RSS
The Samsung Galaxy S III debut: 5 talking points
The smartphone giant's latest Android offering makes a splashy debut in London, boasting facial-recognition technology and Siri-like voice controls
 
The Samsung Galaxy S III features a Siri-like voice control that allows users to simply shout "snooze" when their alarm goes off too early in the morning.
The Samsung Galaxy S III features a Siri-like voice control that allows users to simply shout "snooze" when their alarm goes off too early in the morning.
REUTERS/Ki Price

Samsung took the wrapper off the latest gadget in its premiere line of smartphones on Thursday, unveiling the buzzy new Galaxy S III at a headline-grabbing London event. The device, which will be available in Europe May 23 and shortly thereafter in the U.S., is now the Korean manufacturer's flagship handheld. The phone comes equipped with expected spec bumps like a new quad-core processor, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a high-contrast AMOLED screen. Here, five things you should know about the new device:

1. It's huge
"The screen is big, and as a result, the phone is big," says Peter Bright at Ars Technica. The Galaxy S III boasts a formidable 4.8-inch touchscreen, a display 22 percent larger than the Galaxy S II, and vastly bigger than the iPhone's 3.5-inch touchscreen. And yet, the body impressively manages to be only "slightly larger than its predecessor," thanks to a new narrow bezel and thinness that feels "comfortable enough in the hand."

2. But a bit flimsy
The Galaxy S III is "surprisingly light," says Vlad Savov at The Verge, and almost feels hollow. I prefer my gadgets with more "reassuring heft." And the plastic body feels cheap, says Ars Technica's Bright. "Plastic is a good material. I have nothing against plastic." But the plastic used on the Galaxy S III feels low-grade, which is a shame, because flagship phones "deserve better."

3. The S III can track your eyes
A new feature called Smart Stay follows your gaze and automatically dims the phone when you look away. That not only conserves power, says Nathan Olivarez-Giles at Wired, but ensures that the screen won't dim when you're doing long-reading on the gadget.

4. It also recognizes faces
The Galaxy S III keeps tabs on people's faces with exciting new facial-recognition technology, says Chloe Albanesius at PC Mag. If you snap a picture of a friend, and the phone recognizes the person in the picture, "it will ask you if you want to send a copy of the photo to that friend." 

5. And boasts a (flawed) Siri competitor
Alarm clock ringing in the morning? Just shout "snooze." The new S Voice feature also allows you to send a text, use the camera, or launch an app with spoken commands. But this "Siri-like natural language voice control system" leaves a lot to be desired, says Ars Technica's Bright. Sure, "a noisy press event isn't the best place to try out something like this, so I don't want to sound too critical, but it wasn't very good." For starters, S Voice had an awfully hard time understanding "my neutral, accent-free British English."

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week