Smartphone releases don't come much bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S3. And although Sammy kits don't foster quite the same febrile rumour mill as iPhones, a new Galaxy flagship phone launch is still awash with speculation. Here, we round-up the rumours and put them to the uSwitch Tech truth test.
Galaxy S3 specs and features
What's on board? Here's what's being whispered about so far...
Galaxy S3 to sport a 3D screen
Since late last year, rumours have circulated that the S3 will feature glasses-free 3D smarts to allow you to enjoy movies and music in eye-popping three dimensions. So much traction have they gathered that talk has even turned to Sammy branding the S3 as the 'S3D'.
In early January, a Chinese site leaked what it claimed was photographic proof of an S3 complete with 3D flexi-display and a strikingly odd form factor.
For what it’s worth and despite what that dubious snap suggests, we can’t see this happening. After all, it’s not as though sales of the HTC Evo 3D and LG Optimus 3D set the world of mobile alight, even though buyers didn’t have to wear silly specs to get the 3D effect. So what incentive is there for Samsung to follow suit?
In fact, branding the phone the 'S3D' could actually be an own goal. A title with '3D' in it could position Sammy’s kit in the public’s mind as a novelty handset with a fun-for-five-minutes effect that will get little use in the long run.
Galaxy S3 to be powered by a quad core processor
Apparently, Sammy plans to double the core-count from the S2 with the inclusion of an Exynos chip of its own manufacture. The processor would reportedly offer 50 per cent better graphics output than the S2’s chipset and reduce power consumption by 30 per cent.
Even having just come off the back of seasonal World’s Strongest Man contests, that’s some major brawn, no? But what are the odds of Sammy going ahead with it?
Pretty good, actually. First up is the fact that the South Korean phone-maker was among the first to acknowledge the difference a bit of brawn under the hood makes by including dual-core processors in the Galaxy phones unveiled back in Feb 2011’s Mobile World Congress expo.
It also won’t have escaped Samsung’s attention just how many of those glowing reviews lauded the sheer sense of ‘snap’ the S2 offered over other Android kits.
Going quad-core this time around would guarantee the same 'wow' factor for its successor, leave it amply prepared for resource-hungry OS updates and ensure Sammy remains the go-to brand for the best that Android offers.
In March, a loose-lipped Samsung exec dropped the biggest hint yet that the S3 will indeed pack a quad-core processor. If he's to believed, it'll be Sammy's own Exynos model that'll be on board, which is not only 26 per cent faster than current-generation dual core processors. It also apparently boosts battery life by 50 per cent.
Galaxy S3 to rock a flexible screen?
Samsung has confirmed plans to add bendy screens to phones and tablets in 2012. And according to the company’s Vice President Robert Ti, Sammy fancies it can get them to market during the “earlier part” of the year too.
That mooted date would dovetail neatly with the widely anticipated arrival of the Galaxy S3 in February. What’s more, a flexible screen would be just the thing to distinguish the S3 from the sea of flagship rivals.
Whether that means it will happen is another matter. We think Samsung wouldn’t chance a technology that has yet to get the public’s vote of confidence on its flagship phones. But we can definitely see it cropping up on another Galaxy-branded phone in future.
HZO waterproof coating to feature?
According to reports in mid-Jan, Samsung is in negotiations with HZO over a miracle spray that's used to coat handsets' innards and protect them from water-damage.
We've got every reason to believe this is happening. But given that the S3 must now be in an advanced state of production, it'd be impossible to apply the coating retrospectively.
For that, and that alone, we're not buying it. But, like flexible screens, we can see the coating landing on Sammy's Galaxy kits not too far into the future.
Samsung has since been linked with another company exploring similar technology. The source of the leak didn't mention Sammy by name, however, and only went so far as to say that P2i is working with "big Korean brands".
Day-long battery life
Sub-par battery longevity is the bane of smartphone users' lives. Samsung's VP of product innovation Kevin Packingham outlined plans to tackle this at CES in January with a battery capable of delivering a full day of use. Alas, he conspicuously didn't mention the S3 in his Q&A, so we wouldn't advise you get your hopes up just yet.
12 megapixel camera
With weeks to go to the MWC, Eldar Murtazin, editor of Russian site Mobile Review, claimed he's sourced an S3 - the first in the wild. Along with confirming talk of a quad-core processor, he claimed it's toting a 12 megapixel camera and packs an HD screen to view snaps and videos on.
7mm-thin form factor
Thin is always in when it comes to smartphones. So it's perhaps no surprise that Samsung is apparently planning to pack all the S3's goodies into a super slim, 7mm-thick shell.
Assuming that's so, that'd make the S3 between ten and 20 per cent more svelte than its predecessor.
Mooted display dimensions for the S3 range from 4.8-inches, which would make it a good 0.5-inches larger than the S2, and a slightly more compact 4.5-inches.
We think you can bank on a larger screen being present and correct. And we're prepared to stick our neck out and forecast that it'll be at the higher end of the dimensions being mentioned.
Galaxy S3 release date
As of early January, Samsung had yet to make any kind of announcement acknowledging the Galaxy S3’s existence. Let alone give us a release date for when it might actually land.
However, that’s not to say we haven’t anything to go on. If Sammy’s past form with flagship phones is anything to by, we can expect the S3 to debut at the 2012 Mobile World Congress, which takes place this year between February 27th and March 1st in Barcelona. Expect it to drop in shops across Europe not long after.
The Galaxy S2 launched in May last year, mainly because it was delayed by a month. If all goes smoothly this time around, the S3 could be with us as early as April.
If you’re in the US, you might find you’ve got longer to wait to get your hands on the S3, though. Having released the S2 in the US some six months later than in Europe, there’s a good chance Samsung will delay the S3 too.
Then again, the success of the S2 might compel the phone-maker to bring out the S3 simultaneously across multiple territories, so there’s hope for a spring launch yet.
Samsung has confirmed the S3 will definitely not tip-up at MWC. In an official statement issued in January, we were informed that it will arrive during the first half of 2012.
The reason given was that Sammy wants to give the phone a simultaneous global release. Either way, it's definitely bad news for European fandroids and anyone due an upgrade in the next couple of months or so.
A press invite appeared to confirm that S3 will take a bow shortly before the London Olympic games, to tie-in with Sammy's status as an official event partner. If so, you can pencil in for release in late May.
Galaxy S3 potential networks/carriers
The Samsung Galaxy S2 has sold over 30 million units worldwide. So it’s unlikely that any of the carriers want to be left out in the cold this time around. Expect all major UK mobile networks to pick it up from launch.
Galaxy S3 price
Retailers anticipate a price point of around £35 per month from launch for the Galaxy S3, if you want to pick it sans upfront fee that is. If you go SIM free, you’re looking at an amount exceeding £520.