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Connect smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Product Images
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Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy S III is the latest incarnation of Samsung’s hugely successful Galaxy S smartphone line and Samsung’s best-selling smartphone to date. The first model in Samsung’s flagship series, the Galaxy S, was introduced in 2010 and featured a five megapixel camera and a, for a smartphone at the time, innovative imaging feature set including panorama mode, smile-shutter and 720p video recording. 

The second generation Galaxy S2 was launched in 2011 and came with the usual improvements such as faster processing and an updated OS (Android 2.3 Ginger Bread vs 2.1 Éclair on the Galaxy S) but also had significantly improved image capturing capabilities. With an eight megapixel backlight-illuminated sensor and 1080p video capture the Galaxy S2 was one of the best specced smartphones, in terms of its photographic capabilities at its launch.

On paper the S3, launched in May this year, comes with identical imaging specification as its predecessor but offers some interesting new camera features such as a burst shooting mode, simultaneous HD video and image recording,  a reduced shutter lag and a Best Shot function that recommends the best picture based on colors, lighting and sharpness.

Please note: We tested the US version of this phone which at the time of review was running Android V4.04 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’. Samsung is currently rolling out Android 4.1 'Jelly Bean' for the international and US versions of the S3. Once this update is available we will have a closer look and update this review if it offers any new camera functions or changed image quality.

Click here to read our guide to the Android operating system

Key Photographic / Video Specifications

  • 8 megapixel backlight-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • F2.6 lens
  • 4.8 inch, 1280 x 720 dots (316ppi)
  • ISO 80-1600 (100-800 manually selectable)
  • 4x digital zoom
  • Burst mode
  • Panorama Mode
  • HDR mode
  • Touch to focus and hold to AF lock
  • 11 Filter effects
  • Image Stabilization
  • Best Shot recommends best pic based on colors,lighting and clarity
  • Zero shutter-lag
  • 1080p 30fps video mode with stills capture during recording

Design & Operation

Since the introduction of the original Galaxy S in 2010 Samsung has maintained the general design language on its flagship devices. Nevertheless the S III is clearly distinguishable from its predecessors by its thinner profile and tapered edges. The screen has increased further to 4.8 inches and now takes up almost the entire face of the phone, with only a very thin bezel all around.

The Galaxy S3 slightly deviates from the standard Android hardware specification in so far that the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen are hard-buttons rather than soft-buttons as it has been Android standard since the introduction of version 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich'.

The camera app on the Galaxy S III offers more options than the standard Android app but is still easy and simple to use. You focus by tapping on the screen and you can lock focus by tapping and holding. The shutter button is located to the right, the control above lets you switch between stills and video capture. On the left there is a column of customizable menu icons that gives you access to a range of camera settings.

By default, autofocus is acquired at the centre of the frame but you can tap anywhere on the screen to move it within the scene. If you tap and hold you lock the focus and can then recompose the scene. The controls to the right of the screen are dominated by the large 'virtual' shutter button. Unfortunately the shutter cannot be assigned to any of the phone's physical buttons. Above you find the stills/video switch and at the bottom a thumbnail of the last captured image which takes you to the Gallery app when tapped.

On the left you find another array of icons. Apart from the settings icon at the bottom these can be customized and set to any of the following functions:

  • Scene mode
  • Resolution
  • Auto Contrast
  • Exposure Compensation
  • White Balance
  • Guidelines
  • Focus Mode
  • ISO
  • Self-Timer
  • Metering Mode

The settings icon at the bottom gives you access to those parameters that are not set as a shortcut and a few additional options which cannot be assigned to a menu button:

  • Image Stabilization
  • Image Quality
  • GPS Tagging
  • Shutter Sound
  • Reset

Like most latest-generation smartphones these days the Galaxy S3 has very few external controls. The power button is on the right, the volume rocker is on the left and on the front you'll find the Home button. The other Android buttons, the Back and Multitask buttons, are implemented as capacitive touch-buttons left and right to the Home button. They light up as you touch them.

The Samsung's excellent 4.8 inch screen is great for framing photographs but it inevitably makes the Galaxy S3 one of the largest smartphones around.  And while the thin tapered edges look quite elegant in combination with the S III's size they make the phone a little more 'slippery' to hold as a camera than some of its rivals. If you use your Galaxy S3 a lot for taking pictures we would recommend the use of a case. It does not only protect your device but also makes it more comfortable to hold when taking pictures.

