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Samsung Galaxy S III
Initial Checkout

Jim Carter, 2012-10-22

When the new pocket computer was received, I checked out these features. Initially I used the Samsung/Verizon image of Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. Later I installed CyanogenMod-10 based on Android-4.1.2 Jelly Bean. This is beta level. The first column, labelled Stock, gives the out of the box experience with very little hacking; the next one is for CyanogenMod-10.

In summary, every one of the features that the pocket computer is supposed to have, performed with no hassle out of the box. (You need to install a player app to play streaming audio from outside sources.)

Details of some of the checkout tests and other miscellaneous items may be found on the Checkout Details page.


Box Worked out of the box, or after a clean installation of CyanogenMod.
Conf It needed editing a configuration file or running a setup GUI.
Add-On Needed additional or patched software: download it; follow instructions to compile and/or install it; it works.
Fiddle As with Add-On, but it required some workarounds in the procedure, which might seem minor to an experienced user but which might prevent a newbie from making it work.
Hack So you call yourself a guru? This one will challenge your skills. But this guru eventually got it working.
Fail I wasn't able to get this one to work, at least so far.
N.T. Not tested.
* A prerequisite did not qualify for the Box or Conf rating, but once that was set up, the listed component worked with no further hassle.

Checklist of Features

Item Stock CM-10
Check dimensions and mass Box Box
 Mass (measured, with battery): 132 grams. Battery: 38 grams. Bounding box: 135 x 70 x 8 mm (9mm counting camera). Vendor quotes it as 136 x 70 x 9mm. Density (based on bounding box): 1.56 g/cc. It will sink like a stone. Wikipedia article refers to a video on CNET showing the phone surviving a water immersion test in a fishtank, but the phone does not have real waterproof sealing.
Does it charge OK? Box Box
  How long to charge? 14% to 86% (72%) took 116 minutes (almost 2 hours); 86% to 97% (11%) took 32 minutes; estimated 0 to 100% time is about 3 hours, which is typical for a polymer LiIon battery. 80% to 100% typically takes 1 hour. This was using the 1 amp USB charger that comes with the phone.
Does it boot at all? Box Hack
 Yes. On first booting the stock image you have to go through the usual setup procedure. The procedure to install CyanogenMod is of course rather more extensive and fraught with peril. But after careful research, I was able to get it right on the first try, so the pocket computer booted into CyanogenMod-10.
Startup times Box Box
  • Booting (not initial boot): 37 secs (stock image)
    You have to hold down the power button for 5 secs to make it boot.
  • Initial boot: 60 secs (CyanogenMod)
  • Wake up: 1 sec (or less)
  • Go to sleep: 1 sec (or less)
  • Power off: 11 sec
Display Box Box
  • Dimensions: 107 x 60 mm, 122 mm diagonal. Aspect ratio: 16x9. 1280x720px.
  • Readability in sunlight: Adequate even to 107000 lux. Similar in outdoor shade (9000 lux).
  • Color rendition in artificial light: Excellent in all directions even to 80 degrees.
  • How many dead pixels? None that I can see, using the Antutu test program.
Ambient Light Sensor Box Box

It works, and influences the display brightness if turned on. On the north edge to the east (right) of the speaker there are 3 holes, and the middle one is the light sensor. See here for ambient light sensor details. Dynamic range is 107000 lux (direct sunlight) to 1 lux (dark closet).

