Ina Fried

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Samsung Puts the Galaxy S III Into Orbit

Aiming to capitalize on its Olympic sponsorship, Samsung is using a London event to launch its next flagship smartphone.

The new Galaxy device is set to be unveiled at 7 pm London time (11 am PT). AllThingsD will have live coverage of the announcement, which is also being webcast.

In the past, Samsung has announced its main Galaxy devices at Mobile World Congress; however, the company held back this year, saying it wanted to announce the product closer to when it would ship. A top Samsung marketing official also told AllThingsD in January that the company wanted to use the Olympics for a major product launch.

Samsung has since announced a quad-core chip expected to power the new Galaxy.

10:38 am: The live stream is slated to be available here.

11:00 am: Okay. Here are the key details on the Galaxy S III (and yes, that’s the name).

  • 4.8-inch HD Screen
  • 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.9-megapixel front camera
  • “S-Voice” voice recognition tech
  • Android 4.0
  • 11:03 am: The device will be available in Europe at the end of May, with launches in other markets to follow.

    Here’s a picture of the phone:

    11:06 am: As for when it will come to the U.S., Samsung had this to say:

    “Samsung Mobile is planning a U.S. version of Galaxy S III, optimized for the fastest LTE and HSPA+ networks in the U.S., which will be available in the summer of 2012. Exact timing and retail channel availability is not being announced at this time.”

    11:09 am: Here’s a more direct link to the livestream.

    11:10 am: Samsung’s JK Shin:

    11:11 am: “There were a lot of rumors and speculations about the next Galaxy,” Shin said. “Some were right and some were wrong.” But, he said, Samsung Galaxy S III is the best in class.

    Shin touts the quality of the screen and says the design is inspired by water and leaves.

    The phone can listen to you and understand what you want. The screen can notice your eye movement and can stay bright when you are looking at it.

    If you are texting and you want to call someone instead, Shin said, “it understands your intention to make a call and calls for you.”

    Simply put, he said, Galaxy S III is a “human phone.”

    11:15 am: It has more than 140 countries with more than 290 carriers, Shin said, making it the largest launch in history.

    The 3G version, Shin said, will ship in May in Europe, followed by Asia, Middle East, Africa and Asia.

    The 4G version will ship first in North America, Japan and Korea starting in the summer.

    11:18 am: Other features include direct wireless sharing to a television or other Galaxy device, tablet or PC.

    The updated S-Beam feature can share a 1GB video in three minutes or a music file in two seconds, Samsung said.

    11:23 am: A European Samsung executive is demoing the “smart stay” feature that avoids going to sleep or dimming the screen by detecting when a user is looking at the screen.

    It is annoying to touch the screen to keep it awake, or even worse to have to enter a password, Samsung says. The Galaxys S III can instead determine when to dim the screen by sensing a user’s intentions.

    11:25 am: Next up is voice recognition, which can be used to do things Apple’s Siri does, such as getting the weather, but also to launch apps.

    “I want to take a picture,” for example, opens the camera app.

    The voice engine understands British and American English, Italian, German, French, Spanish (Spain and Latin American versions) and Korean.

    11:29 am: Samsung is pushing hard the notion that the new Galaxy is designed with the user in mind, repeating often that the new phone “sees, listens and responds.”

    11:31 am: Now demoing improved social sharing features that allow users to, among other things, bond with another phone.

    Under the hood, the new “S-Beam” feature combines Wi-Fi direct and NFC technologies.

    “It’s the fastest and easiest way to share content with your friends and it happens with just one touch,” said the European Samsung executive.

    11:33 am: An add-on dongle extends the sharing option to any HDMI-capable device.

    11:33 am: Galaxy S III has a new “buddy” photo sharing feature that recognizes friends in your photos and offers to send them the photo.

    11:37 am: Video showing the S3 in action, including its quad-core chip, intelligent photo taking and other features.

    11:39 am: It comes in “pebble blue” and “marble white.”

    Some other specs:

    It’s 8.6 milimeters thick, weighs 133 grams and packs a 2,100 mAh battery.

    11:41 am: A “pop-up play” feature allows one to watch a video in a small window while performing another task, such as searching the Web. It’s kind of picture-in-picture for your phone.

    A “best photo” feature picks the best shot out of a burst of eight.

    11:47 am: Now showing, the first TV commercial for S III.

    Among other things, the commercial notes that the Galaxy S III “follows your every move.” Hmm, not sure that’s quite the way they want to put things.

    11:49 am: Accessories include flip cover for the screen, wireless charging kit, extra battery and aformenentioned HDMI dongle.

    11:52 am: Samsung says the Galaxy S III has improved security and other features for businesses, allowing for better device management.

    Galaxy will come in three storage options — 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.

    Galaxy S III will go on sale in Europe on May 29.

    11:57 am: Santa Clara-based Sensory Inc. says its voice activation technology is helping power the voice command features in the Galaxy S III.

    12:00 pm: The presentation ends and those in London are invited to check out the phone in various booths designed to replicate the kind of pop-up stands where Samsung plans to show the device.

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