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Samsung expanded its Galaxy S line of smartphones Thursday with the highly-anticipated launch of its third-generation Galaxy S III. The Korean tech giant unveiled the new Galaxy at a London-based launch event Thursday afternoon, divulging a set of new features poised to position the device as the latest rival to Apple’s iPhone.
The Galaxy S III, which runs on Samsung’s next-generation quad-core Exynos processor and Google’s Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" OS, touts a 4.8-inch screen with a 720-pixel HD resolution. It’s a bit bigger than its predecessor, the Galaxy S II, weighing in at 4.7 ounces and measuring 0.3 inches thick.
The device comes equipped with an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera that enables a new feature called "Smart Stay." Samsung explained that Smart Stay, through the use of the front-facing camera, can detect a user’s eye movements to gauge whether it should dim the screen or stay lit for further reading or web browsing. Put simply, Smart Stay relies on the flick of an eyelid -- rather than the tap of a finger -- to keep the device "awake."
Another new feature, called "S Voice," allows users to vocally command the Galaxy S III to do things like wake up, take a picture, and check the weather. Similar to Siri, the personal assistant functionality Apple introduced with the iPhone 4S, users can speak to the Galaxy S III, rather than rely on traditional buttons or finger taps, to accomplish tasks.
"This is a phone that sees, a phone that listens and a phone that responds to our intentions," said Jean-Daniel Ayme, vice president, European Telecom Operations at Samsung Electronics, while performing demos of the new features.
Samsung also unveiled a new feature called "S Beam," which leverages near-field communications (NFC) technology to allow for faster file sharing between Galaxy S III users. Content including videos and photos can be shared between fellow Galaxy S III users by swiping the smartphones past one another or tapping them together.