Samsung Galaxy S3 launch: Android's 'iPhone killer' brings eye-tracking and voice control technology to the smartphone battle
- Samsung unveiled latest flagship smartphone at Apple-style launch party in London
- Eye-tracking and voice-control revealed as key new features
- Owners get 4.8" screen, quad-core processor, NFC payments, voice control and face-recognition
- Wireless charging kit removes the clutter of wires
- Mail Online verdict: 'Samsung has raised the stakes here - and Apple will have to do something truly special to beat this'
Samsung tonight unveiled its latest flagship device, the Galaxy S3, the follow-up to last year's best-selling phone in the world.
The smartphone market moves on once more, with the hi-tech voice-controlled Galaxy S3 likely to becomes a standard-bearer for Google’s Android operating system - and a device for the Apple refuseniks.
The phone’s most innovative feature is built-in face-tracking and voice control - allowing, Samsung claims, for a more 'natural' control system.
Other innovations include what Samsung claims is a 'more intelligent' lock system, that keeps the screen 'awake' when the phone’s camera senses eyes watching it, rather than turning it off.
Blue and white: The Samsung S3 launches at the end of May, available in 'pebble blue' and 'marble white'
The voice control system is called S Voice - and allows access to weather forecasts, web searches and scheduling, similar to iPhone’s Siri system.
Saying 'I want to take a picture' launches the camera application - and will work in eight languages at launch.
S Voice can also reply out loud - which Samsung claims will allow the system to be used while driving.
Available in blue and white, the phone will be launched at the end of May, starting in Europe, with other regions following.
Samsung played on its expertise in screens with a large 4.8-inch Super AMOLED screen running a resolution of 1280 x 720p - far bigger than Apple’s iPhone, and close in size to the smaller end of the tablet market.
Ready for launch: A still from Samsung's presentation reveals the S3 for the first time
Samsung Galaxy S3
1.4 Ghz quad-core
Up to 32gb (+64gb with card)
Android Ice Cream Sandwich
Height - 136mm
Width - 70mm
Depth - 8.5mm
HTC One X
Android Ice Cream Sandwich
Height - 134mm
Width - 69mm
Depth - 8.9mm
800 MHz dual-core
Up to 64gb (non-expandable)
Height - 115mm
Width - 58mm
Depth - 9mm
The S3 is powered by a quad-core processor - similar to the ones found in many laptops, and far more powerful than the dual core found in the iPhone.
The phone also includes an NFC chip - near-field-communications - allowing users to share content such as video by tapping phones together.
And if you are sick of wires, a separate wireless charging kit means you can charge your phone without hooking it up to the socket.
Live audience: Hundreds of people packed into the Earls Court auditorium to see the launch of the phone
Samsung pointed out that while the screen is 22 per cent larger than the previous S2, the 'bezel' around it has been slimmed down, so that the gadget is barely bigger than its predecessor.
The gadget will launch on May 29 in Europe, and in 10 other cities worldwide including Tokyo and Dubai.
The gadget also has some features clearly aimed at the business market once dominated by BlackBerry.
On-device encryption will allow secure emails working within business networks - catering for the new trend for businesses allowing employees to 'bring their own' smartphones rather than using company phones.
The NFC chip will also be used for tap-to-pay mobile payments, in partnership with Visa, with a 'virtual wallet' on the device making payment simple.
The phone is also armed with a battery claimed to last longer than other devices - despite a form factor which is 8.6mm thin and 130g in weight.
The phone has an eight megapixel camera - on a par with both iPhone 4S and the previous Galaxy S2.
The device was presented by Samsung president JK Shin, who said: 'There were a lot of rumours and speculation - some were right, and some were wrong.
'The Galaxy S3 is the best-in-class smartphone in the world.'
The phone was shown off by The Gadget Show’s Suzi Perry at a high-profile event at London's Earls Court exhibition centre - a large, clearly expensive stage show that had a distinct resemblance to Apple’s well-choreographed showings for new iPhones and iPads.
'This is the biggest launch event of the year,' said Perry.
Samsung is also to launch a range of pop-up shops which will show off the handset around Europe - announcing this in a way reminiscent of Steve Job's traditional, 'One last thing,' at their product launches.
A new feature called ‘Pop up Play’ enables multitasking - so that you can, for instance, put a video in a window on screen, then use other apps with the rest of the screen.
This sort of feature was previously the province of Windows or Mac machines, rather than phones.
The camera can also burst-shoot at speeds of up to 20 frames per second - faster than many pro-grade cameras.
The camera also automatically zooms in on faces by double-tapping the screen and a ‘best-shot’ mode auto-selects the best out of the burst.
Some of the apps pre-installed on the S3
The phone’s front camera can also shoot in HD - still rare in smartphones - and take still images at the same time.
Sharing photos with friends is also speeded up by face-recognition technology - which offers to 'share' photos with any friends detected in a photo using hi-tech face recognition, sharing either by text message or email, with a bubble popping up over each person's face with the option to send the photo to them.
The S2 is expected to cost around £35-£40 per month. Carphone Warehouse said their tariffs would start for £36 on a 24-month contract.
The S3 also contains voice controls - which brings it up to speed with the iPhone's Siri - but users may be wondering if it will be another damp squib.
Despite the fun of Apple's Siri, most users prefer traditional controls over speaking to their phone, and the feature which launched the iPhone 4s is not used my many users.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 will be heavily promoted with a worldwide advertising campaign starting this week.
Samsung is now the biggest phone manufacturer in the world, and for this launch they took a page out of Apple's marketing guide and kept everything hush-hush.
Even Samsung's invite to journalists and enthusiasts for the launch in Earl's Court, London, played it quiet - simply inviting people to 'come and meet the next Galaxy'.
The stylus-equipped Galaxy Note was a hit for Samsung, proving there is a market for devices with five-inch screens