Later today, Samsung — the largest phone manufacturer on the planet — will launch the Galaxy S3 at the Samsung Mobile Unpacked event in London. Other than Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5, which should arrive in the fall, the Samsung Galaxy S3 will be the biggest (and most anticipated) launch of the year.
Updated: We have now played with the phone! Read our hands-on review of the Galaxy S3.
Unlike the iPhone, though, which usually remains heavily wrapped in mystery until its unveiling on stage, we already know quite a lot about the Galaxy S3. While the following hardware specs won’t be confirmed until the actual launch event, most of the bullet points below can be reported with fairly high confidence.
- The Samsung Galaxy S3 will have a 720p or 1080p display. Depending on who you talk to, the S3 will either have last year’s HD Super AMOLED Plus 1280×720 display, or a first-of-its-kind, jaw-dropping 1920×1080 display. A 1080p screen is definitely possible, and would give the S3 an edge on other recently-released phones such as HTC’s One series. Screen size is expected to be somewhere between 4.6 and 4.8 inches; the S3 definitely won’t be a small handset. (Updated: Alas, no 1080p display.)
- The Galaxy S3 will ship with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich — but unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re a diehard Samsung fan) it’ll still be skinned with TouchWiz.
- There will be blue and white versions of the Galaxy S3 available at launch. It isn’t clear whether there will also be a black version, or if the blue version will simply be so dark as to appear black (like the Galaxy Note).
- There will be at least two major variants of the Samsung Galaxy S3 with different SoCs: One model will come with Samsung’s own quad-core Exynos 4412 SoC, a 32nm chip clocked at 1.4GHz, and another will sport Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon S4 Krait SoC, a 28nm chip clocked at (probably) 1.5GHz. The Snapdragon-powered Galaxy S3 will be sold by carriers with 4G LTE deployments (Verizon, for example), while the Exynos-powered S3 will be sold in 3G markets. Because LTE uses different spectrum bands all over the world, there will also be lots of regional variants of the Samsung Galaxy S3.
- The jury is still out on how powerful (and efficient) the quad-core Exynos 4412 is. Samsung’s extensive use of the dual-core Snapdragon S4 implies that the Exynos 4412 isn’t significantly faster or more efficient. The Exynos 4 series is the first Samsung chip to utilize per-core scaling and voltage adjustments, but other than that it’s a fairly humdrum quad-core Cortex-A9 part. Unlike TI’s OMAP4 orNvidia’s Tegra 3, there’s no low-power “companion core” to offload processing to. GPU-wise, the Snapdragon has the Adreno 225, which competes well with the Mali 400 in the Exynos 4. Ultimately, we’ll have to wait for some real-world benchmarks to see if the Galaxy S3 really makes use of all four cores.
- Memory- and storage-wise, the S3 will probably have 1GB of RAM and 16-32GB of storage; no big surprises there.
- Little is known about the camera, but rumors seem to suggest that the S3 will have a 12-megapixel rear shooter, but it could be as large as 16MP or as small as 8MP, too.
- The Galaxy S3 will have enough battery life to last a whole day, with moderate to heavy usage. This is part of an overarching scheme from Samsung to make sure all of its phones last from when you wake up until you go to bed — something that many of its recent phones haven’t been able to do. With the huge screen and the quad-core processor (and LTE on the Snapdragon-powered handsets), we assume that the Galaxy S3 will have a fairly beefy battery
ExtremeTech will be at the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S3, which is scheduled for 2pm EST today (May 3). Be sure to check back for lots of pretty photos of Samsung’s new fondleslab, and hopefully some hands-on impressions as well.
We’re also hoping for an answer to one of the most important questions: When will the Samsung Galaxy S3 launch in the US? We don’t think US carriers will botch the S3′s launch as badly as the S2, but who knows.