The only hard-button on the front is the Home-button (pictured here) but left and right of it are the capacitive Back and Multitask buttons which light up when touched.
The flash LED is located next to the camera lens and microphone on the rear of the phone. It can be set to On, Off or Auto mode. It's not as powerful as a compact camera flash but good enough for a close-range portrait or a little fill-light. There are also apps available to use it as a flashlight - useful when trying to find your keys at night.

The Galaxy S3's flash settings are very simple. You can turn it on, switch it off or set it to Auto mode and let the camera decide if it wants to use the flash. In video mode the flash LED can be used as a permanent video light. On the S3 camera app the LED does not provide any anti red-eye or focus light functionality but it can be useful for non-photographic purposes. There is a variety of apps out there that let you use it as a flash light.

From the phone's lock screen you can directly open the camera app by tapping the camera icon and swiping across the screen. This directly opens the camera app but from there you can continue using the phone as usual.

There are four customizable short-cut buttons on the Galaxy S3's lock screen, one of them takes you directly to the camera app. Simply tap the icon and swipe anywhere on the screen.

Apart from the flash options the Galaxy S3 offers a range of shooting modes which cater for different shooting situations. There is an HDR mode which combines three exposures automatically in-camera in order to increase the dynamic range of the photograph. Other modes incluse a burst mode, of roughly 6fps, a panorama mode and a smile shot mode that takes a picture automatically when your subject smiles.

Comments

Total comments: 54
branca0306
By branca0306 (2 weeks ago)

I bought my girlfriend the Galaxy S3,just the same as mine btw,and there is a problem with the camera.
When you open the camera it starts up in negative mode at the effect-settings,so to snap a picture,she always have to alter the setting "effects" from negative to "no effects or another effect...can this be changed or is it a malfunction of the device?

0 upvotes
pankaj123
By pankaj123 (8 months ago)

i am unable to change front camera to rear camera, no button visible for that... what is setting nw. pls recommend

1 upvote
walimatkhan
By walimatkhan (5 months ago)

how can i change the front camera to rear camera?

0 upvotes
FYoung
By FYoung (4 months ago)

To switch between the cameras:

In shooting mode, toggle the icon showing a camera with a curved arrow on each side. It is at the top right of the screen in portrait orientation.

If you don't see this icon, click on the phone's hidden physical Menu button to the left of the physical Home button , and select "Edit shortcuts." This will show all the available shortcuts. Long press the camera with 2 arrows icon and move it to the top or bottom bar.

This is explained in the S3's 160 page user manual available at:
http://downloadcenter.samsung.com/content/UM/201207/20120704064512229/i747M_UG_ENG_WEB.pdf

For easy reference in the future, bookmark this URL and sideload a copy of this user manual to your phone's SD storage card and on a cloud storage to which the phone has access, such as Dropbox.

For support info on the S3, go to:
http://www.samsung.com/ca/consumer/mobile/mobile-phones/smartphones/SGH-I747MBABMC-support#

Sorry for the long URLs, but this site bans tiny URLs.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
princesscinderrala
By princesscinderrala (10 months ago)

Its camera is not better than htc one x ..... htc one x also have 8 m.p ..... but that result is awesome. ... galaxy s3 has not better result as i thought....

0 upvotes
gail
By gail (Feb 24, 2013)

You recommend a case so the GS3 isn't so slippery when taking photos. I bought the Samsung Flip Cover Case ($40!), which covers the camera lens and flash when the case is fully open. I can't decide whether this is a good or not. It does give the camera so extra stability, but it's also awkward to use.

0 upvotes
sinc
By sinc (Dec 22, 2012)

I'm a photographer who normally uses a Sony A55 with Zeiss zoom. I have to say this S3 is a nice little camera and a cut above the one in the original Galaxy. (My friend has an S2 which works about the same as the S3.)

Undoubtedly in the years to come phone cameras will eliminate the need for P&S cameras, if they haven't already. They won't be the equivalent of DSLRs.

Nonetheless, the S3 is a great camera. With a little post processing, you can get great digital photos suitable for screen viewing. If you want large prints, you probably won't be happy with anything but a DSLR.

I'm having a lot of fun with this camera.

0 upvotes
Anepo
By Anepo (Nov 28, 2012)

Could you please do as detailed galaxy s2 review? I want a camera phone that runs android and im not sure if the s3 is worth the extra 300 usd it costs over here, pretty please?

0 upvotes
mksng
By mksng (Nov 9, 2012)

Great site...!! Please post a review of Xperia S or SL and Lumia 820 at the earliest. Eagerly awaiting your verdict to decide between Galaxy S3, One X or S, Lumia 820, Xperia S.... Please suggest which is best overall on camera performance

0 upvotes
dbateman
By dbateman (Nov 7, 2012)

I couldn't find it mentioned, maybe I missed it, But what is the 35mm equivalent field of view for the lens?

