Here in the United States, we've all been witness to an historic "second" this week (as opposed to a first) in the unified launch of the Galaxy S III, untainted by carrier modification, on all four of the major US wireless providers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile).

Now, you'll probably say "but David, the Galaxy S III is the first smartphone to launch as the same model on all four major carriers!" and you'd be right. That's important, no doubt about it. But really, the iPhone has had two, and now three, of the four major carriers, and the addition of T-Mobile isn't exactly a massive achievement - heck, they can't even come to an agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone at all.

But really, it's not the launch itself that's such a landmark achievement - it's the effect it's going to have on people. The Galaxy S III is going to be the second smartphone to do something truly important in the US: gain bona fide product recognition among a broad consumer base.

The state of the Android brand

As a brand, Android isn't particularly iconic in the United States. Sure, a great many people own phones running Android (the majority of smartphone owners, in fact). And yes, a lot of people do associate their phone with that "brand" - Android. But really, the number probably pales in comparison to those who would call their phone a "Samsung," "HTC," or simply a "droid."


Most people I've broached the topic with casually use the last of the three (droid). Why? Because Verizon's non-stop DROID marketing campaign has seared that word into the public conscious, regardless of whether someone is actually referring to a DROID-branded phone. The original Motorola DROID was far and away the most popular first-generation Android smartphone, and the name stuck to almost every Android phone thereafter with non-tech-savvy consumers. Verizon (sort of) loves this, and so does Google, but we all know it's a bit inaccurate - only certain Android phones are DROIDs.

This has led to what is known in trademark law as "genericide." Verizon has lost control of the DROID mark, and people now use it in conversation casually to refer to almost any phone running Android. While Verizon may attempt to reassert control over the brand, and will almost certainly refuse to acknowledge any such loss of control, we've all seen what's happened here. People have taken to calling a large number of Android phones "droids," and that's about as close to product recognition as Android has ever gotten here in the United States.

The iPhone, on the other hand, had brand recognition from day one. There are a number of reasons it's the most popular smartphone model in the world, and one of them is undoubtedly a clear, focused brand message - aided by the fact that it's the same on every carrier it's available for. Everyone knows that the newest iPhone is the 4S. How many people do you think know the newest Motorola is the RAZR? Or the newest HTC is the One X?

Not a lot by comparison, is my guess.

Enter Galaxy S III

Samsung has had wide success marketing its Galaxy S phones outside the US under a unified brand. The S and S II were both wildly popular devices - over 50 million in total sold - probably the most popular smartphone models in the world next to their contemporary iPhone counterparts.

Galaxy_s (2) samsung-Galaxy-s-2 verizon-galaxy-s3-official


But Samsung wasn't able to make the unified branding dream happen in the US. No, the carriers refused to play ball - the first generation Galaxy S was on each of the "big four," but carried completely different names and looks wherever it went. Brand recognition aside, it made OTA updates a real nightmare.

The Galaxy S II fared an even more disfigured fate. Extra-large versions of the device came to Sprint and T-Mobile, while a relatively normal version went to AT&T. Then AT&T came out with a second version with LTE called the Skyrocket. Then AT&T wanted to make another version called the Skyrocket HD, which was cancelled. Verizon never released a Galaxy S II variant. It was a mess.

This time, Samsung has done what many people thought impossible: get all four carriers to agree to sell the Galaxy S III as the Galaxy S III. Same looks, same hardware, same name. I was shocked when I heard the announcement. Only Apple has managed a similar feat. Now, there'll be caveats - carrier bloatware apps and the carrier logo on the back of the phone - but these are trifling concerns at best. What we have is the first Android phone in the US to be marketed on its own terms.

That's a big deal. It means people won't talk about "droids" or "Samsungs" - they'll talk about the Galaxy S III. That's such a quantum leap forward in terms of how people will think about Android-powered smartphones. Sure, many people may still not understand that they have an "Android" phone, but they will understand that they have the Play Store, and Google apps and services at their disposal. And I can think of nothing better for Android than having a piece of hardware people can rally around here in the US - even if it does have TouchWiz.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Neo Stythys

    sounds good, especially for the users that throw on cyanogenmod.

  • Ryan Officer

    I love every bit of it.

  • Tommy Thompson

    Are we positive there will be bloatware? 

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Not positive, but I think it's very, very likely. I could be wrong, of course.

