Galaxy SIII – Second Sight

I finally got around to activating the phone today.

First things first; the phone is big. It is one of the biggest phones I have ever seen. I thought that the DX2 was a big beast when I bought it, but this monster makes it look small by comparison. Someone called it “a small tablet with a built-in phone”, and that’s not far from the truth. Folks with small hands — such as Her Ladyship — might find it hard going, but even for me, it feels a trifle over-sized. Oh, and did I mention that it’s big?

The upside of this is that the screen is huge — and exceptionally clear, thanks to the high-resolution screen (1280×720 up from the DX2’s 960×540).

Things I like:

  • It is fast. Of course it is never entirely fair to compare a heavy-laden year-old DX2 with a brand new SIII, but the latter boots ICS far faster than the former ever booted Froyo or Gingerbread. The new phone takes less than twenty seconds from the beginning of the animation to the lock screen, another  fifteen or so for apps to settle down to the point where it is usable (according to Usage Timelines). The DX2 takes a hundred seconds to get to the lock screen and another ninety seconds to get settled. This tells me that the DX2’s much-ballyhooed dual-core 1GHz processor is not being employed to its fullest potential…
  • The camera comes up in less than a second (and even better, it can be invoked from the lock screen) — the DX2 took at least five, and I lost a lot of beautiful shots because of it. The camera quality is also excellent – blows the DX2 into the weeds.
  • Four shortcuts are accessible from the lock screen. Now I have to figure out how to customize them.
  • The accelerometer works when the screen it turned off. This means that pedometer apps like accupedo will work on this phone, unlike the DX2, where it quit working as soon as the screen went black.

Things I don’t:

  • The screen is a grease magnet – far more than the DX2. After a couple of hours of loading and setting up apps, the screen is filthy. Good thing my T-shirt is clean…
  • The automatic screen brightness setting is a little dim. There should be a setting to fix this, but I cannot find it.
  • Power button placement is annoying. I am used to the power button being on top. Instead it is on the right side (where the volume control is on the DX2). This means that it is easy to accidentally switch off the phone when trying to change the volume while watching a movie in landscape mode. I’ll probably get used to it, but it’s still annoying.
  • Get rid of the shut down/reboot confirmation! I already made two presses to get here, I don’t have to do a third..

More bone-headed moves from Verizon:

  • 4G is so fast that I don’t need Wi-Fi, but once a day phone begs me to switch to Wi-Fi, with no way to turn it off. This is particularly galling since I have an unlimited plan. (**Fixed**)
  • Stupid, lame-o, non-replaceable Verizon boot animation — the DX2’s Droid animation was far cooler. For Heaven’s sake, the boot-up sound is at least five years old! (**Fixed**)
  • Major Bonehead move. Of all six of the US carriers offering this phone, only Verizon had the audacity to demand a locked bootloader. For the average consumer, this is no big deal, but for those who want to exercise control over their phones — such as backing up/restoring apps and data, or removing/hiding bloatware — this is a big issue. Coincidentally, much of the bloatware on the machine is supplied buy Verizon, and most of them — including wireless tethering, GPS and visual voicemail apps — represent cash cows for Big Red. This seems to be another plank in Verizon’s new “how-can-we-screw-you-today?” strategy. (**Fixed**)

The good news is that I have succeeded in rooting my phone, but I should not have to resort to hackery in order to gain control of my phone! Verizon obviously prefers consumers to customers.

Love the phone. Love the unlimited data. Somewhat less much love for the carrier.

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