With the Samsung Galaxy S III finally announced, we are seeing that Samsung aims to go farther than just impressing people with ridiculously powerful hardware. The South Korean consumer electronics giant is going a step further, wanting to awe users with new features that take advantage of their new flagship’s powerful hardware.
As promised in our earlier post right after Samsung concluded its launch event, we examine these features that Samsung boasted about with the announcement of the Galaxy S III.
But first, let’s specify the hardware powering this new flagship device allowing it to carry the new features Samsung has announced.
Hardware, Hardware, Hardware
Samsung mentioned the Galaxy S III will come in 3G HSPA+ 21mbps and 4G LTE models. It does, along with 2.5G as a backbone.
Last night in London, the Galaxy S III screen was just said to be a 4.8-inch Super HD AMOLED. It’s actually a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display and Samsung has confirmed it will have a resolution of 1,280×720 pixels resulting in a pixel density of just about 306 pixels per inch.
That’s pretty close to the Retina Display Apple boasts in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S with about 330ppi. Not that Samsung can’t make a display like those in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S since they actually make the Retina Display which are then sold to Apple.
The Galaxy S III has a quad-core Exynos CPU clocked at 1.4GHz (Exynos 4212 Quad). However, the cores are A9 and not A15 units. Those waiting for the Galaxy S III were hoping for A15 cores, but nonetheless, it’s still expected to perform well. By comparison, the much-praised quad-core Tegra 3 mobile applications processor also uses A9 cores.
Samsung promises that with the Galaxy S III, the screens switch quicker, booting time is much shorter, applications will launch quicker and web browsing is also faster. That’s saying a lot since the Galaxy S II was already a speedy smartphone.
That’s also helped by the improved Mali-400MP graphics processing unit of the Galaxy S III.
Of course, the Galaxy S III will have Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich coated with TouchWiz out of the box. It’s a flagship phone after all.
The front snapper is 1.9MP, also with zero shutter lag. Both cameras can capture full-HD 1080p video. Both of the camera’s can capture still shots while capturing HD video.
Sensors abound in the Galaxy S III as it has an accelerometer, and RGB light sensor, a digital compass, a proximity sensor, a gyroscopic sensor, and a barometer. Why a barometer? It’s probably for the same reason why the Galaxy Nexus has a barometer.
Connectivity in the Galaxy S III comes through Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi HT40, GPS and GLONASS, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0.
Three storage capacities will be produced (16GB, 32GB and 64GB) which can be added to via a microSD card slot that accepts cards as large as 64GB.
Now you’re probably thinking that all these hardware should be hungry for power but the guys from Samsung managed to endow the Galaxy S III with a 2,100mAh battery. Compare this to the 1,650mAh battery of the previous Galaxy, the Galaxy S II.
All of this is packed in a chassis which is 8.6mm thin, 136.6mm tall, and 70.6mm wide which weighs 133 grams.
The phone will come in “marble white” (just plain white would have been sufficient to describe it) and “pebble blue” (a kind of dark blue which appears actually grayish black at first glance) when it is released first in Europe (3G HSPA+ version) on May 29.
No pricing has been announced yet but as we have said in our previous post, we expect it to be high. Asia, Africa and Latin America will next get the Galaxy S III and North America will then get it this summer.
Transcending Just Powerful Hardware With Features You’ll Want To Use
Now, some of you may be impressed by this set of hardware specifications (obviously, some will not be), but Samsung actually wants to transcend just thinking about hardware specs. It’s thinking more now in the framework of a great user experience.
As was said during the launch of the Galaxy S III, people are looking not just at what smartphones can do but how well they do it. As a result, there is a great selection of features announced for the Galaxy S III during the launch event.
The theme for Samsung’s “next Galaxy” is nature. During the launch, it was the major theme of the phone. Samsung says that from the design of the phone – which it said was inspired by pebbles, leaves, water and wind – and the technology inside it will bring people back to nature.
Let’s start with what Samsung touts as its upgraded version of the TouchWiz user interface, the Nature TouchWiz UX. We’re assuming UX means “user experience” hinting that Samsung wants it to transcend just being an interface to the realm of being an “experience”.
Samsung Mobile Belgium Head of Marketing Loesje De Vriese – who along with Samsung Electronics European Telecommunication Operation Vice President Jean-Daniel Ayme and Samsung Electronics IT and Mobile Communications Division President JK Shin presented the Galaxy S III – said that the Nature TouchWiz UX is enhanced by nature and human emotion.
Specifically, sounds from nature abound with the Galaxy S III from its keypad sounds to its ringtone and alarms. Samsung say’s these sounds which are taken from nature are soothing to the user.
Just because Samsung seems to have fallen madly in love with nature, they also announced they will donate $100 for every attendee of the Samsung Mobile Unpacked 2012 event in London and at the succeeding events in their US tour.
Anyway, there are more features discussed in the event. Let’s start with interaction.
Samsung brings a feature called S Voice to the Galaxy S III. It’s an advanced natural language user interface that listens and responds to your words may they be spoken in 8 languages. Samsung’s Jean-Daniel Ayme said in the announcement of the device that it understands British and American English (and apparently even the “French typical English” Ayme spoke in), Italian, German, French, Continental and Latin American Spanish and Korean.
