04
May
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After months of rumors and teasers, we finally got the chance to see the Samsung Galaxy S III first hand last night, at the company's Unpacked 2012 event in Earl's Court, London. Following many (many) free drinks and canapés, Suzi Perry - who hosted the popular Gadget Show here in the UK - took to the stage to kick off proceedings and introduce JK Shin, President of Samsung's mobile division, who officially introduced the new Galaxy to us.

By now, I'm sure you're all familiar with the specs of Samsung's new iPhone crusher, but just in case you need a little refresher, here's what you can expect when it ships to Europe in May…

Hardware

First impressions were mixed when we first saw the Galaxy S III; the phone is modeled off the shape of a pebble (nature was a big theme at the event last night, with Samsung donating $100 to the WWF for everyone in attendance), with rounded corners and just two capacitive buttons at either side of the physical home button. Rather than imitate the appearance of the Galaxy S II, the design team has clearly taken away aspects of the Galaxy Nexus and incorporated them into this new device.

Like the Galaxy Note, the Galaxy S III will ship with a HD Super AMOLED 720p display, although the screen is a little bit smaller at 4.8 inches, so everything looks really sharp thanks to the increased pixel density. Despite all of the strong mood lighting in the exhibition room, we had no problems with glare, so it should be able to cope with outdoor usage without a problem.

The phone feels great in your hand, weighing just 133g with a depth of 8.6mm - much thinner than the iPhone 4S - despite the large display and impressive specs. Under the hood, you'll find 1GB of RAM and a quad-core processor to keep all of your multitasking applications running smooth, and on the back of the phone is an 8MP rear camera which looks great, despite the disappointment of many people that a 12MP sensor wasn't included. When I got the chance to play around with the phone, I was able to take the back cover off it, so it looks like the battery is indeed removable.

In the past, I've preferred to use HTC Android phones as they tend to feel better in my hand, but the plastic that Samsung has used on the Galaxy S III, which is available in either a deep blue color or white, felt very comfortable. The light weight of the device definitely played a part in this, but there's no denying that Samsung has constructed a phone which is easy to hold and doesn't feel like it's going to fall out of your hand.

You will be able to purchase the Galaxy S III with either 16 or 32GB of built in storage at launch, with a 64GB model appearing a little later. All of these models can also be equipped with a microSD card, so if you do happen to run out of space or just want some extra storage to keep all of your files in check, then you can purchase some additional storage to put in the phone.

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Accessories

If you still have a few quid to spare after you've bought the Galaxy S III, you can probably blow it all on the vast array of accessories that will be available on launch.

One of the more interesting options is a wireless charging dock, which Samsung claims is a first, but it looks awfully similar to the Touchstone that was available for Palm's Pré phones. After dealing with tangled and lost wires for years, the wireless charging kit is definitely at the top of my accessories list, and as long as the unit is efficient enough to charge your phone at a similar speed to mains power, I'm sure it will be a big seller.

Also available to complement your new Galaxy S III will be a flip cover, desktop dock and HDMI adaptor.

Software

In order to differentiate itself from the competition, Samsung has included a number of unique features in the Galaxy S III that you won't find in other Android 4.0 devices.

One feature that was demonstrated on stage at the exhibition was Samsung's new voice recognition software, S Voice. Created to compete with Siri, S Voice can play an integral role in your phone, in fact the demonstrator was able to wake the phone up and tell it that he wanted to take a picture, and the phone took him straight to the camera app.

We tried S Voice out with a demo unit after the keynote, but results were mediocre at best due to the background noise in the exhibition room. Users who are new to Android may become confused by the voice recognition in the Galaxy S III, as it has to be used in a separate app to Google's own voice recognition software that ships with Android.

The other major software addition that has been included in the Galaxy S III is 'AllShare', which allows you to share whatever is on your screen with other smartphone users or wirelessly transmit to a TV using a dongle. This was demonstrated in the exhibition room with a large Samsung TV, with photos, movies and even slideshows being sent from the phone.

Samsung has worked with Polaris Office to make presentation sharing really useful for enterprise users. If you're giving a presentation and sharing it from your phone, you can show entire slides on the big screen whilst using your phone as a remote and slide note viewer. You can also use your phone to draw on the slides and highlight certain areas for your viewers.

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Wrap-Up

In the time that I was able to spend with the Galaxy S III, I was impressed by both the hardware and software on offer. I tend to go for phones with smaller screens as they are more comfortable for me to hold and use, but despite the 4.8-inch display on the new Galaxy, I could get around without any issues. The thin profile of the device will also be an advantage when you want to slide it into your pocket.

