Our complete run-down of what to expect from Samsung on May 3

Android Central

If you’ve been following our news coverage over the past week, you’ll be aware that there’s a small epidemic of Galaxy S3 fever going around. With just days to go until Samsung unveils its new flagship smartphone at London’s Earls Court exhibition center, it seems like every few hours there’s a leaked image or rumor relating to the elusive device. And with such a high volume of unconfirmed reports, it can be difficult to filter out the genuine scoops from information that’s old, questionable or just plain wrong.

So we’re going to do our best to give you a complete run-down of exactly what we’re expecting from the Galaxy S3 -- from design, to branding, to specs, to release plans. Join us after the break as we unravel Samsung’s Galaxy S3 riddle.

Brandi​​ng

The title of this article should give you some idea of what we’re expecting here. Despite unconfirmed rumors of a “new Galaxy” or “new Galaxy S”, fuelled in part by Samsung’s campaign of hype, we’re pretty sure the final name will be “Galaxy S3.”

Branding-wise, there are more than a few problems with the purported “new Galaxy” name. Firstly, it leaves Samsung open to charges of copying Apple, a company that it’s been mercilessly targeting in its advertising. Even the official teaser trailer for the device takes a few seconds to poke fun at Apple’s followers, alluding to their being sheep. And then there was that cringeworthy “wake up” advertising campaign deployed in Australia, which involved picketing Apple stores with faux-protesters. The last thing Samsung wants to do is expose itself to accusations that it’s imitating the company it’s trying so hard (too hard, we’d argue) to skewer with advertising.

Android CentralWhat's more, the Galaxy S3 name is backed up by more than a recent few leaks. The Carphone Warehouse used the name in a “coming soon” listing, before swiftly pulling the reference and replacing it with “next Galaxy.” The name was also found among the keywords for the official Samsung Unpacked app, as well as the company’s own Kies software. Amazon Germany, too, featured the device under this name.

Also important is the fact that the S3 name just makes sense. It’s an obvious upgrade path for those 20 million or so Galaxy S II owners around the world, many of whom may have been confused by the suggestion that they upgrade from their Galaxy S II to a “Galaxy S.” And as we’ve pointed out before, the change to decimal numbers rather than roman numerals makes sense too, as it’s easier for your eyes to recognize and process at a distance.

Specifications

We’re of the opinion that importance of specs, particularly internal specs, is over-stated by much of the tech press, and fans at large. Beyond a certain point, for most users, it doesn’t matter how many cores or gigahertz or quadrant points a phone has going for it. In a mobile device, responsiveness of the user experience is mainly determined by software, not hardware. Screen size, quality, storage space and camera capabilities, on the other hand, all have a very real impact on how we use our phones.

But we digress. We’re expecting Samsung match the bar set by the HTC One X in terms of raw specs. The manufacturer’s already confirmed that the device (or at least one version of it) will carry its new quad-core Exynos 4 chip, which has four CPU cores spinning up to 1.4GHz, backed up by a higher-clocked Mali 400 MP graphics chip. Numerous leaks have suggested it’ll ship with 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot, and we fully expect to find all that stuff included.

As we’ve reported in recent days, our sources indicate that a LTE-connected, Qualcomm Snapdragon S4-powered variant will be offered in certain territories, including the United States.

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Screen size is a somewhat contentious issue, with various sources suggesting the Galaxy S3’s screen will measure anywhere from 4.6 to 4.8 inches. Based on the side-by-side comparisons with the Galaxy Nexus in a leaked video from Vietnam, we’re thinking it’ll be closer to 4.6 -- maybe 4.65, matching the Nexus. Then again, things change, and there’s no guarantee that the device shown in the video is the finished article.

1280x720 is the new standard resolution for high-end smartphones, and we're sure Samsung will deploy this res on the S3. Being a flagship Samsung phone, SuperAMOLED of some description is a dead cert. We’ve heard nothing of whether it’ll be SuperAMOLED Plus, which leads us to believe it’ll probably be plain old SuperAMOLED, like the Galaxy Nexus. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll look exactly like that phone’s screen, though. We’ve noticed many, many differences in the quality and brightness of qHD SuperAMOLED panels on competing devices, so there’s every chance that the Galaxy S3’s screen may offer some improvements over that of the GNex.

Competing rumors suggest the S3 will feature an 8 or 12-megapixel rear camera, though few details about camera technology have emerged. Really, once you get to the 8 or 12MP level, the quality of the image is dependent on other factors, like sensor quality and pixel size, more than sheer megapixel count. We’ve got little to go on, but we hope Sammy focuses on these things rather than just trying to win the numbers war.

Software-wise, the Galaxy S3 will run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and a new version of Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. No surprises there.

