news The nation’s largest telco Telstra late last week revealed that it would launch the 4G version of Samsung’s popular Galaxy S III handset on October 9, in a move which will see Apple’s iPhone 5 face perhaps its most significant rival yet on the nation’s largest 4G mobile network.
The Galaxy S III is already one of this year’s most popular handsets, ranking alongside Apple’s iPhone 5 and HTC’s One series as being among the top smartphones available in Australia. However, it hasn’t previously been able to take advantage of the full speeds available on the 4G infrastructure which Telstra has rolled out around Australia and which Optus has launched in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Newcastle.
That partially changed with the launch several weeks ago of a 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy S III on Optus’ 4G network, which is much more limited than that of Telstra. However, Optus currently lists the 4G Samsung Galaxy S III as out of stock on its website, meaning in the short term, it is likely that those after the handset will need to sign up with Telstra to get it. In a statement issued on Friday, Telstra said a 4G version of the Galaxy S III would be available in Telstra stores from 9 October, and consumers can order the device online before that time.
Andrew Volard, Director, Telstra Mobile, said Telstra was thrilled to be able to offer Samsung Galaxy SIII 4G on “Australia’s only national 4G-enabled network”. “The combination of a quad-core processor, the fastest Android operating platform yet and 4G internet speeds will make it incredibly easy for our customers to stream music and video, surf the web and use video chat to connect with their friends,” he said. “And with Telstra’s 4G coverage now available in more than 100 metropolitan and regional areas across the nation, customers will be able to enjoy a full speed experience in more than twice as many places as other 4G networks.”
Telstra customers can also make high definition voice calls on Samsung Galaxy SIII 4G. The built-in HD Voice support enables crisper, clearer calls when connecting to callers that have HD Voice compatible handsets on Telstra’s Mobile Network. This is a feature not available on Australia’s other major mobile networks run by Optus and Vodafone.
Telstra has also released pricing details for the 4G Galaxy S III on its network. Consumers can purchase the handset on Telstra’s $60 Every Day Connect Plan with a $6 handset repayment per month (after using an included MRO Bonus) — including 1GB of mobile data per month. Business customers will also be offered a similar plan. Various other higher value plans are available through Telstra’s network.
The version of the Galaxy S III announced this morning appears to be largely similar to the existing non-4G Galaxy S III already available in Australia, but with several differences. For example, it comes with 4G support in the 1800MHz band used by Telstra and Optus, as well as the unused 2600MHz band. In addition, it comes with the new 4.1 ‘Jelly Bean’ version of Android recently released, which offers a number of improvements over the previous version, Ice Cream Sandwich, which is generally the version used by handset manufacturers releasing products in Australia.
In its specifications list this morning, Samsung did not disclose what processor the 4G Galaxy S III uses, but Telstra noted the phone featured “the latest quad-core processor technology”. A number of smartphones which have been previously released have received a significantly altered CPU to cater for the 4G chipsets.
“As we’ve reported previously, Telstra’s Next G network has been somewhat congested of late in some CBD areas, leading Delimiter to recommend users to switch onto its incredibly fast 4G network. And with Optus launching its own (potentially even faster) 4G network on the same frequency this month, there are ever more reasons daily to upgrade your handset to a 4G model, as hundreds of thousands of Australians have already done. If you don’t, you might regret it in a year. The only 4G smartphone which we currently recommend is HTC’s stellar One XL model.
However, if you don’t need 4G speeds, then the Samsung Galaxy S III is currently the best smartphone in Australia. This is the goods, people — a world-beater in almost every area (software, hardware and so on), that you’ll be happy with for several years to come and will probably pass on to a family member after that point. The hype is justified. And if Samsung brought out a 4G version of the Galaxy S III, we’d strongly consider switching from our HTC One XL to that model. Your move, Apple. Samsung’s stolen your crown. What you gonna do?”
In my opinion, the 4G version of Samsung’s Galaxy S III handset is pretty much tied with Apple’s iPhone 5 at the moment (which also supports 4G speeds in Australia) for the nation’s best smartphone. Coming a close second behind these two is HTC’s excellent One XL handset, which is the model I personally use. I would recommend any of these three handsets on Telstra’s 4G network as solid buys for those who want top-end smartphones and top-end performance. Optus’ 4G network is also pretty solid, but it’s nowhere near as pervasive as Telstra’s. And don’t even bother with Vodafone right now — their network speeds are abominable compared with Telstra and Optus.
Image credit: Samsung