Guest blogger Karl Newark writes:
These days there seems to be a new Android smartphone released every week, and the latest to be announced was the Samsung Galaxy S III. But this seemed to have a particularly high level of hype surrounding its announcement; is this device a potential market leader, or will it be forgotten in a few weeks?
First, let’s think about why this phone has been so gleefully anticipated by many. Why did Samsung decide to give this device its own press event rather than announce it at an event such as the Mobile World Congress or CES?
Let’s take a look at the history of the Galaxy S line, and what has led to such a buzz about its latest iteration. In my opinion, it comes down to three things: hardware, software, and marketing.
When the original Galaxy S was released, it matched and, in most cases, surpassed most of the competition in terms of hardware. It matched the top screen resolutions and camera sensors at the time, and surpassed most other flagship devices with its cutting edge Hummingbird processor and PowerVR graphics processor. Samsung also gave consumers a lot of software for the price. On top of Android was the first iteration of Samsung’s “TouchWiz” interface, which was criticised for slowing the phone down and not looking great, but it did make the phone easier to use, especially as it puts the core and most essential apps such as the dialer and messaging above other apps. Samsung also included an office suite, Swype keyboard, social apps, and many widgets. Samsung followed this all up with plenty of updates to the operating system when necessary, and delivered them a lot more promptly than a lot of other manufacturers.
The original Galaxy S was not heavily marketed compared to any other Android device, yet it went on to sell more than 10 million devices, and won awards including the European Smartphone of the Year award from the European Imaging and Sound Association.
The next major release in the Galaxy S line was the Galaxy S II. This phone carried on the legacy set by the original; Samsung maintained its reputation for fantastic screens by not only increasing the size but developing the Super AMOLED technology to a new Super AMOLED Plus standard. The screen in the Galaxy S II was the same resolution, but with an improved number of sub pixels, the display appeared brighter and sharper while improving efficiency. The device also had an improved camera, doubled storage, and RAM with a top of the line 1.2 GHz dual core processor which, itself, was created by Samsung.
The software Samsung applied to Android also had improvements. It was faster, slicker, and its colours were very pleasing to the eye. The exterior of the phone also had some major improvements. The phone was thinner, the camera had a flash, and the previously plastic glossy back was now a more up market textured plastic. With this combination of hardware, software, and the good reputation carried from the previous device, this was bound to be a great success — how great was down to the marketing of Samsung.
To start with, Samsung ran a series of commercials showing off the vivid colors of the screen, they were not terrible ads, but they certainly, in my opinion, were not as powerful as they needed to be if Samsung wanted to ever break into the iPhone’s territory. I know first hand that a lot of people still think of Android and the devices that run it as how they were a few years ago, but the truth is that things have changed drastically. Samsung needed to make people aware of this.
Later, Samsung started to roll out a series of much more significant commercials. Among some people, they were even considered controversial. Samsung directly attacked the iPhone and compared certain features directly. These commercials poked fun at people queuing for a new iPhone and showed them why the Galaxy S II (in the opinion of Samsung) was better. I do not see this more direct style of marketing as immoral in any way; it’s how a lot of businesses advertise, and how Apple itself has advertised in the past. We have all seen the famous Mac vs. Windows commercials.
The combination of the work Samsung put into this device led to more than 24 million units being sold (and counting). It was honored by Mobile World Congress’s Global Mobile Awards as “Smartphone Of The Year 2012” And received some fantastic reviews, getting 9/10 from Engadget, which called it “possibly the best smartphone, period.”
On May 3, 2012, the Galaxy S III was finally announced with specs that put it at the very top of all mobile devices. As expected, it has a great screen, super AMOLED technology like its predecessor, but the resolution has been boosted up to 1280 x 720 and the screen size has been extended to 4.8 inches. The CPU and camera have also been upgraded, the CPU is now quad core, and the camera is the same highly rated Sony sensor that is used in Apple’s iPhone 4S.
Samsung hasn’t only done a great job with the hardware, but the software it has installed is also very impressive. This device will go into standby when it detects you are not looking at it, and the camera has plenty of features that are not included in Android by default such as HDR mode, burst mode, and social features. However, the most notable software Samsung has put into place would be S-voice, a voice command application that’s a lot like Apple’s Siri.
With all the success of the previous iterations, the announcement of the Galaxy S III was surrounded by a huge amount of hype, and rumors were going around for a long time. It was clear that Samsung had excited a lot of people with this device and they have seemed to use this wisely. Samsung has announced that there will be no variations of the device for different countries of carriers (it is worth noting that the 4G LTE version will use a different processor); this isn’t what carriers generally approve of, but in my opinion it works out better for the consumer. There is a lot less confusion, and it gives Samsung less devices to support, which means future updates to the OS should be quicker.
It’s hard to say for sure just how well the Galaxy S III will do as a lot of it will come down to marketing, and whatever competition is round the corner, but with over nine million pre-orders internationally, Samsung has had a great start.
In summary: I predict that we haven’t heard the last of this device, and we probably won’t for some time. With its astounding hardware, I’m sure it’s set to be the benchmark for smartphones for some time. It’s nice to see Samsung breaking the mold with some effective advertising and minimizing its hardware variants, but it still has a way to go. It would be great to see the company go even further and deny carriers the right to add “bloatware” to its devices.
Rumor has it that the next iPhone is right around the corner, and if it is, the S III will be the phone it has to beat. These will be the smartphones that most consumers will choose between, and Apple has got a lot to do if it wants to compete. I can’t wait to see what it has come up with!