Now that Samsung has outed its Galaxy S III, it's time to ask the question: "So what's new?"
While the form factor of the smartphone hasn't changed much, a bunch of new Galaxy S III features set it apart from the previous-generation Galaxy S II. We're not just talking about your normal, everyday specs -- the 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, the 2-megapixel front-facing camera, the 16/32GB storage with up to 64GB storage available via the microSD slot -- we're talking about the features that set the Galaxy S III apart from other smartphones. Here are the features we saw at Samsung's Next Galaxy event in London that opened our eyes.
The screen is huge, up from 4.3 inches on the Galaxy S II. A 4.8 inch screen makes it one of the largest displays on a flagship phone there is. Compare with HTC's One X (4.7 inches), the Motorola's Droid Razr Maxx (4.3 inches), and Apple's iPhone 4S (3.5 inches). The resolution is 1280x720.
Samsung introduces 'S Voice' on the Galaxy S III. To wake the phone up and activate the voice sensor, you simply say "Hi Galaxy!" and the phone wakes up; no need to push a button. Other voice commands, in addition to the stock ones in the Google Voice Actions catalogue: Using your voice, you can launch the camera and take a photo, turn the volume up and down, snooze the alarm (say "Snooze" as your alarm is going off -- dangerous!), and send texts and emails.
If you're writing a text to someone, and then you raise the phone to your ear, the GS3 launches the telephone app and automatically calls the person you were texting.
The Galaxy S III comes with an NFC chip that allows you to "bump" information like photos or video to other Galaxy S III owners by touching phones together, using a combination of the NFC technology and Wi-Fi Direct. With All-Share Cast, you can beam your screen to any DLNA-compatible television; All-Share Cast also allows you to share your screen onto anyone else's smartphone for document collaboration.
"Pop up play" will allow you to play a video anywhere on the screen while also performing other tasks, like checking your email or responding to texts. You can make the video window as large or small as you want. Here, you can see a YouTube video playing toward the bottom of the screen while a demonstrator prepares to search Google.
The Galaxy S III's 8 megapixel camera comes with burst photography: Holding down the shutter will take twenty photos in a row; you can then choose the best photo and the phone will automatically erase the other 19. A similar function exists on the HTC One line of phones. An alternate function: The Burst camera can take 8 photos in a row and then automatically choose the best one, if you're too indecisive to choose on your own.
The photography software comes with smart facial recognition: When you take a picture of a friend, it can recognize their face and will prompt you to send that photo to that person's phone or email address.
Essentially an eye recognition technology, the GS3 can sense when you are and are not looking it: When you are looking at your screen, the display will stay illuminated; when you stop looking at your phone, the display goes dark to save power. The feature can be toggled on and off, if you prefer to just let your screen time out.
Here's the first commercial for the Galaxy S III. At least, we think it's advertising the Galaxy S III. It might also be advertising a soap opera or Zach Braff film of some kind.