This is shaping up to be the year of the awesome cell phone (that isn't produced by Apple). The awesomeness began with the release of the Nokia Lumia 900 early in the year. After that, around CTIA 2012 in New Orleans, HTC dropped their Evo 4G LTE, a Sprint phone that dazzled us with its incredible camera, relatively fast speed, nifty kickstand and amazing screen.
Not to mention the various HTC One flavors of mobile phones. Not to be outdone, Samsung released the European version of the Samsung Galaxy SIII around the same time...and well...our buddies across the pond came to the conclusion that it may be the best mobile phone ever.
Microsoft even jumped into the fray by announcing that Windows Phone 8 handsets will be available this fall.
Team America for the win!
Of course, the mobile phone marketplace being what it is -- confusing as all get out -- the Samsung Galaxy SIII that our European brothers and sisters got their warm-beer-loving hands on turned out to be decidedly different than the device that eventually made it to the States.
While many of the specs remain the same: 8-megapixel camera, 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD screen, excellent battery life, and brushed poly-carbonate housing (that comes in "Marble White" and "Pebble Blue"), the handset that AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and US Cellular will be releasing in the States boasts a few rather significant differences. Some might even call them upgrades.
Much has been written about the fact that the device that ultimately showed up in the States rocks a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and twice as much RAM as the European model: coming in at 2GB. That said, the question remains, "How does this model compare to its brother across the Pond?" In a nutshell, not that much.
While the Snapdragon S4 processor that's in the American version isn't as robust as the quad-core processor in the European model, the Samsung Galaxy SIII, for all intents and purposes, is a fast phone regardless of which one you play with. And aside from running Speedtest, most users will be pressed to notice the difference.
Additionally, the American cell phone marketplace differs from that of Europe in that it's extremely carrier specific. Such that the Samsung Galaxy SIII experience will differ slightly from carrier to carrier.
How does T-Mobile do?
We got our hands on the Samsung Galaxy SIII (T-Mobile) handset and put it through its paces. Depending on where you are, your experience may differ from ours. We tested the Samsung Galaxy SIII (T-Mobile) handset in San Francisco, Oakland and on our daily ferry ride across the San Francisco Bay and had strong signals in all three locations.
Each U.S. carrier likes to pack their phones with their own software. To that end, T-Mobile, much like AT&T, doesn't load their handset up with their own silly proprietary apps.
In addition to the standard apps that are present on all versions of the Samsung Galaxy S3, the T-Mobile version comes with an app that takes advantage of what may be T-Mobile's most appealing feature: Mobile Hotspot. Unlike AT&T, T-Mobile still offers unlimited data plans. Of course, T-Mobile does throttle your download speeds once you hit a certain threshold. That said, compared to paying overage fees, a little throttling may or may not be a big deal to you.
Setting up the connection was super-easy. Of course, T-Mobile has always made it pretty easy to tether other devices to their mobile phones. To that end, we connected the Samsung Galaxy SIII (T-Mobile) to our HP Envy Spectre laptop, new iPad, and Google Nexus 7 tablet with no problems.
The Samsung Galaxy SIII (T-Mobile) handset also ships with the carrier's T-Mobile TV app. This app boasts more than 40 channels including Fox News, E!, and NBC Sports. The phones come with a 30 free-trial but you can buy an HD subscription for $5.99 a month. In our tests it worked, but whether or not you want to watch TV on a phone is a matter of personal taste.
Where AT&T's version of the Samsung Galaxy SIII bests T-Mobile's offering is in the LTE category. As TechRadar noted in a recent news story, the T-Mobile version of the Samsung Galaxy SIII differs slightly from the AT&T version and therefore isn't currently capable of reaching LTE speeds. T-Mobile assures us that they will be able to take advantage of this technology. That said, if you're super-hardcore about LTE you'll no doubt be disappointed in T-Mobile.
Criticisms aside, current T-Mobile customers will be hard pressed to not love the Samsung Galaxy S3 (T-Mobile). With its amazing 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD screen, Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, and excellent battery life (especially for an Android phone), the Samsung Galaxy SIII (T-Mobile) may be the go to phone for AT&T subscribers to cop right now. It even gives the HTC One S a solid run for its money.