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Samsung Galaxy S3 launch: What to expect

We’re not putting a lid on the flow of news surrounding the Samsung Galaxy S3 just yet, but with less than three days until launch at Samsung Unpacked in London, we thought we’d piece together all that we know in order to bring you the fullest picture of Samsung’s next flagship that we can.

S3 back concept

Galaxy S3: What’s in the name?

Samsung have in the past reserved the Galaxy name for their premium handsets, originally with the introduction of the Galaxy S in 2010 and the Galaxy S2 last year. However as 2011 progressed the Galaxy name rolled out to a host of mid-range Android devices in Samsung’s lineup.

The Galaxy S3 is set to take the 2012 crown, offering up the best Samsung have right now, looking to take on the likes of both Apple with the upcoming iPhone 5 as well as HTC’s new flagship, the One X. As far as we’re aware, the device that we’ve seen time and time again known as the GT-I9300, is the Samsung Galaxy S3. If Samsung get creative and call it something else, we hope they don’t adopt Apple’s latest iPad naming convention and go with The New or Next Galaxy.

Design

S3 conceptThe physical attributes of the Galaxy S3 have probably been the longest running point of contention between the numerous sources providing varying levels of authenticity (as far as we can tell), with at least four or five different designs of note emerging at one point or another.

Some of the more recent images have cropped up multiple times and a development yesterday gives us what we think must be the closest thing to a final design. Kicked off by a fuzzy spy shot sent into Phone Arena, we caught a glimpse of a fairly complete shell at the very least.

With a rounded top and bottom more in line with the Galaxy Nexus than the Galaxy S2, this concept also kept the central hardware button (with a backlit border) skirted by the capacitive menu and back keys. This rounded design reappeared in a supposed scan from a leaked GT-I9300 user manual, showing not only the front, but a back cover, suggesting, but not guaranteeing, a removable battery and microSD card slot access too.

Hardware

The internals of the S3 might still seem a bit foggy, but there’s one thing we’re almost certain of, processor; the S3 will come running Samsung’s own chipset, the Exynos 4 Quad to be exact, which they announced last week (and if it doesn’t we’ll eat our hat), clocked at 1.4GHz.

Interestingly enough, there’s talk of a dual core Galaxy S3 for the US market (which is unlikely to run the new Exynos 5 Dual sadly, but more likely Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4), most probably due to the lack of support for LTE radios on existing quad core architecture.

Expect graphical prowess to be ‘up there’ too as benchmark results left on GLBenchmark’s website suggest that raw GPU power is beyond that of its Tegra rival (as found in the HTC One X). Many suggest that the Mali 400MP found in its predecessor is responsible for the graphics department, but based on what this artificial benchmark, we are going to assume it’s something different entirely.

RAM is likely to be offered in spades with up to 2GBs, about the same as your average desktop computer and we expect onboard storage to sit somewhere in the vicinity of 16GBs. That there will likely be a removable back cover suggests expandable memory is a viable option – lets hope so. If not, on board storage may well be locked at around 32GBs.

camera S3

The Galaxy Nexus was a little under whelming for those shutterbugs who’d hoped for something a little beefier as it came with a modest 5-megapixel snapper, meanwhile a number of rival flagships were already pushing for 8-megapixels. Based most reports, the S3 will offer up a wholly capable 12-megapixels camera unit with 1080p HD video and frankly we expect nothing less, though one video leak of the S3 pits its camera at 8-megapixels. One thing that the leaked imagery doesn’t show anywhere, is sign of a hardware shutter key, a disappointment we found with the Galaxy S2 as well.

Some had hoped for a 1080p display, but in realistic terms, expect the S3 to run a 4.8-inch 720p HD Super AMOLED display. If we’re to follow the belief that the S3 will keep the hardware and capacitive keys at the bottom, then the on screen ICS navigation buttons would be deemed redundant and as such, the screen resolution should measure in the region of 720×1184 too (289ppi).

Lastly, that quad core will demand a hefty battery and we reckon we’ll either see a decent 2050mAh or a mammoth 2,200mAh cell, hopefully giving the rest of that hardware enough power for at least a solid day. With an increasing number of devices offering it and its inclusion in variants of the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, NFC is should also feature in some capacity.

User Experience

First and foremost, the S3 will come running Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Its predecessor has already made the step up to the latest version of Google’s mobile OS and for Samsung to give the S3 anything else would be a very foolish move indeed.

Being Samsung, we can also expect Touchwiz, hopefully version 5.0 and a repertoire of specialised apps and services, such as the Samsung Apps store. One additional feature that is slated to debut alongside the S3 is S-Cloud, Samsung’s upcoming cloud-storage solution. Not unlike the multitude of other mobile cloud services that have cropped up, S-Cloud will offer S3 owners not only an online storage locker for their files, but has been suggested to offer access to a multitude of free and paid content such as movies, TV shows and music.

S-Cloud will also be accessible from other Samsung products like laptops too. We’re not yet in a position to speculate on available capacity figures, but if its rivals are anything to go by, users will be given a grace period in which they will have a larger amount of storage without charge, which will then drop down to a smaller limit unless the user continues to pay.

Availability

As it stands we’ve only had official confirmation from Vodafone and O2, both carriers stating that they will stock the “next Galaxy” device. Orange told us that they can’t comment on rumour and speculation, meanwhile T-Mobile are yet to get back to us, but we’ll update you when they do. The only indication of pricing is a purchase page that leaked from Mobile City Online, which quotes price at $799.99 (around £510) SIM free, which due to the nature of this device, seems like a good estimate at the very least.

Unpacked

It’s worth bearing in mind, the Unpacked event isn’t just about the Samsung Galaxy S3’s launch what with the suggestion of S-Clound. Perhaps Samsung will have on display a host of other products, a mid-range 4-inch power house? Samples of their MWC line-up? With only two days to go before the big reveal, you won’t have to wait much longer to find out. With new rumours and confirmations in the meantime, we’ll be updating this article so check-back for the latest news on what many are anticipating to be the greatest handset of 2012, whatever it ends up being called.

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