Samsung’s next Galaxy teaser made a big deal about criticising fans of other brands of mobile phone, famously describing them as sheep. But, in revealing the Galaxy S III, isn’t Samsung simply crowning itself king shepherd of the feature-cloning flock?
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. This isn’t an attack on the Galaxy S III. It looks nice. It’s slim; seems pretty enough in the slightly bland, functional Samsung way we’ve come to expect; has a large screen, and some decent software that should offer a genuine improvement over Samsung’s previous collection of Touchwiz tools.
We would definitely have one, no doubt about that.
But there’s not a huge amount of originality in here, or groundbreaking hardware design, especially when this is the hot new thing from a company so keen to mock other mobile phone makers (and their users) in the hope of making itself look edgy and appear to stand out from the crowd.
In fact, it looks like Samsung has rather sheepishly copied plenty of software features from a wide range of current Android models, making the S III more of a homogenised mixture of the best that’s currently available on the market, rather than a cutting-edge new thing deserving of your £500 and granting its maker permission to publicly deride the competition.
It’s not a new record; it’s a greatest hits compilation with two new tracks.
Take the camera software: Samsung’s proud of its burst mode capturing and the ability to pick your best shot from the resulting collection of images. Which is lovely, but is also literally the exact same feature as the one HTC has been shipping with its new HTC One series of phones, executed in the same manner.
Samsung’s herd of software developers has meekly bleated in HTC’s direction and copied a great feature.
Samsung’s also included custom S Voice voice recognition features in here, that go above and beyond the standard Android voice control features that are part of the usual Google feature set. Again, you might say (loudly and clearly so it can understand) that Samsung took an iPhone 4S and decided how best to take the good parts of Apple’s Siri software and use them for itself.
Dropbox integration is another key point for Samsung here, with the maker highlighting how Galaxy S III buyers will be able to enjoy 50GB of storage space for their photos. Again, that seems to be based around copying the exact same promotion offered by HTC, although at least Samsung has changed the numbers, with Galaxy S III buyers getting 50GB of additional space, double that offered by HTC’s One range. That’s innovation for you.
So, to stretch Samsung’s own farmyard analogy a little further, you could say the Galaxy S III has been assembled by mechanically separating the best bits of meat from the carcasses of other popular modern smartphones, then assembling them all into one big, tasty, lamb, pork, chicken and beef burger.
It’ll probably taste great, as long as you don’t analyse it too much or imagine the faces of the poor various animals while snorting it down.
However, that’s needlessly mean. There are some exciting things within the S III. The PopUp Play video app looks like a useful thing Samsung managed to think up all by itself, plus the facial recognition tools within the camera app may well be rather useful, as will the phone’s eye-tracking stuff, should it actually work as advertised.
And like we said, the Galaxy S III looks like it’s a generally useful phone with some handy features right across its plasticky board, regardless of whether Samsung created them or cloned them itself from somewhere else.
We look forward to sheepishly buying one, along with millions of other Android fans.
But perhaps Samsung ought to cut down on the throwing of stones from within its Gorilla Glass house in future.