Samsung Galaxy S III Rumor Roundup: What to Expect at Thursday Event

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“Come and meet the next Galaxy,” teases Samsung in an invite to a London media event transpiring this afternoon, where the company’s expected to unveil its flagship Galaxy series three-quel, the Galaxy S III. No one’s sure exactly what to expect, though tech blogs have been trotting out the usual wish-lists: smaller, more durable, more storage, better specs, and so forth. But the pressure’s on: Samsung led the world for the first time in 1Q2012 smartphone sales, dethroning Nokia, and it’s sold over 20 million of its Galaxy S II since that phone — the market’s most visible iPhone rival — launched in April 2011. Like an Apple product announcement event, expectations are stratospheric for whatever Samsung has up its sleeve.

Let’s start with the “better specs” part. Samsung’s already confirmed that the new Galaxy phone will harbor  an ARM-based 1.4 GHz Exynos 4 Quad (meaning quad-core) processor, expected to “double” the phone’s processing speed. Samsung says the new “system-on-chip” is capable of running at speeds even higher than 1.4 GHz (whether it will in the Galaxy remains to be seen) and that it’s based on a 32-nanometer manufacturing process (the S2 runs on an older, dual-core, 45-nanometer Exynos chip). The Exynos 4 will also, allegedly, use 20% less power than the processor in the S2, as well as handle 1080p video recording and playback.

“Better” is often a matter of taste, of course, which is why those of us who find stereoscopic 3D gimmicky were over the moon when Samsung essentially promised in early April that the next Galaxy phone wouldn’t employ the technology. “Although Samsung Electronics is constantly exploring new technologies for our mobile devices, we have no immediate plan to include displays featuring 3D technology in our upcoming smartphones,” wrote Samsung in a note to Engadget. So with apologies to 3D wonks, you can all but cross that off the list of features.

Like the S2, the next Galaxy will probably employ a Super AMOLED Plus screen, helping thin the design (the touch and display screen’s are the same) and offer a brighter, more colorful display without clobbering battery life. Speaking of “thin,” Samsung’s reportedly been handing out test models in boxes to conceal the final design, so no one has a clue what the thing’s going to look like or whether it’ll shift from a plastic shell to a metal one. Whatever the case — an uptick in overall size, a material swap, a tucked in Note-like stylus, a brushed metal vibe, etc. — it’ll probably still look more like the S2 than not.

One thing seems certain: Samsung won’t decrease the screen size, and while that may unsettle users who found the S2’s 4.3-inch WVGA screen a handful, it’s a virtual certainty the next Galaxy’s screen will be at least as big as the S2’s. Some are speculating Samsung may in fact upscale, perhaps to 4.6 or as much as 4.8 inches (though anything nearer 5 inches and you’re getting uncomfortably close to Galaxy Note country).

Other possibles include a 12-megapixel camera, taking the resolution up to 4000 x 3000 (the S2 has an 8-megapixel back and 2-megapixel front one), 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (same as the S2), a microSD slot for storage expansion and — based on an alleged inventory system screen grab courtesy GSM Arena — at least two color options at launch: blue and white. Samsung’s Galaxy Note tablet-phone comes in “Carbon Blue” (think midnight blue, so all but black) and “Ceramic White,” too.

We’ll cover the unveiling here when it happens, today, at 2:00 pm ET.