The Samsung Galaxy S2 is so far the only phone which has come close to competing with the iPhone in terms of market share and in terms of grabbing the public's imagination.

Samsung Galaxy S3
A possible design for the Galaxy S3. (Image Credit: Phones Arena)

Despite almost 300 million Android smartphones currently being in use around the world, there is still a lack of understanding regarding the Android platform, which is mostly down to the fragmentation of the OS and the numerous different versions available on smartphones from manufacturers like HTC, Motorola, ZTE, LG and of course Samsung.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 managed to emerge from the overcrowded Android market with a unique new look, ultra bright screen, ultra-thin profile and a fast dual-core processor. The phone, which launched in Korea last April, has sold over 20 million units in less than 12 months, and while this would account for more than a fifth of all smartphones sold by Samsung in 2011, it still pales in comparison to sales figures for the iPhone, which sold 93 million units between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S in 2011.

Samsung therefore knows it has work to do to reach iPhone sales-levels, and it will be hoping that the next version of the Samsung Galaxy S range will challenge the Apple's market leading device even more.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 was expected to launch at Mobile World Congress 2012, just as the Galaxy S2 had done the year before, but Samsung said it would be delaying the launch until later in the year, and so we are left to speculate as to what Samsung will be announcing in a bid to dominate the Android market and continue to challenge the iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Processor

Samsung Galaxy S3
Samsung Exynos Processor set to power the Galaxy S3

While Apple has yet to go down the quad-core route with iPhone (or indeed the new iPad) there are already many quad-core phones and tablets on the market, including the ZTE Era, LG Optimus 4X HD, HTC One X, Huawei Ascend D quad, Asus Transformer Prime and Acer A700.

The majority of these are powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor - except for the Ascend D quad which is powered by Huawei's own K3V2 quad-core processor. While it has not been confirmed by Samsung, it is almost certain the Samsung Galaxy S3 will be powered by the company's own quad-core Exynos 4412 chip running at 1.5GHz. This has been reported by the Korea Times newspaper, which has a good track record in revealing details of Samsung's upcoming products.

As well as being 26 percent faster than current Samsung dual-core processors, it could also be as much as 50 percent more efficient on battery life too, which is the benefit of multi-core chips which will please smartphone users the most.

The Exynos 4412 System-on-Chip (SoC) is rumoured to feature four Cortex A9 cores and is built on a 32 nanometer (nm) process compared to the 45nm process used on current Exynos chips. Samsung is thought to want to reduce the number of Qualcomm chips it uses in its devices, preferring to use its own SoCs instead.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Screen

Samsung Galaxy S3
Another potential image of the Galaxy S3. (Image Credit: Reddit)

One of the main features of the Samsung Galaxy S2 was of course that bright 4.3in AMOLED screen which made for great video playback. The screen used Samsung's super AMOLED Plus technology, which fixed the pentile sub-pixel arrangement problem which led to the screen on the original Samsung Galaxy S to appear grainy.

The Galaxy S3 is set to continue the trend for larger and larger screens with a 4.8in display, making it almost the same size as the company's 5.3in Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet. It is expected to retain the same Super AMOLED Plus technology which gives such vibrant colours, deep blacks and almost infinite viewing angles.

The main talking point about the screen is the resolution. Various reports suggest that the screen will have a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 while others suggest it will have a lower (but still impressive) HD resolution of 1196 x 720 pixels. Either way, the screen should be a stunner and offer the same experience as the S2, though all those extra pixels will require more juice.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Operating System

Samsung Galaxy S3
The Galaxy S3 may let you run pure Android. (Image Credit: Reddit)

It is almost certain that the Galaxy S3 will launch with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), the latest version of Android which is only now rolling out to the Galaxy S2. However one of the most interesting rumours to emerge regarding the new phone is the possibility that it will allow users to launch one of two versions of the OS.

One will be a 'vanilla' or 'pure' version of Android 4.0 while the second will be what users of Samsung phones are used to seeing: Android overlayed with Samsung's own TouchWiz user interface. This could be an interesting option for many who are irritated at what they see as unnecessary additional tweaks to the core Android OS.

Of course, because of the delay in launching the phone, the Samsung Galaxy S3 could be among the first devices to get the upgrade to Android 5.0 (Jelly Bean) which is set for a summer launch. While it won't be the reference model for this version of the OS, which is set to be the Google Nexus tablet made by Asus, it should be among the first raft of phones and/or tablets to get the update.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Release Date

Samsung Galaxy S3
A screen grab of a Samsung phone seen in a Samsung promotional video.

Samsung has purposely delayed the launch of the Galaxy S3 to later in the year (compared to the launchof the Galaxy S2) in order to bring the US launch closer to the Asian and European launches. The latest reports suggest that the Galaxy S3 will be launching in April with Kim Young-Ha, Samsung Greater China President, reported as saying the launch date could be brought forward a month, from May to April.

May had been the expected launch date but if the reports from Korea are true, then we could be seeing the Galaxy S3 sooner rather than later. With the next iPhone not due to launch until June at the earliest, Samsung will want to get a head start on Apple and will be looking at a more aggressive worldwide launch for the Galaxy S3.

Samsung has previously denied an April launch, saying it would announce the launch date through its official Twitter account, but we'll be keeping our eyes out for any sign from Samsung about when the S3 will be arriving.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Pricing

Samsung Galaxy S3
Samsung Galaxy S3 Concept Design

The Samsung Galaxy S2 was a premium smartphone that came with a premium price. It initially went on sale for around £500 in the UK or free on contracts of £30 or more per month. However the price has come down significantly since then and can be found now for around £300, or free on contracts as little as £20 per month.

We expect the Galaxy S3 to retain a similar price, despite the increase in size, better screen and updated processor. Samsung will need to compete with other high-end phones in terms of price as well as specs and will therefore be reluctant to break the £500 barrier if at all possible.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Other rumours

Samsung Galaxy S3

The Galaxy S3 is expected to retain the ultra-slim profile of the Galaxy S2 but could get a new ceramic finish. While the plastic finish of the S2 did nothing for us, a ceramic finish could be more vulnerable to cracking. However a ceramic finish will feel a lot more premium and will be more resistant to scratches than either metal or plastic.

The Galaxy S3 is almost certainly going to be available in a 4G version, though this will only be available in the US and other countries with a working 4G network, but not of course the UK. It is also likely to include an NFC chip for wireless payments through Google Wallet and other services.

One of the more "out there" rumours we have heard is that the galaxy S3 will have wireless inductive charging support, akin to the TouchStone charging system employed by the now-defunct HP Pre smartphones and TouchPad tablet. We do not expect to see this feature make it to market, but you never know.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 will be one of the most highly anticipated phones of 2012 and we will be bringing you all the details of the launch as they are announced, whenever they are announced.