Memory Box Box
  • RAM: /proc/meminfo reports 1669376Kb (1.67e9 bytes). Likely this means 2Gb with 480Mb or so reserved for video RAM and the multimedia coprocessor.
  • Internal flash: Works; total 16Gb, /data (app storage) 12Gb. The same filesystem is mounted on /storage/sdcard0. The device can be purchased with 32Gb or 64Gb internal flash. See here for detailed partitioning, sizes, mount points and encryption.
  • SD card slot: Works; the card is provided by the user. Addressing limit is 64Gb (see below about EXFAT). See here for the various mount points.
  • Filesystem formats per /proc/filesystems on CM-10:
    • Real formats: ext2 ext3 ext4 vfat
    • Virtual formats: nfs nfs4 cifs fuse fuseblk ecryptfs
    • Formats in CM-9 but not CM-10: iso9660
    • Hopeless formats: exfat: the proprietary license means that open source software will never be able to read it.
Processor (details tested on CM-10) Box Box
  • Detection of dual cores: /proc/cpuinfo shows two processors. 13.54 bogomips (??).
  • Speed test: 32.7 secs to do a SHA-512 sum on 5e8 bytes. This would be a respectable speed for a low-end desktop machine.
  • Are dual cores used? Yes, 2 copies of the speed test finish in the same time as one, while more than 2 take longer, following approximately a linear model.
  • Quadrant benchmark (buy it).
  • AnTuTu Benchmark (by AnTuTu, free): (CPU = 1548 + GPU = 1124 + RAM = 730 + I/O = 542) = 3944 total. Comparing to other similar devices (and excluding overclocked), others get 6750 to 8600 points, so I must have something holding me back. Lack of metrics (i.e. units) on the scores doesn't help here.
Voice chat (Verizon, CDMA or LTE) Box Box
 Verizon does not use a RUIM (CDMA equivalent of SIM); they cue directly off the MEID. But 4G LTE uses a SIM.
  • Dial a call -- Connects.
  • Incoming call -- Connects.
  • Voice quality on partner -- Good.
  • Voice quality on local host -- Good.
  • Speakerphone audibility -- Good.
  • SMS -- Sent and received successfully.
  • What size of UICC (SIM) does it expect? 25x15mm, referred to as a mini-SIM. Ancient dumb phones used a larger size; recent Apple products need a micro-SIM, 15x12mm.
Cellular Data (Verizon, CDMA or LTE) Box Box
  • On 4G LTE (stock image), IPv6 is used. My IPv6 address: 2600:1013:b015:449c:2a1f:6cdf:1713:61e1. This is not a RFC 2464 address, it is a privacy enhanced random address.
Wi-fi Box Box
  • How to find the MAC address: Settings - About Device - Status - 4th item from bottom.
  • What modulation revision? 802.11 a-b-g-n according to box logo. N is tested and works fine; others like A are not confirmed (I don't have an AP that does this band).
  • Does it connect to our access point? Yes.
  • Data rate: 4.16e6 bit/sec
Wi-fi in Master Mode N.T. Setup

The Wi-fi driver for the Galaxy S III can be put into master mode, allowing your pocket computer to act as a Wi-fi access point. In documentation this is referred to as Wi-fi Tethering. Check your cell plan's terms of service carefully to determine if you need to pay extra to do this.

You need to configure it: Settings - Wireless & Networks (More) - Tethering - Set up WiFi Hotspot. Tell it the SSID, access control type (open, WPA PSK, WPA2 PSK), and the pre-shared key (password). It does not broadcast its SSID so the client doesn't show it when scanning. Configure these parameters in the client, and it will be able to connect. Nowhere do you specify the channel or the IP range; for me it used 192.168.43.x (RFC 1918). Nor does it ask for the DNS server; presumably it's using the carrier's server, though I have my own recursive DNS server.

Bluetooth Box Box

Hardwarewise, Bluetooth worked out of the box on both the stock image and CyanogenMod. Pairing worked the first time, following standard procedures for the devices. Partners tested: Motorola HT-820 headphones, ThinkOutside keyboard. Follow the link for details of what was tested and for how to pair with these devices.

Audio digital signal processor (DSP) N.T. N.T.

It's hard to prove that the principal audio codecs (Vorbis, MP3) are running on the DSP.

Play streaming audio Box Box
  • Internal speaker: Works. Sound quality playing music is pretty bad; I think the Droid-3's speaker was better.
  • 3.5mm phone jack: Works.
  • Bluetooth A2DP: Works. See the Bluetooth test report for complaints about sound quality.
  • Volume switches: Working.
  • Switching during playback between sound sinks is successful. It is not instantaneous but is fairly prompt.
  • The first time (after what?) that I used a playback app, no sound was produced. Changing the volume un-muted it.

Outcome of various audio sources and formats (on CM-10); URLs of the nonlocal sources were attempted by the browser, except as noted. This is a function of the player software.

