By Michael Fisher | April 23, 2012 1:59 PM
Another year, another Samsung Galaxy announcement. This one’s not only the most anticipated; it’s also the most dramatic, with mysterious textured-liquid-blob press invites and aspirational stellar-themed videos. Android fans the world over are looking forward to May 3rd with barely contained excitement. Will the product live up to such heightened expectations? Let’s take a look at the info we have, and do some speculating. Because that’s fun.
In The First Place, What Is The Product?
A few days back, we took a look at what we might expect from a Galaxy S III announcement. Everyone’s assuming the May 3rd Unpacked event will be the chosen venue for the unveiling of the next Galaxy, which makes sense: we’re coming up on a year since the Galaxy S II release. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Samsung’s “Galaxy” sub-brand encompasses a whole suite of mobile devices, from smartphone to tablet to portable media player. It’s possible this event will see Samsung reveal more than just one slice of that pie. Certainly, the presence of three distinct puddles of mystery on the press announcement -one large, one medium, and one small- lend credence to that theory. PMPs aren’t exactly a hot item anymore, so that’s probably a long shot, but we may well see the next iteration of the Galaxy Tab announced alongside the phone. An 11.6″ display at never-before-experienced resolution would not be surprising, considering the rumors of the past few months.
Hiding In Plain View
Many are speculating about what nuggets of information are hiding in the teaser materials Samsung has released. The liquid blobs on the press invite pictured above have led some to speculate that the Galaxy S III may feature water resistance as a headline feature. We’ve certainly seen this selling point take on greater importance of late, and it would be a welcome diversion from the monotony of the GB/GHz/Mbps spec race. That said, it’s not the only possible interpretation of that image. There appears to be some brushed-metal-esque grain in the blue-gray blob, and the consistency of all three suggests a thicker, more substantial material. We might be looking at a stylized rendering of a new coating Samsung is using for their devices, similar to the ceramic finish on HTC’s One X.
There’s also the new video mentioned above, and in a story earlier today:
Truly smart technology becomes a natural part of life.
Okay. Lightweight, but it’s the first line in the video.
Where a galaxy fits perfectly into your hand.
A callback to the Galaxy brand name, of course. Once again, this could apply to any device in the Galaxy-branded portfolio. The hardware design of the GS3 is still a big unknown, as all leaked imagery has apparently featured the device in some kind of stealthy case. We’ve seen Samsung do some interesting hardware design recently, notably with the curved displays and casings on the last two Nexus iterations; it’s very likely that the newest Galaxy S handset will advance this trend forward, fitting it “perfectly in your hand.”
Your view of the world grows ever wider.
This line screams “display,” but there’s just not enough to draw a solid conclusion about what it means, or even which device it applies to. 1080p resolution on a phone-sized display doesn’t really make sense, as only someone with super-human eyesight could appreciate it; also, the impact on battery life and processor demands would be prohibitive. Such a high resolution on a tablet-sized display, on the other hand, would be quite a differentiator. Coupled with something like an 11.6″ panel size (“ever wider,” indeed), it would be a blockbuster blast in the spec battle, so this line could well refer to a tablet.
Interpreting this line less literally, “view of the world” could refer to your ability to access your content. Samsung’s going to have to compete on ecosystem as much as it does on hardware, and rumors suggest that May 3rd may also feature announcement of a cloud-storage service from Samsung called S-Cloud. Though cloud-storage options are hardly unique, especially considering the impending arrival of Google Drive, Samsung might be able to spin such a service into a potent selling point if it targets marketing at the right kind of buyer.
As you gain the power to explore it freely and swiftly
This is kind of a throwaway line that ties into everything mentioned above. This could mean a streamlined bundle of services, or it could be a reference to what’s likely to be a beefy quad-core Exynos processor. Our own Joe Levi has gone into some detail in a great video explaining why performance specs aren’t always all that, but no matter how irrelevant it may be to most consumers, the specification struggle remains an important part of selling a phone.
With technology that fits in this easily, you can now stand out from everyone else.
Up until this point, the video has been pretty high-concept and abstract, splashing the lines over flashy renders of galaxies and other celestial bodies. With this last line, Samsung shows us they’re not done taking jabs at Apple in their advertising: the “everyone else” text lands as we transition to a static shot of a bunch of bleating sheep milling about. Ha ha, etc. Of course, Apple isn’t directly mentioned, but just like with the last round of commercials, we know who they’re talking about. All you “creative baristas” should feel appropriately chagrined.
I just got Samsung-ed.
It’s going to take more than digs at Apple’s consumers to move the Galaxy S III. Look at today’s competitive landscape compared to 2011: whereas the previous iteration of the Galaxy S launched during a lull in HTC’s success, the Taiwanese competitor is bringing the heat this year with the One line. They’ve managed to put the pressure back on Samsung by delivering a product line that impresses everyone, from its design to its guts. Furthermore, Apple’s new iPhone is less likely to be a warmed-over refresh this time around. We’re even seeing, maybe for the first time ever, pressure from Windows Phone as Nokia’s eye-catching Lumia designs garner generally favorable reviews and nab more than their share of the spotlight.
TL; DR: Whatever Samsung announces on May 3rd, it needs to pack the specs and “wow factor” necessary to stay competitive for at least the next year. That’s not going to be easy with competitors sharpening their swords in an increasingly-saturated market, but given how much is riding on this release, Samsung is unlikely to disappoint this time around.