After months of fakes, leaks and rumours, the Samsung’s Next Galaxy Event came around, taking place at London’s Earls Court venue. In front of a packed crowd the company revealed a new smartphone that we were already expecting: the Galaxy S3.
The phone is much the same as the one leaked in the user manual recently, taking the size and shape of the Galaxy Nexus – this one is much bigger than the Galaxy SII. It measures 136.6mm x 70.6mm with a relatively slim waistline of 8.6mm – which is roughly the same as its predecessor. It’s also a tad heavier at 133g. It runs Android 4.0 – aka Ice Cream Sandwich – along with a new version of Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface, called TouchWiz Nature UX. We’re not sure what was wrong with just ‘TouchWiz’, either.
Samsung has packed in a gorgeous 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED touchscreen up front, which is covered with a sheet of protective glass. The resolution of the display is 1280 x 720 with a high pixel density of 306 pixels per inch, which isn’t quite as high as the iPhone 4S Retina Display, but coupled with the higher resolution it should look more impressive. Underneath the screen there is a central physical home button that can be clicked, with touch buttons for the Menu and Back functions either side.
As expected, the phone uses Samsung’s new quad-core 1.4GHz Exynos processor, which is apparently 65% faster than the Galaxy SII, while still being friendly to your battery life. Internal storage comes as 16, 32 or 64GB – depending on which model you buy – and can be upgraded by up to 32GB using a Micro SD card. There’s also a Dropbox app pre-installed for cloud storage, and not the rumoured S-Cloud service as was initially thought. Samsung has opted to join Apple, HTC and Nokia in switching to the Micro SIM format for its new flagship.
Connectivity-wise the phone has it all – Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct and Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth, GPS, DLNA, NFC, HSDPA+ (4G LTE versions will be available in supporting countries).
Rumours of a 12-megapixel camera were unfortunately untrue, as the Galaxy SIII packs an 8-megapixel autofocus camera on the back with an LED flash. It’s a backside-illuminated sensor too, so should perform excellently in low lighting conditions. Full HD 1080p video capture is possible, and like the recently launched HTC One X, will allow you to continually take still pictures while recording video. There’s virtually no lag between pushing the button and the photo taking, and the app will reportedly load up in 990ms, according to Samsung.
Samsung has really worked on the camera aspect with their new phone. It uses face recognition to lock in on people in your frame, and a quick double tap on their face allows you to directly zoom in and focus on that one person. The camera app can also recognise people stored in your contacts list when you’re taking a picture, showing their name and other details above them in the picture.
The front of the phone features a 1.9-megapixel camera which can do video calling, but is also key to a very cool new feature called Smart Stay. This feature uses the camera to see when you’re looking directly at your phone’s screen, during which time the screen will never dim – awesome! The front-facing camera will also record in 720p HD, should you want to record yourself.
Samsung also touted another interesting feature called Direct Call, which will immediately call back somebody who has left you a text message or missed call, simply by lifting the phone to your ear. Of course, this could be done by mistake, so it can be turned on and off as you wish.
Easily the most exciting feature – to the dismay of iPhone 4S users – is a new voice activated assistant service called S Voice. It combines the existing voice control aspects of Android with natural speech – for instance you can yell “Galaxy” or “Get up!” at it, and the phone will awake from standby and be ready for use. S Voice also works with select apps on the phone, such as the Camera app. You can command “Hi Galaxy, picture” to open the camera app and shoot – or you could simply say “cheese”, which we’re told will have the same result. It sure sounds impressive, and can already do more than the iPhone’s Siri can right now.
Coming a close second in the exciting feature stakes is one that was rumoured and hoped for by many – wireless charging. It uses resonance technology, which Samsung claims they are the first to use on a mobile phone. Palm obviously did wireless charging before, but that used conductive methods, and Samsung’s is different. A ‘Wireless Charging Kit’ provides a small block on which to place your phone, which connects to the mains to provide the power. Yet another very cool feature.
As we thought from the blue and white blobs on the event invite, the Galaxy SIII will launch in Pebble Blue and Marble White. While the front of the phone is glassy and shiny, the back is a smooth and curved plastic which has a brushed look to it. Unfortunately it’s not the ceramic casing that we had hoped for, but it still looks awesome.
Both colours will be available in 16GB and 32GB versions in Europe on May 30th