Samsung Galaxy S3 review: Hands on preview

No fancy naming shenanigans, as Samsung launches its latest flagship smartphone

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S3 review now.

Samsung's aim tonight was to persuade everyone that this was the biggest Android handset launch of the year - overshadowing anything that happened back in March at Mobile World Congress – and it wasn’t taking any chances. The event may have been grandly titled Samsung Mobile Unpacked 2012, but there was only one product coming out of the box. No tricksy Apple naming schemes here either, as the Samsung Galaxy S3 was duly unveiled within five minutes.

Samsung Electronics President JK Shin revealed the refreshingly predictable name

Supporting that unveiling was the cavernous main hall of Earls Court, a small orchestra, a truly gigantic cinema screen and Suzi Perry, previously of the Gadget Show. After all that, the admittedly impressive little handset could have seemed a little underwhelming, but it stood up well to the hyperbole.

It really was a very, very big screen

A GALAXY OF SPECS

There's a lot to say about the new Samsung Galaxy S3, but let's start with those all important specifications. While minute in comparison to Samsung's huge cinema screen at the event, the 4.8in display on the new S3 is a whopper, just edging out the 4.7in screen we saw recently on the rather excellent HTC One X. In practice of course there's little to nothing between the two displays in size. The next device up in Samsung's line is the Galaxy Note with its 5.3in screen, but the S3 feels far smaller than that goliath and is very pocket friendly.

Slim and curvy, but not groundbreakingly so

The S3 measures 137x71x8.6mm, compared to 134x70x8.9mm for the HTC One X, except for the extra couple of milimetres at the top there's nothing in it, and aesthetic details like the width of screen bezels are very similar too. There's nothing in it when it comes to weight either with only 3g seperating the heavier S3 from the HTC One X.

It's a compact handset considering the large display

The Samsung Galaxy S3's stand out attribute is its 4.8in super HD AMOLED screen. This OLED-based display has a headline resolution of 1,280x720 pixels, however it's not a Plus-branded display, so it we're assuming it doesn't have have red, green and blue subpixels for every pixel, reducing colour accuracy and so the actual resolution of the display.

This close-up shows the Pentile pixel structure of the display – click to enlarge

On the plus side, the high headline resolution does help offset many of these problems; plus it does have all the usual advantages of OLED over LCD, with deep blacks, vibrant colours and lower-than-usual power consumption. For a Pentile display it also looked remarkably clean and crisp when using it as you would normally – with none of the colour casts seen on lesser examples.

It's the lack of the word Plus that is key to that announcement

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