Note: This is our original hands-on preview, why not check out our full in-depth Samsung Galaxy SIII review!
We've just seen the Samsung Galaxy S III, officially launched in all its super AMOLED HD glory. And the rumours were right on the money - this is the next big quad-core Ice Cream Sandwich superphone with a beefy eight-megapixel camera, HD video and lots of social and media sharing apps that take advantage of its NFC, DLNA and high-speed Wi-Fi support.
Check out our full hands-on review video!
The Galaxy S III is packing a monster 4.8-inch screen, but through feats of physics and engineering, it's sat in such a narrow bezel that the chassis is actually smaller than that of the 4.7-inch HTC Titan.
Clocking the super slim 8.6mm profile of the S II, this next gen superphone still skates in at a hyper light 133g, a weight that belies a surprising sturdiness. In fact, its screen is made with 'Gorilla Glass 2', apparently 15-20% stronger - a claim we'll doubtless be testing with our patented drop-osity tests.
There is indeed a 1.4GHz quad-core chip, sharing bonnet space with 1GB RAM, a microSD slot and a choice of 16/32/64GB of storage. Unlike the plasticky body of Galaxy S II, the Galaxy S III has been coated with what Samsung is calling Hyperglaze (brace yourself for many more such names) - effectively giving it a smooth, shiny sheen as well some added heft.
The body is rounder and curves in slightly as well, an ergonomic design nod to "nature" that is apparently the inspiration of this here phone.
What's not natural is its incredibly bright, clear screen with the same resolution as the larger Galaxy Note - a high-definition 720 x 1280 pixels that positively sparkles. We're sure real life doesn't look like this.
The touch-screen is impressively responsive too with excellent autocorrect.
Camera and video
An eight megapixel camera and LED flash come swaggering to the camera arena, with similar features to the HTC One X - in particular near-zero shutter lag that allows burst mode style shots.
HD video is a huge deal on the Galaxy S III as well, with not only a super smooth 0.01ms response rate on true HD video, but the ability to drag a video window on top of another app, such as the browser, and play it while surfing the net.
The camera app is overflowing with ways to make your picture experience like, the most awesome ever - including "best face" where it makes a judgment call on the picture where your mug looks least offensive, "buddy photo share" for the option to send pictures to friends tagged in a particular photo.
By the way, this is meant to work automatically in conjunction with your preloaded social networks, where your friends' faces are recognised by facial recognition software, then tagged for posterity.
Eye tracking software kicks in with something called 'Smart Stay' - as long as the 1.9-megapixel camera senses you in front of it, the screen won't time out. Only when you avert your gaze does the S III turn itself off - which has led Samsung to dream up the tagline, "it waits till you're asleep". Hopefully what follows is pleasant.
We didn't get a chance to test this one out so check back for our full review on how good its face spotting is.
Voice like a Siri...
Another of those pseudo-future gimmicks that manufacturers seem to so adore is voice recognition. Yes, that minefield. Like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, S III responds to calls of "Hi Galaxy!" (a customisable greeting, of which you can save up to four) to unlock the phone. This worked most of the time we tried it - potential use would be when wearing gloves or otherwise not able to operate the touch-screen.
It also recognises other commands including requests to open apps, as well as queries for information. Yes, it is a little bit like Siri on the iPhone 4S - but the responses we received were iffy at best. Here's a video of us trying to get the damn thing to work - we're hoping that the loud noise in the auditorium was what put S-Voice off, and we'll give a conclusive report when we get a full review.
Like past Samsung devices, S III comes with AllShare, a wireless sharing feature. AllShare lets you bounce files to any other DLNA devices like HDTVs and Windows 7 PCs, and if you don't own such a device, you can purchase the AllShare Cast Dongle to turn your old-timer TV into a Galaxy S III-friendly movie receptacle.
An NFC chip also paves the way for future e-wallet goodness - something that Samsung said at the event it is keen to push - but for now, it's used mainly in S-Beam, which when turned on can connect two devices and instantly send files and weblinks bewteen them. S-Beam works over NFC as well as 'Wi-Fi Direct', potentially opening the way for this sort of instantaneous exchange to be made between any two Samsung phones, even if it's not as high-end as the S III.
The Samsung Galaxy S III will be available in Europe on May 29. We'll have a full review up next week, but until then, here's the full specs and features.