After an iPhone-like level of hype, Samsung has officially launched its latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S III. The phone is larger than its predecessors, and it's got lots of software tweaks in an attempt to stand out from other Android phones. Here's a closer look at the Samsung Galaxy S III.
The Galaxy S III has a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with 1280 by 720 pixel resolution, and in some regions will ship with Samsung's 1.4 GHz quad-core Exynos processor. Other specs include an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, a MicroSD card slot, and NFC support.
Unlike Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, the Galaxy S III uses physical buttons underneath the display for home, back, and menu navigation. Android 4.0 allows the software to display these buttons, but most phone makers don't seem too keen on the idea so far.
The Galaxy S III is actually a bit thicker than its predecessor, the Galaxy S II, and measures 0.34 inches at its thickest point. It's also heavier than the Galaxy S II, at 0.29 pounds, but it's still lighter than Apple's iPhone 4S--despite its much larger display.
There's not much happening on the top of the phone--just a headphone jack, which has switched sides from its placement on the Galaxy S II.
On the bottom of the Galaxy S III is the same micro-USB jack as is on previous versions of the phone. A lot of Android phones use this connector instead of proprietary jacks.
The Galaxy S III's outer material is polycarbonate, which is the same premium plastic found on HTC's One X and Nokia's Lumia 900. The Galaxy S III has a "hyperglaze" coating that apparently adds a ceramic feel and some extra scratch resistance. The 8-megapixel rear-facing camera has a single LED flash.
To keep up with other smartphone cameras, Samsung's Galaxy S III has a zero-lag shutter and a burst mode for shooting 3.3 shots per second. The camera can also shoot eight consecutive images, and then suggest what it thinks is the best one.
Samsung took a page from Apple's book and gave the Galaxy S III a virtual, voice-activated assistant. With S Voice, users can ask for directions or information, set alarms, navigate to certain apps, and adjust phone settings. Hopefully S Voice doesn't also copy Siri's tendency to not work half the time.
With such a large display, Samsung figures that users will want to multitask. The Galaxy S III's "Pop Up Play" feature allows videos to play in a small in window while other tasks run in the background. The user can drag the video around with a finger if it gets in the way.
Samsung has tweaked the Android Beam feature built into ICS, so that users can now transfer files through a combination of Wi-Fi direct and NFC. Using S Beam, two Galaxy S III users can transfer a 1GB movie file in about three minutes.
Users who associate their contacts with photos get extra features out of the Galaxy S III's camera app. "Social Tag" lets the phone match faces with contacts, so users can see Google+ content and Facebook profile links within photos. "Group Tag" automatically assigns photos to albums if the user has placed contacts into groups. "Buddy Photo Share" lets users send pictures to friends in their contact list with one tap.
The Galaxy S III's AllShare feature will let users beam content to TVs and other devices. Samsung will sell a dongle that will mirror the phone's display on a big screen through AllShare Cast. Other data will be able to stream to any Internet-connected devices through AllShare Play, and Samsung plans to release development tools so third-party app makers can take advantage.
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