Review: Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean Firmware for Samsung Galaxy S3

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I upgraded my Samsung Galaxy S3 to Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean from ICS just two days ago. And now after playing with the phone for a while, I decided to review the new features introduced by the official JB update and the differences I experienced in the overall performance of my S3. Does the official Jelly Bean firmware deserve flashing over the stock ICS?  If yes, will it really make my phone’s performance smoother and faster than it was on ICS? How much improvement does it bring to the battery performance on the Galaxy S3?- such questions kept hovering over my brain as I was waiting for the Odin to flash it on my phone.

The device OS version was finally updated to Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean and I began to discern the changes right from the initial Google account set up. Here are some of the most notable features of the official Jelly Bean update for the Samsung Galaxy S2.

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The Lockscreen

Let us begin right  from the lockscreen first. The Galaxy S3 with the old Ice Cream Sandwich firmware had only four app shortcuts, namely phone, Chat On, web browser and the camera. The Jelly bean update adds a fifth shortcut for Google Now. This is a welcome thing as you can  now open the Google search directly from the lockscreen.

Google Now

The integration of the Google Now feature to the Jelly Bean is one of the notable things to fall in love with IT. It does not only search for what you want, but also works as a hub of information that matters to you most. It tells you today’s weather traffic conditions, the time of a train’s arrival as you stand on the platform, your favorite team’s live score. All these things happen through various cards that appear automatically. The Google Now combines most of Google services at one place.

Pop-up Play can now be Resized

First introduced with the Galaxy S3, the Pop-up Video play feature got resizing feature in Galaxy Note 2. The Jelly Bean update to S3 brings that feature to our S3 too. You can now pan the video pop-up to adjust its size.

Live Preview at the Notifications Center

Another feature that marks Android Jelly Bean is the new notifications center that gives you live preview of an incoming message, mail, screenshot, etc. This, like other features discussed above, is a positive development in Android 4.1.

Two Homescreen Modes

The Jelly Bean update to the Samsung Galaxy S3 also come with some enhancements in the TouchWiz UX which works smother now. Now you can choose from two homescreen modes, namely “Easy Mode” and “Basic Mode”. The Easy mode provides an easier experience  for novice users. It features a few homescreen widgets where you can keep your favorite settings, apps and contacts and access them directly from your phone’s homescreen.

The Basic mode however needs no introduction. It is just the same homescreen mode as found in the ICS version. Open Settings> Home Screen Mode> and select from any of the two.

Pause and Resume Video Recording

It is a very practical feature related to the camera of the Galaxy S3. This feature was missing in the previous stock firmware. While recording a video, you get an extra pause button at the camera interface. So now you an easily pause while recording a video with the Galaxy S3’s camera.

Block a Notification with Blocking Mode

While exploring the Settings options to find something new, I came across the “Blocking Mode” feature.  Now this is very handy and practical as you can enable or disable this feature and choose what notifications do you want to receive. You need not activate the silent mode if you do want to be disturbed in a meeting, for example. Just enabling the Blocking mode will block all incoming call and other notifications except from people on your allowed list. Moreover, you can set time/duration for the Blocking mode to remain activated.

Better Battery Life than with ICS

One one of the major concerns with a device with a 4.7″ display is the battery performance. Does the JB update improve the battery on the Samsung Galaxy S3? To find out the answer, I decided to put it to test. The battery performance figures given here are based on a single charge use during a day with default configuration.

While testing the battery talk-time, the battery survived for about 10 hours with 10% battery still left. As for the results of the web browsing test, the Galaxy S3 with Jellybean survived approximately 6 hours and 27 minutes that is better than average. When it came to video playback, my phone’s battery lasted for 9 hours and 43 minutes. At a normal use with  little music and video playing, 2 hours talking and with 50 percent screen brightness, the device showed 47% remaining battery power from 7.30 AM to 8.30 PM.

To conclude this humble probe, I must say that Samsung has done a great job in improving the overall experience of the Galaxy S3 with the recently rolled out, and still rolling, Jelly Bean firmware update. Upgrading from ICS to JB gives much and takes nothing.

May be I have missed some feature, or could not notice it, I will update the post when I come across any other feature that deserves a mention here. If you have a different opinion or experience on the topic, or realize that the present article lacks anything, do share with us via your valuable comments.