So Samsung’s latest flagship phone is finally here. After months of rumours and speculation, the Galaxy S3 was unveiled last night at an event at Earls Court, London, and it has certainly landed with an impressive splash.
While it is not radically different to its predecessor, the S3 model manages to cram in a range of new and top-end features that result in a very appealing smartphone.
Samsung describes its new flagship phone as “designed for humans, it goes beyond smart and fulfils your needs by thinking as you think, acting as you act”.
The S3’s design is incredibly slim with a curved back and smooth edges. This “minimal and organic” look makes it comfortable to hold and easy to use – and don’t be fooled by the thinness of this device , as despite measuring just 8.6mm thick and weighing 133g the new Galaxy boasts a whopping 4.8-inch display.
Almost in the realms of the Galaxy Note when it comes to screen magnitude, the S3 has a near-5-inch HD Super AMOLED display that is energy efficient and super sharp. Images and colours look immense on this screen. And it’s amazingly thin, especially when you compare it to rival handsets like the HTC One X at 8.9mm thick and the iPhone 4S at 9.3mm – although the only thing we will say in the others’ favour is that they have a more premium feel to their build whereas the S3 is slightly plasticky hence its lightness and thinness.
Samsung has stuck with the button design of the S2, meaning there is a physical home key alongside a couple of touch-sensitive keys. The S3 comes in a choice of two colours, dark blue and white. The white version is glossy and the blue option has a brushed-metal effect.
Inside the Galaxy S3 is where the phone really comes to life. If you’re a fan of the S2’s 8-megapixel camera then you’re in for a treat – although the S3’s camera has the same number of pixels, it boasts numerous new features including the ability to take still images when you’re shooting a video. The camera takes 8 quick-succession snaps each time you take a photo, and even suggests which was it thinks is the best image based on facial recognition and factors such as whether you blinked.
You can link faces of friends in photos with their social media streams too, thanks to the Social Tag feature. Then to have a quick catch up on what they’re up to, you only need to look at their photos to see their current status.
Plus, sharing photos – or videos, music, documents etc – couldn’t be easier on the new Samsung smartphone. The S Beam function lets you share by simply touching handsets together.
And for accessing documents and media content on different Samsung devices, the AllShare Play uses DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct to make this easy.
When it comes to watching videos and gaming on the move, the Galaxy S3’s powerful quad-core processor makes is fast and interactive – this chip has twice the power of the one inside the S2 yet saves 20% on power efficiency so you’ll be entertained for longer.
The new Pop Up Play feature lets you watch a HD video your way. Why not resize the video, drag it and place it where you want it to go on the screen, and then send an email or text a mate as you continue to watch the action? This is definitely a plus for fans of multi-tasking.
You can also view images on your display or play games on a bigger screen thanks to the AllShare Cast function onboard the S3. For gaming, once the game is shown on the TV screen, you can use your phone’s buttons as a controller with gestures.
A lot of the new features and indeed the core of the S3 phone are designed around making life that bit easier for you. For example, if you’re in the middle of texting a friend and decide you want to speak to them instead, simply place the phone to your ear and the S3 will dial your friend for you.
Another nice touch is Smart Stay. Thanks to the front-facing 2-megapixel camera on the new Galaxy the phone knows when you’re looking at it, perhaps reading something online or chatting with friends on Facebook, and keeps the display bright for as long as you maintain eye contact with the device.
And for those times you’ve been away from your phone, the S3 saves you having to check if you have any messages or missed calls – instead when you pick it up, it vibrates when you do have new communication.
Then there’s S Voice. Like Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s voice recognition feature lets you check the weather and your diary, but also does things for you like alters the volume or takes a photo when you ask it to.
So the Galaxy S3 is certainly a worthy successor to the S2. With a bigger, brighter screen, lots of new and innovative features, plus extras including two years of 50GB of remote storage via the DropBox app, the S3 is set to become one of the most popular Android smartphones of 2012.
If you’re tempted by the new Galaxy, it’s expected to be released in the UK on 25th May. Pricing hasn’t been confirmed yet but we’d estimate contracts in the £40 per month range.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this Samsung flagship phone – has the Galaxy S3 won you over?
By Caroline Dalzell of Best Mobile Contract UK, our partner