My take on S3/Android

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by MacBH928, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. MacBH928, Oct 10, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012

    MacBH928 macrumors 68030


    May 17, 2008
    I am comparing Android to my iPad iOS , and criticizing Galaxy S3. A friend of mine had an S3 around and I asked to test it out for a few days. Here is a quick list of positives and negatives for any one on the fence. I will start with Negatives.


    -Bad design: This phone is not designed to be used well in the real world. By bad design I mean wrong placement of buttons. The "settings" and "back" buttons are at the bottom vertically, and since the phone is so huge while you try to reach a place in the screen, you keep accidentally hitting those 2 buttons. Since they are touch buttons(and extremely sensitive) , as you use the phone you continuously go back or settings screens pop up, which gets frustrating after a while. If you hold the phone from the sides(not normal grip) you will either hit the volume buttons or the "on/off" buttons. So this phone you should keep holding it very delicately . I noticed that your thumb can only reach 75% of the screen forcing you to use 2 hands if you want to reach the menu buttons or any tool bar at top.

    -Stutters/crashes: Apps stutter and crashes more than I would like them. I think in total I have been using the phone for 6 hours or so. I had the Swift Keyboard(which is rated like almost 5 stars) crashes/unresponsive twice. I also had browsers stuck unable to load pages. It worked after restarting the device. it feels a bit jittery, with hiccups here and there.

    -Google Play: Americans wont worry about this, but if you are not in America you can not access the American store. What does this mean? It means you will skip on very important apps like Amazon Kindle. I am not sure what else you will skip due to this. I think iTunes store does the same , but based on your credit card or address not based on your location using the phone.

    - Even though the colors are more "vibrant"(tested against macbook+iPad) on an s3 , I can see the pixels compared to retina displays. Also the slightest tilts of the screen can give a different hue shift. I thought s3 had a blue-ish screen until I started using one, because I always looked at my friend's using one from the side.

    -The S3 (I dont know about others androids), have a problem syncing with the mac. I downloaded the Android File Transfer APP , I made the settings . I searched for a solution. It didnt work. Thats enough for me, apps and devices should work for us, we shouldnt work for them. This is the reason people migrate from Windows to Mac. Less hassle. It should work out of the box.


    -File System: The Android has a full/real file system. Its literally like a mobile pc. So if you like actually seeing your files and the directories, Android does it that way. Personally I think its much better than iOS , "we dont know where the files stored" way of doing things. It just shows up in the apps.

    -Bigger Screen: Its huge, and if a big screen is what you want, this is it. I do not think you will have problems watching a show on this display. You can run a youtube video , keep it on the side and do something else. its all good. I think for some, it can work as a tablet replacement!

    - Of course, Google Play has no restriction on the apps. Anything goes. Unlike Apple where they have to check out each and every app. Due to Apple's policies we dont have VLC on iOS any more. Of course, this also means that there will be a ton of crapware and unreliable apps.

    -backgrounds apps: I know Apple probably does not allow apps to run in the background because it will drain the battery, but this can work so well. I noticed that if you quit an app in iOS that has to transfer something before it tells you it did so, the process is not complete. Think about like Sending a file over Dropbox. How good will it be if you can send a file over to dropbox and then not have to wait for it, just flip to Safari and continue browsing? With android you can!

    -I may be wrong but the GUI feels faster and more responsive than iOS

    -I was surprised by this , but TEXT is extremely legible on the S3. I ran Pocket and Kindle(I used VPN to access USA store) and reading a book or an article is not bad, not bad at all!

    -Notification Center: Ok, this blows iOS away. Notification is soooo good on Android. Its done so well, you get everything in and you are always aware of what is going around your phone. It does not display a lousy popup to inform you about stuff. You have to use it to understand how well it works. And the fact that you can control all the wireless signals(bluetooth , wifi...etc) and more from it, is so convenient. Apple should learn from this.


    I won't buy the S3. The reason is very simple, the screen is too huge and it needs tinkering. While Apple is too restricited , you feel that there is so much that could be done and endless possibilities, Android on the other hand is too open that you have to deal with everything yourself. You wish that something could meet in the middle. That just might be the W8 phone.

    Android feels like an uncomplete product. It needs a lot of tinkering. If you like to spend hours of your time downloading and fixing stuff to get the system working like on Windows and am guessing Linux, you will love Android. If you just want to get on with your life and enjoy technology iphone is probably your choice.

