The one thing I want from the Galaxy S III

April 17, 2012
31

Working for an Android blog has lately meant looking forward to a single device: the Samsung Galaxy S III. Samsung has gone to extraordinary measures to keep its design and features secret, and as a result we've got almost nothing beyond rumors and speculation to go on. But since the Galaxy line has done phenomenally so far, we can't help but have expectations - after all, odds are pretty good that no matter what Samsung reveals on May 3rd, it'll wind up in the pockets of tens of millions of Android users all over the world.

I don't have any inside info on the Galaxy S III, and anyone who tells you that they do is either lying or about to be fired. But what I hope for isn't anything in the range of gigantic screens or space-age build materials. Believe it or not, I think that plastic is a pretty great way to build a light, sturdy phone, and my experience with LG's Optimus LTE variants and the Galaxy Nexus has taught me that cramming more and more pixels into a screen smaller than five inches doesn't necessarily make for a better device. I'm not even looking for unencumbered Android, as seems to be so vital these days - as loathe as I am to say it, TouchWiz and Sense have become stable and useful, and in any case, I'm a handy enough guy with a bootloader that they won't be around for too long on any device that I own. I don't even care that much about capacity or SD cards, since I never fill up my devices and all my media's in the cloud.

No, the one thing that I want from the Galaxy S III is something that everyone desires, from every device that they own: longevity. The Galaxy Nexus' poor battery life (when compared to other phones) is one of its grand failings, and the reason that the "pure" Google phone that I bought with my own money sees less use in my pocket than the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX review unit. At the end of the day, your smartphone had better be ticking... anything that isn't is just a pretty piece of excess.

Unfortunately, the deck is rather stacked against the Galaxy S III in the battery department. Consumers are demanding thinner and thinner phones, while seeming to completely miss the fact that this means batteries can't grow to meet the power needs of faster hardware and wireless standards. Samsung seems ready to give it to them. And while the Galaxy S II (a phone that is in so many ways similar to the Galaxy Nexus) gets great battery life, the addition of Verizon's CDMA-LTE network seems to cripple the Nexus, even with the slightly extended battery that I use. If rumors of a phone with a gigantic HD screen and a slim body are to be believed, then  hoping for a battery with 2500mAh or more would seem to be in vain.

It's a shame, too. While manufacturers and software publishers are trying their best to maximize available battery life, the simple fact is that power technology isn't advancing anywhere near as fast as other segments. The solution is just to get bigger and bigger batteries, something that the "new" iPad demonstrates: its physical battery is about twice the size of the battery in the iPad 2, enabling it to keep an acceptable battery life even with a hi-res screen and LTE. I'm no Apple fan, but credit where it's due. Motorola, a company whose locked bootloader policy has drawn the ire of Android purists everywhere, seems to be on the right track as well: via some downright amazing feats of mechanical engineering, they stuffed a battery almost double the standard size into the DROID RAZR MAXX, making it one of the most genuinely useful LTE phones on the planet.

I'm sorry to say that I don't have any confidence in Samsung's ability to engineer past the power problem. If there was an easy answer, we'd have it by now. And for all their charms in other areas, Samsung has begun to show a definite preference for style over substance. The idea of a "Galaxy S MAXX" just doesn't fit their current brand image, though I've no doubt they'd sell millions of such a device.

I'll be on the edge of my seat for Samsung's presentation, like many of you. And I'm certain that I'll be wowed by their latest and no doubt greatest screen, and I'll "ooh" and "ahh" if they manage to slim their flagship design down to seven millimeters. But my respect and more importantly my dollars will go to the first Android manufacturer that can get me a 4.3-inch or larger screen, an unlocked bootloader and a battery that doesn't have me checking to make sure I've brought my charger on a trip to the grocery store. (You were so close, Moto!) I hope it's Samsung, but I'll settle for anyone.

Speaking of Samsung's event, Android Community will be there live to cover it. Join us for the live blog on May 3rd. That's enough from me - what's your must-have feature for the Galaxy S III? Let us know in the comments section.


Recent Stories

  • Kikorb

    I own the galaxy noté. The 2500 battery allows me to use the phone 2 days without any problem. And it is damm thin. So hopefully Samsung will do a great job with the SIII.

    • cryop

      As a phone sure, as a web browser no. That screen just rapes the battey

      • CANF800SL CANF800SL

        You are totally wrong because you don’t own a Galaxy Note. I have use the web browser of my Galaxy Note everyday on my way to work and at work. I also watch music videos on YouTube, play games, listen to music and watch videos. And I still get 1 and a half days of usage. Haters will always hate.

