Samsung Unveils Next-Gen Galaxy Smartphone
May 4, 2012

Samsung Unveils Next-Gen Galaxy Smartphone

Samsung unveiled on Thursday its highly-anticipated Galaxy S III smartphone, the latest version of the company´s flagship model.

“The Samsung Galaxy S III is the best in class smartphone in the world!” said Samsung Mobile President JK Shin during a launch event in London.

The new smartphone will launch in Europe on May 29, while a 4G LTE version is expected to reach the U.S. market sometime this summer.

“With the Galaxy S III, Samsung has maximized the consumer benefits by integrating superior hardware with enhanced smartphone usability,” Shin said.

“What makes me most proud is that it enables one of the most seamless, natural and human-centric mobile experiences, opening up a new horizon that allows you to live a life extraordinary.”

The Galaxy S III includes a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED 1,280-by-720 display -- twice the touch real estate as Apple´s iPhone 4S, but thinner and lighter with a 8.6mm form factor weighing in at only 133g (0.3 pounds). Users can select one of two color options -- blue or white.

The device uses the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, and has 1GB RAM for running applications.  It features an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and 1.9-megapixel front-facing one, and includes a “natural interaction” technology that responds to a user´s eyes, voice and touch.

The Galaxy S III will initially be available in 16GB and 32GB versions, with a microSD slot that can provide an additional 64GB of storage.

A 64GB version of the phone is expected soon.

Loesje De Vriese, head of marketing for Samsung Belgium, discussed some of the handset´s software features, including "Smart stay," which prevents the phone from going to sleep.

"We want to linger on a page without touching it when reading an ebook or long email," he said.

It's "annoying" to have to keep touching the screen or re-entering a password.

With Smart stay, the phone´s front-facing camera "sees us," and “knows whether we are looking or not. It keeps the screen awake for us when we are awake and it sleeps when we sleep,” he said.

The Galaxy S III includes a voice-control feature known as S Voice, which can, for instance, tell the alarm clock to "snooze," or respond to a text message, or launch the camera.

At the same time, the phone´s ℠Smart alert´ feature let users know who is trying to contact them.  For example, if a call or a text message came in while the phone was idle, the Galaxy S III will vibrate the next time it is touched.

The phone also has a facial-recognition feature that can recognize the faces of friends.

"The importance of the Galaxy S3 to Samsung cannot be underestimated," said Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum, during an interview with BBC News.

"The company has built its reputation on producing the 'must-have' Android smartphone and in the process has become the poster child for the Android platform.

"However, Samsung's Galaxy S3 not only needs to stand out amongst a plethora of other Android-based smartphones, it will also go head-to-head with the next iteration of Apple's flagship smartphone, the iPhone,” he said.

But others at Samsung´s launch event were less impressed.

"It is not an eye-catching device that will overwhelm consumers," said IDC´s European mobile devices research manager Francisco Jeronimo.

"It is a bit of a facelift of the Galaxy Nexus. It feels less 'plasticky' though,” he told BBC News.

Although Samsung does not publicly release its phone shipment figures, many analysts believe the company outsold Apple and its 35.1 million iPhones during the first quarter of 2012.