Samsung and Visa name Galaxy S III their official Olympic Games Phone

9 May 2012

The Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung and Visa have jointly named the new NFC-enabled Samsung Galaxy S III as their official phone for the London 2012 Games. The NFC device will be capable of wirelessly making purchases at 140,000 contactless terminals around the UK.

A limited-edition showcase device enabled with Visa’s mobile payment application Visa payWave will be available for Samsung and Visa-sponsored athletes and triallists, making it possible to buy merchandise with a wave of the device at thousands of retail locations throughout London.

By the time of the Olympic Games there will be more than 140,000 contactless terminals around the UK. From the moment visitors land at Heathrow Airport they will be immersed in a contactless payment experience with everything from taxis, to retail outlets, to the Olympic Park itself.

“Mobile payment services enabled by NFC technology are gaining momentum around the world,” said DJ Lee, executive vice-president and head of sales and marketing team of Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business.

“The Samsung Galaxy S III has been created with our human needs and capabilities in mind and is the ideal device to showcase the ease and convenience of Visa’s mobile payment application at the London 2012 Olympic Games,” Lee said.

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S III last week in London alongside a new retail strategy that will see Samsung stores square up against Apple Stores in key cities worldwide.

“Mobile technology has long been a revolutionary force in our lives and NFC-enabled devices such as the Galaxy S III will fundamentally change the way we pay,” Sandra Alzetta, senior vice-president of Mobile at Visa Europe.

“The future is mobile and cash usage will only continue to decline as people use their mobile devices to manage their money, shop and pay. This summer our partnership with Samsung will showcase all the advantages of the future of payments: security, convenience, speed and flexibility being forefront among them,” Alzetta said.

The Galaxy S III smartphone

The Samsung Galaxy S III is powered by Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’. The device comes with a 4.8-inch display, an 8MP camera and new voice and face-recognition capabilities.

The device appears to be Samsung’s weapon to beat back stern competition from Apple’s iPhone 4S and HTC’s One X series.

Another differentiator is its apparent gestures capability – it recognises if users are using their phone to read an e-book or browse the web – using the front-facing 1.9MP camera to identify the user’s eyes.

A new ‘S Voice’ natural language user interface could bring the battle to Apple’s Siri – it listens to and responds to users’ worlds. For example, if the alarm goes off in the morning you can tell the phone to ‘snooze’. The voice interface controls key aspects of the phone, such as volume control, as well as dictating emails and changing calendar events. It even captures a photo if you tell it to.

It also comes with the ‘Beam’ technology which allows a 1GB movie file to be shared within three minutes and a 10MB music file within two seconds by simply touching another Galaxy S III phone, even without a Wi-Fi or cellular signal.

It comes with DLNA technology called ‘AllShare Cast’ to connect the phone to a TV and transfer content to the larger display while ‘AllShare Play’ allows users to wirelessly share files between tablet, PC and TVs, regardless of distance.

The Galaxy S III is available in Pebble Blue and Marble White.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years