      • Tommy Thompson

        Let's hope Samsung really put their foot down then haha

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          We've asked a reliable source and they have indicated that some bloat is present.

          • TheFirstUniverseKing

            Verizon will undoubtedly have some bloatware on the SIII if the Galaxy Nexus was any indication.

    • Bryan Aldrich

      Settings -> Applications -> All -> -> DISABLE. Thank you GOOGLE!

      • Tommy Thompson

        ...I know this. That's wasn't the question.

      • Spydie

        there's no "disable" on my international G-note.  The bloatware is just greyed out so you can't do anything to it, clear cache, or anything

        • ProductFRED

          It's an ICS-only feature.

    • Hendrick M
      • Hendrick M


        AT&T says  this:
        "Screen images simulated. Appearance of phone may vary."

        so bloatware is 100% expected hopefully is minimum 

      • Tommy Thompson

        Nice thing about Sprint is they allow you to uninstall most of the bloat. Not too worried about them. I would be more worried if I was on Verizon..

  • Tommy Thompson

    Oh also, think of all the accessories!!!!!!

    • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

      This and the ram is the reason I decided to go with this phone


      I did  not think of that.. ACCESSORIES GALORE! Unified international design :D

  • Bryan Aldrich


  • Tommy Thompson

    ignore this. ha

  • http://www.twitter.com/thewizkid95 Jesus Otero

    A lot of people around my area are starting to use "Galaxy" to call their phone.
    I've heard HTC or HTC used more though

    • J Rush

      Agreed. A Galaxy is used to name or mention any Samsung-branded phone where I live. If it's a Galaxy, I already know it's made by Samsung.

  • Hinds2009

    You so right about America! It's a big reason that until now releases of high end android phones start overseas and even Canada gets releases before the states. The carriers in the states are terrible. If I was an oem I would launch in Europe and over seas first no doubt!

    • Tom Watts

      Even CANADA!! OMFG, that backwards nation!!!!

  • Joshua Barta

    If only it had been a Nexus device to carry this honor

    • Jameslepable

      rest of the world enjoyed it :D

  • ericl5112

    Just a heads up, the title is talking about how unimportant the launch is.  You can't understate the importance of something, because the importance is so small you can't call it anything less.  If you wanted to say something is really important, it's that you can't overstate the importance.  Just saying, because I was slightly confused at first what point you were making.  I'm not usually a grammer nazi, but the headline lead to a confusing first few paragraphs in the article.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      You're right. Fixed.

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


  • Jays2Kings

    Well if it means Samsung will actually release more on-time updates, I'm game.

    • LewisSD

      define "on time"... so far it seems all oem's have sucked at updating any phones to ics. At lease the SII is being updated. I mean just look at moto phones and their inability of updating ANY phones

      • Jays2Kings

        On time as in simply soonerto update to the next version. I'm not even sure what's going on with Motorola no news of an ICS phone (at least officially) and still no updates. I'm making sure I don't end up with moto again, although my Droid x has served me well especially with CM9, hopefully I can get the GSIII or GNex before the grandfathering ends.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

    It's retarded that it took the third generation of this device before they could pull this off.  Carriers in the states need to be dealt with and put on their place.  

    • xFenixKnightx


  • zarlwilliam

    the tmobile version will have a different cpu due to no lte... yes/no? 

    this would make 1 version slightly different than the other 3. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bobby-Wright/100000797708370 Bobby Wright

      ((ALL)) USA models will have a duel core S4 CPU and 2GB of RAM. 

  • PB

    Hello GS3, Finally a highend Android phone for everyone!!!! (^o^)/

  • Anjiecai

    Are you sure they all have the same hardware? Because if they do you don't even know how much it will help for development :D

    • Doron Zehavi

      Different radios. The US Versions will have different hardware than the int'l. But still not bad.

      • Spydie

        yep, remember, quad core doesn't support LTE, so the international will have quadcore and we'll have dual-core here in the US.

  • Jon Garrett

    This phones has some impressive specs but I think I'm going to stick with my Galaxy Note as my main phone but my GS2 which I use as my work phone can be replaced--I love the HTC One X.

  • SteveBJobs

    TouchWiz is still a joke!

    • fixxmyhead

      Haters gonna hate

      Touch wiz is awesome stock lacks features

      • ArtnerC

        They can add features without adding ugly. True story. Hobbyists do it for free and even add the ability for ugly via themes.

