There’s no doubt: the Galaxy S III owns the most anticipated launch of a smartphone in near memory. Today in London, Samsung unveiled the long-awaited and much-speculated device and we were happy to be among those to see it firsthand.
At first glance, the phone looks very similar to other Android 4.0 devices. A glossy plastic coats both the front face and flat battery cover, coming in Pebble Blue and Marble White. A slightly different (but still glossy) plastic follows around the edge of the device.
The phone retains the physical home button, though it’s now slimmer and generally less visually obvious. It’s flanked by a pair of capacitive buttons that light up and disappear, and as expected there’s the camera module, flash and loudspeaker on the back.
The Galaxy S3 will sport a 4.8-inch HD super AMOLED screen protected with Gorilla Glass 2, an 8 megapixel camera similar to the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note, 2,100mAh battery, 8.6mm thickness and weighs in at 133g (4.7 ounces). The device was “inspired by nature” in its design. Of course, Samsung also packed in its new 1.4GHz Exynos 4 Quad processor to do the legwork, and there’s 1GB of RAM to help it out.
Samsung has put TouchWiz on top of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich for the interface again, not a bad thing at all if you’re a fan of TouchWiz and past Samsung Galaxy devices that have sported the interface.
S Voice is a great feature of the Galaxy device that allows you to talk to your phone. For instance, Samsung showed how the weather could be opened up on the device simply by asking the device how the weather was. In addition, the device understands 8 different languages.
S Beam, very similar to Google’s Android Beam functionality, combines NFC and Wi-Fi direct technologies to share content. Beaming through NFC peaks at around 400Kbps, but that’s only for pairing and smaller files — sharing media engages WiFi Direct at up to 300Mbps, according to Samsung. We saw a 10MB video file bounced between two phones in an instant.
AllShare Play shares your media content with a big screen, while AllShare Cast will duplicate your phone’s display for big-screen gaming. Like S Beam, this is also broadcast through Wi-Fi Direct to a compatible TV, rather than through DLNA, although the Galaxy S III does support DLNA.
A new feature that best flexes the new Galaxy’s Exynos muscle is Pop Up Play, which plays a video file on top of any other app in a new window. The window can be moved around the screen so you can send e-mail while watching a video.
145 countries and 296 carriers will get the Galaxy S3 at launch. For international SIM card users, unlocked SIM-free versions of the device be sought after. Users of VoIP meanwhile can sport any Galaxy S3 from any carrier. The device will be available in Europe first on May 29th, followed by Asia. A 4G version of the device will hit the United States later this summer.
In closing, this is a great device with a fantastic screen and a very sturdy build. It feels great in the hands and is easily the best Android phone made to date. Whether you’re a fan of the Pebble Blue color or the Marble White color, you’re sure to find that the Galaxy S III has a lot to offer.