The Samsung Galaxy S III is expected to be announced in London at an event next week. It will then be showcased to analysts and journalists at CTIA in New Orleans the week of May 7. Its predecessor, the Galaxy S II, was considered the Android device of 2011, ahead of both Nexus devices from Samsung and Google. Will the S III reclaim the mantel?

Galaxy S III Faces Stiff Competition

Samsung has released at least 21 different versions of its Galaxy series across the world. That is just counting primary builds, without all the iterations within different builds. For instance, the original Samsung Galaxy S had five different versions in the U.S. among the top five carriers. It was the most successful Galaxy phone at the time, to be eclipsed later by its big brother, the S II. 

Galaxy has become synonymous with Android. That may or may not be a good thing. Samsung’s product strategy is to create Android devices across varying price points and flood the market through as many carriers across the world as possible. The original Galaxy S was sold through about 240 different global vendors.

Juxtapose Samsung against Apple. Since 2007, Apple has released five iPhones, with the sixth likely coming near the end of 2012 in the (so-called) iPhone 5. These are the two biggest smartphone makers in the world and the philosophies toward market penetration could not be more opposite. Samsung tailors its Galaxies toward geographic locations and price points, while Apple releases one flagship in the United States and then adds more channels in the international market. 

There are so many Galaxy series devices that it is almost impossible to keep track of them all. Yet, only a few of them matter in the grand scheme of the smartphone market. The Galaxy i7500 was the original Galaxy and one of the first major Android smartphones (at the time overshadowed by Motorola’s original Droid). The Galaxy S was the smartphone that brought a true high-end Android device to every U.S. carrier. It was AT&T’s first Android device that mattered. The Galaxy S II was one of the devices that transformed Android devices and one of the first true competitors to the iPhone both in terms of market share and capability. The Galaxy Nexus is the flagship Ice Cream Sandwich device. Samsung also made the Nexus S, the flagship Gingerbread device, but it was not branded within the Galaxy series.

The Galaxy S III will face some stiff competition to be the go-to Android device in 2012. Neither Motorola nor HTC made anything worth writing home about in 2011. That is going to change in 2012, at least for HTC. The HTC One series has gotten rave reviews and once it is released to the U.S. market on May 6, it may be the best smartphone on the market. Motorola has released interesting devices recently with the Droid Razr and Razr Maxx, but those are not at the level that the HTC One is, nor what the Samsung Galaxy S III is likely to be. 

We went searching for Galaxies to get a fuller picture of Samsung’s strategy over the last three years. Below is a broad timeline of Galaxy devices starting with the first Galaxy in 2009.

A Timeline of the Galaxy

June 2009

Samsung Galaxy (i7500)
Carriers: Multiple international
Released: Android 1.6 Donut

November 2009

Samsung Galaxy Lite/Spica/Portal (i5700)
Carriers: Three, T-Mobile
Released: Android 2.1 Eclair

June 2010

Samsung Galaxy S Captivate/Vibrant/Fascinate/Epic 4G/Mesmerize etc. (i9000)
Carriers: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and almost
every other international carrier

July 2010

Samsung Galaxy 3/Apollo/Mini (i5800)
Carriers: Orange
Released: Android 2.1 Eclair

July 2010

Samsung Galaxy Beam/Halo (i8520)
Carriers: Multiple international
Released: Android 2.1 Eclair

August 2010

Samsung Galaxy Europa/550/5 (i5500)
Carriers: Multiple international
Released: Android 2.1 Eclair

February 2011

Samsung Galaxy Ace (GT-S5830)
Carriers: Multiple international
Released: Android 2.2 Froyo

February 2011

Samsung Galaxy Fit (S5670)
Carriers: Multiple international
Released: Android 2.2 Froyo

March 2011

Samsung Galaxy Gio (GT-S5660)
Carriers: Multiple international
Released: Android 2.2.1 Froyo

March 2011

Samsung Galaxy Mini (GT-S5570)
Carriers: Multiple international
Released: Android 2.2 Froyo

April 2011

Samsung Galaxy Prevail (SPH-M820)
Carriers: Boost Mobile
Released: Android 2.2 Froyo

April 2011

Samsung Galaxy Pro
Carriers: Three (UK), multiple international
Released: Android 2.2 Froyo

May 2011

Samsung Galaxy S II, SkyRocket, Captivate Glide, Epic Touch 4G (i900 with several variations)
Carriers: AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, multiple international
Released: Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread

June 2011

Samsung Exhibit 4G
Carriers: T-Mobile
Released: Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread

June 2011

Samsung Galaxy Z
Carriers: Three (Sweden)
Released: Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread

November 2011

Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Carriers: Verizon, Sprint (U.S.), Virgin Mobile, Rogers, Fido, Bell, Telus (Canada), Three, Orange, O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile (UK), multiple international
Released: Android 4.0.1 Ice Cream Sandwich

January 2012

Samsung Galaxy Pro Duos
Carriers: International Unlocked
Released: Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread

May 2012

Samsung Galaxy S III
Carriers: ?
Released: Android 4.0.1 Ice Cream Sandwich (?)

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock. Smartphone images courtesy of Wikipedia.