After getting up close and personal with the Samsung Galaxy S3 at the unpacked event last week, we're still getting our head around all the features Samsung has introduced within their new flagship. With Smart Stay tracking your eye movements, Direct Call saving you from having to access the dialler and Pop Up Play letting you play HD movies in a floating window, we've just mentioned three of countless value adds Samsung has loaded their new flagship with. Here's we're looking at the Samsung Galaxy S3's new user interface, called Touchwiz Nature UX.
Samsung Galaxy S3: Home screen and apps drawer
Reminiscent of that found on the Samsung Galaxy S2, the home screen looks cleaner. Gone is the ugly blue orange gradient and instead, the default wallpaper is a simple ripple. It reminds us of a refined version of Huawei's aesthetic seen on the devices showcased at CES.
Swiping left and right invokes a smooth as silk 3D animation as homescreens transition. Samsung has stuck to Google's constraints of 4x4 icons and on the large, bold screen, this gives each icon plenty of breathing space.
Swiping through to the apps drawer, and Samsung has moved in an entirely ICS direction. An Apps and Widgets tab reside at the top of the display with the number of windows you can thumb through indicated by the number of dots at the lower end of the screen. With the HD Super AMOLED display, we would have liked a black backdrop on the apps drawer however to distinguish it from the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung has instead opted for rippled wallpaper.
Samsung Galaxy S3: Dialler and settings
Largely unchanged from the Samsung Galaxy S2, the Samsung Galaxy S3 dialler adopts a simple layout with quick access to logs, favourites and contacts. With smart dial on board, it will be a breeze getting to your contacts, and what's even smarter is Direct Call. This lets you dial through to someone by simply having a contact communication open such as a text message or missed call, and placing the phone to your ear.
ICS's developer options are all present, suggesting we'll be able to disable some of the unwanted apps networks have a habit of filling our phones with.
There's also a whole range of unlock options, with the quirkiest we saw being camera unlock (right pic). You can click through the image above for a larger version, but in case you can't quite read the small print - "Holding the device straight, tap and hold the screen and rotate the device to open camera."
There's also an information ticker on the lock screen and a whole host of unlock options / shortcuts, borrowing heavily from HTC but nevertheless adding a huge amount of function at the same time.
Samsung Galaxy S3: Web browser and additional apps
If one thing's for sure, the Galaxy S3 is the phone to go to when you're feeling peeky, have a bout of hypoglycemia or just want to know how your blood pressure stacks up against a healthy average. Not content with features galore, Samsung has also rammed the S3 with an abundance of additional software, ranging from Flipboard through to their video service, journal app and as mentioned earlier, S Health, Samsung's way of showing they [health] care.
We found Samsung's web browser to be very similar to that found on the ICS Galaxy S2 with a clean aesthetic and support for two finger tilt gestures. We were connected via Wi-Fi and browsing was very speedy and smooth. Upon conducting a Vellamo benchmark, we pulled up a score of 1982, trumping the Nvidia Tegra 3 HTC One X (1428) but falling behind the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 version (2381). Real world results indicate that anything above 1200 is going to be blisteringly fast though, and indeed the S3 seemed to handle Recombu.com like a champ.
Samsung Galaxy S3: Camera UI
The 8-megapixel camera on the Samsung Galaxy S3 is probably the same lens and sensor as that on the S2, though Samsung hasn't confirmed this. The aperture on the images taken on it is f2.6 as with the S2 and the image quality is very comparable. A couple of ways the Galaxy S3 camera improves upon that of the S2 is in terms of options and user interface.
While not evident below, the grey bars behind the icons fade out cleaning up the UI nicely. While on first sight, options look the same as found on the Samsung Galaxy S2, with control over shooting mode, scene and exposure, a little more digging reveals a 3.3fps burst mode and an HDR mode as well. For anyone who doesn't know what HDR is, it means high dynamic range and can pick up details in darks and lights a normal picture leaves out.
In addition, Samsung's trusty customisable shortcuts are present. Activated either through the menu or by long pressing, simple drag and drop your favourite camera features to the side-bar to ensure they're always at your fingertips.
Samsung Galaxy S3: Photo Editor
What do you do once you take your picture? You edit it of course, and Samsung's Photo Editor is without a doubt the most comprehensive we've seen on any smartphone to date. Not only can you crop, colour and draw all over you image, but now you can filter it with a range of effects. These are undeniably impressive considering they're doable in the palm of your hand, with options below including sketch and pixelate.
In turn, for a lot of users the Photo Editor could well replace apps like Instagram and Photoshop Express with its compelling UI more comprehensive feature set.
So what do we think?
It's clear Samsung is trying to produce an out of the box solution for everyone, harking back to a time when no one needed apps, they just got a Samsung phone. Taking a step away from their bloatware-ish hubs of old, instead are a host of bespoke Samsung Galaxy S3 exclusive tools. As for the UI, TouchWiz Nature UX is definitely a step in the right direction. It looks cleaner than 4.0, is less cartoony and packs a more stock ICS look and feel. Are all the apps overkill? With out a doubt - Especially the S Health app. Will it help sell a lot of phones? Without a doubt - who isn't concerned about their blood pressure these days?