Samsung to push Galaxy S III to 5 U.S. carriers

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Samsung Electronics is going big with its flagship smartphone. The company--the world's largest handset and smartphone maker--is releasing the device at five U.S. carriers at virtually the same time, and is and branding the gadget simply as the Galaxy S III.

The handset maker confirmed that Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), T-Mobile USA and U.S. Cellular will launch the device, beginning later this month, for as low as $199 on contract. Samsung first unveiled the Android 4.0-powered device at a press event in London in May.

The new strategy is counter to the tack that Samsung took with its Galaxy S and Galaxy S II models, released in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Then, Samsung customized the branding and even the hardware for each U.S. carrier. This time, Samsung is pushing its own branding and messaging, though it is still customizing the software for each carrier. The single brand will also allow Samsung to focus its advertising.

"When we're using our best device to tell our story, it allows people to understand very clearly who we are and has a cascading effect on other products," Todd Pendleton, Samsung's U.S. telecom marketing chief, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

The carriers launching the device have so far divulged varying degrees of information on their release plans. Verizon said pre-orders for the LTE-capable device will start June 6 and that the device will be available in the coming weeks. Verizon will sell the 16 GB version for $199.99 and the 32 GB version for $249.99 with a new two-year customer agreement.

Sprint will start selling the device for the same prices June 21. AT&T said it will sell the 16 GB version for $199 with a two-year contract, and that pre-sales will begin June 6. T-Mobile will sell an HSPA+42 version of the device starting June 21, but did not reveal pricing. U.S. Cellular said pricing will be available when pre-orders begin June 12, but the device will not be in stores until July.

Importantly, the U.S. versions of the device will run on a dual-core Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) S4 Snapdragon 1.5Ghz processor, and not Samsung's quad-core Exynos chip. Presumably, this is because Qualcomm's chip is able to integrate LTE radios. HTC too chose to go with Qualcomm for the LTE variant of its One X smartphone rather than stick with Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor.

Samsung's Galaxy S III features a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display at 720p resolution, 8-megapixel back camera and 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera with burst and best-shot capabilities (similar to the HTC One series), 16 or 32 GB of storage, Bluetooth 4.0 support, 802.11n Wi-Fi, NFC, and a 2,100mAh battery.

Further, Samsung's new "S Beam" technology expands on Android Beam, allowing a 1 GB movie file to be shared within three minutes and a 10 MB music file within two seconds by simply touching another Galaxy S III phone, even without a Wi-Fi or cellular signal. The phone also allows photos to be easily and simultaneously shared with others pictured in an image directly from the camera or the photo gallery. Users can also wirelessly connect the phone to a TV set their television to immediately transfer smartphone content onto a larger display.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this The Verge article
- see this CNET article
- see this GigaOM article
- see this AllThingsD article

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