Samsung Galaxy S III roundup: specs, accessories, features, dates and opinions

Daniel Bader

May 4, 2012 10:13 am

The Galaxy S3 is here, and it’s going to be one of the biggest launches of the year. Let’s run down what you can expect.

Specs
- Android 4.0.4 with a new version of TouchWiz
- 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display (1280 x 720)
- 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor (North American version), 1.4Ghz Exynos 4 Quad processor (international version)
- 1GB of RAM
- 16/32GB versions (64GB coming later) with optional microSD slot
- 8MP camera with no shutter lag, 3.3fps burst
- 1.9 front-facing camera with face tracking
- NFC with S Beam
- 2100 mAh removable battery
- HSPA+ (international version) and LTE (North American)
- 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm, 133g

Main features

The Galaxy S3, in addition to being thin, light and big, is a very iterative upgrade in terms of hardware. At launch there will be two models, Marble White and Pebble Blue. It will come to North America with a 1.5Ghz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, while international variants will get a quad-core Exynos 4 Quad chip. Before you get your pants in a bunch, as we showed on on the HTC One X, the S4 chip is plenty fast and plenty battery-efficient despite being dual-core. We’ll have to wait and see how much faster the Exynos 4 Quad is than the Tegra 3, but that shouldn’t discourage you from looking forward to the North American variant.

We’ve also heard that the versions that will come to Canada will retain the popular home button, eschewing the row of four capacitive buttons from devices like the Galaxy SII LTE and Galaxy Note. The phone has many improvements to its build quality, too, which Samsung is summing up as a ‘premium polycarbonate finish.’ There is a removable 2100mAh battery, a microSIM slot and room for a microSD slot up to 64GB in size.

The biggest features are the ones inside the software, and we’ll run them down for you really quickly:

S Voice - A Siri-like feature that responds to your voice. Ask questions like, “What is the weather?” or “Can you play this song?” and it responds quickly and intelligently. You can even launch apps like the camera, separating it from its Apple counterpart in many ways. It will support eight languages out of the box and be configurable with five custom activation methods.

S Beam - An advanced version of the Android Beam feature, S Beam creates a connection with another Galaxy S III using NFC and then uses WiFi Direct to perform a high-speed transfer across devices. Media such as photos, video, MP3s, web pages and contacts are compatible.

SmartStay - A feature that uses the front-facing camera to keep tabs on where your eyes are. If they are reading, the display will not dim. If you lie down and are holding your phone on an angle, SmartStay knows not to switch orientations.

Direct Dial - “It knows when you want to talk: if you’re messaging and want to call instead, simply lift your phone to your ear and it will dial your friend automatically.”

Social Tags - Uses face recognition to detect your friends and incorporate their social networking information directly into the gallery.

Pop-up Play - Uses picture-in-picture abilities to watch video while you’re messaging or browsing. Very cool feature seen in person.

Best Photo - The fast camera can take a burst of eight photos and automatically pick the best one based on facial recognition. It detects who has his or her eyes closed, etc.

AllShare Cast/Play - utilizes DLNA to beam media content and documents to your connected TV. Optional AllShare Cast dongle provides DLNA support to TVs that don’t have it.

Dropbox - Buyers of the Galaxy S III get their Dropbox storage increased to 50GB (much like buyers of the One Series get 25GB). Not bad, Samsung, not bad.

Music Hub - Overhauled interface and an iTunes Match-like feature. Offers 17 million songs for an unknown monthly price.

Accessories

AllShare Cast - As above, the dongle plugs into your non-smart TV and makes it smart, allowing for the wireless streaming of music, movies and photos to your television (Image courtesy of Engadget)

S-pebble MP3 add-on - It’s a 4GB MP3 player that syncs to your phone via a USB cable. No desktop needed.

Flip case - It’s a folio case. That flips.

Spare battery, HDMI dock, car dock, etc. - All these things will come in time.

