news Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are all listed on Samsung Australia’s support site as launch partners for the company’s upcoming Galaxy S III smartphone, it was revealed last week, including a potential 4G version for Telstra’s rapidly expanding LTE network.
Several weeks ago Samsung unveiled the phone which many expect to be the most popular smartphone globally in 2012 — the Galaxy S III, Samsung’s successor to the Galaxy S II model which continues to be one of the most popular smartphones sold in Australia. At the time, Samsung didn’t confirm an Australian launch window for the phone. However, there are increasing indications that the phone may shortly launch locally through all three of the nation’s major mobile carriers — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, as its predecessor did.
In an invitation issued last week, Samsung invited Australian journalists to a launch event in Sydney on 31 May, where “guests will experience first-hand a product that is set to change the way we interact with technology”. With no other major Samsung product launches having occurred recently internationally, it is expected that the launch will see Samsung debut the Galaxy S III in Australia.
In addition, late last week dedicated Android media outlet Ausdroid revealed that Samsung’s Australian support site lists versions of the Galaxy S III supported by Vodafone and Optus, as wella number of separate versions for Telstra. The key, Ausdroid revealed, is to examine the model numbers for the Galaxy S III, which is “GT-i9300”, and then to examine the suffixes of the various models listed. Optus and Vodafone both have entries, and Telstra has a number of entries, leading to widespread speculation (see also Gizmodo’s article on the subject) that Telstra will launch a 4G version of the Galaxy S III, as it has the Galaxy S II.
A key issue for many buyers will be whether the Galaxy S III supports 4G in Australia. Telstra has a well-established 4G network covering the CBDs of capital cities throughout Australia, as well as a number of other areas, and Optus is also developing its 4G network in Newcastle, with a view to rolling out the infrastructure around Australia over the next several years. Both are using the 1800MHz spectrum to do so.
However, the likely delay of HTC’s One XL handset launch in Australia, and the lack of a 4G version of the Galaxy S III so far has left the nation without a really high-end handset supporting Telstra’s new 4G network for some time. The current 4G handsets available through Telstra — notably the HTC Velocity 4G and the Samsung Galaxy S II 4G — are largely seen as re-workings of existing handset offerings in Australia rather than examples of the next-generation of handsets available internationally.
For many buyers, the best 4G handset so far available in Australia will be the HTC One XL, but not from Telstra — as the telco is not yet selling the handset — but from independent retailer Mobicity, which is selling the handset outright.
Like HTC’s One line-up, the Galaxy S III runs the latest version of Google’s Android platform (Ice Cream Sandwich). Its screen resolution is very sharp at 1280×720 in a 4.8″ size, and is based on Super AMOLED technology. The phone comes comes with an eight megapixel rear camera and a 1.9 megapixel camera on its front, it has an accelerometer, a gyrometer, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, a digital compass, a microSD slot and it runs a 1.4GHz quad-core CPU, as well as a specialised graphics chip.
The phone’s battery is removable and rated at 2,100mAh battery, and it can be bought with 16GB, 32GB or 64Gb of on-board storage space. A micro-USB port provides wired connectivity, and the touchscreen is actually covered with version 2 of Corning’s popular Gorilla Glass, for extra, well, toughness. In short, if you can name it, the Galaxy S III has it, as you’d expect from a brand new, top-end Android phone in mid-2012.
Samsung hasn’t shown as much carrier favouritism as rivals such as HTC in Australia, and I would expect the company to launch the Galaxy S III through at least Telstra and Optus, as well as likely Vodafone. If it is true that Telstra’s getting a 4G version of the handset, that model will likely be one of the best smartphones in 2012 to pick up in Australia — and it will be quite future-proof. I would expect the other two major models to compete with a 4G version of the Galaxy S III this year to be the HTC One XL and the next Apple iPhone, whatever that may be ;)
Image credit: Samsung