Apple is a bit infamous for its tight control over new products, particularly iPhones. Development mules are often updated internals stuffed into nondescript previous generation designs. And talk of new products is forbidden, until the official reveal. Samsung, seems to have taken a different tack with their latest flagship device, the Galaxy S III. In the weeks leading up to today's announcement there were positively dozens of leaked images and specifications lists. And each one seemed so pointedly different than the last to leave the tech press exhausted with confusion and anticipation. All those leaks are put to the test, now, though; as Samsung has just revealed their most advanced phone yet, the Galaxy S III. 

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4S Samsung Galaxy S 2 Samsung Galaxy S 3 HTC One X (AT&T)
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 125.3 mm (4.93") 136.6 mm (5.38") 134.8 mm (5.31")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 66.1 mm (2.60") 70.6 mm (2.78") 69.9 mm (2.75")
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 8.49 mm (0.33") 8.6 mm (0.34") 8.9 mm (0.35")
Weight 140 g (4.9 oz) 115 g (4.06 oz) 133 g (4.7 oz) 129 g (4.6 oz)
CPU Apple A5 @ ~800MHz Dual Core Cortex A9 1.2 GHz Exynos 4210 Dual Core Cortex A9 Exynos 4 Quad (4412) Quad Core Cortex A9 / Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 1.5 GHz Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960
GPU PowerVR SGX 543MP2 ARM Mali-400 ARM Mali400MP4 / Adreno 225 Adreno 225
RAM 512MB LPDDR2-800 1 GB LPDDR2 ?? 1 GB LPDDR2
NAND 16GB, 32GB or 64GB integrated 16 GB NAND with up to 32 GB microSD 16/32/64 GB NAND with up to 32 GB microSD 16 GB NAND
Camera 8 MP with LED Flash, Front Facing Camera 8 MP AF/LED flash, 2 MP front facing 8 MP with AF/LED Flash, 1.9 MP front facing 8 MP with AF/LED Flash, 1.3 MP front facing
Screen 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 4.27" 800 x 480 SAMOLED+ 4.8" 1280x720 SAMOLED HD 4.7" 1280 x 720 LCD-TFT
Battery Internal 5.3 Whr Removable 6.11 Whr Removable 7.77 Whr Internal 6.66 Whr
 

Dubbed the Galaxy S III, the latest Samsung flagship device brings updated internals and many software additions to the Galaxy line. The 8.6 mm thick slate features a 4.8" HD SAMOLED display pushing 1280x720 pixels, on an RGBG stripe. The body is curvy and smooth and comes in Pebble Blue or Marble white, and appears to be metal in appearance (Ed. note: the images seem a bit ambiguous, we'll update when we get hands-on). There's more to unpack than was even included in the announcement, so let's get to it. 

The display is going to undoubtedly be a point of contention for some of you. Indeed, before any of you have read down this far, I suspect the first comment has appeared below bemoaning the lack of a '+' at the end of the display's nomenclature. Yes, the 4.8" 1280x720 AMOLED display is of the Super variety, but lacks the RGB stripe of the Plus variety. We'll crunch some numbers and consider the likelihood that anyone will be able to suss out individual subpixels later. Aside from that we'll reserve judgment till we have a review unit in hand to sort out display quality. The 4.8" display only stretches the width of the device another 1.5 mm or so, so users comfortable with these larger phones should have no issues. Those of us still skeptical about this screen size might hesitate. 

The design is oddly reminiscent of the iPod touch, but with gently curved surfaces across the front and back of the device. There is a familiarity to the design and doesn't step boldly away from the language first seen in the original Galaxy S. We'll know more about the tacticle experience after our hands-on. For now, peep the gallery and stay-tuned for a hands-on and an overview of the software aspects being introduced today. 

Some of what we know today wasn't leaked, but was formally announced by Samsung earlier. Samsung Semiconductor, designers and fabricators of their Exynos family of ARM silicon, anounced that the next Galaxy phone would include their Exynos 4 Quad, previously known as the Exynos 4412. Like NVIDIA's Tegra 3, the Exynos 4 Quad features four ARM Cortex-A9 cores, though no companion core is put to use for powersavings. Each core can be power gated individually, just like Tegra 3. The big news here is the Exynos 4 Quad is built on Samsung's 32nm high-k + metal gate process, which should provide for a sizeable decrease in leakage and an overall improvement in power consumption compared to previous 45nm desgins.