      • marcus

        sry i got to comment dont put this galaxy note out there like that the battery is horrible will maybe not horrible but i get a have a day out of it and yes i talk all day on mines not if i watch movies and listen to music its dead in a hour now ask me if i would get rid of my note hell to the naw i like it alot i will be buying the sgs3 though and have both for the record lol 60 40 on rating of the battery life of the note

      • itscanny

        Errr no.  No it doesn’t: in fact the battery is quite impressive.  I’m a fairly heavy user, and I couldn’t get it to go flat in a day for normal use (I get on average 6-9 hours out of my SGS2 in comparison).  Sure, watching movies or something with a lot of intensive power requirements will pull more power; but even then I would compare it’s power threshold to just under a tablet, and that’s unreal for it’s comparative size.

  • MagnetMan

    For a tech ‘journalist’ writing about Samsung, you certainly are out of the loop. Samsung has overtly stated that in 2012, they are putting a very large emphasis on battery life. 

    http://ces.cnet.com/8301-33363_1-57358219/hallelujah-samsung-promises-all-day-battery-life-on-phones/

    Perhaps a quick google search before you post?

    • banjoonmyknee

      Seeing is believing.

  • bionic

    Then doesn’t the Galaxy Note meet your requirements?

  • http://twitter.com/garygiles63 Gary Giles

    here here, since installing ICS I easily  go through 3 batteries a day. madness. The only thing that lets me down with me on the Samsung SII is the battery life. I rather it be 3mm thicker and easily last a whole day on 1 battery.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nativex Dalton Rc

    @Samsung:disqus I Love your Galaxy smartphones but, Damn-it All-to-HELL!!! Make them LESS expensive!! Seriously :/

  • http://twitter.com/SoWhy SoWhy

    I, too, hope that Samsung focuses on this. The experience with the Nexus should have thought them how a good phone can be ruined by bad battery life. 
    If the SGSIII can’t deliver that, maybe the Huawei Ascend D Quad XL can. From what I’ve seen, it looks really neat and it was designed for longer battery life just like the RAZR MAXX (which I just didn’t buy because it’s not available in Europe at this time)

  • firethorn

    I really don’t get how so many people are having battery problems with the Galaxy Nexus. So far, with moderate to heavy use I easily make it through the day and with light use it’ll last me more than two days. Maybe I got a lucky unit?

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Michael Crider

      If I had to guess, I’d say that my problems stem from the low-signal area that my house is in. Constantly searching for 3G eats up the battery really quickly. But reception is the Gnex’s other issue – other Verizon phones in the same location don’t have this problem. 

      • firethorn

        Yes, that does explain why some users complain about battery life but not others. My signal isn’t always top notch but at least reliably medium level so I am not seeing this.
        But it’s still weird that other devices won’t suffer the same hit and suggests that the Galaxy Nexus’s radio firmware isn’t tuned optimally.I know this won’t be a solution to the average consumer but did you try switching to a different radio firmware? That is assuming you are updated to 4.0.4 which is already supposed to handle network traffic as well as staying connected to and scanning for Wifi and 3G more efficiently than 4.0.2.

      • http://www.androidcommunity.com Michael Crider

        I’ve tried all the available radios ever since launch. 4.0.4 seems to handle it the best, but it’s still noticeably lower than it should be. 

  • banjoonmyknee

    Amen

  • Guy Salazar

    I love the homescreen clock/weather/calendar widget in the picture above.  Is this just a mock up or an actual widget that is avail? neone know?

    • Sledgeharvy

      +1 I saw that widget and i too want it on my homescreen!

  • Yeahright

    I don’t understand why all these bloggers dog the Galaxy Nexus battery life so much.  I got mine on launch day and it has done dang near as well as my Moto Droid OG did.  Maybe the way you bloggers use your devices just isn’t the way most consumers do.  Deal with it.  Maybe you should blog about that instead of slamming every thin phone out there because it can’t keep up with your insatiable usage habits.