Canadian Release Dates

At this time, it’s not known when the Galaxy S III will arrive in Canada, other than “this summer.” We also know that the LTE version will come to multiple carriers, likely Rogers, Bell and TELUS; the international version will likely be sold on the new entrants such as WIND, SaskTel and Mobilicity.

Considering the unlocked version is going on sale for £499 on Clove at the end of the month, it will likely sell for between $599 and $699 outright in Canada and the US.

Dual-core vs. Quad-core

With great speeds come compromise, or something along those lines. The international variant of the Galaxy S III will eschew LTE speeds for a quad-core Exynos processor. Initial benchmarks of the 4x Cortex-A9 SoC with an overclocked Mali-400 GPU show results that align with the Tegra 3. In other words, the dual-core Snapdragon S4 SoC is still faster than the the quad-core Exynos 4 chip. Not bad, Qualcomm.

Much of the marketing racket this year is going to be made over dual- vs quad-core, and by virtue of the “moar is better” mentality most consumers have, this will be a difficult battle for manufacturers to win. HTC is facing the same problem, as on paper the Snapdragon S4 chip is much less exciting than a solution with double the cores. But at this stage in the game, double the cores does not equal double the speeds. As we showed you in our One X review, the Snapdragon S4 SoC is currently the world’s fastest smartphone solution, period.

We’ll wait until retail versions of the Galaxy S III with its quad-core Exynos chip hit the market to pass judgement, but until then Snapdragon rules.

Samsung vs. Android

Samsung is playing a very interesting game with the Galaxy S III. By alluding to pebbles, water and many other earthly adjectives to describe its upcoming flagship, it is differentiating its product from the hoards of “droid”-like phones out there running Android.

The word “Android” was barely mentioned during the keynote today. In many ways it doesn’t matter; the Galaxy S III runs TouchWIZ, and it looks remarkably like its predecessor, which ran Gingerbread. Some think TouchWIZ is too cartoony, others too simplistic; others love it, some hate it. But we can all agree that since the original Galaxy S Samsung has kept its software aesthetic remarkably consistent, more so than any other manufacturer. Indeed, the features added to the Galaxy S III — S Voice, S Beam, AllShare Play, SmartStay, Direct Dial — these are all value-added features that can be disabled for whatever reason, but the company is trying very hard to make peoples’ lives easier.

As they said, the phone is made for humans, implying that previous Android devices, including former Galaxy S phones, were more difficult to use than they needed to be. Android has always been labelled as unstable, confusing and user-unfriendly. The SGS III is Samsung’s attempt to change this.

The Verdict

Is the Galaxy S III going to be the phone to buy this summer? Considering how much is riding on its launch, I’d say yes. It’s a capable, fashionable and ultimately worthy successor to the hugely popular Galaxy S II, and with Samsung’s brand power it promises to be equally successful.

What do you think, of the phone and of the surrounding accessory ecosystem sprouting around it? Will you purchase a Galaxy S III in June?

  • chris vassos

    I don’t see why carriers make us pay more for the phone outright. We are paying a monthly fee anyway so you should make it cost less.

    • Simble

      ANY phone on a 3 year contract should be free, no exceptions. Though 3 year contracts should also disappear

    • OneVersionForCanada

      The NA version has dual core, to use the rest of the battery on LTE.

      I don’t care for LTE, why pay more or the same in Canada, just to reach your cap faster, AND pay extra for the LTE radio AND pay by getting a lower battery life?? I’ll pass on LTE Thank!

      LTE is just like 3D on tv with glasses!
      I want a phone that works with a good battery life!
      International version it is!

      The thing is: This phone around $600
      or Galaxy Nexus around $430
      or Galaxy S2 for around $400( will drop very soon) to $300??

    • monsterduc1000

      OneVersionForCanada, Lte doesn’t use more information, it gets the information to you faster. MUCH faster!

