As the excitement builds, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is shaping up to be the most important smartphone launch of 2012 and we've rounded up everything you need to know in one place.

Samsung Galaxy S3 launches in London IBTimes TV

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 the public's imagination.

Despite over 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 over-crowded 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.

The Galaxy S3 is expected to sell in even larger numbers with networks around the globe placing pre-orders of 10 million for the first month alone, a figure Samsung will struggle to keep up with.

Samsung recently took over from Nokia as the largest phone seller in the world, and retook its position as the biggest smartphone seller from Apple. Things seem to be going very well for the South Korean manufacturer and it will be hoping to build on this success with the launch of the Galaxy S3.

While Samsung has been coy about the name of the new phone, officially saying "Come and meet the next Galaxy" on the press release, an official did call the phone the Galaxy S3 at a recent finanical results briefing.

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 delayed the launch until now in order to launch it globally in a strategy similar to Apple with the iPhone launches.

Let's take a look at what we can expect from Samsung later this evening:

Samsung Galaxy S3: Processor

Exynos 4 quad Samsung 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, HTC One X, Huawei Ascend D quad, Asus Transformer Prime and Acer A700.

The majority of these powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor - except for the Ascend D quad which is powered by Huawei's own K3 quad-core processor.

Samsung has been keeping quiet about what we can expect from the Galaxy S3 in terms of most of the specs, expect that is for the processor which will power it.

The company confirmed last week that the new phone will be powered by the Exynos 4 quad chip which will feature a quad-core CPU running at 1.4GHz.

Samsung is claiming this chip will be 26 percent faster than current Samsung processors and as much as 50 percent more efficient on battery life too, which is the benefits of multi-core chips which will please smartphone users the most.

The Exynos 4412 System-on-Chip (SoC) will 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 - which is good as Qualcomm is suffering from a chip shortage and will do for the rest of 2012.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Screen

Samsung Galaxy S3 Launching on 3 May

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 use a new type of AMOLED technology, though what that is remains a mystery.

The main talking point about the screen is the resolution. Various reports suggest that the screen will have a Full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 while others suggest it will have a lower (but still impressive) HD resolution of 1,196 x 720. 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 Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

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 the phone will allow users to launch 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 using, Android skinned 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 & Pricing

Samsung Galaxy S3 Launching on 3 May

Samsung has purposely delayed launch of the S3 to later in the year compared to the Galaxy S2 in order to bring the US launch closer to the Asian and European launches.

While it is unveiling the new smartphone today in London, it is still unclear when it will launch. The thinking is that Samsung is set for a global launch and that it will use a most aggressive strategy by launching the phone in a number of markets around the globe at once, including key markets in North America, Europe and Asia.

A recent accidental listing on the Amazon Germany website listed the phone at €599 (£490) which is in or around the same as most high-end smartphones, including the iPhone. We wouldn't expect Samsung to some down much on this price, though a drop of £100 in the price could boost sales significantly.

All the major networks in the UK will be carrying the phone offering it for free on two year contracts for somewhere around £35-a-month.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Other rumours

Samsung Galaxy S3 Launching on 3 May

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, which the UK is not one. It is also likely to include an NFC chip for wireless payments through Google Wallet and other services.

According to a leak just yesterday the Galaxy S3 is set to come in blue and white versions, which emerged as a result of a leaked screenshot from the Carphone Warehouse internal inventory system. While a white version is nothing new, going for blue could be a major new move for Samsung.

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 from the launch in Earl's Court tonight as well as our first impressions of the new phone.

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