03/05/2012 23:29 | By Duncan Jefferies, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone announced

All you need to know about Samsung's new top-of-the-range Android handset.

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"Designed by humans and inspired by nature" is the tagline for the year's most hotly anticipated smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S3. The phone, which features a 4.8-inch screen and a host of other cutting-edge features, was unveiled to the world at a glitzy launch ceremony in London earlier tonight. This quad-core beast, running on Android 4.0, promises to be every bit as popular as the Galaxy S2 once it hits the shelves on the 29 May. So without further ado, here are the key features of Samsung's new baby.

Intuitive interaction
The Smart Stay feature uses the front-facing camera to sense when your eyes are looking at the screen. That means you'll no longer have to keep touching the screen when you're reading an article or e-book or watching a movie. The iPhone's Siri feature looks like it will have a real competitor in the form of S Voice, which listens and responds to all your commands and requests. Say "snooze" and it will kill your alarm, for example. You can also use it to play your favorite songs, send text messages and emails, organise your schedules or automatically launch the camera app.

Direct Call and Smart Alert
Direct Call uses motion recognition and a proximity sensor to automatically sense when you want to call someone. What does that mean in practice? Well, if you're texting someone and realise it would be easier to call them instead, you need only lift the phone to your ear and the Galaxy S3 will dial their number. The Smart Alert feature also looks handy: it will vibrate the next time you pick up the phone to alert you immediately to any missed calls.

Social networking
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is designed to help you keep track of all your nearest and dearest. Social Tag recognises the faces of people in your photographs, tags them and allows you to jump straight to their Facebook wall. Buddy Photo Share sorts your snaps and gives you the option to send them straight to the people the phone has tagged, either by text or by email, with a single touch.

Content sharing
Built-in NFC enables a feature called S Beam, which makes it possible to pair instantly with another Galaxy S3 to stream video or share files - a 1GB movie file can be shared within three minutes and a 10MB music file within two seconds. AllShare Cast, another new feature, lets you wirelessly ping content to another screen - you can even display PowerPoint files on a larger display and control the presentation with your phone. AllShare Play will let you push content on your phone to any DLNA device, and Group Cast lets you share your screen among multiple friends or colleagues on the same wi-fi network, allowing them to see what you're working on, make comments and draw changes.

Samsung claims the Galaxy S3 is inspired by the smooth curves of nature. It's a theme it's certainly gone heavy on: the Live Wallpaper unveiled at the launch event ripples like water when touched and the notification sounds also have a watery vibe. A process called 'hyperglaze' has been used to create a virtually seamless design, which features a super-skinny bezel. The Galaxy S3 is also just 8.3mm thick and weighs 133g. It will be available in two colours, pebble blue and marble white, at launch with more to follow later in the year. Inside is a 1.4GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM. Internal storage is either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB - and that can be boosted via microSD.

Samsung Galaxy S3 (© Samsung)

It's not quite Galaxy Note-sized, but the screen of the Samsung Galaxy S3 is still a whopping 4.8-inches of HD Super AMOLED goodness. Samsung has maximised the room available for the screen by shrinking down the surrounding bezel; it claims the phone is only marginally bigger than the S2 despite the display being 22% larger. We're promised zero motion blur on HD video too and greater energy efficiency to improve your movie watching on the go.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 has an 8MP camera. Samsung says its snapper has zero shutter lag and can take 3.3 pictures every second (its burst mode allows you to capture up to 20 photos at once). A new feature called Best Photo will also take eight pictures in quick succession and select the best one automatically. A double tap on the screen zooms in on people's faces, and group tag will sort your photos into groups based on the people that appear in them. As well as shooting 1080p video from the rear camera you'll also be able to take 720p HD video with the 1.9MP front facing camera (and capture still shots while shooting video).

Ultimate guide: What Samsung Galaxy should you buy?

And the rest...
A cool new feature called Pop Up Play lets you watch HD video while performing other functions on the phone. Press the Pop Up Play button and the video will be resized into a smaller window, allowing you to place it elsewhere on the screen. Samsung has also promised an improved battery life compared with the 'average' smartphone. A wireless charging mat accessory will be launched to accompany the Galaxy S3. An in-call sound equaliser will reportedly boost the quality of calls, and we've been promised some awesome gaming experiences through 'Game Hub', which will provide access to lots of social games. Similar hubs for music and movies will also be available at launch.

Samsung has risen to become Apple's biggest rival in the smartphone wars, and with the Samsung Galaxy S3 it's upping the ante even further. Anticipation for the phone is high but from our early impressions it looks like Samsung has packed enough into this big-screen beauty to make it the phone to beat this year. Organic, intuitive and 'human centric' are the guiding principles behind Galaxy S3. We can't wait to get our hands on this phone and see if it lives up to the hype. Look out for our full review very soon.

Check out our Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini review

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