Samsung Galaxy S III unveiled at London Unpacked event - coming to UK 30 May
The months of speculation are over, the Samsung Galaxy S III has finally been launched and it's got a feature list as long as War and Peace. Not only does it sport a mammoth 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED touchscreen, but there's also intelligent voice and face recognition technologies that have been designed for everyday use, not just as gimmicks.
Core specifications match up to some of the pre-launch rumours, but not all. We already knew that it would utilise Samsung's own 1.4GHz Exynos 4 Quad processor, but that's been coupled with a Quad-core GPU, which promises an increased clock speed of 65 per cent greater than the phone's predecessor. There's also 1GB RAM to help things zip along.
Its operating system is Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), although Samsung's skin complies with the company's design philosophy of taking inspiration from nature. For example, the unlock screen ripples when touched, as if it was covered in water, and sounds play to match.
However, touching the unlock screen isn't necessarily needed, as the phone can be activated through voice commands. S Voice functionality is inherent in many of the phone's capabilities, and works in a similar way to the Xbox 360's voice recognition on the Kinect. As well as switch on the phone, a user can, for instance, simply bark a command at the handset for it to spark up the camera and then another to take a picture.
Face recognition is another of Samsung's new "intelligent features". While you are looking at the phone, it uses the 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera to track your eyes and will therefore not dim the screen into a power-saving mode until you look away.
On the rear, there's an 8-megapixel camera with zero shutter lag, fast shot-to-shot and minimum loading time, and Samsung has incorporated several interesting software improvements to its photography application. There's a new Burst Shot mode, which takes 20 pictures at 6 frames per second and chooses the best one depending on whether the subject has their eyes open, is smiling, etc.
It's also much easier to zoom on a person in a line-up - you just double tap on their face, the camera does the rest.
Video recording is in 1080p from the rear camera, 720p front, with the 4.8-inch screen having a 1280 x 720 resolution (306 PPI), and another interesting addition is the ability to take still shots while recording footage, without a pause or stutter. The device can play 1080p video, but obviously not natively.
The Samsung Galaxy S III sports both NFC and Wi-Fi Direct capabilities, which come in great in use when sharing content with other Galaxy S III owners. Using the new technology S Beam, which combines the ICS Android Beam with Wi-Fi Direct, users can bump their phones together and transfer video or photo content with the tap of one button. Transfer rates are 400Mbps for NFC, 300Mbps with Wi-Fi Direct.
In-built memory comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB flavours, depending on your budget, and they can all be expanded through microSD (up to an extra 32GB). Also going micro is the SIM card slot, Samsung has adopted micro SIM for the Galaxy S III. And, like the Samsung Galaxy S II, there's an MHL port in preference to standard HDMI, with DLNA wireless support through AllShare Play.
There's a 2100mAh battery running the show, but that doesn't mean the handset has put on any weight over its forebears. At 133g, it's super light, especially when considering its dimensions of 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm - taller than a Galaxy Nexus yet lighter.
The Samsung Galaxy S III will come in both "marble white" and "pebble blue" (which refers more to the rear of the device than the front) and will be LTE-enabled in certain regions that already have compatible networks (the US and South Korea, for example), and HSPA+ in the others.
UPDATE: Pricing for the phone is yet to be revealed, but it will hit the streets in the UK on 30 May. Carphone Warehouse is also the first to announce that it will carry the device, and has opened registration for pre-ordering. As an incentive, it's offering the first 100 customers to pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S III on a pay monthly plan a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet, screen protector and car charger.
Visit Carphone Warehouse's site to find out more.
Vodafone has also announced that it is to carry the Samsung Galaxy S III 16GB and 32GB models, with the latter being exclusive to the network for the first month after release. You can register your interest at www.vodafone.co.uk/nextgalaxy.
And both Orange and T-Mobile have told Pocket-lint that they too will be taking the SGS III, but details and pricing are yet to be revealed.
You can find out more details in our in-depth look at the best Samsung Galaxy S3 deals from O2, Vodafone, Three, Orange & T-Mobile.
Also check out Pocket-lint's in-depth Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy S III review, where we spent quality time with the new smartphone.