Consumers who want to be among the first in the U.S. to own Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone on June 1 will pay a steep price. Amazon is now taking U.S. pre-orders for the flagship Android device and bitter iPhone rival for $800 unlocked, but the price tag is not the only thing you should be weary of.
Samsung and U.S. wireless carriers are yet to announce their versions of the Galaxy S III, which usually vary from one another both internally and externally. So what you will be getting for $800 is the 16GB SIM-free international version of the S III (blue or white), also known as GT-i9300, with a huge 4.8-inch display, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera, and Android 4.0 with a lot of Samsung software goodies.
However, using the Samsung Galaxy S III GT-i9300 in the U.S. means you will have to accept some compromises. The model does not have 4G LTE connectivity, unlike many Android phones currently sold by carriers. Thus, the GT-i9300 can only connect to ATT’s HSPA+ network. On T-Mobile the phone would be able to make calls, but won’t be able to connect to high-speed data as the GT-i9300 lacks support for T-Mobile’s 1700MHz band. Needless to say, the phone won’t work on Verizon and Sprint.
What you do get for the $800 price tag with the S III though is the quad-core 1.4 GHz Exynos processor. It’s not known whether the processor will make it to U.S. versions of the phone; there is no 4G LTE version of the processor, so the carrier-customized Galaxy S IIIs are expected to use a dual-core chip instead, like the Snapdragon S4, which has LTE support.
So unless you don’t mind not having 4G LTE connectivity, using ATT’s network, and you have $800 to shell out, the Galaxy S III should be with you in a couple of weeks. But you would be better off waiting for the U.S. carrier-customized versions of the device, which although they won’t have the same processor, they’ll likely cost you at least $500 less upfront with a contract, and they can blaze at 4G LTE speeds.
Google released an overhauled version of its Google+ app for iPhone, but Android users will have to wait “a few weeks,” said Vic Gundotra, the company’s Senior Vice President. The updated app has a new user interface with large photos and sleek animations, but not much new in terms of functionality.
Gundotra said: “We’re not interested in a mobile or social experience that’s just smaller. We’re embracing the sensor-rich smartphone (with its touchable screen and high-density display), and transforming Google+ into something more intimate, and more expressive.” The new Google+ app for iPhone actually delivers that.
The full-bleed photos, videos, large profile photos and elegant fonts make Google+ for iPhone a feast on the eyes. There’s also a bubbling-like animation when posts in the stream are loaded, which seems very natural to scrolling on the phone. The app is also fluid and responsive, a vast improvement over the basic Web wrapper the previous version was.
It’s interesting that Google did not launch the updated Google+ app UI for Android first, its own mobile OS. Instead, it chose to target iOS users first – iPhone users mainly, as the app does not have a dedicated iPad interface.
Vic Gundotra was very vague over when Android users should expect to get the refined Google+ app UI – “the Android update is coming in a few weeks,” he said. But the wait might be worth it, he hinted, saying the Android version will have “a few extra surprises.”
Meanwhile, Google has been working on improving the Google+ interface for desktop browser users. In April Google+ received a complete overhaul, the +1 button now has a sibling, the Share button, and Hangouts On Air is being rolled out to everyone, allowing for simultaneous live streaming on Google+ and YouTube.
Alleged Galaxy S III on Tinhte
Less than two weeks before Samsung will introduce its next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III has been spotted on a German Amazon site. The listing describes the device as having a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen, a 12-megapixel camera with autofocus, LED flash and face detection, the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, and 16GB of internal memory, expandable to 32GB.
Before you get too worked up about those specs, you should know that just yesterday PCWorld’s Jared Newman reported that what may have been the Galaxy S III appeared in a video on Tinhte, a Website notorious for revealing unannounced phones. According to the Vietnamese site, the Galaxy S III sports a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, a 4.6-inch display with 1184 by 720 resolution, 1 GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera, 16 GB of storage, microSD expandability, a 2050 mAh battery, and NFC capability.
And like Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, the video showed the phone making use of software navigation instead of dedicated hardware buttons — a feature that helped the Galaxy Nexus garner acclaim from users who like its slick look and feel.
The Amazon listing, which appears without an image of the Galaxy S III, is categorized under “Mobile Phones without contract” and prices the phone at €599 ($788 using the current conversion rate).
One thing is certain — anticipation for this phone is almost palpable and conjecture about Samsung’s successor to the Galaxy S II has been thick in recent months and most likely will continue right up until Samsung takes the wraps off “the next Galaxy” at an event in London on May 3.
Leaks aside, PCWorld’s Daniel Ionescu points out that previous iterations of the Galaxy S and S II sold a cumulated 30 million, so the pressure is on for Samsung to deliver a killer device that would rival Apple’s iPhone. While doing so is no small feat, Samsung has certainly brought some impressive devices to market recently and improving upon them even more is sure to be a boon for Android fans.