Samsung unleashes Galaxy S III, to hit U.S. in 'summer'

Samsung Electronics, as expected, unveiled the Galaxy S III at a media event in London, unleashing the sequel to its popular Galaxy S II smartphone just as it assumes the role of world's largest handset maker.

Samsung Galaxy S III

Click here for complete details on Samsung's new Galaxy S III.

The device runs version 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, and sports a quad-core, 1.4 GHz Exynos processor based on ARM Holdings' Cortex A9 architecture. The gadget also 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.

"The Samsung Galaxy S III is the best in class smartphone in the world," JK Shin, the president of Samsung's mobile business, declared at the event, according to The Verge. Shin said the Galaxy S III is launching in 145 countries via Samsung partnerships with 296 carriers around the world.

Samsung said the device will be available starting at the end of May in Europe before rolling out to other markets globally. The company confirmed it is planning a U.S. version of Galaxy S III, optimized for LTE and HSPA+ networks, which will be available in the summer of 2012. Samsung did not announce exact timing or pricing. Presumably, as Samsung has done in the past, the device will be available for a wide range of U.S. carriers, including variants for Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA. A Samsung webpage lists Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS), U.S. Cellular and C Spire Wireless as carriers that would support the Galaxy S III.

The device has several unique features, including the ability to detect a user's face, voice and motions. The device can recognize how someone is using the phone by having the camera detect a user's eyes. Additionally, the device follows voice commands, similar to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Siri.

Samsung also said its 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.

Samsung also said it would expand its Music Hub streaming service to include a scan-and-match feature enabling consumers to access their digital music library across multiple platforms and devices. (Click here for that story.)

For more:
- see this page
- see this FierceMobileContent article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Engadget post
- see this The Verge live blog
- see this Engadget live blog

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Article updated May 4 with additional information on which U.S. carriers would support the Galaxy S III.