Reviewing Android Kit Kat 4.4.4 for Samsung Galaxy S3 4G (GT-I9305)

Galaxy S3 4G GT-I9305
The Galaxy S3 was arguably the best phone of 2012 – it was the first smartphone to have a quad-core SoC, and the 4G variant bumped up the normal Galaxy S3 from 1GB of RAM to 2GB. Yesterday, Samsung finally started to push out the Kit Kat update for the Galaxy S3 4G, mainly in Nordic countries and Germany. It comes as a welcome surprise, since Samsung announced that they would ship out 4.4.2, but instead, gave users a slightly upgraded flavour of Android, with 4.4.4. The update is a hefty 1.6 GB, and brings changes in Touchwiz, certain stock apps, and brings new Kit Kat features to the Galaxy S3 4G.

Touchwiz

Samsung brings with the new update a few changes withTouchwiz. It isn’t the Galaxy S5 design that many were hoping for, however; it really does not stray too far from the 4.3 firmware for the S3. However, there are noticeable differences for a few functions. The most valuable of this is the new lock screen music controls. Samsung has finally decided to grace users with being able to control music playback from the lockscreen, a feature which has been missing since the original 4.0.4 release of the Galaxy S3. Also, gone are the greens, oranges and grays of the previous notification bar, as the new firmware makes all of the icons gray.

notification panel 4.4.4 GT-I9305
about device 4.4.4 GT-I9305

Stock apps

The Kit Kat update brings changes, mainly to the settings app; the new UI reintroduces the gradient on the taskbar of the settings app, similar to 4.1.2 and 4.0.4. A few of the icons have changed, and the menu altered to cater to the new Kit Kat features. Also, Samsung brings a change in the calculator app, going for a rectangular button layout, instead of the circular button layout of 4.3.
Settings 4.4.4 GT-I9305
calculator 4.4.4 GT-I9305

Kit Kat upgrades

Of course, the Galaxy S3 4G enjoys the new and improved features of Android with Android Kit Kat. With this update comes settings such as location settings, and the ability to choose the user’s default launcher and messaging app. Unfortunately, there is no option to change the runtime from Dalvik from ART, but this can be expected from an official upgrade. Interestingly, there is no ‘Powered by Android’ logo in boot-up. And of course, GT-I9305 users can finally play with the Kit Kat easter egg.

Kit Kat 4.4.4 GT-I9305
default applications 4.4.4 GT-I9305

Thoughts

While using this firmware on the Galaxy S3 4G, I noticed a few markedly different aspects in user experience. Firstly, I felt that the phone was quite speedy, to which the lessening of RAM requirement of Kit Kat probably played a role in. The animations were smooth, and gameplay didn’t feel slow, for less intensive games. However, there was frame dropping on graphic-intensive games such as Riptide GP2, but that’sto be expected with a device this old. Battery life seems to have improved dramatically, since the battery-munching 4.3 update, however, this cannot be confirmed until further usage.

Overview

I must congratulate Samsung for producing an update for a device this old. While it was late, and did not meet hopes, it is still a brilliant update for a brilliant handset, and fixes a lot of the issues from the 4.3 update. This is most probably the last update for the Galaxy S3 GT-I9305, as it has now neared 18 months; Samsung’s product service period. It is an apt ending to a device as controversial and popular both in the Android enthusiast community, and mainstream society.
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