Samsung claims new Galaxy S3 understands
To the strains of a string ensemble in Sydney's historic Capitol Theatre, Samsung launched its latest weapon in the smartphone wars, the Galaxy S3.
This is a phone the company says was inspired by nature and understands what the user wants.
The Korean company's latest smartphone is designed to take on archrival Apple and its iPhone – and latest figures suggest the company is doing things right, with Samsung at the top of smartphone sales worldwide.
At a time when other major competitors are struggling, namely RIM (Blackberry) and Nokia, Samsung is a shining light in Android phones.
It was reported that the Galaxy S3 had about 9 million pre-orders, a phenomenal figure by any standard.
The Galaxy S3 – the third iteration of Samsung's Galaxy S range – went on sale in New Zealand at 12.01am last Wednesday, but pleasantly surprisingly for New Zealanders at the event, New Zealand buyers got their hands on the new phone at least 12 hours earlier than our trans-Tasman neighbours. The S3 went on sale in Australia about 12pm.
All three major telcos in New Zealand – Telecom, 2degrees and Vodafone – stock the Galaxy S3 for about $1050 handset only.
At the Sydney event on Wednesday, Gregory Lee, Samsung's Asian chief executive, said the company sold more than 300 million handsets in 2011.
The company became the No.1 smartphone supplier in Australia in the last quarter, Lee claimed.
"The S3 is the best smartphone in the market. It is inspired by nature and understands your intentions. It can see, listen and understand what you want. It is a human phone that understands you and was inspired by nature.
"The shape is inspired by pebbles and leaves."
The S3 is powered by a 1.4-gigahertz quad core CPU, and has a 4.8-inch Super Amoled screen and an 8MP rear camera.
Samsung is most proud of the phone's use of motion, which lets users take screen grabs by swiping their hand across the screen, phone a contact without dialling and senses when someone is looking at the screen via the front facing camera. It has named this Smart Stay.
Tyler McGee, of Samsung Australia, extolled the virtues of the phone in a couple of demonstrations, saying it was a device that "sees, listens and follows our actions".
Using S Voice, Samsung's voice-recognition software, McGee said the user could wake the phone up – "Hi, Galaxy" or "Hi, mate", or if in Australia: "Gidday" – and play music from a play list by using voice activation.
As a demonstration of S Voice, McGee said "Play music, Coldplay" to his S3 and a Coldplay song started. I'm always sceptical of demonstrations at managed events, so as I haven't had the chance to try that feature out. I'm on the fence on how well it works.
McGee echoed Lee's comments that the S3 was inspired by nature, saying that the UX Touch Wiz interface was designed to create a "peaceful experience" for the user.
"The S3 knows how we want to interact with our loved ones and makes being social easy," he said.
The Galaxy S3 is available in marble white and pebble blue, although it seems that this model may be in short supply after manufacturing issues.
Look for a more in-depth review soon.
Gerard Campbell attended the Sydney event courtesy of Samsung New Zealand.