Samsung Unveils Galaxy S III, Music Hub

Samsung launches its long-awaited Galaxy S III, which will compete directly with Apple's iPhone 4S and other top-tier smartphones.
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Samsung's flagship smartphone for 2012 finally reaches consumers today across 28 countries. The Galaxy S III is the most important device of the year for Samsung's mobile division. It reaches the market more than a year after its predecessor, which was a smash hit worldwide, selling more than 10 million units. The S III will go head-to-head on store shelves with the iPhone 4S and next-gen iPhone, the HTC One X and One S, the Nokia Lumia 900, and other top-tier phones.

The S III lands in Germany and Britain today, as well as other countries spread across Europe and the Middle East. Samsung boasted earlier this month that the device had received 9 million pre-orders. In a scene that recalls iPhone launches, Reuters reports that customers lined up a day ahead of store openings in Berlin. European and Asian network operators are pitched the device heavily and are offering attractive pricing (varies by operator and country) for the device.

To start, only the white version of the S III is available. The Pebble Blue version has been delayed, according to a statement issued by Samsuing. The company said, "Samsung's Galaxy SIII Pebble Blue version comes with a newly invented blue color and special hyper-glaze material. In order to meet the highest internal quality standards and to provide the best quality Galaxy SIII to customers, a short supply of Pebble Blue version is expected in some regions in the next 2-3 weeks. Samsung is working hard to ensure that customers will get the Pebble Blue colored devices as soon as possible." It is expect to arrive in mid- to late-June.

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In addition to the device itself, Samsung has also launched the MusicHub in the U.K. today, its own version of a music service. The service is based off mSpot and 7digital to give U.K. customers access to more than 19 million songs for purchase. It offers free 30-second previews, and is exclusive to the Galaxy S III for now. The two variants of the service include a free one, which stores any purchased music in the cloud for easy playback, and a 9.99-per-month sterling alternative that allows customers to upload their own songs for unlimited streaming. Samsung said the service will eventually expand to other devices.

The Galaxy S III follows the path set by previous generations of the Galaxy S series, but with more of everything. It runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and will have the latest Samsung user interface skin, called TouchWiz, on board. It features a 4.8-inch 1280 x 720 HD display and a quad-core Exynos processor with 1GB of RAM.

At 133 grams (4.7oz), the S III is incredibly light. It measures 8.6mm thick, which isn't the thinnest dimension in the smartphone market, but it's still very thin. The S III includes all the radios that matter: LTE, HSPA+, Wi-Fi, a GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC. The 4G support is vital for this class of device, and by upping to Bluetooth 4.0, the S III will be able to work with an incredible array of accessories without affecting battery life.

The camera shoots 8- and 2-megapixels and 1080p/720p HD video with the back and front cameras, respectively, and the S III's advanced facial recognition features, which keep the display awake or tag photos, is really neat stuff.

It comes with plenty of storage options plus the ability to supplement it with microSD cards.

What's unclear yet is which U.S. wireless network operators will offer the S III. We know it will hit the U.S. with support for U.S. LTE 4G networks, but Samsung has been coy about which ones. Historically, nearly all the wireless network operators in the U.S., including the smaller regional and pre-paid carriers, have offered Samsung's Galaxy S devices. I would expect this pattern to repeat itself with the S III, which should be available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless, among others, with slight variations between them.

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