        • Jon Garrett

          TW on my Galaxy Note is a bit different that TW on my GS2 and Tab 10.1

          Either way, anything-android is an improvement over iOS.

  • Web

    Proving your point even more, isn't the Droid 4 the latest Motorola phone? Unless they've managed to slip an Atrix or Photon by me with my, I think the Droid 4 is the latest Motor, not the Razor...

  • Cwazey

    I don't see the problem with touchwiz. I very much prefer it over Sense. I Do like the stock android experience better but Touchwiz is not that bad. 

    • fixxmyhead

      Touch wiz IS AWESOME I don't care what anybody says.

  • SSHGuru


    They may be all carrying the phone around the same time but there is no information on whether they will be the same size or even the same size as the international version.

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

      They are exactly the same.

      • SSHGuru

        I wish that were true.  I called Samsung, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile to get the dimensions and none of them had them.  

        My main concern is if the S III in the USA is bigger than the international.  I make cases and I want to start making them for the S III, but without a verified size in the US there is nothing I can do.

        • Doron Zehavi

          You're wrong. They're all the same.

          • SSHGuru

            Are you saying all of the US versions are the same?  If so I agree.  But are the international versions that are already out the same?  Samsung has a history of making the international versions thinner - just like the Galaxy Nexus.

            I would love to get confirmation that the international was the same as the US but no one will give it to me.

            If you guys have a source who can tell me it would be golden because I could start to produce the cases now instead of June 21st.

            I'm not being argumentative, but you have to realize the up front cost of making a mold for a new case is huge.  To make something that fits international but not USA would be a costly mistake.

  • JeremyWhitman

    I like it!

  • L boogie

    and hopefully they would initiate the same measures when it comes to updates as well on their devices......with that said, a superb move by Samsung and im quite sure others would follow probably after Google

    • Spydie

      updates will still depend on each carrier, some will get it long before others.

  • Jeremy626

    i hate the Droid branding. it makes the Android branding sound so ugly now. ugh. thank god verizon isn't calling it the Samsung DROID Galaxy S3 4G LTE...

    • 1n4001

      And glad sprint isn't calling it the Epic 4G Touch LTE

  • Stuart

    Aren't all of these coming with the S4 chip inside?

  • Siypion

    Just to point this out to all that say you don't like Touchwiz i understand that your choice... but i hope you do know that Nova and Apex launcher works on that phone.
    i say this because Nova/Apex works on the HTC one X.

  • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

    And you know what, it's going to make the lives of people who have other Android phones more difficult because more and more developers will target the S3 at launch, or at the very least, they will test their software on the S3 more extensively. It will also mean that more third party accessories will be created for the S3.

  • jeffrey evans

    Add to that, it's hitting world wide at nearly the same time.  Samsung pulled it off, huge effort will reap huge results.  Hopefully all the OEMs will see this and take note.

  • http://www.gmachine.net GMachine.net

    "It means people won't talk about "droids" or "Samsungs" - they'll talk about the Galaxy S III." this statement is nearly fact. This fact is indeed a tremendous step for the life of Android technology and of course the Galaxy SIII, not to mention exciting. To think people may actually begin to stop referring to every Android running device as a "droid"!

  • Albert Kim

    I wonder if that means there can finally be development across carriers for the same phone like what happens in the international version. Would increase the developer base. I'm super excited.

    I hope to see on XDA:Samsung Galaxy S3 - USSamsung Galaxy S3 - GSM
    Samsung Galaxy S3 - CDMA

    • drksilenc

      well since there is no more wimax that becomes a bigger possibility. the cdma to hspa will still cause some issues though.

      • Jameslepable

        hopefully will be similar to how the GNex roms are handled. Changing abit of code/radio/bootloader and its basically the same rom

  • Brad Kalinoski

    Carriers all sucks. I got rid of my S2 because of the touchwiz and ATT bs. Now I run ATT with a Samsung Galaxy Nexus. And couldnt be happier. If Google continues to offer phones without contracts and bloatware, then thats what Im buying. Im hoping the days of carrier subsidized phones are over with. And that contract free, affordable phones, will be the new wave. 

  • George Fernandez

    Nice article.  Couldn't agree more.

  • Jon Garrett

    I have no more lines to upgrade so now I have to activate a 3rd line of service!! but do I really want to--I already have the Galaxy S II which I take to work and I have the Galaxy Note as my primary phone.

    What would I do with the Galaxy S III besides show it off in a you tube video?