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Samsung Galaxy S3 to be minor update with eye tracking (exclusive)

A telecoms industry source speaking to CNET UK says the Galaxy S3 won't be that different to the S2 -- and it won't be called the S3.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 will be a relatively minor update from the S2, a source in the UK telecoms industry has told me, with a speed boost and eye-tracking among the upgrades. And it probably won't be called the Galaxy S3.

Rather than go for a complete overhaul, Samsung has apparently opted for an incremental update to the S3. "It'll be like the iPhone 4S was to the 4," says my source, who wished to remain anonymous. He gave no firm word on specs, but said we should look to the HTC One X for what to expect. That has a 1.5GHz quad-core chip with 1GB of RAM and a 4.7-inch screen.

With an invite to a 3 May launch plopping into the CNET UK inbox, Samsung's next superphone is just around the corner. But what do we expect it to look like? Word on the street last week was that the physical home button on the front would remain intact, suggesting the design won't differ a whole lot from the existing S2 or the Galaxy Note.

Given that Samsung told us the Note is the spiritual successor to the S2, it doesn't come as a huge surprise to hear the design hasn't been overhauled, but I can't deny I'm disappointed. Specs-wise, that's roughly what we we've been expecting, although previous leaks had suggested the new model would be packing a stonking 1.8GHz chip, as well as a hearty 2GB of RAM, putting it easily at the top of the pile in terms of power.

Interestingly, Samsung may throw a curveball with the name. "Don't expect it to be called the S3," said my source, with a sly smile. Jason predicted yesterday that Samsung might "do an Apple" with the name, but I'm not sure it's the best move -- given that there are already so many Galaxy phones around, and the S2 is so popular, I reckon it would be wiser to stick with a straightforward name that shows people it's the successor to the S2.

Samsung has apparently codenamed the phone 'Bali' internally, but it's highly unlikely it'll launch with that name -- it doesn't match with any of its previous naming conventions and naming phones after places is more of Orange's thing.

One extra feature my source discussed was the use of eye-tracking, which Samsung is apparently calling 'Human Interaction'. The phone's front-facing camera is able to detect when you're looking at the screen -- when you're writing a text for example -- and is able to lock when you look away.

This could be a handy feature, but it sounds like a hassle to me. If it requires you to put your passcode in every time you glance away from the screen, it'll quickly become infuriating. It'll be interesting to see how it's implemented, but for the time being it sounds like more of a novelty feature, like Ice Cream Sandwich's face unlock, rather than a truly useful addition.

The rumour mill has been churning furiously over the past few months, with claims of flexible displays and mad design aesthetics flying all over the place, so I can't help but be disappointed by the news that the S3 will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

With quad-core specs similar to the One X, the Galaxy S3 -- or whatever it's eventually called -- will be a step ahead of the iPhone 4S power-wise, but it leaves the door open for the iPhone 5 (which we might see in October) to push clear of the chasing pack. It would have been an exciting move for Samsung to really push the boat out with this guy.

The launch is only a few weeks away now, so we don't have long to wait to see exactly what we'll be getting. In the meantime, check out our complete guide, watch our video below, and head over to our Facebook page to tell us exactly what you want to see on the latest blower -- and give me some ideas on what you think it should be called.

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