With a combination of great hardware and some unique software features, I'm left with little doubt that the Galaxy S III will be just as successful as its predecessor. If you live in Europe, you will be able to get your hands on it by the end of May, while those in North America will have to wait until "summer" to get yours.

John Thompson
John's been addicted to technology ever since he tinkered with his first custom built PC when he was 10 years old. He's also the proud owner of seven Amazon Kindles, but only because he destroyed the first six.

  • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

    Wow. It seems really a nice phone. Also I like that they focused on alternative features for this phone. Touchwiz seemed like something slapped on Android, now a Samsung phone should have a little personality ;)

    • sgtguthrie

      Touchwiz actually isn't looking bad anymore. I'm usually more of an AOSP guy, but from the looks of it I could use Touchwiz and be happy (on a custom rom of course) LOL!

      • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

        Yeah, go figure! Well, in my opinion, stock ICS beats almost every other UI on the market, right now, but that's matter of personal preference. Touchwiz stopped being ugly around SII, and now it seems something more than just a theme.

        • Mark

          Before the SGSII I didn't like Touchwiz, it was a bloated ugly POS but they toned it down a lot and streamlined it in SGSII and a lot of custom ROM's came out based on the stock ROM with Touchwiz and made further enhancements to it. If the hacker community chooses to not completely get rid of it, it's usually a good sign it's nice enough to keep around. That being said, it looks like the new TouchWiz is now not just going to change the look and feel of Android, it actually brings new features and enhancements to the table, beyond stock 4.0 and if it does it smooth and w/o wasting a lot of resources or being too obtrusive, then I'm all for giving it a shot. Remember, cyanogen works for Samsung now :-) I'm hoping his clean/lean/mean style made it into the new touchwiz.

          • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

            You're right, that's the reason TW is something actually usable now. Cyanogen's shady movement below :)

  • David Barenburg

    I wish more people would consider adding a comment in their reviews like "Even though this version of the phone is fast and nice, it may be a completely different story when we see the actual device they will release in the US, since it will have a different chip, and the speeds may be different than what we are seeing now." Yes, Samsung is showing everyone the phone they will release in Non-LTE markets, and yes, it is fast, but when they show us the real US version, then we can discuss comparisons and stop comparing Apples vs Oranges, as most are in this case.

    • Paul Werner

      Just to add to your comment about "Apples vs Oranges", I can't wait for the day that a review is written without mentioning any i device. I understand that it's a popular phone to compare to but I've only used Android phones and come to sites like these to stay away from any i device news. I'd rather just compare it to any other Android device like the One X. Not that I'm knocking the review at all. I just cringe when the iPhone is mentioned

      • Xeneize480

        well said .. bravo!

      • Mark

        But he wasn't talking about iDevices. He literally meant Apples and Oranges. Like comparing an Exynos based galaxy vs a Snapdragon Based Galaxy with LTE. Like how the T-Mobile SGSII is radically different than the AT&T SGSII. Apple's and Oranges was a popular phrase long before Apple computers.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        I believe John has an iPhone in addition to his Android phone, so I'm not surprised he compared it to a hugely popular device like that, especially if it's one he owns.

    • OFI

      I wish more people would consider the world doesn't revolve around the US and this is what is here now for OUR markets.

      • sgtguthrie

        I wish you non US people could understand that AndroidPolice is located inside the USA. Therefore people in the USA reasonably expect for them to cater their stories to the US market.

        In regards to David's comment though, even if the US LTE version has a Snapdragon S4 we shouldn't be disappointed. It actually uses newer tech than the Sammy processor in the phone as well as has LTE integrated into the chipset. That will make the battery life much better. I don't think it'll be any less smooth...

        • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

          Are they? I actually thought they were UK based, don't know why.

          • sgtguthrie

            It's .com right...

          • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

            Yyyyeah, so what? My bank site is .com, yet is italian based. It doesn't mean anything the .whatever, usually.

          • sgtguthrie

            Oh, my bad...lol. But ya, Android Police is based in California...

          • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

            Good, good. I dreamed it up, then :)

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          We're mostly in the U.S., but John, who went to the event, is from the UK.

  • http://daveysmind.tumblr.com David M.D.

    You stated the SGS III has a smaller screen at 4.8in compared to the Nexus. But doesn't the Nexus have a 4.65in screen?

    • http://www.twitter.com/british_geek John Thompson

      I compared the screen size to the Galaxy Note, not the Galaxy Nexus :)

      • http://daveysmind.tumblr.com David M.D.

        Sorry, lol. Still early and sleep is in my eye :)

        • oneeyejack

          if you're a M.D. i hope you're a little more careful when reading patient medical records.

          • http://daveysmind.tumblr.com David M.D.

