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Samsung Galaxy S III is official, but not yet for the U.S.

Consumer Reports News: May 03, 2012 04:38 PM

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At its Unpacked event tonight in London, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S III smart phone, a 4G LTE phone with a 1.4 quad-core processor—one of the first ever on a smart phone. It also has a giant 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED (1280x720) display and an impressive array of sensors and software that recognize gestures and biometrics to make phone navigation more intuitive.

Now for the bad news: The phone will be available on May 29 in Europe, but there's no word yet when, if ever, it will debut in the U.S. It's hard to imagine, though, that Samsung won't eventually bring the phone to this country.

There's plenty to admire in this phone. A Smart Page feature keeps the screen from going to sleep when you're reading a Web page because the phone's front-facing camera can "see" that you're watching it. Using a proximity sensor, the phone senses that you want to call the person you're texting when you hold the phone to your ear. You can also train the phone to take pictures when you pick it up and hold it sideways. Buddy photo share recognizes people in your photos and automatically offers to beam copies to them via MMS or e-mail.

You don't even have to lift a finger to get things done. The Galaxy S III's Voice follows your commands with a degree of accuracy evocative of the iPhone 4 S's Siri, though it won't talk back to you.

The phone makes the most of wireless to share and receive data from other devices, too. For example, S Beam uses NFC technology to exchange phone content, such as videos, between similarly equipped phones when you bump them together. And Samsung's DLNA-powered All Share feature now enables the Galaxy S III to stream content to and from multiple phones, HDTVs, computers, and other compatible HDLNA devices—not just one.

The Galaxy S III's 8-megapixel rear-facing camera has a few useful tricks it borrowed from HTC's One series camera phones. A burst-shot feature lets you take a volley of 20 pictures and automatically picks the best one. It also allows you to snap still pictures while shooting HD videos at 1080p. The front-facing 1.9 megapixel camera can shoot video at 720p.

When a 4G data connection isn't available, the Galaxy S III has Wi-Fi channel bonding that claims to double the speed of the available Wi-Fi network.

Samsung beefed up gaming, video, and music hubs for this phone. The music hub feature matches your own music collection with Samsung's library of 17 million songs, which you can stream to your phone over the network. No word yet on whether there will be a charge for this service.

Just 8.6mm thick, the Galaxy S III will come with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of internal storage that can be increased by up to 32GB via its microSD slot. Options include a wireless charging pad, a slim cover to protect the screen, several docking stations, and a compact MP3 player called Pebble.

Mike Gikas

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