Today we announced that Best Buy and Future Shop are consolidating as Best Buy. This means the products, services, and features you have come to expect from Future Shop and FutureShop.ca will now be available at Best Buy and BestBuy.ca. We have plans to invest up to $200 million to build a leading multi-channel customer experience on the Best Buy brand.
Rumours and speculation that Samsung would unveil its latest hero smartphone, the Galaxy S III, proved to be true, as the company did just that at its Unpacked event today in London. Considered “the biggest launch of the year”, the phone is feature-packed and you can expect to see an LTE version of it come to Canada this summer.
The design of the phone was described as “mimicking the warmth and beauty of nature”, which may seem a bit of an odd preamble for a smartphone, but speaks to the focus on design. The phone is 8.6mm thin and weighs 133 grams.
The phone sports a huge 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display (1280x720), which is all the more interesting because the bezel around it is smaller. The size of the Galaxy S III is not a huge difference from previous Galaxy smartphones that were in the 4.5-inch range, so the screen does take up more real estate on the S III. It has an 8-megapixel camera in the rear with an LED flash and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. As expected, it will run on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Samsung did not specify what processor the phone was using.
LTE connectivity was confirmed for the U.S., but expect that to extend to Canada as well. No other details were provided on LTE, however, as Samsung says those details will come later at events hosted south of the border.
In a feature the company calls Smart Stay the phone recognizes that your eyes are looking at it and keeps the screen awake until you avert your eyes.
S Voice appears to be a competitor to Apple’s Siri voice-recognition platform. Samsung says that S Voice “works so well that it recognizes our natural way of speaking”, and seems to have similarities to Siri when it comes to searching for a point of interest, checking the weather and even switching applications. Sending text messages and emails can apparently be done purely through voice. If the alarm goes off, and you want to sleep a bit more, you can just say “snooze”. Say “cheese” when taking a self-portrait and it snaps the photo. S Voice should prove to be an interesting feature, overall, but let the Siri comparisons begin.
Motion Recognition is interesting in that if you missed a call or text message from someone, you only need to put the phone to your ear and it will call that person back automatically.
Social Tag matches people in photos with the profile photo from the contact page. If that profile is matched with a Google+ account, then contact info shows up in an overlay during photo playback. You also get a Facebook link and a quick way to move over to that person’s contact page.
S Beam combines NFC technology with Wi-Fi direct, meaning you can share a 1GB video with a friend by simply touching the two phones together and pushing a button. No need for Wi-Fi networks or a data plan to do it, since it’s an ad hoc connection. Samsung considers this an expansion of the Android Beam feature found in Ice Cream Sandwich.
AllShare Cast allows you to wirelessly connect the phone to a TV and move content over to the larger display, like playing games or video.
AllShare Play is the same idea as Cast, except it lets you share pretty much any file type with an Android tablet, PC and TV.
Group Cast lets you share your Galaxy S III’s screen with other users on the same Wi-Fi network. SDKs and APIs are being offered so that third-party developers can make apps utilizing the technology.
Face Recognition tags people in photos and matches the tags with your contacts so you can then send those photos to your contacts instantly, either through email or social networks. Buddy Photo Share is an extension of Face Recognition and Social Tag in that you can immediately email the photo to multiple contacts (who are in the photo) at one time, so long as their email addresses are in their contact pages.
There are a number of other features that were unveiled, though the list above has some of the really key ones. There must also be a range of other nuances that can’t be determined without actually testing the phone, so there’s only so much we can say about that.
Other than a summertime launch that will likely include LTE, there is little else known about the Galaxy S III’s presence in Canada. Who the carriers might be is still unknown and what the phone will cost hasn’t been revealed, either. Stay tuned as we’ll be updating the blog when announcements are made.
UPDATE: you can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S III on futureshop.ca.