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A great 'little' phone, but a few too many pre-installed Apps for SIM Free
on 23 September 2014
The S3 is a great `little' phone, well suited to those of us who do not live on our phones. It is not quite what I would call a mini phone - it measures 120mm x 60mm x 10mm approx., with a viewable screen of about 4". Still, when compared to the full `pocket filling' S3 and S4 phones it is quite compact.
The screen is reasonably clear, sharp and responsive to the touch and fairly quick in flicking from screen to screen.
Signal reception seems to be generally decent (on Tesco Mobile/O2) but does sometimes struggle to deliver a full 3G connection. I do not really know if this is down to the phone, the signal or a combination of the two. I have rarely found this to be an issue though.
As a SIM - free version, it does not come too overloaded with Apps, which is a blessing (but still a few too many 'useless ones' for my liking), leaving you free to load those that you really need. You do get a few Samsung and Google Apps, which you may or may not use. Email, Internet, Maps and the SATNAV are my mainstay ones. I just wish it was easier to completely get rid of the little used pre-installed Apps, without having to resort to 'rooting' the phone, which is a minefield for inexperienced or 'non techie' users! (This is typical of Android devices though).
I also liked the soft earbud type earphones that were supplied with the phone, I find them quite comfortable.
The supplied Email and internet seem to function without issue for me and the Maps and SATNAV, whilst not up to Garmin standards, have served me well when travelling. Do make sure you have an in car charger, as the phone obviously needs Wi-Fi and GPS running when using this and the battery will drain quite quickly. I have loaded and use the Viber App to call friends abroad (they need to have it on their phones as well) and this uses about 17MB of data for a 45minute call. As I never get through my 500MB allowance each month, this is a great way to make international calls `for free'.
The 5MP camera is OK, but does seem to be a bit slow at times. I have not really used this too much, but is handy standby if you do not have your camera to hand.
If battery life is important to you, remember to switch off Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and Mobile Data until you actually need them - these are easily accessible from the swipe down top menu bar. Also there is a power saving option, which I do use as well. As I mainly use the phone for short calls and texts, I can quite regularly get 4 days out of the battery before recharging, which is pretty good, I think. Leaving Mobile data switched on significantly reduces battery life, in my experience. If you need to shut down any Apps that use too much in the way of resources, a long press on the centre 'HOME' button will bring up the Task Manager, allowing you to shut down any persistent Apps. Strangely the Task Manager does not seem to be available by any other means, which I found a bit odd.
If there is one thing I don't like it is the on screen keyboard, I find it a bit small and easy to mistype with, but have not found it annoying enough to bother loading one of the larger keyboard Apps which are available. I did acquire one of those little soft nosed stylus, which makes typing more accurate, if slower.
So, overall a nice little package and the phone is upgradeable via the Samsung Kies software that you can download to your computer. It is not the best bit of software in the world, but I have upgraded both of our phones to Android 4.1.2 using it, without too many issues. Also, this is used to back up contact data, photos etc.
A useful addition to get is a wallet case with a stylus to protect the phone and give the assistance of easier typing. there are a few options available on Amazon or EBay. Also treat yourself to a 32GB microSD card (the maximum it will accept) as these are cheap enough now and allow storage of photos, music etc.
The only real downside that I have experienced is the extremely poor customer service available from from Samsung UK - you ask them a question or for guidance and you would be better asking a fish how to ride a bicycle!! They are really that bad!!