That's not the only SoC we'll be seeing in the latest Galaxy devices, though. Like the Galaxy S II devices, LTE is limited to devices running Qualcomm SoC's, so US variants on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint will likely be sporting our latest favorite SoC, the Snapdragon S4. We can expect a lot of this, as it's not just necessary to move the performance bar with each generation, users expect battery life to see a respectable improvement as well. In our HTC One X (AT&T) review we noted just how much better battery life is with Qualcomm's 28nm radios, this is the kind of generational leap we want to see. Now, we're not sure why we're not seeing their 28nm radio-only parts, the MDM9x15. These basebands will include the same LTE Cat. 3 performance, but at much lower power consumption. We've never seen its predecessor the MDM9x00 paired in a phone with anything other than Qualcomm silicon, but we have seen it in data-only situations paired with the likes of the Apple A5X in the iPad 3 and within mobile hotspots and data cards. 

None of this was mentioned during the event, but our man Brian Klug is hard at work pressing Samsung for confirmation on these details and we'll update as we learn more. Notably, is this statement from Samsung: 
Samsung Mobile is planning a U.S. version of Galaxy S III, optimized for the fastest LTE and HSPA+ networks in the U.S., which will be available in the summer of 2012.  Exact timing and retail channel availability is not being announced at this time. We believe the Galaxy S III is the most anticipated product in the 20-year history of Samsung Mobile; therefore, we will continue to share information as it becomes available. 
So, without committing to anything, they're admitting that additional work will go into the S III before it appears on these shores.  

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  • vision33r - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    The Mali400 ain't so bad, it's unfortunate that the best looking Android games run on Tegra. Because of the lack of uniform Graphics library and tools made the devs all work on Tegra.

    The S3 just looks like a smaller shaped Galaxy Note.
    Reply
  • antef - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    Very disappointed Samsung put a menu key on this phone....no idea what they're thinking. Google is working hard to move developers away from that because it's unintuitive. Now devs might keep using it because they think it's okay. And even if an app does switch to use the action bar + overflow 3 dots button, that button will not display and will instead be called up by the Menu key for devices that have one (like the S III). So you're basically forced into the old Gingerbread usage pattern. Real smart... Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    Phones with only 3 hardware buttons (back, home, menu; in that order) make perfect sense to everyone I talk to.

    Back buttons always point to the left, so it makes sense to put it on the left. That's where it is in browsers, the most common application used on desktops, laptops, etc.

    Home buttons should be in the middle, as they take you back to the home screen, and it provides symmetry between Android, iOS, WebOS, Blackberry, etc, etc.

    And then you're left with the right button, which acts just like the right mouse button, popping up context menus in applications.

    Adding a fourth "search" button is just dumb, and breaks the symmetry of using odd numbers of buttons. Putting the buttons in any other order also makes it confusing. Especially when the back button is on the right.

    Unfortunately, it seems there are no logical thinkers in the hardware design groups at the phone manufacturers. :(
    Reply
  • antef - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    I agree with your last statement....it's really sad.

    Regarding the buttons, I agree 3 buttons is the way to go, and I don't really care if they're on-screen or physical, but they should Back, Home, and RECENT APPS, not Menu, like on the Galaxy Nexus. This is Google's position and I agree with it. Long-press for the task switcher is annoying...a dedicated button is faster. And the problem with Menu is you never know if it contains things or not, and it's also "off screen"/out of mind. With Action Overflow, you a) know there are things behind it to see, and b) see it right alongside other functions on the action bar, leading your eyes to it. It just makes more sense and Samsung is staying in the less intuitive Gingerbread era by sticking with Menu.
    Reply
  • Skiddywinks - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    How do I right click then? Reply
  • antef - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    What are you talking about. There is no "right click". Old-style apps have a hidden menu. New style apps have the action bar and overflow. If you used to equate the menu to "right click", just think of that as the action overflow now. If you used to equate long-press to "right click", you can still do that. Reply
  • Skiddywinks - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    I'm sorry if I sound dumb, but I am still rocking my SGS1, and haven't seen ICS in action. I don't suppose you wouldn't mind just quickly explaining what the fuck you are talking about, or linking me to/telling me what to search for to find a video that will? Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    I'll reserve judgement until I use an ICS-enabled device and can see the "action bar/overflow menu" in action. Reply
  • antef - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    You don't need an ICS device to see the action bar. Just use any new-styled app like Voice or the Play Store. The action bar is right up top. If you're on Gingerbread, you don't see the overflow button because it is hidden when you have a menu key. Without the menu key, you get 3 vertical dots on the right end that pulls up a menu with more to do. This button only shows when there are things to put there. For example when you turn to landscape, all the buttons might fit on the action bar, so the overflow button can disappear. Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    is the GPU confirmed or assumed? - if it's confirmed i guess it's clocked higher than in the S2.
    also for the S3 you are listing it as ARM Mali400MP4 while for the S2 just as ARM Mali400 but it's the same thing.
    Reply

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