    Not sure how much Jelly Bean will fix of these issues, or if S3 mini is the perfect phone. but for the time being, I am going with iphone 5 this round.
  2. b24pgg macrumors 65816

    Jan 28, 2009
    I'm an Android fan and I'd say this is a fair assessment
  3. blackhand1001 macrumors 68030


    Jan 6, 2009
    The galaxy nexus actually addresses just about everyone of your negative points. The refrshed galaxy nexus 2 in the same form factor is supposed to be released in the very near future with a better camera and a faster cpu (likely ti omap 5 cortex a15, powersgx544mp2).
  4. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    Design is of personal preference. I've been using the GS3 in the "real world" for the past 3 months and have no problems. Nor do I have any problems using one handed operation, although any size bigger might be a problem.

    Did you receive the GS3 stock condition? Meaning with factory settings. I ask cause I never have any problems with swift keyboard or 95% of the apps I've tried.

    I'm not buying that you can see pixels. I have excellent eye sight and no matter how hard I try, I can't see pixels.
  5. paulsalter macrumors 68000


    Aug 10, 2008
    I am not in America and can access the Kindle app from the store

    There are parts of Play not available outside US (Music is one in the UK)
  6. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    AFAIK, the only things we miss out on are Google's US-only cloudy music and video service. The App store seems fine, modulo any Apps that google or the authors have excluded from the UK.

    The Kindle App is certainly there - one of the first things I installed.

    Apart from that, I think you're pretty much On The Money. I have just got the Note 2 and your points about design apply to that, too. I'd add to that the design of the case back (similar to the S3 AFAIK) - it's very flimsy and although it's not structural I'd hate to break the little clips that hold it on. Of course, this is n/a compared to the totally sealed iPhone, but one of the USPs of Android over iPhone is that some models, like the Note2, take MicroSD cards and have removable batteries - for which you need to be able to take the back off! Especially annoying because the broken Android File Transfer means that a SD card is the only way of doing 'bulk' file syncs with a Mac.
  7. macsmurf macrumors 65816


    Aug 3, 2007
    Settings -> More... under Wireless and networks -> USB utilities -> Connect storage to PC.

    Android File Transfer isn't needed.
  8. Markyboy81 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 30, 2011
    This option doesn't appear to be there anymore on my galaxy s3 international version..
  9. macsmurf macrumors 65816


    Aug 3, 2007
    Well, that sucks.
  10. Sensamic macrumors 68030

    Mar 26, 2010
    It's weird. I actually prefer the notification center of ios. Why?

    Because it shows you a preview of every notification. Here on android I get "3 new emails", but I can't see a preview of them. On JB this changes, but not that much. You can see the last email, but not a preview of the last three.

    Also notifications on android take more battery, and you don't get notifications on the lock screen like ios. You get a whistle and the led, but the screen doesn't turn on and shows you a preview.

    I miss ios notifications. On the SGS3 it's a little bit clumsy. Sometimes text won't even fit and you just read half of a phrase.
  11. diogolg macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2012
    I don't own an iPhone so I can't try that, but I'm preety sure that this is possible with the background implementation of iOS... If it's not, it is developers fault, not from the iOS.
  12. xuselppa macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2012
    I think your interpretation of "bad design" really means, it isn't like the iphone and because I am not used to it, it is therefore a bad design. Ironically, the #1 request for iphone owners that came from an Android phone is a back button. And all Android phones use a similar layout to the S3. If anything, the iphone has a bad design because it requires numerous home button clicks to do what should be a simple 1 click press. But Apple is famous for 'form' over 'function'.

    Since we don't know how the phone was set up, what settings you played with, was a launcher used or was it stock, did you go into settings on swiftkey and follow the directions, was the browser set to mobile, desktop, iphone, nothing, did you download from a source not approved by the app store? lots of possibilities to explain your issues. I had the exact same problems with the iphone 5 I bought. It also came with scratches and knicks all over it and the keyboard interface was messed up. I don't think I will lump one bad iphone into an 'every iphone' has this mentality though.

    As noted above, this is not correct and bad info.

    Actually, I think you are more correct about the blue-ish colored 'white' screens.

    It is widely known that Samsung prefers you to use the Keis software and that the AFT app does not work. Any Google search says this. And as stated above, the S3 can simply be turned into a mass storage device through settings to be seen by a Mac as just another USB drive or use the mini sd card route OR you can use an app like dropsync, in conjunction with dropbox, that will auto load any file on to any device you own simultaneously.
    Nice thing about this are the options you have to get data to and from people. Meanwhile, an iDevices still can't email a photo, word document and video in a single email. No file system and so many restrictions on what you can and can't do with even the most simple of tasks is what irks me about Apple's iOS based devices.

