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Review roundup: Samsung Galaxy S III called a strong iPhone competitor

Samsung's new flagship smartphone, the Android-powered Galaxy S III, hits all four major carriers in the U.S. this week, and has been met positively with reviews from the mainstream media.

Reviewers generally found the Galaxy S III to be a formidable competitor to Apple's latest smartphone, the iPhone 4S. Below is a roundup of reviews for Samsung's latest handset.

Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal

Though he said the Galaxy S III lacks "any game-changing capabilities," Mossberg concluded that Samsung's latest is "a very good phone, and a strong competitor for the iPhone and other leading models." He noted that it performs well for calls, browsing the Web and photography.

Mossberg believes the Galaxy S III would be best suited for people who want a smartphone with a much bigger screen than Apple offers. He said that the latest Galaxy S phone features a "dizzying array" of new, minor "tricks" that will likely be confusing or not very useful to most users.

"There are so many of these that it can take hours to learn and configure them," he said. "I had the strong impression Samsung's designers failed to focus and just threw in as many technical twists as they could, some of which didn't work very well."

He gave the example of a new feature that allows users to share photos with other Galaxy S III owners in real-time. But it requires that all handset owners turn on a special feature in settings, then tap a series of on-screen buttons to utilize the feature.

But while Mossberg wasn't impressed with some of the new, more frivolous features, he did say that the Galaxy S III succeeds on the "major criteria." He noted the screen looks good, calls didn't drop on the three networks he tested, and the camera had nice features.

David Pogue of The New York Times

Pogue was even more positive about the Galaxy S III than Mossberg, calling Samsung's latest phone a handset "teeming with features aimed at humiliating the iPhone." He praised the hardware, saying the designers did a "spectacular job" creating a 0.34-inch thick handset that's even skinnier than Apple's iPhone.

He noted that the Galaxy S III display has more pixels than the iPhone 4S, though it doesn't have quite as high pixel density, packing in 306 per inch rather than Apple's 326. But he said the AMOLED screen is "bright, vivid and relatively energy-efficient."

Pogue praised the new features of the Galaxy S III as "truly ingenious" and "handy." He highlighted "Smart Stay," which uses the front-facing camera to track a user's eyes and dims the screen when they look away to save battery life, as well as "Buddy Shot," which uses facial recognition software to identify people when pictures are taken of them.

Galaxy S III

Other features touted by Pogue were "Direct Call," which automatically dials a person you are texting if you lift the phone to your ear, instant muting, which allows users to mute audio and video playback by covering the screen with your hand.

But Pogue did find that Samsung's Siri competitor, dubbed "S Voice," doesn't work as well as Apple's voice-driven solution. He said S Voice "just doesn't work well," and has a more restrictive required syntax than Siri.

Ed Baig of USA Today

Baig said the Galaxy S III is one of "the finest Android handsets I've come across," praising the 4.8-inch display and lightweight design. He also said the dual-core Qualcomm processor running Android 4.0 is "zippy," though the units "run a little hot."

Like Pogue, Baig said that Samsung's new S Voice feature on the Galaxy S III didn't work as well as advertised. He said the software was sometimes slow to respond, and gave him "mixed results."

He also called the Galaxy S III an "excellent camera phone." It features an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash that can capture full 1080p high-definition video.

"Most human beings will like the Galaxy S III, as I did," Baig said, referencing Samsung's marketing campaign touting the handset as "designed for humans."

Other takes

Additional reviews of the U.S. version of the Samsung Galaxy S III were published on Wednesday by Jessica Dolcourt of CNet, Brad Molen of Engadget, Brent Rose of Gizmodo, and Vlad Savov of The Verge.