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Samsung's Galaxy S III phone in pictures

After weeks of build-up, Samsung has unveiled its new top-of-the-range Ice Cream Sandwich handset, which aims to take on rivals with a suite of voice control, file-sharing and collaboration features

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Topic: Mobility
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Galaxy S III front

Samsung's new Galaxy S III handset has a range of features and a slimline design clearly designed to take on Apple's iPhone 4S at its own game.

The Ice Cream Sandwich-powered smartphone, launched in London on Thursday, is set to go on sale in the UK from 30 May. A 4G LTE version, bound for the US and other countries with 4G services, will launch in those territories in June, Samsung said at the event.

Like the HTC One X and Nokia Lumia 900, the Galaxy S III is shrouded in a polycarbonate shell. The company said it put a lot of thought into the "human-centric" design of the handset and what it feels like to use, which it said were "inspired by nature".

For business users, the handset has a few features that could come in handy: voice commands, file-sharing without the need for a Wi-Fi or data connection, and up to 50GB of free cloud storage via a partnership with Dropbox.

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Galaxy S III depth

Measuring 136.6mm by 70.6mm by 8.6mm, the handset is a little thicker than its predecessor — the Galaxy S II, which was 8.49mm deep — but it still manages to come in a little slimmer than the iPhone 4S and HTC One X.

As for its specs, the Galaxy S III is a range-topping device. It comes with a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED 720p display, a quad-core 'Exynos 4' processor, 1GB RAM and an 8-megapixel camera with burst shot options. The camera has zero shutter-lag, according to Samsung.

In the UK, Orange, T-Mobile, Three, Vodafone and O2 have confirmed they will carry the phone, but have not revealed the price of their plans. Retailers such as Phones4U are also selling it.

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Galaxy S III front-facing camera

The Galaxy S III, which comes in white or very dark blue, has a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera for high-resolution video calling or photos. It is also capable of capturing 720p HD video.

It supports microSD cards up to 64GB, and on-board storage can be 16GB, 32GB or 64GB. This means the largest-capacity model will provide a maximum 128GB of space.

Samsung has teamed up with Dropbox to offer 50GB of free external storage via the online storage provider. Once the owner has registered the handset, the allowance on the integrated Dropbox feature will be bumped up from 2GB to the higher total, for two years. This is handy for business users who want to sync documents to the cloud for access on any device that supports Dropbox.

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Galaxy S III rear camera

The smartphone runs Android 4.0, the most recent version, which is also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. However, Samsung has tweaked the Google-backed mobile OS to include an overhauled version of its TouchWiz interface, as well as several manufacturer-specific apps designed to make using the phone a more hands-off experience.

One of these features is S Voice, which lets the owner control the handset with voice commands. For example, people can tell it to wake up, place a phone call, make a diary entry, send a text message, take a photo, play music or adjust the volume, all without touching the phone.

Another feature is Smart Stay, which detects when the user is browsing a web page or reading an e-book, and keeps the screen awake without the need to press it.

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Samsung Galaxy SIII comparison

Samsung has provided several software features aimed at helping the Galaxy S III stand out from its rivals. One of these is a beefed-up version of the Android Beam sharing feature found on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Rebranded as S Beam, the option allows users to share files such as photos, music or videos by touching the handset against another S III, without the need for Wi-Fi or a data signal. Samsung said S Beam can transfer a 1GB film within three minutes and a 10MB music file in about two seconds.

There is also a Group Cast feature for sharing files stored on the phone. On top of this, it lets people work collaboratively on a document in real time with someone using another S III connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

In addition, the phone can wirelessly connect to any DLNA-compatible large-screen display or TV. This means users can carry out video conferences or do full-screen movie playback, if they use an AllShare Cast dongle with the handset.

As well as transferring files, the Galaxy S III has near-field communications (NFC) functionality for carrying out mobile payments, where supported.

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