It’s been in the rumour mill for a while, and if you must actually get official comfirmation, here it is – Samsung has announced the Galaxy SIII right here at the Samsung Unpacked event held in London. Specs and a hands-on feel is detailed below.
- 1.4 GHz Quad Core
- HSPA + 21 (LTE)
- 4.8″ Super AMOLED with 1280×720 resolution
- 8MP camera (front 1.9MP, which can record 720p HD video)
- 2100 mAh battery
- 1GB RAM + 16/32 (64GB soon) Flash + micro SD (up to 64GB)
- Wi-Fi Channel Bonding, BlueTooth 4.0(LE)
- Accelerometer, RGB Light, Digital Compass, Proximity, Gyro, NFC, Barometer
- 1080p video recording / playback
- Various multimedia codec support (e.g. mpeg4, h.264, h.263, DivX, WMV7/8)
- MHL / DLNA
- 126.6 x 70.6 x 8.55mm, 133g
So, even with all the specs, how does the phone feel? Size-wise the phone is wider and taller than the Galaxy S II, but given the new curved back design it actually feels better to hold. The colours that the phone comes in, marble white and pebble blue, also look great (Samsung is moving away from using black I guess), with the pebble blue coming with a nice visual finish. It’s very smooth and shiny on the back, but that also means that the phone is going to be a fingerprint magnet. Something to think about if you’re not getting a case. I had an HTC One X with me and while I do prefer the matte finishing of the One X in terms of grip, I have to say the Galaxy S III definitely feels very good in the hand, and doesn’t feel like 4.8″ of phone. Also, matte finishes get dirty easily.
The Galaxy S III unlocks with a very organic looking ripple animation, and sets the tone for the usage of the rest of the phone. With the quad-core Exynos processor powering the phone, everything is buttery smooth. The phone runs on Android 4.0 (Ice cream sandwich) which is enhanced with Samsung’s TouchWiz. I used to never be a fan of custom-UIs on the Android phones (they can get quite laggy), but with this and the One X’s Sense UI, things have definitely hit almost perfect for me. The phone comes with some special functions, like Smart Stay, which helps your screen stay lit as long as you’re looking at it (perfect for reading on the move, if you’re into multi-tasking and know how to avoid falling into drains). However, in a dim room this didn’t always work, so lighting conditions might play a part (no lying on bed to read?).
There’s also Direct Call, which allows you to place a call without pressing the dial button by lifting the phone to your face at the contacts or messaging app. That saves you at least one button press. Smart Alerts also helps you by showing you everything you’ve missed after you pick up your phone for the first time after a while.
The camera app gets a few upgrades, like Burst Shot which allows you 20 shots without lifting the shutter button (at 6 frames per second), after which you can get the phone to recommend the best photo to you based on criteria like if someone is blinking. You can then tag photos based on the photos on your contact list and share it with those people directly. Picture sorting in the gallery can also be done by groups or location, saving you time when browsing through tons of photos. Samsung has also released it’s own S Voice, replacing the Vlingo service on the S II. It’s said to be a mixture of Samsung technology and a mixture of 3rd party solutions, but as to what those are, it’s unclear. There’s also the S Beam technology, which allows you to share files at high-speed. Phones are connected via NFC, but the file transfers occur over Wi-Fi Direct, which allows transfer speeds of up to 300Mbps compared to NFC’s 400kbps. During the demo, where the software is still on beta, it worked extremely well the first time, but took a few tries to get it to work a second time – hopefully this will be ironed out for release. You can also get up to 1080p for video playback, and with various codec support, you no longer have to waste time transcoding your files. The phone is even powerful enough to let you watch a video in a small window while working on something else on your phone. If a normal phone doesn’t give you enough distractions at a go, this would be perfect! It does work really well, and there was no noticeable lag during the demo. And if you’re recording video – you can also do still photos at the same time.
Also rather exciting: The announcement of Flipboard for Android. This is the first time it’s appearing out iOS devices, and while as of right now it’s unclear if it’s Galaxy S III only at launch, but I’ll update this when I get the information.
Samsung is also releasing the S Pebble, an MP3 player to be paired with the Galaxy S III. It comes with 4gb of storage and you can transfer songs directly to it from the Galaxy S III, without having to use a pc.
So, coming to this phone as an Android user for 3 years before switching to the iPhone last year: I’ll have to say I’m very tempted to switch back. While some of the features aren’t the most necessary, others seem extremely well thought out and so I’ll have to say that Samsung has done an amazing job. There is no RRP for the Samsung Galaxy S III yet, and no expected release date, but it is expected to launch end of this month or early next month.