Samsung announces Galaxy S III, biggest iPhone competitor to date

Samsung has announced their next generation flagship Android phone, and as expected it's the Galaxy S III (no, they didn't go with "the new Galaxy"). Android Central is covering everything live from London and they've already gone over all the big stuff. On the hardware, Alex Dobie says:

The Samsung Galaxy S III is perhaps best summarized with three S’s -- sleek, sexy and shiny. It’s available in two colors -- pebble blue and pearl white, and both versions feature the same glossy plastic finish with a metallic trim around the side. It’s a fingerprint magnet to be sure, but the Galaxy S III certainly isn’t lacking star quality -- it looks and feels like a high-end device, and Samsung’s made a clean break with some of its older design language in this new flagship product.

Sadly, it doesn't look like they upgraded the plastic of their casing to match the Nokia Lumia 900 or HTC One X, which means I'm still calling Hasbro on the feel. However, everything else looks significantly great. As for the software:

The new design language is most evident in the new TouchWiz lockscreen, which ripples like a pool of water when activated. Audio cues, too, take on a more naturalistic approach, with droplet sounds punctuating UI interactions like menu selections and button presses.

Also, the TouchWiz launcher has been re-vamped, but the changes are largely cosmetic -- different icons, different chrome, but functionally very similar to the way TouchWiz’d ICS operates on the Galaxy S II. You’ve got seven home screens by default, customizable with the usual plethora of bright, vivid widgets (yep, TouchWiz is colorful as always). There’s a neat 3D transition effect when jumping from panel to panel, and thanks to the bleeding edge hardware inside the phone, all this visual finery flows off the screen at a buttery-smooth frame rate.

Android Central has literally a ton more coverage, including a monstrous gallery and a bunch of video.

Head on over there now, drink it all in, and then come back here and let us know what you think. Will the Galaxy S III slow down iPhone 4S sales in the short term? Will it force Apple to raise the bar even higher for the iPhone 5?