    • Chris K

      Why?? Its because it is a $600 phone. Dont be ignorant and self-entitled! Carriers are a business, they need to make money too. The mark up on phones are soooo small in the carriers perspective. When you sign a contract and get a deal on the device, they are losing money for the first year of the contract. Dont be ignorant, our society is where its at because of people like you.

    • PkaTka

      At first I thought that the s3 looks like a crap. Now that I look at it, it actually doesn’t look too bad. The white version looks nice.

  • Sean

    I had heard that Samsung is bundling LTE with the Exynos version. Hopefully that is the case because as great as the S4 is Exynos’ have always been spec monsters

  • keiyui

    I’d happily let go of my Iphone 4S for this beauty.

  • tweak

    I’d like to see a lot of the software improvements come to the official ics for the note..

    • ExcessDan

      I bet you this is why they delayed the note ICS update.

    • nonchalant

      apparently they delayed ICS for the note because the initial release destroyed battery life

  • Dave Dee

    @DanielBader: Would be great to see a post comparing the S3 and One X, with your opinion on the winner?

    • Studystand

      I don’t think they have an S3 available for comparing purposes and won’t for a while

  • romes

    This is pretty much the same specs as the One X; aside from the storage and battery of course which is kinda important! I will still pick this up only because telus doesnt offer the One X and i’ll be damned if I ever go back to Rogers!

    • Cellfreak

      rogers only has exclusivity to the One X for 90 days. Telus and Bell will have it shortly after the 90 day honeymoon is over.

  • Charbel

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
    Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 DIE IN HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’LL GOT FOR THE INTERNATIONAL VERSION… WHO CARES ABOUT LTE ANYWAY!!! IT IS NOT EVEN THAT EFFICIENT IN CANADA, HSDPA+ IS MORE THAN ENOUGH !!!!

    • DaRazorback

      The S4 has been proven to be more capable, in every way, then the quad core processor in the international version. The only thing we are really losing is more storage space, but at least there is the option for external micro SD.

  • XER

    I am buying this thing outright while I travel to Asia this Sept. No contract BS, and will only to use it on a discount carrier like Koodo/Virgin. I only pay premium price for the device, not the service plan.

    • Matt

      You know, Virgin will likely get this phone. Maybe on a delay, but the chances are high.

    • XER

      To me, what these guys are getting is really meaningless to me. I have never used a locked phone and will never going to buy any locked phone and stuck into any contracts.

      I always buy my phone outright, unlocked. No more dealing with the carriers, no terms and contract and I always have the bargaining power to fight for lower prices. When Rogers makes me go on contract for the promotional plan without hardware subsidy, I simply fire them and move to Koodo. I buy a new phone every 6 months and I will always have the latest and greatest.

      I use my my tab to buy their Nexus S and sell it on Kijiji and get extra money. The Canadian cell phone model benefits the carriers too much and we as consumer have to make informed decision.

  • EddieWinslow

    If the NA version doesn’t have the exynos, I will be saving up to outright buy the International version.

    As fast as the Dual core is now, we know the Quad core is faster. Its only going to be a matter of time, until the OS and apps take full advantage of all 4 cores.

    • Monkey Face

      Why get a quad-core processor when a dual core performs better? You’re waiting around for apps to take advantage of the quad-core processor, but how long is that wait? By then, other companies will have better processors than the quad-core S3 setup.

    • Thoughtful

      Hasn’t the snapdragon s4 dualcore already been proven to outperform quadcore CPUs that are still based on the A9 architecture?

      # of cores does not equal performance.

  • Philip

    The new LG lte2 looks much nicer & has better hardware specs.i am also sure within a few months there will be apps that match everyone of those user experiences that are new in the galaxy S2(s), oops i meant galaxy 3

  • Rebellion

    Touch Wiz sucks. Can’t they just dump that crappy overlay and go with the native ICS environment?!

    • monsterduc1000

      For those of you who don’t like TouchWiz, replace it with a different launcher as that is all it is. I am currently using Nova Launcher, but LauncherPro, Go Launcher and ADW are all great as well.