Design

If there’s one aspect of the Galaxy S3 that’s remains shrouded in a thick fog of mystery and confusion, it’s the physical design. Samsung’s employed a Cupertinoesque level of security to protect the final design of its new flagship from prying eyes -- we’ve heard that until recently only Samsung higher-ups were authorized for field testing (behind protective plastic dummy cases, naturally.)

We’ve seen a slew of alleged Galaxy S3 images since January, most of them obvious fabrications. Over the past week or so, however, we’ve started to see two competing designs emerging, both reminiscent of a flattened Galaxy Nexus.

Galaxy S 3

On the left, we’ve got a buttonless device with on-screen keys. On the right is a similar design (barring the plastic dummy case, of course) with the traditional Samsung three-button setup. Both originate from different leaks, and there’s nothing to indicate which is the more recent version of the device. As we learned at MWC with Sony, and with HTC at Frequencies in Seattle, smartphones go through a number of design iterations before going to market, many of which end up undergoing real-world field testing. So there’s really no telling which, if any of these is the final S3 design.

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Our opinion, for what it’s worth, is that we’ll get the one with physical, not on-screen buttons. That's mostly just our gut feeling, but it’s also based on the fact that Samsung’s Olympic branding features the three-button setup. With Samsung being a big Olympic sponsor, and rumors suggesting the games in London will feature heavily its marketing of the device (official phone of the Olympics, anyone?), it makes sense that the flagship product matches the existing Olympic branding.

Availability

Indications are that Samsung won't wait long to launch the Galaxy S3 internationally, following the May 3 announcement. In a recent interview with UK blog TechRadar​, Samsung's Simon Stanford questioned the practice of having a delay of several weeks or months between announcing a product and launching it -- "commercially, you have to question that; plus it presents a challenge by putting you in a position where everyone knows what you're up to."

Apple has traditionally excelled at bringing iOS devices to market in a very short space of time following their announcement, with the usual lag time being just a couple of weeks. There are rumors that Samsung will launch the S3 hours or days after the London event, but we don't think this is particularly likely, mostly for logistical reasons. Nevertheless, we fully expect to see the device on European store shelves well before the end of May.

As for availability on U.S. carriers, there are a number of (mostly contradictory) rumors floating around, and nothing to indicate what's going on with the eventual U.S. launch, besides the fact that it'll be powered by a different CPU. The U.S. will almost certainly get it later than Europe and Asia, mostly due to the additional testing and customization that'll be required by American networks. Our fingers are crossed that we won't have to deal with another five-month delay, as was the case with last year's Galaxy S II. Naturally Samsung will be wanting to avoid this kind of frustration, too.

So that's the sum of everything we know (or think we know) about the Samsung Galaxy S3. If there are any major developments between now and May 3, we'll update this article to reflect them. In the meantime, stay tuned to AC for all the latest S3 news, and full coverage of the device on launch day.

 

Reader comments

Unravelling Samsung's Galaxy S3 riddle

47 Comments

Yea I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see this s3 hit all american networks until July - August, and maybe lastest September. Considering verizon cant even push out a 4.04 update to a stupid damn aosp device, the idea of them releasing a phone on target should be a joke as well, unless your Motorola. Sprint I can see a july-sept release frame which works for them anyway considering there LTE launch and having the Evo 4G LTE to help em along until this releases. Rest of the carriers such as att and tmobile nothing to say it couldn't come out on time considering gsm and sim cards, minus a lte version for att if they so chose to do so.

oh a bit more fuel to that verizon, aosp pun.. Sprint galaxy nexus launched with 4.04, and has a new leaked 4.04 ODIN build already. FD01.. So wtf is the real question to be had with vzw and there gnexus.