    This is both a positive and negative to me. You control what you put on your phone based on the permissions of the app, but if you don't know what the permissions mean or do, it is pointless to view those permissions. You can minimize issues by not allowing any download outside of the Google Play store and only downloading apps with high ratings and installing a virus scanner. I have never downloaded a virus or crapware on any mobile device, whether that was Apple or Android. Common sense usually prevents you getting a virus to begin with.

    Again, this seems more to do with your inexperience with Android. It 'feels' like an incomplete product because it requires user input for all tasks, unlike with iDevices that do things for you or basically prevent you from doing things to ensure the system runs smoothly. Apple views the consumer as an obstacle to its product and will take every precaution to minimize your ability to do anything they deem as 'unneccessary'. I personally find this sort of dictatorship counter productive. Although it is true, that if you don't want to think about what you are doing and just use your phone carefree, albeit locked down, the iPhone is the phone to have.

    If you have doubts about the S3 and are more comfortable with iOS, you should absolutely stick with the iphone. I personally think the 4S is the better deal though, due to all the issues with the iPhone 5 and most apps will likely remain at 3.5" and letterboxed for quite some time to come, since they will require a complete rewrite of code and the extra .49" of sideways stretched real estate, does little to enhance most applications, imo.
  13. Stuntman06 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 19, 2011
    Metro Vancouver, B.C, Canada
    I personally don't have this issue with my SGS3. I find that iOS and Android are different enough that once you get used to one, the other seems foreign and not so intuitive. With regard to the back button, I like the fact that it is always in the same place. I don't hit it accidentally. On iOS, I'm always looking around for the back button as it jumps around from app to app. The inconsistent placement of the back button frustrates me.
  14. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    So... "You're holding it wrong..." Now where have I heard that before?

    No, it's a bad design because the buttons are badly placed and too sensitive, making them too easy to trigger accidentally. Unlike the G.P. I've come from an older Android phone that had similar buttons but didn't have this problem.

    What is an Android problem is the "guess when to press the Menu button" feature. Some Apps have pop-up-menus, some don't and the way you find out is to press the Menu button and see if anything happens.

    The advantage of a touchscreen is that you can have 'soft' buttons with adaptive labelling and feedback - the price you pay for that is lack of tactile feedback and the danger of accidental triggering on a thin-bezelled phone. The Samsung solution - touch sensitive back and menu buttons with fixed functions and labels... and if you think that invisible, touch sensitive buttons with labels that only appear after you've pressed them are an example of 'good design' then I'm speechless.

    (I think some Jelly Bean devices now rely on an on-screen button bar - which can at least provide feedback - but even the Note 2 that launched with JB hasn't picked that up yet).

    On the subject, the Note 2 has this great feature that sounds a reminder if you forget to replace the pen and walk away... except the conditions under which it triggers are so specific that you need a YouTube video to show you how to make it go off. Duh.

    Just a theory, but G.P. may have been confused by the "Samsung Apps" store (which does offer a very restricted subset of Android Apps).

    Yeah, any Google search for "AFT app does not work" - by which time it is usually too late. The official Google page that offers the AFT application neglects to mention that it doesn't work on many of the most popular Android phones.

    Or if you do have the foresight to check beforehand, you will probably find that some joker has replied:

    ...which is simply not true. I used to do this with my old HTC Hero, but when, in the early part of this year, I tried it with a friend's Nexus the USB Mass Storage mode had been taken away and the only options were MTP or PTP. At that stage AFT still worked, but now either Google or Samsung have broken that, too.

    True - but the flimsy back makes plugging and unplugging it a pain.

    I agree that the future is cloud-based, but we're not there yet.

    However where Android does come into its own is flexibility for those who tinker - I've just downloaded the "Servers Ultimate" App, created a WEBDAV server and I can now mount it over WiFi from my Mac and drag files. I should now be able to use the custom PHP script I lashed up for my old phone to sync my music. However, it's not exactly a solution that a non-techie user is going to stumble upon (and if you're not careful you'll leave your phone open to hackers).
  15. xuselppa macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2012
    Gonna run through this quick.

    Most people do not have any issues with the button placements on Android phones. Even my wife, with her tiny hands does not have an issue. And Android utilizes both virtual and tactile buttons to make things easier. And if you think that having to click an iphones home button over and over again, then a long hold, then click on an icon, just to do a simple thing like close a program is a better solution, well, I disagree. I much prefer a back button, home button and menu button. Any app I go into, I press the menu button and there's your settings. It's standard. As is the back button. Home button can be programmed to do different things depending on the manufacturer. I like this much better than one single button and then virtual setting buttons that are not standard from app to app.

