Making the Switch to the Galaxy SIII

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Changing from the iPhone to the Samsung Galaxy SIII?  It wasn’t easy at first.  But as time went on, I found myself more and more enamored with this phone.

First things first: in my Knysna photo post the other day, I mentioned that the SIII had a great camera, but the only Android photography apps I could find were mediocre at best, making editing not that fun.  I said that if someone created the Android equivalent of Snapseed or Camera +, they’d make tons of cash.

Well, Google very wisely just bought Snapseed.  So it was only a matter of time that Snapseed got introduced to Android.

Snapseed is the single best mobile photography app out there.  It’s free on Android right now, but even once the price goes up to $5, buy it.  It’s worth five times that, at least.

Here are my thoughts on the phone:

The Good

The screen is humongous.  I love the size of this giant screen.  I love gathering people around to watch random YouTube videos — while on our South African safari, we were constantly watching Gangnam Style and the honeybadger video! — but we’re usually squinting around a tiny phone.

The Galaxy SIII prevents that — it’s huge, it’s awesome, and everyone can see video clearly without having to squint.  It’s also great for using the Kindle app and reading books.

Pop-up Play.  Another advantage of the huge screen is that I can divide it in two and text while simultaneously watching video.  Perfect for me, as I usually have to text before I even finish watching the video!

Smart Stay.  I’ve developed a nervous tick of touching my phone again and again to make sure it doesn’t go dark, especially when I’m reading Kindle books.  Smart Stay prevents that — it tracks your eyes and keeps the screen bright.  It’s such a tiny relief, but a good one.

More space on Dropbox!  I love Dropbox and it’s an essential tool for digital nomads, not to mention anyone who collaborates with anyone else.  Connect your SIII to Dropbox and you get an extra 50 GB of space for one year.  A really nice surprise.  Photos also automatically upload to Dropbox.

The phone turns off when you turn it on its face.  If I simply put it face-down, it’s silent — no rings, no alerts, nothing.  This is a good thing when you’re working or having a conversation with someone.  Then when you pick it up, it shows you everything that you missed.

The Bad

It’s buggy.  Android apps don’t go through the rigorous process that Apple apps go through, and as a result, Android apps are much more prone to viruses.  In the past six weeks, the Green Squiggly Screen of Death has made an appearance three times.  Each time, turning the phone off and on fixed it.

S-Voice doesn’t understand me.  I love all that it can do — you can set S-Voice to act to specific commands, like take a picture when you say “Shoot!” and snooze when you yell, “MORE SLEEPY!”  But S-Voice honestly only works for me a quarter of the time, if that.  It takes so much work to get it to understand me that it doesn’t save me any time or effort.

Unlike the Apple Store, the Google App Store and Google Play Store change depending on your location.  I tried to download video from the Google Play store while in South Africa, and I was told that South Africa doesn’t have that feature.  Apps are also priced in the local currency, but Google converts it back to your home currency before you buy it.  Depending on the exchange rate that day, the prices will rise and fall, rather than be standard.

As a full-time traveler, that’s a concern for me.  I don’t like that I have to deal with uncertainty in every country that I visit.  What I would like to know is what will happen if I visit China with this phone.

Traveling with the Galaxy SIII

These days, having a smartphone when you travel is absolutely essential.  Free wifi is far more common than internet cafes these days, and a smartphone is the ultimate portable device that makes your travels easier.

Use Google Maps to find your way around an unfamiliar city.  Look for free wifi zones.  Instagram your heart out (you know I do that!).  Send your family super-quick email updates.  Trust me, you need a smartphone.  And this is a great one.

Here are a few tips I picked up:

Charge it in full, then let the battery completely drain several times.  The Samsung team told us to do this, and it made a big difference in battery life.

Get a good screen protector.  The screen is huge, and it’s also delicate — you really need to protect it!  (Take it from Mr. Hodson, who sheepishly broke his screen before he even used it!)

The Overall Takeaway

I had no idea that I could get beyond my iPhone love, but this is a damn good phone.  The SIII has earned a permanent place in my little green technology bag that accompanies me on my travels!

Essential Info: The Samsung Galaxy SIII currently retails for $575.49 on Amazon.  Getting a plan with your phone drops the price significantly.

Many thanks to Samsung for gifting me a Galaxy SIII and sponsoring my trip to Knysna.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

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12 thoughts on “Making the Switch to the Galaxy SIII”

  1. Sounds like the SIII grew on you, Kate. Still undecided if I’ll try an Android phone next time I upgrade, or just stick with my beloved iPhone.

    Funny about the S-Voice not understanding you! Haha. I have a Turkish friend with an iPhone, and Siri never understands anything he says either, if it makes you feel any better. 😉

  2. My husband just got this phone and he loves it. I still have an iPhone. The large size fits his hands so much better, and we both love the huge screen. The iPhone is so heavy in comparison, sometimes my hand goes numb holding it up!

    1. “The iPhone is so heavy in comparison, sometimes my hand goes numb holding it up!”


      My hand goes numb when I trap it in a door, not when I hold a phone

  3. It costs how much? That’s my problem with smart phones – it’s cheaper to buy netbook and then you really don’t have to squint at the screen, plus it actually has a keyboard.

  4. Hey Kate! I live in China now and I’m using an Android phone. I’ve been an Android lover for years and even though some functionality is limited in China, I still think this phone beats the iPhone. The Google Play store options are pretty limited in China but it hasn’t affected me too much. Its a bit of a pain but I just try to download all the apps I need/want while in the US (or traveling to non-censored countries). Using the phone with a US sim card and accessing the store while on VPN helps sometimes too.

    Thanks for the SIII review! I’ve been trying to think if I should spend the money to get a new Android since I cracked my Galaxy Nexus screen a while back (while traveling). Good to know its a great phone and maybe worth spending some of my travel savings on it (maybe…). 🙂

  5. It’s tormenting me: bloggers are posting daily about the SIII, while I’m still saving up to get an SII!
    It’ll be my first smart phone. I don’t need the newest of the newest (but if I was loaded I’d get the newest of the newest, of course:p) and I’ve heard the SII is pretty good as well. Prices for it have dropped a bit now that the SIII is out, so I’m hoping to get one by the beginning of January:)

  6. Last night I tried to get S Voice to set my alarm for 11am this morning and it wouldn’t understand what I wanted to I finally said 10am and the alarm was set. I guess it was my phone’s way of telling me not to be lazy.

    I haven’t done this yet but I am going to buy another battery for the phone so if I am traveling and don’t have a lot of access to power or a charge I can just pop the other battery in.

  7. Thank you for the recommendation for Snapseed. I have not heard of it since I have never used an iPhone. I just downloaded it and hope to use it lots on my upcoming trip to Ireland!

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