The real question to be had about Verizon in general is that they SUCK MAJOR EGGS the worst carrier in the United states plain and simple. It really shows how much they care about the Galaxy Nexus in general and all there customers who flocked to there LTE network dying to have a Nexus. They allowed Sprint to ONE UP them by launching the Sprint Version with 4.0.4 while we have been SADLY stuck on 4.0.2. And not to mention google wallet and google shopper on the Sprint version while we had to use an XDA work around just to have google wallet. Sadly i left Sprint for Verizon just for the right of having my first ever pure android device knowing full well for the last 2years Verizon was the WORST in the update game but i gave them a shot. Bad move on my part they baited me with the double the data promotion and i jumped on it like a pig in shit thinking 10gb of data LTE would be better than unlimited data on Sprint BULL SPIT. There network is very unstable in areas of Manhattan where LTE is suppose to be king according to Verizons coverage maps my Gnex spent more time switching from LTE to 3G so many times daily that it's the biggest joke in the industry. Many times no LTE is available not to mention the pitiful signal strength throughout New York City. These issues was disscused in the forums at length days after the December 15th launch and till thisday still NO CHANGE and sadly NO UPDATE EITHER. I brought 2 lines over from Sprint to Verizon and trust me i have paid dearly on Verizon for these 2 lines ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. On google plus Mr. Jean Baptiste proved to me i made a major mistake going to Verizon with his article today so now i must do something about this. Thank GOD for GOOGLE no carrier is bigger than android or it's platform. I will sell my Verizon Galaxy Nexus which is in the process of being done. I will purchase the GSM Galaxy Nexus and place it on Tmobile gladly. I got a great deal on tmobile unlimited data, wifi calling, plus they threw in for free 10gb of tethering data for my laptop and 700 minutes for 2 lines at 90 dollars they were so happy to have me knowing i am leaving Verizon. My GSM GALAXY NEXUS will arrive Wednesday then will port my number to tmobile then it's over thank god. Now i will get direct google updates and finally have a back plate of my phone that says GOOGLE instead of Verizon 4g Lte. In short PISS ON VERIZON. NOTE: If your on Verizon and you have an Galaxy Nexus GET OFF VERIZON IF YOU CAN you will NEVER SEE Jellybean that's for sure. Think of this real hard the next Galaxy Nexus due out in December 2012 will be made by Samsung again and sold in the google play store time to show google and samsung how much we love our Nexus devices. My second line will be occupied by the Galaxy Note 2 that will be on tmobile come June 2012 and Yes it has ICS imagine the GALAXY NEXUS and GALAXY NOTE 2 on Tmobile and they claim Verizon is best....NOT.......

Nice article.

In the US I really don't think we're going to see it before September or so at the earliest. Wasn't Sprint the first to launch the S2 in the US and that was in September? It would be weird to have the successor launched so soon, especially for carriers that didn't get the S2 right away.

Yes, Sept. 16. Sprint will probably be 1st or second, and I don't see it happening until at least August.

How can they afford to wait months to launch the S3 when the HTC One X, seemingly its main competitor, launches on May 6th and is already available for pre-order?

This may come back to bite Samsung pretty hard, especially if the S4 processor, physical buttons, and 720 pentile display all become a reality. Samsung already won't have a major selling advantage over the One X, and if it shows up 4 months later it may be too late.

Edit: Of course Samsung will probably crush HTC in international sales, but who knows.

mannn i really don't understand everyone's problem with the S4 processor?! the S3 in m EVO 3D is really fast and meets my needs. i think u just wanna be able to say your phone has a quad-core, which wont impress most people beyond them saying "ohh that's cool, i guess." Then they will ask," so what does that do for you?" then you will say, "makes the phone really fast." then they pull out their iphone 4S and demonstrate that their phone is just as fast as your phone with a quad-core.

WTH do you see a Verizon exclusive? All the carriers are going to have different versions of the phone as always. lol

Not like always, verizon did not take the galaxy s2 last year so they could in all possibilities not take this one either cause they can't name it droid whatever

Sprint was the first to have the S2, so chances are good it'll have the S3 sooner than the others, or the same time. Doubt it'll be the same situation as the Nexus. I wasn't willing to wait around for this, so I got my Sprint Nexus last week and I love it.

Hate when people say my "sprint guy" I worked for sprint. Unless they work in the engineering dept, they have no idea. Especially if they work at the store or call center. They hardly know what phones are already out.

I was told by my Sprint guy that it will be released yesterday... I guess we'll have to see who is right.

Looking at the side by side pic of the dummy phone case and the most recent leak I feel like i can almost make out the phone's true design in the corners of the dummy case. The only thing is the Samsung logo is at the bottom where the home key should be.

Unfortunately, I'll be on the EVO LTE by then. Nice enough phone, but I have to make a move before September...

I want to make moves before then too... I was thinking that i would prob take the EVO LTE over the S3 even if they came out at the same time. I'm really thinking i would prefer the IPS LCD over the AMOLED. I like to read on my phone a lot and i think LCDs are easier on the eyes. Also, the new EVO's design really has grown on my. it stands out, the S3 probably won't as much especially if it is going to look like an S2 without buttons or a Gnex with buttons... notice how i haven't mentioned the processor. you know why? it isn't going to matter. both phones are going to be as fast as they need to be whether they have an S4 or T3.... i just want to add that i think it is really funny that this crowd has been complaining about having to still use a duel-core phone prob because they dont think it is future proofed enough, but it is the same crowd that upgrades their phone every year so it doesn't matter anyhow.

Last year HTC proved that incremental small upgrades with tons of phones meant huge profit losses. Based on the leaks so far, I think Samsung is going to pull an HTC this time. The S4 processor (for the US) while still awesome is seen as incremental, especially when we know that awesome 1.4Ghz and better quad core awesomeness exists. Some will even consider a S4 processor a letdown. 720P screens have made there entrance several months ago and are now S.O.P. for high end manufactures. Materials and build has never been Samsung's ability and even moderate improvements will be needed to meet the competition. It will likely be running proprietary software which is also a week point for Samsung compared to stock ICS & sense 4.0. I was so excited about this device but my excitement is dwindling.