The first one its 35mm for camera and 45mm ish for video. I am wonder if they went wider at 28mm or kept it a 35mm.

0 upvotes
Rapr
By Rapr (Nov 6, 2012)

Lars Rehm, on 3rd page, you say "The S3 attempts to keep shutter speeds a a hand-holdable levels and does not appear to go any lower than 1/30 sec without using the flash which means that very dark scenes like the bar in the images below will end up under-exposed. There is nothing you can do about it.". But, this is not correct since a night mode is proposed in the Scene mode menu. This mode doesn't use the flash but it uses a longer exposition time. I tryed to take pictures at night with this mode and it appears to decrease the shutter speed down to 1/2 sec. If you didn't use this mode for the tests in low lighting conditions, then the results and the conclusion are certainly incorrect.

0 upvotes
OdesJ
By OdesJ (Nov 5, 2012)

I don't have the button to take stills during video on my S3 with Sprint.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 5, 2012)

It disappears when certain settings are activated. Try switching off Image Stabilization, that dis it for me.

0 upvotes
kenyee
By kenyee (Nov 5, 2012)

It's better than a lot of camera phones except the Nokia 808 which has a great lens comparatively.

But to put it in context, most lenses on cellphones will have dust and fingerprints all over them....it's a miracle you can get anything decent out of them, but they're good enough for instagram and facebook so everyone is used to mediocrity :-P

0 upvotes
gfraser7
By gfraser7 (Nov 4, 2012)

Well, I have a real camera so my impression is that the camera on my Siii sucks.

1 upvote
_sem_
By _sem_ (Nov 2, 2012)

How about the red-dot- flare pattern when shooting into the sun through leaves, or sunsets, or into reflectors at night?
Here's a SGS2 sample:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1pdjLrXAXo

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 5, 2012)

Did not come across this in my sample shooting. There is a shot against the sun in the sample gallery (the one with the geese) and the S3 did just fine int hat situation.

0 upvotes
Rapr
By Rapr (Nov 2, 2012)

This phone provides a night mode. It would be helpful to use it when you are taking pictures at night or in low lighting conditions...

0 upvotes
T. L. Rutter
By T. L. Rutter (Nov 2, 2012)

Thank you for reviewing cell phone cameras. For me, it is pretty important to have these kind of reviews. I bought the Note II last week and pleased with many of the pictures where there is plenty of light, but see issues with quality when there is hardly any light. But it's not bad and knowing these limitations, I can do a work-around. For example, I wanted the 920 due to the "supposed" low-light quality but the phone was not out then, and after giving much thought, felt that since most of my pictures were in the daylight I would be fine, and for those in the dark, I have the NEX that will do just fine.

0 upvotes
rondhamalam
By rondhamalam (Nov 2, 2012)

I like the FLIPBOARD of android (google play) on this device

0 upvotes
photo chris
By photo chris (Nov 2, 2012)

Geez, 10 pages for a phone? At least show the pages in the sidebar or in a menu so I can skip to the content I actually want to read ... you know ... like on DPreview...

4 upvotes
tom sugnet
By tom sugnet (Nov 2, 2012)

I have this phone and pictures look soft even after you've taken them (when previewed on screen). I guess the effective resolution is around 4 megapixels (due to strong NR), it's much much softer than my 6 megapixel Fuji F31fd (which I gave to my mother and don't use anymore).

Comment edited 33 seconds after posting
1 upvote
grafli
By grafli (Nov 2, 2012)

Well there is no surprise that a larger 6MP sensor performs better in low light than a very small 8MP sensor.
More Pixel area= better sensitivity

0 upvotes
Uwe Steinmueller
By Uwe Steinmueller (Nov 2, 2012)

>The Galaxy S3 achieves a good DxO Mark score of 72 which is means it is trailing very slightly behind the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and HTC One X in our list of the best smartphone cameras.

A link to these reviews would be helpful.

0 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (Nov 2, 2012)

Why was my question the only one left unanswered? :(
(second comment on this page)

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 2, 2012)

answered now (see below) :-)

0 upvotes
Digital Suicide
By Digital Suicide (Nov 2, 2012)

Nokia 808 kills samsung S3 in one hit. Even iPhone 5 is better than S3.

