Samsung has been the leader in the Android space forever, and newer devices like the Galaxy S21 continue this dominance. The phone that arguably started this rise to the top arrived nearly nine years ago now, on May 29, 2012. Yes, we’re talking about the Galaxy S3 (or “Galaxy S III”). It first launched in a number of European and Middle Eastern countries on May 29 before it went on sale in the U.S. and other parts of the world later that summer.
The phone was an immediate and massive sales success. Samsung said it had pre-orders of over 9 million units for the Galaxy S3 before its official launch. In its first 100 days, over 20 million units had sold. In April 2014, the month that the Galaxy S4 launched, Samsung said the S3 had sold 50 million units. Ultimately, the S3 is reported to have sold a total of 70 million units. That number includes sales of its variants, including the Galaxy S3 Mini and the Galaxy S3 Neo.
Sales of the Galaxy S3 eventually blew away those of the first two phones in the Samsung Galaxy S series. In hindsight, it’s easy to see why. Samsung not only created a great phone, but it also had an excellent marketing campaign for the handset. That campaign was led in the U.S. by one of the best smartphone commercials ever. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 TV ad went after Apple head-on with a funny (and also pretty accurate) look at how the iPhone lacked a number of features that were found on the S3.
“The headphone jack is going to be on the bottom”
While Samsung also ran Apple-iPhone attack ads for the launch of the Galaxy S2 a year before, the U.S. ad for the Galaxy S3 definitely took things up a notch. It showed Apple fans waiting as long as 13 hours in line to get the latest iPhone at Apple stores (remember when that was a thing?). However, Galaxy S3 owners kept showing up at these stores, bragging about its larger 4.8-inch display. The commercial also showed off the media sharing capabilities of the S3. That included using the combination of its NFC chip, Wi-Fi Direct, and S Beam/Android Beam software so that two owners could touch phones together to share photos, videos, and more content.
All of this slamming of the iPhone came even as Apple was in the middle of filing a lawsuit against Samsung, claiming that its previous Galaxy phones violated Apple’s patents. The Galaxy S3 was added to that ongoing lawsuit later in 2013. It was a rather big move of Samsung to go after Apple in the midst of that legal fight. The massive court battle would go on and on until 2018 when it was finally settled.
Seven years later, the marketing and ad campaigns for a new Samsung phone are a lot less confrontational. The new ad for the Galaxy S10 has catchy quotes from media outlets, cool music and not much else. The satirical and fun commercials used to promote the Galaxy S2 and S3 seem to be a permanent thing of the past.
“Hey, what did you just do?”
While the ads for the Galaxy S3 were certainly effective, the phone itself was also an excellent Android handset even without the iPhone attack commercials. In an age where many smartphones have almost no front bezels, the Galaxy S3 was highly recommended because, for its time, its bezels were considered to be smaller than what was found on other phones.
The 8MP rear camera on the Galaxy S3 also got props for its features, including its Burst Mode that let owners capture up to 20 shots of a scene in rapid succession.
However, not everything about the phone was widely praised. Many reviewers didn’t like the plastic material on the back of the phone. Thankfully, Samsung decided to ditch it for glass for its current flagships.
The Galaxy S3 and President Trump
If you still happen to own a Samsung Galaxy S3, you’re probably aware that it has not received any official security software updates for some time. In early 2017, that issue became the center of a controversy surrounding then-President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Former President Trump loved to use Twitter as a way to communicate with everyone. In 2017, a Democratic U.S. Congressman from California, Ted Lieu, expressed deep concerns that the President might be using a Galaxy S3 as his main smartphone to post Twitter messages.
Rep. Liu felt that the use of a Galaxy S3 that had not been secured by the U.S. government for official business would leave the phone open to attacks from cybercriminals.
A few weeks later, the White House’s director of social media, Dan Scavino Jr, indicated that President Trump “has been using his new iPhone for the past couple of weeks on Twitter.”
The Galaxy S3 nine years out
The Samsung Galaxy S3 remains one of the biggest Android smartphones ever launched in terms of sales. Indeed, the only other Android smartphone to beat the S3 in sales would be its immediate successor the S4, which topped out at 80 million sales units. It’s unlikely we will see those kinds of sales numbers from future Samsung phones, or indeed from any other Android device, for some time to come.
Did you own a Samsung Galaxy S3 when it was first released? What is your opinion on the S3 as it reaches its seventh birthday? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.