I don't see how it would make sense to do this:
Galaxy S = Super AMOLED
Galaxy S2 = Super AMOLED Plus
Galaxy S3 = Super AMOLED

Why would they downgrade the screen? Would the upgrade to 720p = use older technology?

whats the point if those rumors are true i dont see any real improvement over what we have right now.

First: Super AMOLED instead of Super AMOLED Plus.
Second:Just an overclocked version of the mali 400 GPU.
And so on if those rumors are true they are just dropping the ball to HTC this year

isnt it superamoled HD? + Does that picture mean(hint) there will be the phone, 7-inch, and 10.1 inch version?

The difference being
Galaxy S = Super AMOLED (800x480)
Galaxy S2 = Super AMOLED Plus (800x480)
Galaxy S3 = Super AMOLED (1280x720)

It's always a Pentile layout, the only difference being that the Plus makes it RGB rather than RGBG and adds to the sub-pixel count. The only drawback to the RGBG and even still the RGB is that it can't produce TRUE whites, giving them a slight green. blue, orange, or yellowish, tint. Quit fussing. You're getting a screen that you cannot see the pixels of with the naked eye.

Traditional RGB matrix, as in Super AMOLED Plus and most LCD displays, is clearly not pentile. I think you are confused as to what pentile actually means.

When is T-Mobile going to step up to the plate with a Top-of-the-line phone??? Is their marketing proud of the S1, the "we're not as good as the Big Boys" approach? Really?? Does anyone know if T-Mo will be a player here?

Also, will the S3 be another non-removable battery phone? Does anyone else see a trend here? Can we let the manufacturers know that we don't care if the phone is super-amazingly-thin. Put a removable battery in there so we can carry a spare!!!

Just ranting...

DonT

Honestly, the specs don't matter anymore. Most new top of the line phones will have sufficient specs..what really matters to me anyway, is how much touchwiz will be on it and will the freaking wallpaper scroll!? They seem to want to do away with scrolling wallpaper...I know it is a weird thing to be annoyed by but on ics galaxy s2, you can't make it scroll even when you change launchers (except if you use a gingerbread launcher like Launcher Pro or ADW ex) but on all ICS launchers, it wont scroll...so What is the new version of touchwiz going to be like? I wish they'd leak that somewhere

Nice breakdown. I too felt the 3 physical button design made sense in following their previous design, but deducing from the Olympic branding is brilliant. I agree that will be the European version with different versions with ridiculous names coming to carriers in the US and Canada.

It is easy to get distracted by chip specs, but to a nerd like myself it's hard not to get excited over specs even if it doesn't necessarily translate to a better or faster experience. What I've found is most important to me is screen quality and camera quality. These two things are what stopped me from FINALLY getting a Nexus on Verizon - what a disappointment to hear (after the initial hype and excitement) that the screen and especially the camera are "less than".
Perhaps the 2 core + LTE version will be great, but the nerd in me wishes I could choose the brand new hotness processor over LTE.

So here's to hoping that Samsung delivers on the screen and camera as the did with the S2 and that perhaps they ease back on their Wiz (but tbh TW4 was a big improvement).

What was not mentioned is the blue and white paint blobs. Is it possible we'll see the phone offered in these colors instead of it being "another black slab"?

i own the international version of the original SGS. if the "S3" will have that chrome design around the front, sad to say, byebye samsung. it's almost time for me to get a new phone and i'm just holding out to see how would the "S3" will turn out. if it's the same plastic feel with chrome design as the old SGS, then one HTC One X for me please...

What about the blue and white blobs in the Samsung ads/teasers? Do you think this will come in blue and white colors (as well as black)? Since those where the only thing in the first announcement, seems they might be there for a reason.

Maybe. But here's the thing - the Note also came in blue and white, just the blue is so dark (and only used on the battery door) that it jusy looks like black.

Why do people care???? The first galaxy didn't work and the battery was deplorable. I gave it chance after chance. Until Samsung gets their battery technology worked out, they won't have product worth buying.

Its curious to me that the S3 was announced to be unveiled shortly after the Evo 4G LTE was revealed. Its like Sammy is saying "don't pre-order that Evo just yet". But with that in mind, I don't see Sprint releasing the S3 so soon after their flagship Evo phone.

maybe i just don't know enough .. but why do they have to change the chipset when Korea is running LTE ..

wouldn't the S3 in Korea run on LTE with their quad core chipset?

if so.... looks like i'll be asking my family over there for a favour