With the broad display real estate, high resolution and powerful processor, it's no surprise the S3 excels at web browsing too. Websites not only look glorious on the S3's display but are typically very quick to load and render, and a real joy to swipe, pinch and flick around (although, with no Adobe Flash support in ICS, you will come across some embedded videos and other content that won't display).
As the S3 runs ICS, you can download Google's Chrome for Android browser, which has a neat deck-of-cards-style interface to manage all your open tabs. The standard Android browser on the S3 also has a nice 3D interface -- although it fits far fewer browser windows on screen at once.
Because the S3 runs ICS, you can get your mitts on Google's Chrome for Android browser.
The S3 even trumps the new iPad in this test. Apple's newest tablet scored 1,890.9 when we benchmarked it, while the iPad 2 was about the same at 1,884.6 -- both taking slightly longer than the S3.
The standard Android browser is fast on the S3 but not quite as fully featured as Chrome for Android.
In the Vellamo browser benchmark test, the S3 scored 2,077 -- but was just beaten into second place by the HTC One XL (a phone that hasn't launched in the UK).
The S3's generous screen offers ample room for poking and prodding your way around the web.
Performance and battery
Despite this minor blip, there's no doubt the S3's quad-core chip is a high-calibre performer -- indeed, in the mobile world right now, the S3 is top of the power pops.
On the Antutu benchmark, which tests memory, CPU speed and graphics, the S3 scored a whopping 12,112 -- beating both the Asus Transformer Prime tablet-cum-laptop and streaking past the quad-core HTC One X. The latter managed an impressive, but not quite as good, 10,827 on this benchmark.
Running Quadrant's benchmark, the S3 again topped out the Android power charts, scoring 5,289. HTC's One X managed 4,904.
I also tested the S3's capacity to handle 3D graphics by running GL Benchmark's Standard Egypt test. The S3 ran this at a whopping 59 frames per second -- the same rate as the new iPad -- and slightly faster than the HTC One X's rate of 52fps.
All this power and the big screen definitely take a toll on battery life. The S3 comes with a removable 2,100mAh battery -- a welcome boon if you like to carry a spare (or two), which is one way to manage its voracious appetite for juice.
With such a big screen and beefy engine it's no surprise you'll need to keep an eye on the tank.
At full brightness, the screen gobbles battery faster than Cookie Monster omnomnoming biscuits, so you'll need to keep a weather eye on the little battery icon in the corner of the screen. Ideally, you should avoid using the screen at max brightness for long periods.
With the display set to half brightness, the S3's battery dropped from 100 per cent to 60 per cent after around 3.5 hours streaming an HD video over Wi-Fi (by comparison, the One X plummeted to 30 per cent battery in the same test). So provided you don't insist on dialling the screen up to max brightness, you should eke a full day's worth -- circa 6 or 7 hours -- of video streaming on a single full charge.
I also gauged the S3's battery using Antutu's battery benchmark, which tests battery performance over several hours. The phone lasted 1 hour 12 minutes on part one of the test, dropping from 100 per cent battery to 73 per cent. It endured 1 hour 9 minutes on the second part, dropping from 73 per cent to 46 per cent.
Overall, on the Antutu battery benchmark, the S3 scored 597, beating the HTC Incredible S, Motorola Milestone, Samsung Galaxy S2 and the LG Optimus 2X, among other devices. It was beaten by the Motorola Xoom tablet and the Acer Iconia Tab A500. (The One X failed to run this test.)
Expect to charge the phone every night -- or sooner if you're using it a lot or revving its engines too much. It's also worth noting the S3 is quite slow to charge over USB. If you need a lot of power quickly, you'll have to find a wall socket to juice up.
Samsung has added a power saver mode to the S3 that can be customised to limit the maximum performance of the CPU, dim the screen, change background colour in email and the Internet and turn off haptic feedback.
Of course, you could say what's the point of spending all this money on a beast of a phone, only to throttle it? Which again begs the question of whether quad-core isn't overkill for a mobile phone right now. But the S3's slick performance does make it a joy to use -- with apps downloading and loading quickly, HD videos playing smoothly and menus and gallery photos zipping around, eager to do the bidding of your fingertips.
AllSharePlay is Samsung's system for letting you link up content stored on multiple devices so it's easily accessible on the S3. To set the system up you need to create a Samsung account and download the AllSharePlay software to the devices, where the data you want to access is stored -- such as your home PC.
Samsung's AllSharePlay software lets you access content stored on your PC, on the S3 over Wi-Fi. The first step is to install the PC client.
After you've installed the software on your PC and logged in, you'll find you can locate your files when you fire up the AllSharePlay app that comes preloaded on the S3.
Once you've downloaded AllSharePlay to your PC and signed in you can view files stored on your computer on the S3.
As well as viewing the content, you can download files locally to the S3 via the AllSharePlay app -- so you can access them even when you don't have a Wi-Fi connection. Perfect for transferring your favourite tunes to the phone.
You can also download any files you want to store on the device for offline access, such as music and videos.
The S3's display measures 4.8 inches on the diagonal which, as noted above, makes it one of the biggest smart phones currently available. Some S2 owners are going to be unhappy about this increase in size -- since the S2's 4.3 inches is already plenty generous. Some would argue it had a perfect amount of pixels for a phone. But while you might find your knuckles bending in new and exotic ways, the benefit is that this whopping display will make your photos and videos look stupendous.
The S3 sports a very big screen indeed -- small-handed folk may find their digits getting stretched.
With a 1,280x720-pixel resolution, the S3 will do justice to your high-definition footage, as well as leaving icons and text looking impressively sharp. This is an HD Super AMOLED screen, which is the same display tech used on the Nexus and Note, both of which are a real treat for the eyes.
