samsung_launch1.png Get ready for lift off, as Samsung unveils its latest Android-powered Galaxy smartphone to the world, live from an event in London at 7PM UK (2PM EST, 11AM Pacific). We've got the latest news and stay tuned for coverage of the event and any new features, apps or other devices Samsung cares to share.

Out Among the Stars...

Okay, out in a cold, wet London actually, Samsung is preparing to unleash the successor to one of the best-selling (over 20 million units) smartphones on the market. We've covered all the rumors and pre-launch hype, but will the final product live up to expectation? Will it have the hardware to take more share away from Apple's range of iPhones, and will it enough offer super-smart features to make it a must-have device?

We already know it will have an awesome quad-core Exynos processor. But, the latest nuggets of (mis?)information to run the gauntlet of tech sites includes a possible 4.8" HD Super AMOLED Plus screen, which they'd better have a shorter, snappier name for. Another leak is the likelihood stylish blue and white models to match the pebble image above.

A Rising Star?

Earlier in the week, we had RIM showing off a very early version of BlackBerry 10 and the phone hardware that will run it. That managed about a "C-" on the excitement scale, due to its alpha-status, despite some clever evolution of the UI and other features.

Samsung will need to set the bar far higher to exceed the expectations of a hungry market. Let us know what you'd like to see feature-wise from the new phone and check back later for more coverage and a live run through of the announcements. If you're online, you can watch the event live (take note Apple) here.

Latest and Live

Lose lips are gabbling all over the place as the clock ticks down. Latest word is the new Samsung phone will get a UK release at the end of May. Here's the first official photo of the phone. And the first prices are out, £499 SIM free in the UK or free on a £36 a month contract with Carphone Warehouse.

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The event is starting shortly, please take your seats and turn off your mobiles, oops.

Preceeding the event with a vox pop tour of London, Samsung was asking people just how excited they were... some appeared more buzzed than others. But enough of real phone users, we need executives with statistics and buzzwords... and so it begins.

First news of the official specs:

  • Weight:133g (4.7 ounces)
  • Depth: 8.6mm thick
  • CPU: 1.4GHz Exynos 4 Quad processor 
  • Memory: 1GB of RAM
  • Display: 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED at 1280 x 720
  • Cameras: 8-megapixel rear, 1.9-megapixel front
  • Radio: HSPA+ (LTE Coming, likely for U.S. launch)
  • Battery: 2,100ma

No LTE is a bit of a shock, although that's not such a big deal in Europe. I guess battery life is still a bigger concern. Now a live orchestra is playing in the first speaker. A video announces "the quest is for something different." And our new slogan is "It is designed for humans!"

President and Head of IT JK Shin takes the stage to make the official launch. He's going over the specifications and what they can do for the user. For aesthetics, he's discussing the sound of water and the pebbles (used in the pre-show marketing).

The phone comes with "natural interaction" that responds not only to your voice, but also where you look and touch. After that narrative, he pulls the first phone out of his pocket, but of a scruffy reveal really. The phone will be out in Europe first, then Asia and America.

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Bring on the Drones

Next up are more Samsung executive drones with very long job titles to demonstrate the phone. A video shows voice commands like "Wake up," and "Play music." Then there's the promise of no more missed calls or messages, I thought most phones did that one already.

Another voice command can be used to wake the phone up, a step up from Siri, but the rest of the demo looks very Apple-like. The demonstrator even mentioned "natural launguage" support including Spanish, Korean, various English dialects. I wonder why they aren't trying it with someone Scottish to one-up the iPhone.

Another avante garde video clip (sorry these are really hard to describe) which basically shows you can share music and video between phones. This is a more useful feature, called S Beam and it does mirroring of video to another phone, or a bigger screen. Users can also instantly send pictures to people it recognises in a photo at once.

Inspired by Nature

The design of the phone is based on nature with the pebble blue and marble white models. They come with sound effects and interface design to match that look.The 8mp camera is packed with features, including instant shoot, zero shutter lag when you touch the button, and it can take 3.3 shots per second. There is also a best-shot mode that automatically picks the most desirable photo from a flurry of shots.

Another first for the phone is wireless charging, an optional pad will let you put the phone on it to charge without the need for annoying leads. Stylish docking stations for your car and desk will also be avaialble. NFC-equipped and packing Ice Cream Sandwich Android, it will come with options of 16, 32 or 64GB of on-board storage.

On the software side, Samsung has managed to get a limited exclusive app of Flipboard for its phone, with a wider Android release to follow. Dropbox users will be getting 50GB of storage in a special deal, while Samsung's Music Hub service will offer 17 million tracks for streaming, a healthcare app (in selected countries) can help people monitor their lifestyle.

To appeal to the enterprise, the Samsung Galaxy SIII has increased security with ActiveSync and encryption, there is also strong virtualization to encourage BYOD working. A world tour will take the phone around the territories as it rolls out for a global launch in the coming months.

Just One More Thing...

Ooh, you cheeky rascals, just when we thought this thing was wrapping up, Suzi put us on tenterhooks with a "one more thing" moment. Only to unveil the portable, yet stylish, units that will be used in malls and stores to show the phone off to the public.

So, the SIII is another really powerful phone that takes voice interaction a step further, makes streaming music services more of a default option, and increases the level of interactivity between it and other devices. Were there any massive leaps forward? Not really, and Twitter is already saying that the HTC One X is still the best Android phone to own.