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The Samsung Galaxy S3 goes on sale today, can it fend off Apple and the next iPhone?

Samsung Galaxy S3 inspired by nature

Check our out full written review of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Today is a big day for Samsung, as its long-awaited Galaxy S3 Android phone goes on sale in 28 countries, including the UK, most of Europe, and parts of the Middle East.

No other Android phone has attracted the same degree of hype and attention as the S3, and if the figures are to be believed, Samsung has had pre-orders totaling at least 9 million.

Samsung’s efforts to promote the S3 don’t stop here either, as the phone will feature heavily in Samsung’s Olympic Games promotion, not least because it has been named the official phone of the Games, and will be handed out to visiting athletes.

In London, Samsung has built several “pop-up Internet cafes,” where computers have been replaced by Galaxy S3 phones, to help promote the so-called “PC power” capabilities of the device.

If you visit the UK’s top network’s websites, such as Orange and Vodafone, the S3 is the first thing you see. Put simply, if you’re shopping for a mobile phone at the moment, you’ll know all about the third-generation Galaxy S.

Sizable head start over Apple

Samsung has been accused of riding Apple’s coattails in the past, and has often suffered the legal consequences; but with the S3, it has got a proper head start over Apple and its next-generation iPhone, and obviously plans to make the most of the opportunity.

This is because, despite devices like the HTC One X and the LG Optimus 4X HD being comparable in specification to the S3, it’s Apple’s next phone that will offer the greatest challenge to it.

As usual, we don’t know anything about the next iPhone, but rumors are circulating that it will have a larger screen, possibly measuring around 4-inches. The phone’s most interesting new features could come as part of iOS 6 though, with any innovation in hardware stalling for another year.

That’s the route Samsung has taken with the S3 anyway — S Voice, Smart Call, eye-tracking and pop-up video play are just some of the many new software features — with the Exynos 4 Quad processor being the only real, standout hardware feature.

If this is the case, then Samsung may not have quite the same jump on Apple as it hoped, as iOS 6 is tipped to be revealed during the Worldwide Developer Conference, which is scheduled to start on June 11. The phone itself though, may not arrive until September or October.

Can teasing future software features help Apple defend against the S3’s popularity before the next iPhone’s release? Possibly, but they will need to be very special indeed.

Once Samsung has finished its European and Middle East launch, it’s on to the USA and the rest of the world. A Samsung executive has told Pocket-Lint.com that he expects the S3 to “be available more or less globally within a month of the European release.”

In the meantime, check out our hands-on video and a comparison between the S3 and the HTC One X.