  • Andy

    What?!? Where did this dual-core business come from? Samsung did not mention this yesterday? Where can this be confirmed that LTE will be dual-core?

    • Hugo Robitaille

      It’s not that impressive, HTC did the same thing with the HTC One X, the international HSPA+ version has a quad-core processor but the north american LTE version has a dual-core.

    • Cellfreak

      Seek and ye shall find. (that is a classy way of saying “google it dumb@#$)

  • northy

    great phone,, I will keep my nexus for travel and probably get this phone for day to day,, dual core quad core, who cares, even on computers hardly anyone is taking advantage of quad core yet,

    only thing this phone is missing is a projector, that would be awesome on a phone

    so I guess next we will see is . IStay,Ipop,Idial,Ishare

    • eddeh

      Samsung Galaxy Beam

  • Dycke Pound

    This is a fail. Wake me up when bb10 comes out.

  • Brendan

    So the only way to get the S3 with Exynos Quad in North America will be to import it? Lame!!!

  • Rob

    SaskTel is a “new” entrant? Small maybe (Sask only), but hardly new.
    Was this a typo, or is Sasktel likely to get the International?
    (Saskatchewan being very international lately :) )

  • RyanOver

    if the North American come with the S4 so what’s the difference betwen the SG3 and the SG2 HD LTE? I rather get the S2 and wait till summer 2013 when quad-core processor can have LTE and battery-efficiency

    • leobg

      @RyanOver, SGS2 HD LTE has S3 chip (last generation). This thing has S4. And there is never “right time” to buy a phone. The next one that’s coming will always be better.

  • tremfranz

    I doubt the new entrants(Wind/Mobilicity/Videotron) will get the international version as it doesn’t even support the AWS band (just as previous Exynos SoC). Sad tough…

  • Jerry

    Great summary and analysis Mobile Syrup.

  • jackfrost

    I’m in need for a new phone but can’t make up my mind. I was going to buy the HTC ONE X but found out that it can’t be used on Wind (unlocked of course!) Anyone know if the SG3 comes out to Rogers can it be used on the WIND network?

    • Lwi Htoo Paw

      Hey!

      We just need to wait and verify the LTE versions of the Samsung Galaxy SIII (it requires the 1700/2100 AWS Frequency).

      This is what is going to happen:

      The big three carriers (Bell, Rogers, Telus) will get the LTE variations – which will support the Mobilcity / WIND Mobile / etc. operating on the 1700/2100 AWS frequency. If that is the case, buy outright the devices from one of the BIG three companies – unlock the device (if not already unlocked – rule is that if you buy your device outright, then the carrier must unlock it for free or a fee – rogers charges $50.00 I believe)

      Now, the situation could change, whereby, the LTE version can be incorporated into the quad-core chipsets (however, I think that will not happen) – - then it is assumed that 1700/2100 frequency will be directly activated.

      My advice: wait until we get the full SPECs of the Radio (Modem) for the S3 units ; then we can determine what frequencies are support.

  • Lwi Htoo Paw

    Your #1 source (for tax-free, each cash sales) is Pacific Mall. Some stores told me it’ll be priced at $600, $700 & $800 (16/32/64 GB) respectively.

    Now, I just need confirmation that the International Version will be covered with Samsung Canada Warranty, I had an issue facing the Galaxy Note (N7000) – international version (not the I717 LTE) – the Samsung Support refused to support me first, but it was escalated to a supervisor/manager, then approved the warranty claim.

    Issues were that: if you buy an imported model (a.k.a international model – quad-core version), and that model is not the Samsung Canada’s system – then they can’t cover it under warranty) – Just as an FYI ….