3 upvotes
princesscinderrala
By princesscinderrala (10 months ago)

Yeah also htc one x hit it

0 upvotes
TBoyd
By TBoyd (Nov 2, 2012)

Sure - the SIII has no physical shutter button, but you overlooked the fact that the shutter can be voice activated, and it works! Just go to Settings>Language and Input>Voice cmd for apps & check the box for camera.
Who needs a physical shutter button with that feature? I just say "shoot" and the shutter snaps.

3 upvotes
Lk400
By Lk400 (Nov 2, 2012)

I seriously cant imagine ever wanting to use that feature! But then again, I am not a fan of voice commands in general as they feel unnatural and seem like they would be annoying for the people around me.

4 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 2, 2012)

Thanks, I will check and add this to the review...although I am sure repeatedly saying "shoot" in public can lead to misunderstandings :-)

5 upvotes
Tom Goodman
By Tom Goodman (Nov 2, 2012)

Voice commands are useful for virtually everything you can do on a phone so why not use them for the camera?

0 upvotes
TBoyd
By TBoyd (Nov 2, 2012)

I realize voice is not desirable in every shooting situation, but the reviewer did overlook this feature. The touchscreen shutter button works fine.

0 upvotes
McCool69
By McCool69 (Nov 1, 2012)

All well and good that you are testing cell phones, but reviewing a phone that was out already in May/June this year and is closing in on 30 million sold at this time might be a bit late...

6 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Nov 1, 2012)

Looks like there's no contest at all.

808.

3 upvotes
DanielFjall
By DanielFjall (Nov 1, 2012)

This isn't Samsungs latest model. And the Note 2 has a flip-button-press - shortcut for fast camera access. Unsure about this one.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 1, 2012)

it's the latest in the 'Galaxy S' line although probably for not much longer :-)

I've made that clearer in the introduction.

1 upvote
IZO100
By IZO100 (Nov 1, 2012)

NA version of this phone has a Samsung sensor vs a Sony sensor for the rest of the world.

Also:
NA version doesnt have a quad core CPU
NA version doesnt have the Wolfson audio chip
NA version doesnt have FM radio
NA version has LTE
NA version has 2GB of RAM instead one 1

2 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 1, 2012)

We tested the US version of this device, as stated in the introduction.

0 upvotes
IZO100
By IZO100 (Nov 1, 2012)

I dont see anything in your introduction about 2 different sensors, thats why I post a comment about this important fact.

6 upvotes
peterwr
By peterwr (Nov 7, 2012)

NA? I'm guessing you mean North America.

LTE?

0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Nov 1, 2012)

I am really trying to find the focal length of the lens. Am I missing something? Is it not a part of the spec?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 1, 2012)

Some manufacturers do not provide this specification but it is approximately 29mm equivalent.

0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Nov 2, 2012)

Thanks, Lars.

0 upvotes
BJN
By BJN (Nov 1, 2012)

Correction: Android 4.0 is Ice Cream Sandwich. 4.1 and a very recent 4.2 version are Jelly Bean.

I have and S3. It's a great phone and barely a camera. It's amazing that you rank this phone so highly for its photo features. Looks like phones have a low bar to jump at Connect.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Richard Shih
By Richard Shih (Nov 1, 2012)

Thanks for catching that. Fixed!

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 1, 2012)

As we do with cameras you have to view these phones in context. The S3 looks good in comparison to many other phones. Is is a better camera than dedicated digital compact cameras? Probably not.

0 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (Nov 1, 2012)

I really liked the integration between DPReview and DxO data and conclusions. Are those becoming standard and going to be done even on the "normal" DPReview?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 2, 2012)

We are currently working with DxO on cell phones and lenses. We might use some of their data for camera reviews on the future, so watch this space.

0 upvotes
Edgar Matias
By Edgar Matias (Nov 1, 2012)

Can we get proper navigation on these review pages?

10 pages is a lot to sort through without being able to go the one you actually want. See DPReview for how to do it right. Either the page thumbnails or pop-up menu would do the trick.

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Nov 1, 2012)

It's on the list of improvements we want to make - we share your frustration.

2 upvotes
Edgar Matias
By Edgar Matias (Nov 2, 2012)

Perfect, thanks.

The site looks great, BTW.

0 upvotes
noshea
By noshea (Nov 2, 2012)

Not read the review but I recognise the Kruder & Dorfmeister EP cover doing their Simon and Garfunkle impression. Good taste.

1 upvote
Anepo
By Anepo (Nov 28, 2012)

Could you please do as detailed galaxy s2 review? I want a camera phone that runs android and im not sure if the s3 is worth the extra 300 usd it costs over here, pretty please?

Also any chance in comparing it to the samsung galaxy player 5?

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 54
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