Today Samsung is having their Samsung Mobile Unpacked event tonight at 7PM. They're going to have a stream of the event here
They're expected to announce the Galaxy S IV. There are lots of rumors surrounding the device including a 4.99" 1920x1080 (because 5" is too big), a crazy 8 core processor which is actually has 4 fast cores and 4 slow, low-power cores, 2GB RAM, probably 16 or 32 or even maybe 64GB of RAM.
Specs are great but they're only part of the story. Anyone can release a phone with awesome specs. Great hardware needs compelling software in order to connect with consumers.
Starting with the original Galaxy S Samsung became a leader in Android with each new version grabbing more market share Let's look back at what made each one great.
Back when the Galaxy S came out Samsung wasn't the leader in Android it is today. HTC had the first notable Android devices like the Dream (T-Mo G1) and Magic. They were also the first to release an overlay for Android which was very raw back then.
The Galaxy S had a 4" 800x480 display which used Samsung's Super AMOLED technology. OLED displays had been around for a year or 2 before the S launched but this one had higher resolution and deeper blacks which really made it pop. The rest of the specs were similar to other high end phones at the time. 1Ghz processor, 512MB RAM, 16GB RAM and a 5 Megapixel camera (but no flash unlike most other phones).
On the software side, Samsung included their TouchWiz custom overlay and Social Hub. It launched with Android 2.1 and received 2.2 and 2.3 from Samsung.
When the Galaxy S came out it was kind of infamous because both the design and software were very similar to the iPhone. It's notable competitors included the Apple iPhone 3Gs (came out before), iPhone 4 (came out after), Google Nexus One (before), HTC Desire (before), Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 (before) and Blackberry 9700 (before).
Galaxy S II:
By now, Samsung was really beginning to set themselves apart from other Android OEM's. The GS2 kept the original S' resolution but now the screen measured 4.3" and had a less grainy non-PenTILE Super AMOLED PLUS display. Other hardware was beefed up including a dual-core 1.2Ghz processor, RAM was doubled to 2GB the camera now captured 8MP along with a flash and 1080P video recording. Later versions added LTE and or NFC and or bigger displays with bigger batteries.
On the software side, Samsung added a newer version of TouchWiz which took the Hub idea further and added a Reader, Music and Gamer Hubs. Samsung shipped it with Android 2.3 and it is currently on Android 4.1.
Competitors included the Apple iPhone 4 (before), Apple iPhone 4s (after), Galaxy Nexus (after), HTC Raider/Vivid (after), HTC Sensation (about the same time), HTC Amaze (after), Motorola RAZR and the Blackberry Torch.
The Galaxy S II also formed the basis for the original Samsung Note.
Most of the Galaxy S II line was the focus of Apple's lawsuit against Samsung.
Galaxy S III:
Now Samsung is firmly in the driver seat. Not only are they the defacto leader in Android but they are also duking it out with Apple. Again hardware was beefed up. Some versions came with a quad-core processor while others had a dual-core which featured more efficient processor cores. RAM on some versions was upped to 2GB, with some getting LTE. The battery got a big boost, weighing in at 2300mAh
The display now has 2.5x the resolution going from 800x480 to 1280x720 and measures 4.8". Samsung is back to using a PenTILE matrix display but the resolution is so high it's almost a moot point.
Design wise the Galaxy S III has a much more organic shape compared with previous versions which while attractive, weren't particularly interesting looking.
Somewhere between GS2 and GS3 Google finally got their act together and started offering stuff in Android Play so software-wise Samsung put less emphasis on their hubs. Instead, the latest version of TouchWiz has more usability focused improvements like using the front-facing camera to check if you're looking at the screen before it turns it off.
Competitors include the Apple iPhone 4s (before), iPhone 5 (after), Galaxy Nexus (before), HTC One X (slightly before), HTC One X+ (after), LG Optimus G (after), Sony Xperia T (after) and Motorola RAZR HD LTE (after).
The Galaxy S III is going to be tough act to follow. Samsung is really going to have to dig deep to find new features to grab consumer's attention. That said, they've built up enough of a brand that even if the GSIV is a dud, people will still flock to buy it.