    Still, I am going for the 64 GB with 64GB SDXC Card for a total of 128 GB!!! :):):)

  • Bulletwithbatwings

    Am I the only one who is totally turned off by Samsung/HTC/LG’s insistence on keeping physical buttons?? I want a true ICS experience on a next gen gevice- that means on screen buttons that rotate as the phone does, and disappear when watching a movie. This phone doesn’t even TRY to mimic ICS like the One X does- it includes the old Gingerbread symbols! Hopefully the new Razr goes doesn’t follow this trend… until then i’ll patiently stick to my Xperia X10

    • Jer

      Same I dont see the point of as physical button, I mean why the f would you need it. It’s like the physical keyboard, we got rid of it… now why not those lame buttons that take screen space.

  • David

    S Voice? Here we go again with the lawsuits from apple.

  • T1MB1T

    NO AWS!!! thats BS! Tony said he had it as a done deal! LTE and AWS are not compatible on the 1700/2100 frequency?! How is that even fair! we have the most megga hurts so we should have this phone! While it is totally true wind has no plans for LTE you MUST know our AWS is much faster and more better! Tony said today that it is the best and thats all that matters! The rumor that Wind will be like public and have a small niche market with phones that are not supported anywhere else is not true! WE will have a strong network with a phone line that will be exclusive! Also we do not care if T-Mobile is scrapping AWS! We can do this alone!

    WIND!!!!

    • Cellfreak

      Wind is terrible. I mean, unless you live in a coverage zone and never leave that zone, and call overseas a lot I guess they’re ok, but other than that? Awful.

  • Megahertz

    Praying T-Mobile gets this as it doesn’t seem to be Pentaband!

    It’s going to be amazing to watch what the modding community does with this phone!!!!

    Anyone want to buy a Galaxy Nexus around June/July?? lol

    • Cellfreak

      Nobody wants to buy a Nexus NOW, why would they want to later? ;p

  • peter

    I love this new phone. Bigger, clearer, faster, lasts longer, no shutter lag and more ways to connect than ever before. A real upgrade!!! unlike iPhone 4s(balls in your court now). Not ready to let go of my S2 just yet for it but if I had any other phone, I would get one in a heart beat. Still cant decide witch shape I like more, S2 or S3. S2 is still thinner and lighter. While the S3 looks more elegant in overall form. People had huge expectations for this phone seeing as the S2 was such a leap forward is CPU power. I still have trouble using any of my friends slower phones, you truly get spoiled with the speed of the s2. Now its S3′s turn to make my S2 feel sluggish lol. Congrats Samsung! You made a fine device and a worthy successor to the S2. You are the envy of all other smartphone makers.

    Now go and sell another 20million!!

  • Robert

    I definitely like the looks of it, although the overall size would usually be a bit much for my tastes. I do, however, like to actually hold a phone in my hand so I can better judge it’s appeal and practicality. But it’s a sweet looking unit, without a doubt.

  • synwars

    @Chris K
    Canadian carriers make more than enough money off their customers. Canadian mobile subscription charges are among the highest in the world. Three years, really? They see customers as numbers and really only care about profits. That is why to them, customers are only right 33% of the time.

    • Bill

      Why so glossy and rounded, this should win the ugly design award for 2012, but people will still buy it, I so disappointed with the design, going to purchase the HTC One X looks 10 times better with most of the same specs

    • jaydee

      If you don’t like 3 year contract then don’t sign it. Nobody is forcing you. Just buy the phone outright. Simple.

  • Roger

    And come this fall, comes the SG3 refresh running the Cortex A-14 Quad Core with LTE….

  • John

    The phone looks fantastic and the features Samsung has added actaully sound useful.

    Unfortunately, I have had so many issues with my Samsung Captivate that I will NEVER buy another Android phone again. I never had this many issues with either my Blackberry or with my iOS devices.

    Also, these 3 year contracts are absolutely horrendous. There should be a 2 year contract and thats it.

  • Handheld Addict

    “The Galaxy S3 is here, and it’s going to be one of the biggest launches of the year.”

