Despite being unveiled only one day ago, and still not available to the general public, some have been quick to denounce the Galaxy S III as a disappointment, merely an incremental upgrade, and a missed opportunity. More jaded mouths might even describe it as failure. And that reaction, considering the ocean of anticipation and hyperbole proceeding the event, is unsurprising.
Instead of a true RGB subpixel, sensitive eyes will have to endure that all too familiar tinge of the pentile matrix. Instead of a ceramic body, clumsy fingers will sweatily grasp the same glossy, plastic-y construction as the last two models. Surely, if not for the new quad-core Exynos processor – which everyone already knew about – the entire city of London might have boiled-over into a frenzied game of fisticuffs. Yes, it could be said that the S III is only a very slight upgrade from the Galaxy Nexus, but that is purely from a hardware-centric perspective. But really, what on earth was Samsung doing all this time that it forgot to get the hardware right?
You did not need to wait long during the “Unpacked” presentation to find out. While the hardware of the S III should probably be considered a slight step forward in the Galaxy series, the software on the phone has been much more aggressively developed. Touted as a “human phone” that understands us humans, it features the new “TouchWiz Nature UX”, which introduces a bevy of features including:
- Stay Smart, which prevents the phone from sleeping/dimming while you are looking at it.
- S Voice, enables voice commands and dictation.
- Pop up play, allows the user to play a windowed video in other applications.
- S beam, an advanced version of Android Beam that relies on Wifi Direct and NFC.
- Many, many others . . .
It is rather odd to see such advanced software features coming from what is best known as a hardware company, but Samsung is indeed betting the success of its newest flagship not on superlative specs, but instead on innovative software. It is a good bet to make, but it is also a risky one.
Samsung can execute on specs; It proved that last year with the Galaxy S II, and it was rumored that the S III would be that same kind of generational leap. The company knows this, but believes that it can execute on software as well, and that the payoff from that development is much greater. I am also inclined to agree that the software experience of a device is much more important than the hardware, but I am less confident that Samsung can deliver on that particular front. I believe that most of the ideas that Samsung has are good, useful ideas, and I can not wait to play with them. However, what causes me to hesitate is the fact it is not the ideas that ultimately matter, but rather how skillfully those ideas are implemented.
Simply put, can Samsung, a company traditionally known for its strength as a hardware manufacturer create a valuable software experience, or will the Galaxy S III merely be the sum of good intentions? We won’t have to wait long to find out.