Samsung shows the Galaxy S III, a smarter smartphone

Samsung launched the Galaxy S III, its latest Google Android(s goog) smartphone, at a UK press event on Thursday. The handset offers some expected incremental hardware feature upgrades over its predecessor but the main improvements are seen through software and user interaction. Samsung expects to offer an HSPA+ version of the device in Europe later this month, with additional rollouts following in 145 countries around the world.

Most of the hardware specs are what I had said to expect earlier today although I wasn’t 100 percent correct. Here’s a quick breakdown of the device:

  • 4.8-inch Super AMOLED Plus display with 1280 x 720 resolution.
  • The phone, made in plastic polycarbonate, measures 136.6mm x 70.6mm x 8.6mm and weighs 133 grams (4.7 ounces).
  • 8 megapixel rear camera and 1.9 megapixel front sensor with zero shutter lag. The camera offers a 20 image burst mode and the phone can be unlocked through facial recognition on the front camera. Pics of your friends can be automatically recognized and sent to them.
  • The front camera also tracks your eye movement so that the phone knows when you’re looking at it, keeping the display backlit automatically.
  • Storage capacity will initially be 16 GB and 32 GB with a 64 GB model to follow. A microSD card slot allows for expansion.
  • Samsung’s new 1.4 GHz Exynos quad-core chip paired with 1 GB of memory will power the phone although the chip may be swapped out for others in LTE markets, with availability later this summer.
  • Other connectivity features include Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (with dual-channel bonding for faster speeds), GPS and NFC.
  • A new S Voice feature supports voice actions, similar to Siri on Apple’s iPhone 4S(s AAPL).
  • The 2100 mAh battery, with a wireless charger option, should last “longer than the average smartphone,” according to Samsung.
  • Several DLNA sharing options are enhanced, allowing, for example, the ability to share media from one phone to a group.
  • Thanks to the processor and screen, you can watch HD videos in part of the display and multitask on the rest of the screen.

Samsung appears to have raised the bar for its new handset, but mostly through software features, from what I can see so far. The company said the phone can “see” and “hear” bringing more intelligence to the device. I’ll know how smart the phone is after I get a review unit in my hand.