Need to know – Samsung Galaxy S3

It's the most eagerly awaited Android phone ever – we pore over the Samsung Galaxy S3 and give you all the info you need to know

Samsung Galaxy S3 – Overview

Samsung's Galaxy S3 is probably the most eagerly awaited Android phone ever. Its predecessors the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II are the most commercially successful Android phones to date – and with Apple's iPhone 4S a mere incremental upgrade, there's a real chance for Samsung to deliver a knockout blow to its iOS competition.

So what has the Galaxy S3 brought to the fray? A 4.8in Super AMOLED screen, quad-core processor and 8MP camera, plus Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich – and a brace of new features. Read on…

Samsung Galaxy S3 – Screen

The Galaxy S3's 4.8in HD Super AMOLED screen is certainly impressive – though the pixel density of its 720p screen isn't quite up to that of Apple's Retina Display, at 306ppi versus the Retina Display's 326ppi.

Samsung Galaxy S3 – Processor and internals

Samsung's built its own processor for the Galaxy S3 – the quad-core 1.4GHz Exynos 4412. The Galaxy S3 comes in 16, 32 and 64GB flavours, with a microSD card expansion slot for cards up to 64GB. That's a lot of space.

Samsung Galaxy S3 – Camera

Rumours of a 12MP camera have proved to be unfounded – the Galaxy S3 will feature an 8MP rear-facing camera that shoots 1080p video – and like the HTC One X, the Galaxy S3 can capture stills while shooting a video.

A burst mode lets you shoot up to 20 frames at 3.3fps, while outside of burst mode it'll reload quickly enough to take three shots per second.

A Best Photo feature uses smile detection and blink detection as well as analysing exposure and blurring to pick out the best pic of the bunch.

Round the front, you get a 1.9MP camera that shoots 720p video – which is used for the Smart Stay face detection feature (of which more later).

Samsung Galaxy S3 – Design and build

Design-wise the Galaxy S3 is packed into a more curvaceous shell than its predecessor – doubtless a consequence of all those Apple lawsuits. It's available from launch in white and (exceedingly dark) blue; build quality feels more premium than the slightly flimsy Galaxy S II – despite being thinner (8.6mm against the S II's 9mm) it weighs in at 133g versus the S II's 116g.

The screen is surrounded by a thinner bezel than that of its predecessor, while the home button is now the only physical button on the front face.

Samsung Galaxy S3 – Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Unsurprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, skinned with Samsung's polarising TouchWiz interface – pre-loaded apps include Dropbox and Flipboard.

Samsung has packed the Galaxy S3 with extra features; Smart Stay uses the front-facing camera to detect whether or not you're looking at the screen, and prevents it from dimming accordingly.

Smart Alert triggers notifications when you pick the phone up, while Siri-baiting S Voice gives you full-featured voice control over the phone's functions. You can use it to activate the phone, for example – or even switch the camera on and take a photo.

As well as setting its sights on the iPhone's Siri, Samsung is gunning for AirPlay with the Galaxy S3's AllShare Cast TV mirroring feature. The phone's video skills also include Pop Up Play, for viewing picture-in-picture video while you're in another app.

Finally, S Beam uses the phone's NFC features for data sharing by touching your S3 with another S Beam-equipped phone – like, say the Galaxy Nexus.

Samsung Galaxy S3 – First impressions

Although it's early days yet, Samsung appears to have created in the Galaxy S3 a near-perfect blend of features and design, with a spec sheet that will happily hold its own against the onslaught of other smartphone giants like the HTC One X.

So, did Samsung just reveal the best Android phone to date? Stay tuned for our hands on, in-depth and video reviews to find out.

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