    “At this time, it’s not known when the Galaxy S III will arrive in Canada, other than “this summer.””

    Then it’s NOT REALLY “here” yet, is it? Don’t say a device is “here” when it isn’t actually available for purchase. Announced, yes. Revealed? Sure. But it’s not here yet.

    Yes I’m cranky because I was hoping for an apple-style instant-launch where the device goes on sale right away.

  • Michael

    Had the galaxy s vibrant. Played with the galaxy sii… I’m so done with Samsung. Huawei is next for me

  • Jamie

    If North Americans are not getting the Quad core version I have to say I feel a bit disappointed from Samsung. That is a huge hardware hit even if the speeds on paper are not that different.

    This is suppose to be the “next best thing” yet in a few months someone will have a quad core with LTE capabilities and battery saving tech built into the chip. They should have gotten their act together instead of releasing two different phones and branding it as one. One is more the Galaxy 3 and the other (North America) Galaxy 2.5

  • B-Mac

    After seeing the unveil for it yesterday, i immediately went out and bought the HTC One X….S3 is ugly and has a bunch of useless features that i would neer use. and waiting till “summer” for S3 to come out was just not happening.

    • Nontobeko

      The only turn off is no sd card slot and 3.0 megapixel. Really sansumg 3.0? My epic 4g had 5.0 and its ten times smaller. But it does look like a good tablet

  • Eli muraya

    Samsung never fails to deliver,theSGS 3 is just what we expected. The user friendly operating system,the StaySmart and S Voice features,just makes it an object of desire this season.

  • ~peters

    BUYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY~~~~~!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • fred

    This phone delivers on everyones expectations. Samsung for the win!

  • Mark

    The SGS3 and HTC One X are both beast phones that are going to destroy the sales charts this year, but… I’ll honestly pass on both. 2013 is going to be a huge innovation from this year just like 2011 was from 2010. By next year, processors will will be quad-core Cortex-A15 design, LTE embedded and around 28nm. Batteries should be better too, Motorola already figured out how to fit a 3300mAh battery in less then 9mm of thickness, Samsung and HTC will probably be able to figure how to do that too. And who knows, if the batteries are capable enough they may even roll out 1080p screens as well.

    BTW I’m well aware that next year’s innovations won’t last long before something even better comes out, but you gotta try and buy at the most innovative time.

  • Paul Q

    Who said we like hardware buttons? I sure as hell didn’t.

  • Aaron

    am I the only person disappointed in the camera? I was really hoping they were going to hop on the decent shooter bandwagon with this one…

  • random

    Here we go again the godamn 3 year contract conversation. The thread is about the PHONE. Can you trolls not stick to a simple topic of conversation or is that too difficult? No one likes 3 year contracts, we get it. Why does it always have to be the topic of conversation here like a broken record?! TOPIC: SAMSUNG GALAXY S3, please discuss.

  • aaron

    im pretty sure the S3 has a normal sim slot not a micro sim

  • Stonedtree

    I understand that the snapdragon S4 chip is easier on the battery and still bench marks better in some cases. The thing is the new quad core Exynos chip from Samsung problebly isn’t utillized by current benchmark apps nore will there be many apps made that will uttillize all 4 cores in the near future. So forgeting about the One X (left in the dust)The big question is… Buy the international version and hope up and coming apps are built to utillize all 4 cores and deal with slower streaming speeds. or Get the sanpdragon LTE S4 version and get awsome streaming speeds and still have a beast of a chip that is easier on the battery. Its a no brainer Snapdragon S4 all the way!! anyone care to comment.

  • kat

    Has anyone heard when it might be coming out for Rogers?

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  • Drunken_slang

    already sold my Galaxy Nexus on ebay to buy outta my contract so I can hop on this when it comes out.

  • mike

    Wind only sells the G S3 on the tab if you preregistered before the phone’s launch.
    The Samsung Store in Metro town Burnaby BC does NOT sell the AWS version!