Galaxy S III review: Hands down, the best Android smartphone

Thanks to real attention to usability and meaningful features, Samsung's flagship takes its place as the Android front-runner

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Management and security
The Galaxy S III has the stock Android 4 "Ice Cream Sandwich" with Samsung's SAFE security extensions. That means it supports nearly all of the same Exchange ActiveSync policies as an iPhone, such as failed-attempt lockout and password histories, and ActiveSync's remote lock and remote wipe capabilities. Unfortunately, Android 4 requires users to turn on device encryption -- it's not automatic as in the iPhone -- but there's now a quick-encrypt option. You no longer have to wait an hour as in the initial Android 4 release.

Android 4 also supports VPNs, but the settings are buried in the More options for network configuration. Unfortunately, the setup options are certain to scare most users away, as you get a list of incomprehensible acronyms to choose from. I could not get the Galaxy S III to work on my company's Cisco IPSec network, as none of the IPSec options allowed for entering the group ID, just its pre-shared key -- a problem I've had with every single Android 3 and 4 device I've tested. The problem seems to be that Android 4, like its predecessors, doesn't support Cisco's IPSec, which my company uses. (I have had no such issues on the iPhone, nor on the Galaxy Note II released in late October 2012.)

Android 4 also perpetuates a flaw from previous Android versions that prevents devices from connecting to Wi-Fi networks using the PEAP security protocol. You won't find this flaw in other mobile OSes -- and the Android 4.1 update fixes it for the S III.

A Galaxy S III might work in your security environment, or it might not. But Android 4 at least gives it the possibility of doing so.

The best Android smartphone you can get
There's no other word for the Galaxy S III than "impressive." It's well-designed and highly capable, with an attention to usability that shows why Samsung is Apple's chief rival -- and should give Apple some food for thought as it evolves the iPhone.

The S III is certainly better than Google's own "pure Android" flagship, the Galaxy Nexus that it designed but had Samsung manufacture. If you demand a physical keyboard, you should consider the Motorola Mobility Droid 4 instead, but it's clear most of the world has adapted well to onscreen keyboards. For those touch-savvy people, the Galaxy S III is hands-down the best Android smartphone on the market today.

This article, "Galaxy S III review: Hands down, the best Android smartphone," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile computing, read Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog at InfoWorld.com, follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter, and follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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