Monday, June 11, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S III: The Unboxing and Set-up

It's here now. The Samsung Galaxy S III, running on Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), recently launched in the Philippines, ahead of countries like the United States.

At the press launches of both Smart and Globe last June 1, 2012 I got a glimpse of the phone that everyone has been excited to see up close.

I've had a Galaxy Note for months already and I love it because everything I could do on the ipad which I used to lug everywhere with me, I could do on the Note. The iOS versus Android experience is something else, maybe good for another post. But the Galaxy S III was a beauty to behold. At Smart's Jump Experience Center, I walked up to one of the units on display and held it, checking a few of the apps and specs.

Marble white Galaxy S III (a friend was excited thinking it was pink, hehe)

Smart raffled off some units of the Samsung Galaxy S III and it was an exciting moment when one of the winners turned out to be my friend Noemi.

What happened afterwards was a funny quirk of fate.

At the Globe press launch, they also raffled off some units of the phone and I won! We were the lucky girls that day. I was extra lucky because I had been wanting to replace my Nokia E71 which had served me well but its time had already come. Not only did I get a replacement by winning the S III but it was also marble white, just like my white Nokia E71!

Now on to the unboxing.

First the specs...

Quad core! 
8 MP camera!

Upon opening the box, I saw the gorgeous marble white phone protectively wrapped with plastic all around.

Inside the box

Globe guides

Quick start guide

Battery, power charger and earphones
My first thought as I was opening the back was - why did Samsung use a flimsy, plastic back? It was so thin that I slowly separated the back, one hinge at a time, with my fingernail, afraid I'd crack it. But Noemi told me the back was made of polycarbonate (and this was confirmed by the specs). Polycarbonate is lightweight and flexible but almost unbreakable. It's used for bulletproof windows and the clear version is used for eyeglasses. This article tells you more about polycarbonates.

The lithium ion battery is rated at 2100 mAh. My Galaxy Note which is a lot bigger, has a battery rating of 2500 mAh. 

Huge battery space, with slots for micro SD card (left) and micro sim (right)

Here's a side view of the S III. Notice the slightly curved shape that allows only the middle section to rest on a surface, I'm glad that this somehow provides protection against scratching of the camera lens. I'm so careful with the phone for now as there are no cases in the market yet for the S III.

If you're wondering how the Galaxy S III looks against the Galaxy Note, here are 2 pics.

I did not have a micro SD card yet when I booted up the S III. No worries because it works even without an SD card. You'd eventually want to get one though as it's a good place for storing photos and videos, especially because the S III has an 8 MP rear camera and a 2 MP front camera. The S III can hold up to a 64GB micro SD card. I got a 32GB one eventually.

I activated wifi at home and had to go through a short software update to bring Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) up to date with latest version 4.0.4.

Right after the update, I was asked to identify myself as owner of the device.

Next I was asked to set up my Google account. If you are transferring contacts from another phone to the S III, I strongly suggest you export your contacts and calendar into one of your Google accounts because once they are on the Google account, future syncs with your device will go smoothly.

In my case, I set up all my Gmail addresses and synced only my mail. I did not sync Calendar and Contacts yet (I unchecked those boxes) as I had to do this process after exporting contacts/calendar from my old phone.

Transferring Contacts and Calendar Details

My old Nokia E71 had an application which I used to regularly sync my contacts and calendar with my Macbook's Address Book and iCal. So all I had to do was export these details from Address Book and iCal and import them into my Google account.

Here's what I did.

1. To export Address Book contacts - open Address Book. Click All to select all your contacts (be sure you don't click on a name because only that name will be exported.). Click  File-Export-Export Group vCard and give a name to your file as well as choose where to save it. The file is saved in VCF format.

2. To export iCal details - open iCal. Click File-Export and give it a name or go with default "Home" file name. The file is saved as in ICS format.

3. Open Gmail and choose Contacts.

4. In the Contacts menu, choose Import Contacts. Select the VCF file containing your contact info. Click Import.

5. Open Google Calendar. Click the down arrow beside "My Calendars" and click Settings. Click Import Calendar and when window opens, choose the ICS file with your calendar details. Click Import.

I had imported my contacts and calendar details into my Google account.

Now it was time to sync my S III with my Google account. Here's what I did.

1. On the S III, I clicked on Settings-Accounts and Sync. I was presented with a list of all the Google email addresses I earlier set up. Note that if you do not want to sync all the details in your other email addresses but just sync from one Google account, make sure that the button on the top of the screen, beside Accounts and sync, is turned off (gray).

2. I clicked the email address that had my contacts and calendar details. Next, I clicked Sync Calendar and waited for syncing to finish. Then I clicked Sync Contacts and wait for that to finish as well.

My contacts and calendar had successfully transferred to my phone.

I'm still playing around with the Galaxy S III but I see some neat features in it that are an improvement over those of the Note. It's a lot more intuitive than the Note. I'll try to cover these in the next post.

For now, just look at all the shortcuts I get when I swipe down from the home screen. 

Oh, one more super nice thing. Dropbox rewards Samsung Galaxy S III owners with a hefty 50GB (nets out to 48GB) of storage space for two years. This plus my existing 8GB plus already in Dropbox gives me now around 56GB of storage space in the cloud. 

If you're looking at the Galaxy S III as a possible phone here are more detailed specs on GSM Arena.

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