AMOLED screens offer eye-searing colours and very deep blacks. But as with previous Samsung gear, if you're a fan of more demure, natural colour reproduction, then you might find this panel a little garish compared to the iPhone 4S.
There's one minor downside -- the S3's panel is missing the 'Plus' suffix that you'll find on the Galaxy S2's Super AMOLED Plus display. That means it has one fewer sub-pixel per pixel than the S2's panel. Screen enthusiasts may be disappointed by this news, but I suspect most people will never notice the difference.
All things considered, this is a mighty fine display. It's truly glorious to eyeball and has a very impressive viewing angle. At times, as you tilt the phone away from you, the screen almost looks unreal -- as if it's been printed on the surface of the phone. Stonking stuff.
The 4.8-inch 720p-resolution display is looking gorgeous.
The S3's pixel density per inch is not actually the sharpest in smart phone town -- at 306ppi it's not quite as hi-res as the Sony Xperia S (342ppi), or the HTC One X (312ppi), but this is really splitting hairs. Most people won't notice any difference in clarity and it's entirely possible to read text on a full website such as the BBC News home page when fully zoomed out.
Both Apple's iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S pack in more pixels (326ppi apiece) than the S3 does, but arguably the two iOS devices need sharper resolutions since their screens are a lot smaller (3.5 inches).
One area where the S3's screen did not knock my socks off was under direct sunlight. This is hardly surprising given loads of smart phones fail to outdo the sun's rays. However, the S3's display really struggles to make itself seen, with content ghostly and indistinct and a reflective blue sheen masking what's on the screen.
Too much sun is not a huge problem for Brits, but if you do need to use your mobile outside a lot, there are phones designed with outdoor viewing in mind.
Samsung has ditched the rectangular look that dominated the S2, opting instead for an oval-shaped styling that's highly reminiscent of the Galaxy Nexus, which arrived in November last year.
The S3 has shed its lumpy bits around the back, with the camera lens neatly flush with the casing.
Corners are smoothed and rounded, while the curved back is devoid of the rear-facing lumpy bits that adorned the S2 and Nexus. The camera is now almost flush with the back of the casing, and along the edges is some swooping chrome decoration. Samsung's not ditched its button layout either -- there's a smallish physical home button underneath the screen, with touch-sensitive menu and back keys on either side.
The placement of those touch-sensitive keys is slightly inconvenient. They're close to the edge of the phone, so you might find yourself accidentally triggering them with your hand. The power key -- sited on the curved right-hand edge of the phone -- is also a bit troublesome as it's small, slippery and doesn't stick out much. While the volume rocker on the left edge is also shiny, it's big enough to lock onto easily.
The back of the S3 has a high-gloss sheen -- so butterfingered types may find it hard to hang on to. The chrome trim also has a super-shiny coating so the sides are slippery. These high-shine surfaces are compounded by all the slopes and gentle curves of the phone -- and after a few weeks with the S3 I found myself hankering for a solid, flat-edged slab that could be easily anchored in the hand.
The Galaxy S3 retains its predecessor's physical home button.
The soft curves of the S3 haven't pleased a lot of Android fans either -- judging by some of the user reviews. The rounded corners on the back do look dated, reminiscent of smart phones from several years ago. On the other hand, the 'pebble' styling feels more comfortable when held over long periods than a sharp-edged slab.
Currently, the S3 comes in either blue or white -- but a red version is due to land in the US soon so additional colours should arrive here too. I wouldn't be surprised to see a pink version surfacing later this year.
The white version is very glossy, while the blue option sports a brushed-metal effect. Don't despair if you're a fan of sultry black mobiles as the blue S3 is fairly dark. It could at least pass for a muted shade of grey.
The Galaxy S3 is 8.6mm thick and weighs 133g. That makes it ever so slightly thicker than the S2, which is 8.49mm deep, but thinner than the 8.9mm HTC One X. By comparison, the much smaller iPhone 4S is 9.3mm thick and weighs 140g.
Shock, horror, it's 0.11mm thicker than the S2.
Millimetre one-upmanship aside, the bottom line is that the S3 is very thin and light considering its large size. The reason it's able to be so light is that -- like the S2 -- the Galaxy S3 is constructed from a significant amount of plastic. If you're averse to plasticky mobiles, the more substantial One X or metal-and-glass iPhone 4S might be more to your liking.
Even though it's decked in all this plastic, the S3 has a very tactile and luxurious feel. And, despite my hankering for some flat surfaces to grab onto, for the most part, the pebble design is a real pleasure to hold, while the slender and light frame of the S3 caresses the palm without weighing you down.
The back may be plasticky but it still retains a luxurious feel.
It's worth stressing that this phone is a whopper, with a screen that trounces the 4.65-inch Galaxy Nexus. It is outsized only by the ludicrous 5.3-inch Galaxy Note.
Even with this massive screen, the S3 feels relatively manageable -- thanks to its slender body. However, if you're someone who likes to get to all your mobile stuff with one hand, you will find yourself having to stretch to reach everything -- and may even find the phone clattering onto the floor if you're not careful. But of course, the advantage of having so much screen real estate is that photos, videos and apps really do look gorgeous.
Build quality has typically been a strong point for Samsung phones and the S3 is no exception. Despite being predominantly plastic, it feels impressively stuck together. The screen is solid as a rock and ample amounts of chrome trim keep everything in order. Do be careful not to drop the phone though -- I've seen one S3 sporting a cracked screen after taking a tumble.
I was able to make the phone faintly creak by squeezing it from the sides. But considering the S3 has a removable backplate so you can get to the battery, micro-SIM and SD card slots, that's to be expected. Overall, build quality has a premium feel.