Samsung missed the boat earlier this year, sort of, when it wasn't prepared to announce any major news of its flagship Galaxy S III super smartphone back in February during Mobile World Congress. Subsequently it announced its new flagship, and managed to deliver a rather handsome mobile device with a very large screen and an extremely thin profile relative to its overall size. Interestingly, the same can be said of the Samsung Note.
Samsung is making up for lost opportunity however, by changing its strategy up a bit - rather than taking the same phone and giving it different names for its various carrier distribution partners, the company will now stick with the same name across all five US carriers. This means that U.S. consumers on five major service providers will now be able to own the same Samsung Galaxy S III as everyone else. The Galaxy S III is optimized for all of the fastest 4G LTE and HSPA+ 42 networks, and it will be launching with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular starting in June. Exact pricing and retail availability has been announced by each of the five carriers and the phone will prove competitive across every one of them.
What is interesting here is that Samsung will finally be able to go head to head with the iPhone across all US telecom channels, giving Samsung perhaps its first real shot at delivering a product that can turn consumers who were absolutely set on an iPhone to move in Samsung's direction. Further, although the Galaxy S III is being touted as a consumer mobile sell, in fact its price tag is going to really set it up as a phone that will have to work as an enterprise tool in order to justify its cost - regardless of the cool overall set of features it brings to the game.
Can it Compete with the iPhone?
The Galaxy S III delivers a new standard for smartphones. The Galaxy S III is big
yet only weighs 4.7 ounces and is 8.6 millimeters thin, making it lighter and sleeker than other leading smartphones from other competitors, including various models with smaller displays. The 4.8 inch display extends to an ultra-thin bezel to maximize the viewing area. The Galaxy S III delivers high end processing power to allow more applications to be accessible simultaneously. In short it has the makings of a powerful enterprise tool - and this is where it is now likely to go head to head with the iPhone.
The S-Voice feature on the Galaxy S III offers much more than just asking and answering questions (Siri anyone?). S-Voice allows users to control the applications and services used most with words instead of touch. S-Voice can turn the volume up or down on the music player, answer or reject incoming calls, shut off or choose to snooze the alarm clock, or take a picture by saying simply by saying "smile."
Meanwhile, "Smart Stay" puts a lot of "smart" in smartphones, so to speak. With Smart Stay, the Galaxy S III tracks a user's eye to ensure the device screen is always on while one is looking at it. By knowing when a user is looking at the screen, it doesn’t dim the backlight or timeout to an idle screen. All useful features for enterprise-level videoconferencing.
"Motion" simplifies and short cuts many common functions including converting a text message to a call by simply raising the phone to the ear, tapping the top of the phone to go to the top of an email and list of emails or contacts, and alerting to missed call or text message.
The capabilities of the Galaxy S III's 8 megapixel camera go well beyond point and shoot. Burst Shot captures still pictures at a rapid-fire pace at three images per second with zero shutter lag; and Best Shot recommends the best picture to keep based on colors, lighting and clarity. The Galaxy S III shoots and plays back 1080p HD quality video with a backside illuminated sensor that improves performance in low light environments, and provides the ability to capture a photo during videoing.
Though some of these features are clearly targeted at the consumer, that is missing the point. These high end features are the sorts of features that drive BYOD in the enterprise. The Galaxy S III is the first smartphone we've seen - aside from the iPhone - that can have large scale enterprise-level appeal - something the iPhone has never come up against in five years of existence. It leads us to believe that Samsung may finally find the sort of foothold that will earn it lasting enterprise market share.
What is perhaps even more important, once - or rather if - Samsung is able to generate such a foothold, it will open up doors to other possibilities. A Samsung Galaxy S III in this position will clearly provide the same sort of uncontested "halo" effect that the iPhone and iPad have enjoyed for several years now.
Finally, the Galaxy S III includes Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with Samsung "TouchWiz" enhancements, the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5 GHz dual core CPU and 2 GB of internal RAM to provide high-speed performance that in turn enables efficient and seamless multi-tasking. The dual-core processor offers competitive speeds and performance as leading quad-core processors without sacrificing valuable battery life.
The sharp 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED touchscreen display brings content to life. It still is not quite the retina display of the iPhone or new iPad, but it couldn't possibly come any closer short of achieving the same level of quality. It's very close, though that is a subjective call. The 4.8 inch display shouldn't compromise the device's true portability - though that is also subjective. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 2.0, of course, to guard against cracks and scratches and provide enhanced touchscreen responsiveness.
The Galaxy S III is powered by a removable 2100 mAh battery (unlike the iPhone) for extended use on a single charge. Some of us are used to carrying around external batteries for our iPhones - there is no such need with the Galaxy S III.
There are other features that we won't detail here - for example, the new phone's unique "Share" capabilities. Some of these features are indeed more useful on the consumer side - enterprises may look to turn off such features for business use.
Finally, the only thing we still do not know is what Apple will do next. What we do currently know is that that the Samsung Galaxy S III isn't merely a high end consumer device - look for it to show up in large numbers in the enterprise and to give Apple some real competition - finally.