Galaxy S III

It’s impossible to talk about the next Samsung flagship without first reflecting on the string of rumors, leaks and hype, both official and unofficial, that’s paved the way for what’s become the most anticipated Android phone of the year. The secrecy surrounding the device has been unprecedented, and the lack of verifiable information, combined with a tantalizing pool of rumors, has had the Android community buzzing for months. But today all the waiting, rumors and speculation can finally came to an end, as Samsung officially unveils the Galaxy S III -- a curvaceous 4.8-inch phone sporting a quad-core CPU, a 720p HD SuperAMOLED display and a new version of TouchWiz.

Join us after the break for the start of our full coverage of the Galaxy S III, including our complete hands-on video.

The Samsung Galaxy S III is perhaps best summarized with three S’s -- sleek, sexy and shiny. It’s available in two colors -- pebble blue and pearl white, and both versions feature the same glossy plastic finish with a metallic trim around the side. It’s a fingerprint magnet to be sure, but the Galaxy S III certainly isn’t lacking star quality -- it looks and feels like a high-end device, and Samsung’s made a clean break with some of its older design language in this new flagship product.

Galaxy S III.

“Inspired by nature” is the theme Samsung’s rocking in the Galaxy S III -- the manufacturer boasts that there are no straight lines anywhere on the phone (well, unless you open up the battery door). The device’s curves mean it sits nicely in the hand, much like the Galaxy Nexus, though the weight of the S III seems to be better-proportioned. And though it’s neither the thinnest nor the lightest of high-end smartphones, at 8.6mm and 133 grams respectively, its ergonomics are excellent. The curved chassis combined with the relatively light weight and lack of bulk means it feels natural in the hand, and fits easily into pockets without any sharp, pointy edges.

Proudly displayed on the front of the Galaxy S III is its 720p HD SuperAMOLED screen, which to our eyes seems to have slightly better color balance than the panel of the same type on the Galaxy Nexus. And while it’s a close call between this and the One X’s HD SuperLCD 2, we don’t think anyone will be disappointed with the display tech Samsung’s brought to bear on the S III.

Galaxy S III.

Under the display is the typical three-button setup we’ve seen on countless international Samsung phones, including the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note. That means you’ve got a physical home button and capacitive keys for menu and back. That’s right, the Galaxy S III packs the old-fashioned menu key -- the same button Google’s trying hard to get developers to leave well alone. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but it is a bit of a bizarre design decision.

Around the side, the metallic trim -- curved, naturally -- gives the phone an organic look quite unlike anything Samsung’s previously put out. And alongside the trim, you’ll find the usual power button and volume rockers on the right and left sides respectively. Camera-wise, you’ve got an 8MP rear shooter with LED flash and a 1.9MP front-facer. As you’d expect, the Galaxy S III does 1080p video recording without breaking a sweat, and like the HTC One X you can also shoot 6MP stills at the same time. Burst shots are supported too, and you can capture up to 20 at a time. And there's the usual selection of photo features like panoramic mode and various "scene" settings.

Galaxy S III.

Snap off the back of the phone and you’ll find a removable 2100mAh battery, alongside the microSIM and microSD card port. So you've got both removable battery and removable storage, in addition to the 16-32GB on-board. That's good news for data guzzlers and battery hoarders alike.

On the software side, the Galaxy S III runs Android 4.0.4 and the new version of Samsung’s TouchWiz UX, which packs a visual refresh as well as new features based around face recognition, NFC and Wifi Direct. For a complete breakdown of the Galaxy S III’s software, turn the page to our software walkthrough.

Continue to our Galaxy S III software hands-on