    As for not knowing the product you plan to buy and use (I.e. not knowing how to connect it to a computer or not knowing that Mac's and Android aren't as easy to work with as Windows and Android), then shame on you for not doing any research. But besides that, do you really believe that doing a simple Google search is too difficult? Or removing the back of the S3 to use the micro sd card in your computer takes to long or is difficult? Sounds like you are just trying to find excuses to make it sound like the iphone is the only solution, when in fact the iphone offers a complicated solution, or in many cases, no solution at all.

    While I may disagree with you on these points (which are very minor when comparing phones), it is pretty clear that soon everything will be cloud based and fast lte speeds will be the norm for all, pretty much negating the need for computer to phone transfers or sd card storage. I utilize it now to autosync all my apps, docs, filed, pics and view, so they can be viewed on any computer I own or log into. iDevices are simply to restrictive for me. I used to jailbreak every device I owned and just got tired of depending on 1 or 2 people to allow me the ability to use files, or add multiple documents to an email or change my homescreen, place icons where I want or change their look. Just my preference.
  16. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Which Android phone are you talking about? As I said, I had no issues with accidental button presses on my old HTC Hero. Have you actually tried an S3 or Note, which have touch sensitive buttons?

    That's the procedure to completely terminate an application which is rarely necessary under either iOS or Android, which hibernate (iOS) or background (Android) Apps when you click Home, and only require you to actually terminate them if something is wrong.

    Sooo... lets actually compare the procedure for terminating an application:

    iOS (Post-Siri) -
    - 1 click on Home to get you to the Home screen;
    - long-click on Home (double-click gets you Siri) to get you into the 'current Apps' menu.
    - tap on an icon to re-open an App, long-hold to get the option to terminate it

    Android (at least on my Note 2) -
    - 1 click on Home to get you to the Home screen;
    - long-click on Home (double-click gets you Voice Command) to get you into the 'current Apps' menu.
    - tap on an icon to re-open an App, long-hold to get the option to terminate it

    Obviously, one of those is the pinnacle of UI design, the other is complete rubbish.

    I have no particular problem with that. My issue is that there is no visual cue to tell you when there is a menu.

    Really? I've been using an older Android phone for the last 3 years and it connected to the Mac perfectly well in USB Mass Storage mode. I knew the newer Androids didn't do that, but I'd used AFT to connect a Nexus to a Mac without any problem. So no, sorry, I didn't anticipate that either Google or Samsung would just plain break such a basic feature.

    Mea Culpa. Next time I buy something I'll write down a list of the features that I'm going to use and Google every last flaming one of them to see if it is broken.

    Tried it, have we? It may not be rocket science but it is an annoying fiddle, especially getting the back properly clipped down all the way round, and it all relies on lots of tiny plastic latches. The design would be adequate if you only expected to remove the back a few times during the life of the phone. For something you might need to do regularly, it's poor design.

    No. Android is far better if you want to tinker and customise - but the flipside is that you need to customise and tinker to get a satisfactory system.

    The iPhone is certainly not faultless, and Apple have really messed up on two things:

    1. Maps (as of iOS 6). Android/Google blows it out of the water.
    2. File syncing for iWork (...but there are non-Apple office and reader Apps that work fine with DropBox etc.)

    ...however Android media syncing and playing is a mess compared to iTunes.
  17. doomfront macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2012
    I strongly disagree with this statement.
  18. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    So have you owned and used both Android and iOS devices? Because I have and the G.P's comment is bang on.

    The advantage of Android is that you can tinker - the disadvantage is that you need to tinker to get some things (like music and video) anywhere near the usability of iTunes.

    However, to be fair, the basic phone/messaging/contacts/calendar/web/email side is fine if you're already using Google services (and Google do cloud services better than Apple, especially if you want to work cross-platform).

    My advice would probably be to stuck to Google Nexus-branded devices, though (I vowed that last time I bought an Android phone and slightly regret not following my own advice... but I wanted to play with an s-pen :)) Part of the fragmentation problem is the way Samsung, HTC et. al. tend to double-up on the stock Apps (...and Samsung are now trying to get in on the Cloud/App Store act which doesn't help).
  19. MacBH928 thread starter macrumors 68030


    May 17, 2008
    I never said the back button was a problem, I said its place on the phone was a problem"not practical" because when I try to reach the top using one hand with my thumb, my hands keep hitting the back button unintentionally.

    I did not setup, I just reset the phone to factory settings then did an upgrade as the phone said there was an upgrade. I installed all apps from Google Play. I didnt use launcher to test application only Samsung's default GUI. The brower was set to mobile as I always got mobile version of websites.

