, that’s no problem. The same multi-carrier approach will provide concerned Android fans with some options. If you look at the various takes on the Galaxy S2, there are a variety of form factors. Some have slightly bigger screens, some are a bit thinner, and some come in different colors.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 might not have the kind of specs hardware nerds were hoping for, but it hits all the checkboxes. Consumers will see a list of features that sound as good as the phone next to it. The Galaxy S3 will have the Samsung name behind it, and that means something these days. Combine that with a good first impression, and the Galaxy S3 is going to sell like hotcakes.