  • Mostafa Et

    You are absolutely right, battery life on smartphones leaves a lot to be desired, same goes for technology advancement with batteries. I’ve been hearing about fuel cells for maybe 10 years now (theoritically giving us 10 days battery life) but since the bump from Ni-Cd to Lithium batteries we’ve seen no significant advances. I also fully agree that if Motorolla can cram a 3300 mAH battery in a sub 10mm phone, why can’t others? I disagree with you one one statement you made: ”
    Consumers are demanding thinner and thinner phones” Am I the only one who would have been very happy with a 2 mm thicker phone with a bigger battery? Not from what I see in other peoples comments. In fact I recently upgraded from HTC desire to SGSII and bought the official 2000 mAH extended battery two weeks later and I can’t help but think that this is how the phone was originally engineered before some marketing or management guy decided otherwise. The phone is not thicker with the extended battery but merely uniform in thickness, to me the phone also felt too light with the original battery, it felt less balanced and one thing is definite: The extended battery cover offer better protection for the camera lens. With the extended battery the highest point on which the phone rests when placed on a table is no longer the camera lens. I think the race should not be to make thinner and thinner phones, but to pack a bigger and bigger battery while maintaining a sub 10 mm thickness. My next phone will not be the phone with more cores or larger higher resolution screen (SGSII already satisfied this need for the foreseable future, which is two years in my mobile world), it will be the one with the same or slightly better specs than the SGSII but with significantly better battery life.

  • Internet_Goliath

    oh, please Galaxy Note has a stunning 2500 mAh battery!!!

    Everybody just thinks that if Apple said that 1432 mAh iphone 4s shows 9 h of USAGE so it’s HARD useage and it’s true. It’s marketing and confidence. Truly hard usage drains iphone 3s’ battery in the same way it drains every other smartphone’s battery.DROID RAZR Maxx has 3300 mAh battery, so it’s the best battery. Vendors just should work harder and put the best parts into their best phones for $600-$800

    And please, all blogs and tech news websites, stop review and complain BATTERIES of just unboxed and turned on smartphones!!! Batteries need 4-5 cycles of 0%-to-100% recharching to show their FULL CAPACITY!

  • An Observer

    Agree. The 2300 mAh battery in my last phone still did not last the entire day.

    I badly want a hi res 720p screen on my next phone, so i can easily read text on the damn thing. And i think the Note is just too big for everyday use (cue disagreements…).

    Surely a slightly thicker phone option – like Huawei announced with their Ascend d quad xl – is a great idea for those who want that option?

  • Ironhide

    One thing.. cant they addup a solar charger with the phones??
    Is it a very big deal to accomodate a panel at the back of phone and the charging mechanism?

    • ciddy

       Not a big deal but mostly pointless as the charging current is way too low, so you better add li-poly cells in the space of the solar charging circuity…

  • Rnee67

    Simple request…Need that ‘rude’ LED notification light…with the ability to change colors. 

    • itscanny

      +1.  Or failing that, a battery-safe means to show on the screen like the NoLED mod.

  • Klim

    A slideout QWERTY keyboard.  Just that one feature will make Samsung’s new flagship appeal to a lot more people who have been left in the lurch following HTC’s discontinuing of such phones and those who find Motorola’s approach to bootloaders horribly restrictive.

    • http://www.cheapsmartphonesforsale.com/ Cheap Smartphones

       I agree something new would definitely get peoples attention and a slide screen transforming the screen from portrait to landscape would be cool

  • Picaim Inc.

    NEW SOCIAL NETWORK FOR ANDROID – Picaim

    Picaim is a project that aims to become a social network to see and share things that are happening in your city and in the world.
    The service is based on sharing geo-located photos of things that are happening in your city.

    The great idea is that photos can not be sent by the computer, just for mobile devices, and only at the moment they were captured. This measure helps prevent false information inserted in the social network.

    This means, you see what is happening, what the person who took the photo has to say, and where that is happening at the moment what is happening.
    You can see content classified by what is happening in your city.

    Also you can post anonymously, if you wish to protect their identity to share with the world.

    Anyone can see what is happening in your city on our web site, without registration or application for mobile.

    The project was launched this week, still has very few users, and we are asking for help to all who possess an android phone, just download the application, test and share with friends in your city.

    To check out the project, visit:
    http://www.picaim.com

    The application for Android already available in the market!

    Help us to share with the twitter hashtag: #PicaimForAndroid

    OBS.: If you can not take the picture because of the gps location, try again in an open environment.

  • itscanny

    I don’t fully agree with the thinness of the phone influencing the battery.  The SGS2 is slightly thinner than the Galaxy Tab..
    I think the problem is that the size of the battery is too small for the footprint.  Thinner should mean more footprint on the batter, not smaller battery.  I would rather have an extra mm in thickness – which still won’t bring it in line with the bulge – and have a full footprint battery that can hold more charge.