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5/3/2012
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Samsung Galaxy S III: Key Features

Samsung's 2012 flagship phone, the Galaxy S III, comes chock full of software innovations, wrapped inside a pebble-shaped, polycarbonate shell.

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Samsung Thursday unveiled the Galaxy S III smartphone, its follow-up to the incredibly popular Galaxy S and S II. Serving as the company's flagship smartphone for 2012, the S III reaches European retail shelves in May, then U.S. outlets in June. The device will compete head-to-head with Apple's iPhone.

The S III is the latest flagship device to come with a polycarbonate (strong plastic) shell. The Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC One X also have polycarbonate shells. Samsung will offer the S III in two different colors: marble white and pebble blue. In fact, the shape of the phone was inspired by pebbles; smooth rock shaped and rounded by years spent in the sea, according to the vendor.

The device includes a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with 1280 x 720p HD resolution. The display uses a PenTile matrix, which some people find distracting. The international version of the device will sport Samsung's quad-core Exynos chip, with each core clocked at 1.4GHz, accompanied by 1GB of RAM.

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The S III will be available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions, each of which also supports microSDXC cards, which range up to 64GB. This means the S III can hold a potential 128GB maximum of files, data, and media. The Galaxy S III also includes NFC capabilities.

It includes Wi-Fi, GPS/GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, and HSPA+/LTE wireless networks. The main camera captures 8-megapixel stills and shoots 1080p HD video. The user-facing camera takes 2-megapixel still images and shoots 720p HD video.

More than the specs, however, the software appears to be the defining characteristic of the Galaxy S III. Samsung clearly spent a lot of time working on the new version of its TouchWiz user interface overlay, which complements Android 4.0. Samsung said that it sought to bring a human element to this smartphone.

For example, the S III uses the front camera to keep the phone's display awake. The smartphone can tell when the user is looking at the screen, and will keep the display awake as long as the user is looking at it. In fact, the S III has a number of facial recognition features, such as the ability to instantly populate contact cards with photos based on images captured with the device and tags.

The phone will provide a summary of updates that occurred while it was at rest for an extended period of time. It has notifications that sound like water drops and other "natural" sounds.

Samsung gave the Galaxy S III a Siri-clone called S Voice, which responds to vocalized requests and queries, not unlike the way Siri does on the iPhone 4S.

Samsung also announced a huge expansion of its Music Hub, and will provide a service that matches Apple's iTunes Match: Samsung Galaxy S III owners can upload their music to the Hub, which will recognize and match songs so they can be streamed across different devices.

The specs of the Galaxy S III are on par with the best of today's high-end smartphones. With the specs so closely matched by HTC and others, though, it will be up to the software enhancements to really sell this device.

Given the big-hype introduction that Samsung gave the device--complete with a live orchestra and a half-dozen presenters--Samsung is clearly expecting big things from the Galaxy S III.

Take a peek in the video clip below:

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