Rumors surrounding Samsung's next Galaxy have stretched far and wide over the last several months. In the wake of the wildly successful and popular Galaxy S II and the second coming of HTC, people have been looking to Samsung, questioning whether their next Galaxy will be a worthy successor to the world's most popular smartphone line.
As per usual, rumors started to soar. Others were much more modest. And entering today's announcement, the outcome could have been a multitude of different things.
On the lower end, rumors pointed to an 8-megapixel rear camera, dual-core Exynos processor, and a HD (720p) Super AMOLED display ranging from 4.6- to 4.8-inches. The upper end of the rumors led us to believe the next Galaxy would be quite a significant upgrade, claiming a 12-megapixel shooter and a 1080p Super AMOLED (possibly Plus) display, also ranging from 4.6- to 4.8-inches. Other rumored specs include 16GB built-in storage, 1GB RAM, a ceramic or metal chassis, color variations (blue and/or white), a 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos or dual-core Qualcomm S4.
In essence, we believed the Samsung Mobile Unpacked event could have gone one of two ways: they could either knock it out of the park or drop the ball. In the end, they knocked it right up the middle with a ground rule double.
Officially, Samsung's "next Galaxy" is called the Samsung Galaxy S III (big surprise) and, at least on paper, very similar to HTC's One X. And the specs are very close to some of the more reasonable rumors: a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD 720p (no plus, sorry!) display, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of 1080p video, 1.9-megapixel front shooter with 720p recording, 2,100mAh battery, HSPA+ (globally) or LTE (in select markets) and Android 4.0 beneath an updated TouchWiz interface. It will also be offered in different memory capacities (16GB, 32GB or 64GB). Storage will be expandable via microSD card slot. As far as processors go, Samsung didn't say much about them. But it is an accepted fact that the HSPA+ version will utilize the 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos that was announced last week. Presumably, the LTE versions will use another chip, likely the Qualcomm S4 (with Krait CPU).
The Galaxy S III will come in two color variations – Marble White or Pebble Blue – and it isn't immediately obvious what material it is made of. It appears to be plastic, instead of the ceramic or metallic materials rumored.
Some of the more interesting features of the Galaxy S III, however, are software-related.
First, the camera. It's no 12-megapixel sensor like the rumors may have claimed, but it has many software enhancements, such as facial recognition, best-shot and burst mode. It loads in 990ms (about one second) also has zero shutter lag, meaning you can continually fire off shots without having to wait. Also, like with HTC ImageSense, you can capture video and images simultaneously. (For more on the Galaxy S III camera, check out Aaron's hands-on video.)
Some of the other features are S Beam (Android Beam with file sharing and transfer rates up to 1GB in three minutes), S Voice (a Siri-like, smart voice control feature) and, possibly best of all, Smart Stay. Aside from the terrible name, Smart Stay is nerdy and awesome. If you want to stay on, say a Web page and keep the display on, you would normally have to touch the display to keep it form going to sleep. Smart Stay uses the front-facing camera to track your eyes and will keep the display on if you are still looking at the device.
When will the Galaxy S III be available, you say? Beginning May 29th, it will launch in Europe. Other markets – 296 operators in 145 countries – will soon follow. The LTE variants can be expected in the U.S. sometime this summer, and while no carriers were officially mentioned, sources tell The Verge Sprint is on the ticket to get the third-gen Galaxy S "soon".
The "next Galaxy" isn't anything jaw-dropping, mind-blowing or some crazy phone from the future ... or another galaxy, for that matter. It is just what we should have been expecting all along, a reasonable upgrade to the Galaxy S II and an incremental improvement over the Galaxy Nexus. But the question remains: are you still interested? Do you still want it?
Plain and simple, the Galaxy S III is a nice device. A great device, even. And it's even a little unique. It has a couple software features that no other devices will have for some time. And it looks ... different. The faux-brushed, Pebble Blue color and smooth, rounded edges certainly make it stand out amongst the crowd of black and white smartphones. But there isn't anything particularly miraculous about it. I was never really interested in the Galaxy S II line, and I feel the same way about the Galaxy S III. I'll be keeping my Note, and I will pick up an HTC One X this weekend.
All of that said, though, Samsung is notorious for slightly altering individual devices within the Galaxy S family for each carrier. Who knows, if a larger one (5.0-inches or so) comes to the U.S., I may just have to check it out. If I do, rest assured I will be picking up a white one. I'm not feeling the Pebble Blue vibe.
How do you feel about the Galaxy S III, ladies and gents? Is it everything you were (realistically) hoping for? Or is it more incremental than you imagined it would be? Will you be picking one up over a competing One device? Or has the possibility of a June-bound, next-generation iPhone stolen your attention?