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Samsung Galaxy S3: rumour round-up

UPDATE: After the triumph of the Samsung Galaxy S2, it’s little wonder that its successor, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is getting iPhone levels of hysteria in the run up to its reveal. With Samsung failing to deliver this near-mythical handset at Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, speculation is the only thing we have to go by. While we urge Samsung to call us right now and reveal all there is to know about their upcoming flagship handset, until they do, or until they announce everything, here’s what we think we know…

Quad-core CPU. Having been almost certain that the Samsung Galaxy S3 will feature a quad-core mobile chipset – either a Tegra 3 or Exynos – leaked benchmarking figures back that up. However, what was expected to be a 1.5GHz processor may in fact be a 1.4GHz Samsung Exynos 4 running quad core. Having reviewed the Asus Transformer Prime, we can first hand attest to the incredible performance improvements these extra cores pack. Web sites fly and video is a breeze, even dreaded file formats such as MKVs playback beautifully with third party players, perfect to view on the Samsung Galaxy S3’s 4.5-inch screen. This is even more likely with HTC (Samsung’s main rival) rumoured to be introducing a quad-core phone next month.

UPDATE 2: The GPU that we expect the Galaxy S3 to make use of, may have just played its hand, accidentally of course. It would appear that one engineer ran GLBenchmark on a Samsung GT-I9300 and forgot to remove the results from the site’s page in time. One eagle-eyed user spotted the results before they were taken down again and shared his discovery.

The scores correspond to GLBenchmark’s off-screen 720p test, often used with raw GPU performance in mind and the I9300 does not disappoint. Not only does it score 92.2, dwarfing fellow quad-core contender the HTC One X (which scored 64.9), but it only loses the top spot to Apple’s iPad 3 (which scored 139.2). That being said, for a phone to even approach tablet territory in this way is impressive.

The initial word was that the Samsung Galaxy S3 was expected to utilise a tweaked version of the same Mali-400MP GPU seen in its predecessor, the Galaxy S2, but these scores suggest that either the the S3’s Mali chip has been tweaked and modified beyond recognition, or more likely, it’s utilising a completely different GPU altogether. It’s also worth noting that the scores here probably don’t reflect the final release hardware and hopefully, we can expect even greater things by the time the S3 officially launches.

UPDATE 3: Since our last update on processors two things have changed. Firstly, Samsung have released information on two new chips, the new Exynos 4 Quad – the quad core headed for the S3 and the Exynos 5 Dual, their next-gen dual core that many are saying is offering up some impressive performance, no that dissimilar from the quad-core chip.

The second element to this update is that word has it a Samsung spokesperson who didn’t want to be named (funny that) has all but confirmed that although the Samsung Galaxy S3 will be available as a quad core phone in markets such as Europe and Korea, the US variant is far more likely to sport a dual core chip and not the brand new Exynos 5 dual core we mentioned above, but Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4. An excellent chip (also found in the HTC One S) in its own right, but not the hardware tech-savvy Samsung fans in the US were hoping for. Apparently, such outrage has ensued on Twitter with many stating their intentions to import a quad core S3 from elsewhere.

4.5-inch screen? Yes, well, somewhere between 4.5-4.65-inches, or at least that’s what we’ve been led to believe. The Samsung Galaxy S3 was rumoured to feature a large, HD Super AMOLED+ probably with a 720p resolution. However, what is believed to be the first GLBenchmark for the next Galaxy S (model number GT-19300) includes a HD screen with a resolution of 1196 x 720. Size-wise, it won’t get too big in terms of the display so as not to compete head on with the Samsung Galaxy Note which will still feature heavily into 2012 with its unique form factor and S-Pen. The question is, will the screen of the Samsung Galaxy S3 adopt native HD aspect ratio perfect for high definition video or will it be nearer the old school WVGA aspect ratio, better suited for those 6×4 12-megapixel camera stills. Time will tell.

And yes, we definitely did say 12-megapixel stills. With the rumour based on a suspected leak from Samsung themselves. Sony have officially announced the Xperia S, with a 12-megapixel snapper in tow and Samsung aren’t ones to be outdone. We expect nothing less than big numbers when it comes to the sensor, and small numbers when it comes to aperture. Will we finally see an f/2.0 camera phone?

Layout change. From what we can gather from this leaked picture of the Samsung Galaxy S3, the central home button that characterised its older brothers seems to have been removed in favour of the ICS control bar at the bottom. The logo itself has been moved down too, possibly leaving the empty space at the top for carrier branding, like we have seen happening with some US versions of the S2. 

Internals will probably include 2GB of RAM and at least 16GB of storage out of the box. If Samsung take the road of their Tab 10.1 or Sony’s Xperia S, there’s every chance the Samsung Galaxy S3 won’t be expandable, instead coming in a 16GB, 32GB and possibly 64GB variant. That said, for the sake of wishful thinking, an optimistic, not unfathomable prediction would be that 32GB of storage could end up on board out of the box, and the GS3 will also be expandable. Please?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 has Infrared, why shouldn’t the Samsung Galaxy S3? Being an oversized phone, there isn’t much in it between its size and a remote control. We know we’d love the idea of a super powerful IR port on our mobile offering three metres plus of TV remote control capability. IR isn’t something you see much on smartphones anymore, however since we reviewed the Motorola XOOM 2 Media Edition and used the IR on it all the time, we’re not all that adverse to a come back, until that is, Bluetooth TV remotes kick off.

A waterproof Galaxy S3. Yes, its not totally beyond the realms of possibility especially after Fujitsu did it with their Arrows. Apple and Samsung are rumoured to be exploring HzO waterproofing technology, a nanotech spray, which means you’ll be able to dunk your shiny new smartphone in water and it will still work. The question for us is would people actually want to dunk a £450 smartphone in water?

Ice Cream Sandwich Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t really a rumour – rather an expectation. Leaked specs suggest the device will run Android: 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich. Short of a huge compatibility issue, the Samsung Galaxy S3 will be running Ice Cream Sandwich, like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. What we’ll also see in the Samsung Galaxy S3 however is Ice Cream Sandwich coupled with TouchWiz. Will it be TouchWiz 6.0? Will the Samsung Galaxy S3 offer a more sympathetic skin over ICS than the leaked GS2 Rom? Let’s hope so.

NFC is pegged to be taking off in London in time for the Olympics this summer. Google wallet are looking to launch NFC in London in time for the Olympics this summer. Samsung are probably going to use the Olympics to springboard their new flagship to the forefront of everyone’s mind. How? NFC of course. Neither the Samsung Galaxy or Samsung Galaxy S2 include the chip, but it is found in the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S, so they have plenty of experience with the technology. Couple that with the fact that Samsung are working with Visa Europe to provide contactless payments at the Olympics and we’re definitely expecting to see it in the new flagship.

Price. A pre-order page for the Samsung Galaxy S3 that appeared on Mobile City Online listed the price at $799.99 (roughly £510), which doesn’t seem too far from the original RRP of the Samsung Galaxy S2. 

So that’s our list of predictions and wants. Agree? Disagree? Want your Samsung Galaxy S3 to turn into an automaton and give you back-rubs on demand? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, while there’s still speculation to be had.

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