From a separate notice we received from speech technology company Sensory, we know that this technology was made possible by Sensory voice technology. We’ve written about the company just recently here.
With S Voice, you can say “Hi Galaxy” to your Galaxy S III and the phone wakes up. You can add four other preset unlock phrases to this. You can also tell it to take a photo or look for things like the weather and a route to a destination. We’re not sure at the moment how this measures up to Siri, but given Android’s voice control integration and the help of Sensory’s speech technology, it’s shaping up to be a good fight.
Speaking of waking up, the Galaxy S III has a feature called “Smart Stay”. The phone’s front camera actually follows your eye movement and keeps the screen awake while you’re looking at it so no more continuously tapping on your screen to keep the backlight from dimming or to avoid being brought back to that lock screen.
As for recognizing your motions, there’s this little nifty feature called ‘Direct Call’ which lets users make a call from when they’re texting someone simply by putting the Galaxy S III to their ear. This makes use of the phones proximity sensor and gyro sensor.
A feature called “Smart Alert” also utilizes motion sensing capabilities of the Galaxy S III as it notifies you via a vibration, a flashing LED light and notifications on your screen of important messages, emails and missed calls simply once you pick it up from being idle.
Now, we’ve discussed about the camera of the Galaxy S III saying it has zero shutter lag and it starts up in less than a second. Its camera also boasts of a feature called “Best Photo” wherein it analyzes photos (up to eight) taken in succession and selects the best photo.
The camera of the Galaxy S III can also take photos while shooting video and it is also capable of HDR photography, Samsung revealed.
For photos, there’s also “Social Tag” which analyzes faces in your photos and matches them with the pictures of your friends, tagging them and providing a way to go to their contact page and ultimately to their social network pages while viewing the photos.
Meanwhile, there are also these trivial image-related features called “Face Zoom” and “Face Slideshow”. “Face Zoom” will let users double tap on a face while in live view shooting images and gets the camera to zoom in on the face and fill the screen. “Face Slideshow” on the other hand is just what it says. You can view a slideshow of each single face in a group shot. We don’t know just how useful “Face Slideshow” will be.
Now that we’re talking social, let’s talk about “Group Tag”. It works this way: once a group photo is taken, the Galaxy S III scans it for faces and groups your photos by way of your contact groups. So if Jane is listed as a work colleague and she is in a photo, that photo is automatically categorized under “Work Colleagues”. This feature adds a new layer of organization to your photos but it will not work if your contacts are not in groups.
As for sharing, Samsung highlighted “S Beam” its own version of Android Beam. It says that to share media – whether it be photos or videos – all you need to do is to touch a Galaxy S III with another Galaxy S III, tap the media you want to send, and it will be transferred to the other phone via NFC and Wi-Fi Direct.
Sharing with the Galaxy S III also comes by way “AllShare Cast” and “AllShare Play”.
“AllShare Cast” lets you cast your smartphone’s display onto a TV or monitor via wireless technology (there’s also a dongle to be sold for this for incompatible devices). Samsung’s Ayme gave an example of using Polaris Office extension node which you can share your smartphone’s display from, allowing you to control your presentation from your phone. “AllShare Play” basically just shares your media content on another display device.
As for multitasking, the Galaxy S III has “Pop Up Play”, a kind of picture-in-picture way of using the smartphone. Samsung gave an example of this, playing an HD video which can be minimized into a sort of window which can be placed anywhere on screen. By enabling this, one can search the web, type a text of email or do some notes while watching a video.
There’s also “Tap to Top”, which we’ve seen in the iPhone and is exactly what its name suggests: you tap the top to quickly scroll. Another worthy feature to note is the “in-call sound equalizer”, a feature which aims to enhance audio while in a call.
As if that’s not enough, Samsung also announced other features and enhancements to the Galaxy S III. There’s a wireless charging kit which charges the battery without wires and uses resonance technology(hence the “wireless” name). All you do is place your Galaxy S III on top of the device for it charge. There’s also a health app for the Galaxy S III thrown into the mix by Samsung.
The announcement also featured an announcement for the S Pebble, an MP3 player. They also announced a service called Game Hub, Movie Hub and Music Hub. Game Hub aims to take advantage of the powerful hardware of the Galaxy S III. Movie Hub is just that, a hub for movies which will be launched in seven countries, Samsung says.
Music Hub will provide online streaming for radio and music and will have a repository of 17 million songs, the consumer electronics juggernaut revealed. It will have a scan and match feature too for matching content on the cloud. This sounds familiar.
Speaking of online storage, those who will buy the Galaxy S III will also reportedly get free 50GB online storage via Dropbox. That’s twice as much as HTC offered previously with their phones.
So there you have it. That seems to be everything there is you need to know about the Galaxy S III. It’s not only competing with the iPhone in terms of pure hardware power anymore, Samsung seems intent on creating an experience unique to the Galaxy S III.
Let’s wait and see how this pans out for the South Korean tech giant – which, by the way, recently topped Nokia as the world’s biggest phones vendor – once the smartphone is already in the hands of the consumers. Meanwhile, enjoy Samsung’s first commercial for their newest flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Images from Samsung