After many days, weeks and even months of digging up every rumour I could find about the SAMSUNG Galaxy SIII, it was finally unveiled last night at the SAMSUNG Unpacked event in London.
I followed the event online via a live stream provided by SAMSUNG, which lasted about 1.5 hours and cost me approximately R 25 to stream at 0.05 c/MB, well done 'cheap' Internet :)
Even though I personally believe that waiting for the date to be 3 May (5 3 = S3) was making us all wait too long, I can understand that they wanted to put some meaning behind the name and build excitement over the phone. After such a long wait I was expecting a transformer phone that would literally come to life, but to be honest the resulting phone came close enough and managed to impress me enough to state that it is definitely currently the best phone in the world.
The phone was first introduced by some upper management person, who rambled off the main specs and features of the phone in such bad english that I didn't catch a word he was saying, but luckily a more in depth explanation followed by people who could actually speak our language.
According to SAMSUNG the whole design of the phone was inspired by nature, which is why it comes in the colours of "marble white and pebble blue".
Although I would have personally preferred a black phone, the design does still look great and desirable.
The specs of the phone are as follows:
You might be worried that the phone would be too big with it's 4.8" screen, but SAMSUNG managed to significantly reduce the size of the bezel, which is the area around the screen, making the phone the same size as the HTC One X with its 4.7" screen.
Before discussing the rest of the features, I feel obliged to say that the speakers of the Unpacked event found it very important to tell us over and over that the device was "Designed for humans". I for one am very happy to hear this, and I would have been very disappointed if the speaker had said something along the lines of "the face recognition works great on pandas", although I suppose the scratch resistance would be amazing on a phone designed for cats.
SAMSUNG put a lot of effort into the software of the SIII to differentiate it from other Android devices, and it also created a lot of accessories that can be bought to work with the phone.
On the custom software front - SAMSUNG included software that uses the front facing camera of the device to track the movement of your eyes. The phone keeps track of when you are looking at the screen, and the screen will thus stay switched on while you are looking at the screen, and will switch off automatically when you look away. This will be very useful for when you are reading e-books for example.
Voice recognition similar to Siri is also integrated into the phone, allowing you to make calls, snooze your alarm and so forth. The best part of the voice recognition is that it is constantly listening to you. This means that even when the screen is off, all you need to do is say "wake up" or another command of your choice, and the phone will wake up and be ready for further instructions. At this stage however it seems to me that all voice commands are still just gimmicks, and are still on the road to becoming truly useful.
The phone is also sensitive to certain gestures. If you are typing a messge to a friend and decide that calling them would be easier, you can simply lift the phone to your ear and it will automatically call your friend. I presume that this will also work with incoming messages, which would be the more likely case in my opinion.
I am worried about the battery life of the phone with all these features constantly being on in the background, but hopefully the 2100mAh battery, which is much larger than the 1800mAh battery in the HTC One X, will be able to handle all of this properly. It is also said that one of the cores in the CPU will help with battery management to increase battery life.
The HTC One X does have a faster CPU at 1.5 GHz, but this doesn't really mean anything in itself. Benchmarks show that the CPU of the SIII outperforms that of the One X in every way.
There are also many social features built into the phone, such as automatic facial recognition of friends in photos, and the option to easily zoom into faces in pictures and send the photos to the friends in the picture immediately. The camera also has the option to take HDR pictures, about which I am very excited. SAMSUNG claims that there is zero shutter lag, and that photos are taken instantly. There is also a burst photo mode which can take 20 photos in a row and allow you to choose the best one.
SAMSUNG also upgraded their beam technology, allowing you to easily share files at a much faster speed. They claim that a 1 GB file can be sent between two phones in 3 minutes. This is done using a combination of NFC and Wi-Fi Direct technology.
There is also a feature to let you know that you had missed calls when you have been away from your phone. When you pick up your phone after having received missed calls, it gives you a nudge in the form of a small vibration to let you know that you have missed something while you were away, so that you can see what you missed immediately.
Multitasking is also much easier with the SIII. You can now have a minimized version of a video you are watching on the screen, while you browse the web or write emails or texts. Even though I doubt that I would ever use this function, I am very impressed that the phone can easily handle that kind of multitasking.
In addition to all of this, SAMSUNG created many accessories to go with the phone, such as an mp3 player called an "S Pebble" that is supposed to look like a pebble, that connects seamlessly with your phone. They also have a wireless charging bay, a car mount and desktop dock, a flip cover to protect the screen and an AllShare Cast Dongle to easily play videos and music on a TV. There is also a partnership with Dropbox to give 50 GB of free storage to new SIII owners.
All in all this phone is a clear leader in the current market, and will be available in stores in the UK from the end of the month. We in South Africa still have to await a release date however, but I trust that it will be here by winter. I definitely plan on getting one of these amazing phones once they are available, and so should you if you want the best there is to offer.