    I am not sure what you are talking about. Just google "Google Play access outside US"

    I know it can work as a USB storage. I tried to make it work it didn't. I researched , downloaded the Android app from No use, I did setup the S3 as usb AND as camera PTP or whatever it was. It didn't work. If I will keep researching everything then this phone is more work than fun using.

    Dropbox is not a replacement. You only get 2GB free then you have to deal with bandwidth, and its much faster to access an HD video from your SD card or phone than waiting for it to load from Dropbox.

    That is ok. If you would like to spend your time trying to figure out how everything works and fixing each app on its own, as I said this phone will be better than an iPhone for you. People who want to get on their life and do not want to do a research and spend half an hour fixing each setting should go with what works right out of the box, even if it means its so much more restricted.

  20. thefredelement macrumors 65816


    Apr 10, 2012
    New York
    Well if you use Play Music, the music player is awesome, because it's iTunes match for free and accessible anywhere you can use your google account. And if you get USB storage working you can use the free app DoubleTwist to sync your iTunes to your Android (and it looks just like iTunes, it's neat). But Google is really gearing towards getting users in to their ecosystem. (So is Samsung, Sprint, Verizon, etc. it's so annoying at this point...)

    As far as this USB storage stuff, I've had this issue on my Mac Pro with a variety of android devices (droid incredible, nexus s, galaxy nexus, epic, gs3), for some reason after I have an iDevice plugged in via USB, I have to power off and back on to connect an android device as mass storage. I have no idea why.

    I don't like this AFT stuff, I think it's crap, there should be direct access. I don't know why having a sole MTP connection is ideal, especially for a platform like android. It doesn't make any sense... We're talking SD storage/USB storage, hardly in need of innovation.

    There's some really good points going back and forth in this thread, but having just going over it myself (gave the i5 a shot, really love the device, can't stand the lack of information/integration and communication ability), I have to say the truth is in the middle.

    Android for the S3 is one thing but it doesn't represent what android is. (Which is a crock all by itself)

    I would never suggest anyone uses an non Nexus android, the experience is drastically different. IMO, the only comparison between android & iOS can happen between an iPhone and a Nexus, it's the only apples to apples comparison.

    Being not really a fan of either but a user of both, I long for the day that devices are as cool in the hand as an iPhone, as polished as the iOS experience, as flexible as android and with apps that range the spectrum of both ecosystems, as well as easy to integrate in to any media anyone has, throw in unlimited, reliable LTE data and it'd be just a consumer grand slam.

    Imagine a Siri type of interaction with the resources of Google Now. Or Google Voice tied in to the iOS dialer & messaging apps? (the iOS mail app is awesome, and with Google setup as exchange, it's the best mobile mail client I've ever used). Or how about iOS with real multi-tasking? Or combining notification systems? (actionable excerpts). WP8 won't be the answer, at least not yet anyway.

    iOS is standing still compared to the Google centric features being added to android with each release. Android doesn't have one handset that feels as good as an iPhone. Android is imploding with all these stupid a$$ OEM skins and carrier restrictions on software updates. JIT and virtual machine is a sham, android (and it's apps) should run native on that kind of hardware. It's no secret devs prefer iOS, they need to cut the crap already.

    I like the choices Apple has made for it's users in iOS but I like the choices I get to make in android, it makes the device tailored to how I use it and I save time and get what I want faster.

    These two companies have to stop the BS and just team up and make something great for everyone!
  21. paulsalter macrumors 68000


    Aug 10, 2008
    What country are you in that cannot get the kindle app (i am assuming it's a country that doesnt have amazon content)

    Can you provide some other examples of apps that are US only, I searched google as you mentioned but got nothing (only read first page of results though)
  22. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    Pandora for 1 ;-)
  23. paulsalter macrumors 68000


    Aug 10, 2008

    Is Pandora a US only music service ?
  24. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    Yeah it a radio service that's very popular. Never experienced it myself either, I just use TuneIn or absolute radio and i'm happy ;-)

    There are of course a lot of the TV apps for networks in the US of course that wont work outside, much the same as TV apps for UK & Ireland.

    There's spotify as well, does that work in the UK ? I know it doesn't in Ireland.

    But again really you can't use those arguments against android specifically because if your not in that country they don't work or even appear on the iOS devices either, or in those App Store or Google Play stores.
  25. paulsalter macrumors 68000


    Aug 10, 2008
    This was what I was trying to clarify with the OP about kindle, not sure what countries don't have kindle service, but perhaps he is one of them

    Good point on media apps, I can think of a few that are only for UK now

    Not tried spotify app, it is available, but I only have the free version so app is no good for me

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