  • Browser with provided music player app(s) (in CM-10): it attempts to download the (whole) stream and the download mercifully fails, on several stream types and sources. Coincidentally the phone spontaneously rebooted several minutes later, which it has never done before. It tries to pass M3U's to the video player, which can't deal with pure audio.
  • DeaDBeeF Player by Aleksey Yakovenko (free/pro): Can do Icecast MP3 and Ogg, and M3U, all tested and working. There is a backend which you can't exit from (use task killer in settings-apps), but it uses no CPU, only memory, until you play something. It buffers 32Kb (compressed) of stream, about 5 secs, can be increased. This is the player I decided to use.
  • A Online Radio by aor.leadapps (free): Can do Icecast MP3 but not Ogg, and M3U stuffed with MP3 but not Ogg. During an incoming phone call it pauses and then resumes. You can exit from it. It buffers for about 30 secs which is annoying.
  The device can send HDMI via its USB port, to be converted by an adapter sold separately, that I didn't get.
GPS Box Box
  • Does it work? Yes.
  • Claimed position accuracy: 4 meters, with 8 to 12 satellites and the phone not moving.
  • The first time it was used, it took about 5 minutes to find the satellites.
  • 12 hours later, it had 7 satellites and a good position in 4 seconds flat.
  • Speed to re-acquire satellites: (see above). Sometimes it has to download the ephemeris, taking 30 secs. The version on HTC Dream with CyanogenMod-6.2 based on Froyo could take as long as 15 minutes to deliver the first fix. I'll bet that it would not deliver a result unless both the ephemeris (30 secs) and almanac (13 mins) were up to date, whereas either the module firmware or the more recent Android driver is willing to do the best it can, immediately, with outdated tables.
Magnetometer (compass) Box Box
 It's hard to get calibration data for the magnetometer, but all three axes do function. +X is east, +Y is north, +Z is to the front, and the indicated side of the device has to be facing terrestrial magnetic north for the axis to read a positive value. Remember that magnetic north is underground in the northern hemisphere, quite a lot even in Los Angeles (32 degrees north).

The magnetometer is at the southeast corner about 1cm from each edge. Iron objects, like a screwdriver or masonry reinforcement of course will affect the readings.

Accelerometer Box Box
 On the Terran surface the reported magnitude of acceleration is between 9.7 and 10.0 m/s2; correct value is 9.8. When I turn the device 180 degrees, the magnitude typically shows a zero offset of 0.02 m/s2; e.g. north up shows 9.87, south up shows 9.83, half the sum is 0.02 m/s2. This is pretty good performance for a consumer-grade accelerometer.

The axis sensors are reasonably aligned with the chassis. As seen by the Phone Tester app, +Y is south, i.e. in portrait orientation with the speaker up, Y will be about plus 9.8 m/s2. +X is east (east edge down gives plus), and +Z is rear (display up gives plus).

Proximity (face) sensor Box Box
 When you're making a voice call and the phone is close to your face, the display and touch screen are deactivated. When you take it away, they return. This seems to work reasonably, and can be useful since you don't want your fat jowls to activate the dialpad. It's controlled by one of the optical sensors -- the left (west) of the three. In dim (4 lux) light a very faint red glow can be seen,, probably infrared leakage.
Notification LED Box Box
  The indicator LED is in the northwest corner. Some of these need to be turned on in the settings. In CyanogenMod-10 you can adjust the color and brightness of the battery notifications.
  Battery charging Green Yellow
  Battery full (when charging; starts at 90%) Off Green
  Battery very low (15% or below) Red flash Red flash
  Boot and Shutdown Blue pulse Off
  SMS or similar message waiting Blue flash Blue flash
Rear camera with flash (need to do a lot more testing) Box Box
Rear camera works? Box Box
Subjective image quality: Looks like blurred, from hand motion?
Auto focus: Works effectively. Box Box
Flash: Testing in a dark closet. Default is no flash; you need to turn it on; auto-flash didn't flash in the dark closet. Once this was done, it turned on the lamp in flashlight mode, auto-focused, and then fired the flash. Picture came out good. Same behavior for CyanogenMod's camera app. Box Box
Color rendition
Low light performance: Good enough for barcode scanning at 16 lux.
Video capture
Front camera (needs more testing) Box Box
 Tested with ipwebcam, which obtained and transmitted the image normally.
Front camera works? Box Box
Color rendition
Video capture or video chat: Testing with IP Webcam. Box Box
Battery life N.T. Good
  Subjective impressions are that the Galaxy S III is frugal with energy. At work with games or book reading during breaks and evening, I use 30% in a day. On a day of intense development (preparing this web page) I used 70%. See the battery detail section for more objective data, and here are some suggestions for power saving.