Samsung SIII features look impressive, but will users take to them?

Samsung’s latest handset, the Galaxy SIII, could make a major impact on the evolution of smartphones by introducing more intuitive technologies to make the user experience more responsive to their behaviour, voice and gestures. The bold and ambitious improvements made by the firm in its latest addition to its flagship brand underline the firm’s credentials in its new-found position as the dominant handset manufacturer on the market.

The most notable improvement on previous Galaxy devices is the addition of what the firm is calling “natural interaction”, which aims to make interaction between the phone and the user more intuitive. Samsung explained how the phone’s “smart stay” feature recognises how the user is interacting with their phone, by having the front camera identify the user’s eyes, so when they are reading an e-book or browsing the web, for example – the phone maintains a bright display for continued viewing pleasure.

In addition, the handset includes improvements on older devices in its voice-recognition technology, which listens and respond to users’ words. The phone also understands users’ motions, said Samsung, and if a user is typing a text message to someone but decides to call them instead, simply lifting the phone to their ear will dial the contact’s number.

However, as impressive as these tools sound, analysts have raised concerns that users will struggle to get to grips with these new features.

“To get users used to it will take time, but it’s important to get these functionalities nailed,” said Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media. “If users try these features once or twice and they don’t work – they will say it’s useless. That’s the risk Samsung is taking, as does any company that tries to be innovative. Added intelligence in the phone is very good, but it comes with risks. At this stage, I doubt the technology is mature enough.”

He likened the concerns to the reasons that hindered the take-up of “predictive text”, noting that when predictive text was first introduced, many users opted to turn the feature off, and such text messaging only became popular when the technology was fine-tuned and became more intuitive.

Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum agreed that the challenge that lies ahead for Samsung is how it is able to get users acquainted with the new functionalities.

“These are new types of features that people aren’t really used to – it’s going to depend on how Samsung is going to walk people through the out-of the-box experience,” he said. “You’d hope there’s some sort of wizard that helps people understand what these functions are about otherwise they could easily be lost.”

However, he added that, despite that, the phone will “almost certainly turn out to be the biggest-selling smartphone Samsung has ever produced”.

Saadi agreed that the handset will enable Samsung to reinforce its position as the leading vendor in this market.

“It will also enable it to maintain its leadership as the dominant Android manufacturer, with an estimated one-third market share by end of 2012,” he said.

The phone runs on the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, has a 4.8-in HD Super AMOLED display, an 8MP camera and a1.9MP front-facing camera. Mobile payment is also accessible with the device through NFC technology.

Samsung also showcased its efforts in the content space, as the gaming experience is enhanced through ‘Game Hub,’ providing access to numerous social games, while Video Hub brings users TV and movies and Music Hub will offer a personal music streaming service.

The Samsung GALAXY S III will be available from the end of May in Europe before rolling out to other markets globally.

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