            I wish. M and D are middle and last initials. Would be funny though if I was. David M.D. M.D

    • WestIndiesKING

      he was comparing it to the Galaxy Note which is 5.3 i believe

    • Robert James

      I read it that way at first too. He compared it to the Nexus in the previous sentence but switches to the Note for that comparison.

      • http://daveysmind.tumblr.com David M.D.

        I think that's where it got me, lol. I saw Nexus, then my brain just registered that from there on.

  • UmangKedia

    Well the touchwiz icons are still the same!!

  • BlahBalb

    So whats up with this Menu Button? How can you not mention this? Given that the device comes shipped with Android 4.0, it will have (most likely) 5.0 and 6.0. With Menu Button. Google tries to use the software button, but Samsung builds a Hardware Menu Button. 6.0 will probably be in 2013-2014, still they have this fucked up menu button.

    Its crazy! Im not going to buy a phone thats already going in the wrong direction! If they at least used real software buttons, which could be changed in the future!

    Ok, we all know Samsung doesnt care too much about Android. They havent even used that word in their presentation. But what theyre doing is a slap in the face for Google.

    • sgtguthrie

      I too wish they'd adopted the on screen buttons like the Galaxy Nexus, but I would rather have a menu button than not have one at all like the HTC One series. I think they could still change the purpose of the button later when "Jelly Bean" is released. By then the legacy menu button should be mainly phased out...

      • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

        Ahahahah, kinda same answer, didn't saw yours, sorry mate :)

        • sgtguthrie

          I think we were writing them at the same time...lol! It's kind of nice to see someone else with the exact same thought :-)

          • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

            Yeah :D (on a totally unrelated topic, I'm really digging Disqus, it's really neat and functional, bravo!)

          • sgtguthrie

            Ha ha...I WAS JUST THINKING THE SAME THING!!!!!!!!!!

          • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

            IT'S A TELEPAT, WATCH OUT PEOPLE, TELEPATH AHEAD! :P

      • BlahBalb

        if they wanted, they already would have.. thats crazy. its like working against google

    • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

      Yep. Still, great phone. I expected software buttons too, but look at HTC's ones... I'd jump on this ship all the time.

      • BlahBalb

        http://gottabemobile.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/ICS-Screen05.jpg

        Do you see what my problem is? How shall that work with ICS and the upcoming versions? Just imagine Google will enforce that software menu button even more.. those hardware buttons cant be changed! No problem for the One series btw.

        • http://profiles.google.com/fahadayaz Fahad Ayaz

          It's not really that much of a problem. On Android 4.0+ devices, the menu button brings up the overflow menu as it's called now.

    • Himanshu Mendhe

      "Ok, we all know Samsung doesnt care too much about Android. They havent even used that word in their presentation. But what theyre doing is a slap in the face for Google."So shall we get ready for a TouchWiz Android fork??

  • http://twitter.com/mexedavian Mexed Avian

    So it officially has a quad core processor?

    • http://ridukkokun.wordpress.com/ Dukkokun

      Yes!

    • wildkarrde21

      At least for the international version. The US variants will probably switch to the S4 for LTE compatibility. Shouldn't matter to most people and we might even get better battery life for it.

  • Alexander Procter

    Seems like the presentation was the usual mishmash of marketing fluff and Asian corporate stiffness.

    I seem to remember the reception for (my beloved) Galaxy S 2 wasn't exactly glowing. I still don't think Samsung have hit upon a solid design. The One X makes this look incredibly ordinary.

    I'm glad I went for the S2, even though I wasn't crazy about the looks. I'm sure this phone will grow on me.

    I think this phone will be coming to Japan around the same time as the US, since we'll probably get the LTE version.

  • Brad Kalinoski

    doesnt the s2 come with a lot of these features. My s2 has the sVoice, it had the allshare. I mean, I dont really see anything that is really that new to me. Other than the internals of the phone. I like the S2, and I like the S3. But not enough to be so excited to go out and purchase the S3 and replace my S2. Actually I sold my S2, and bought a pure google nexus. Just not really sold that this is a big step above the S2 or the Galaxy Nexus. And yes, you will argue that there are alot of internal reasons, but for me, its not justified.

  • Knightspawn1

    cant wait to test drive this phone to see whether or not, i should let my gnex rest in retirement....hopefully all four us carriers get this device in all its variants

  • Paul

    No mention of the ceramic backing? Did they go with plastic then? That sucks.

  • Alan

    You should really learn how to use fixed focus.

  • Conan

    Is the plastic Samsung is using anything like the plastic on the back of the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 WiFi?

  • moyoma

    I just cant believe that this ugly piece of junk is the "successor" to my S2.. I feel cheapened

  • http://www.motoask.com/ Motorola Atrix forum

    Samsung marketing has a long way to go, could probably learn from Apple

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