Samsung Unpacked Event, May 28 Release: Galaxy SIII Live Blog

Live blog of the Samsung event in London — where the Samsung S3 unveil is taking place — going on now. Voice recognition, 4.8-inch screen but just an 8 MP cam. It features S Beam, as expected.

Summary: Samsung announces a May 28 ship date for its upcoming Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, which runs Android 4.X Ice Cream Sandwich. It’s got a 4.8-inch screen, some smart camera technology and voice-recognition capabilities. But….

10:50 a.m. Samsung always did. It takes down its Facebook page right before an event, which is scheduled for 10 minutes from now.

11:02 The big blue room in London is packing up. It’s about to begin. For all this hype, this had better be good. “Unpacking.” What a weird term. Is that unveiling? Announcing? What?

11:05: What do you expect from the next Galaxy, is the theme here. I don’t know about you but I am expecting a lot. Now they are showing what customers want. How about a working LTE phone in the US? Hmmm?

11:08 Suzi Perry is emceeing. She is a TV personality in tech. Odd.

11:11 FINALLY President and Head of IT and Mobile Communications Division of Samsung Electronics J.K. Shin takes the stage. Some details! Wow, they lead with the screen. It is a 4.8-inch, 720p screen. That is huge.

11:15 But only an 8mp camera. That’s silly. Samsung has access to the patent for pixel binning. It could’ve had a 41mp camera like the Nokia 808 PureView. Ah, well. That kind of sucks.

11:19 Next up: Loesje De Vriese, Head of Marketing and Jean-Daniel Ayme, Vice President of European Telecommunication Operations. Boring video. But yes, it is called the SIII (not S3). As we thought.

11:22 This is strange. Execs are attempting, strangely, to explain that the camera detects when you are looking at it but shuts down when you look away. Also an allusion to voice recognition technology…

11:23 Smart Stay is the feature they are trying to explain. It also has voice recognition, demoing that now. Looks okay.

11:24: S Voice: Jean-Daniel just said something interesting. “Keeps the screen awake for us when we are awake.” What? Try again, Jean-Daniel.

11:25: Now Jean-Daniel is showing the VR. “Just say ‘Hi Galaxy’ to get it to take up.” And then “After I wake it up, it will wait for my next move.” LOL He says, “Hi Galaxy (it wakes up), how is the weather in London?” Can I call mine Suzy?

11:26: Voice recognition feature can also launch apps on this phone, that’s cool.

11:28: “I want to take a picture” and it will launch camera, he says. That seems like a dumb feature. Must faster ways to take pictures around, aren’t there? He says it “listens to our natural languages.” That’s “British, USA English, Italian, German, French, Spanish and Korean”

11:28: Another feature, he calls it: Direct Call. This uses motion recognition and proximity sensor to call the person you are texting by putting it to your ear.

11:29: “Your Galaxy SIII knows important texts from non-important” texts, he says. I guess if your boss calls, it shouts at you?

11:29: Buddy photo share: Social tagging. Basically, it recognizes “people in your photos and links to them with your social media from gallery.” That’s interesting. But this is just face recognition tied to social networks. Will let you post to friends’ wall just by touching photo. Sort of interesting…wow, a big focus on photo sharing here.

11:29: Wow, that was a boring video. Second one in 30 minutes. Artsy, info-free. Okay back to the smartphone.

11:30: S Beam technology. Expected that. That lets you share video using NFC. More on that later. Another boring video is about to start.

11:38: Man, I want to berate whoever is producing these videos. Here’s Loesje De Vriese, Samsung’s Head of Marketing. Quad-core processor. Yep, the 1.4 GHz Exynos 4412 as expected. Showing a black model. Saying it will be available in both 3G and LTE versions…time to explain what that means to U.S. Loesje. A different processor? By the way, here is their video analogy for a quad-core processor. Yep, that’s four fans. Nice work, Samsung.

11:40 Sorry, that’s blue, not black — it looked black on screen. Pebble blue and marble white are the available colors. And here’s some stuff on TouchWiz, this is the skin on Android Samsung. Looks like it will be as invasive as I was worried about. We will see.

11:42 She just said it’s a “relaxed, peaceful experience that takes us back to nature!” New marketing slogan idea for Samsung: Sleep, sleep.

11:43: That’s nice, everyone at the event is getting signed up for 100 euro donation to the World Wildlife Fund.

11:46 Okay, finally to the meat of it!

11:46 Camera, they say, has no shutter lag. Well, the Nexus had this and it made for terrible pictures. Up to 20 images in burst mode…

11:47: 3.3 shots/sec that’s pretty fast, here’s something kind of wild, the Best Photo feature. What is this? Ah.

11:47: It automatically selects best photo from a burst of eight photos.

11:48: Here’s the demonstration. Kind of cool. He shot eight pics of her and says it automatically chooses the best one. I have no idea how they do it — we will have to see if it is actually functional.

11:48: 8mp with LED flash

11:49: Feature: Face zoom allows you to zoom in on faces, group tagging (they mentioned this already) and sorts photos in groups by people who appear in them.

11:50: HD video of self by front-facing camera. Wait, this is unique. How does a 1.9 MP camera do HD video? Backside illumination

11:50: Screen: Super HD AMOLED 4.8-inch, slim bezel, 22 percent larger screen than GS2 but not much larger frame…Is this the AMOLED Plus? PenTile? No answers yet.

11:50: But wait. WIRELESS CHARGING. That is cool.

11:51: A docking station for the desk. Expected that. Samsung already offers some docking stations for various devices.

11:52 A bunch of enterprise features targeting the BYOD (bring your own device trend) … that’ll be in the materials, active syncing, device management, etc.

11:54: Another terrible art video. At least they’re short.

11:55 MAY 28 — ship date for Europe. Samsung is wrapping it up now. USA in the summer – did they say late summer?

11:59 Just one more thing? Yep. Samsung is going to release microstores.

12::00 Now it is giving journalists a look at the Galaxy S III by opening up the stage. Look at this! A stampede. Cripes. Should journalists stampede for a look? NO! Agh.

12:00 And that is all she wrote. More specs and pics to come. Watch this space.

Gina Smith contributed on this live blog.

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