Following Samsung’s press event for the ‘next Galaxy’ in London today, we went hands-on with the smartphone that you’ve all been waiting. We’ve speculated about its design and its features for months, and we had high hopes for the Korean company’s next flagship handset; after all, it is the successor for the hugely successful Galaxy S II.

So was the Galaxy S III worth all of that hype? Well, here’s what I thought of it.

Design

Samsung promised the Galaxy S III features a “seamless design” using its new Hyper Glaze technology. As soon as you pick up the handset, that becomes apparent. It’s almost as if this device was never more than one piece. It’s smooth, sleek, and sexy.

If anything, it’s a little too smooth. With my greasy palms, I found the handset to be rather slippery and difficult to hold onto. It’s certainly not a major issue, however, and it shouldn’t put you off this handset. You’ll just want to ensure you pick up a case with it.

Although it features a large, 4.8-inch display, the Galaxy S III’s teeny tiny bezels mean that the handset itself is smaller than other large-screen devices. It is still pretty big, however, and if you’re used to smaller devices you can operate with one hand, you’ll want to bear this in mind.

Display

I was surprised that Samsung didn’t announce a Super AMOLED Plus display for the Galaxy S III, choosing instead to use a 4.8-inch high-definition Super AMOLED display with a 1280 x 720 resolution. But it’s hard to imagine its display could be any better.

Colors are vibrant, text is incredibly sharp, and HD video is simply stunning. Everything on the screen just “pops” out at you. Users switching to the Galaxy S III from an iPhone 4S won’t miss their Retina display one bit.

Performance

Just as we expected, the Galaxy S III features a super speedy, 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos processor. The great thing about that is it supports LTE connectivity. It’s also blazing fast, and it makes every task super smooth. Whether you’re browsing the web, watching HD video, playing 3D games, or multitasking, that quad-core chip will keep up with you.

I didn’t get a whole lot of time to try the handset’s games out (there we a lot of people waiting to get their hands on the device), but Samsung promises its capable of running “awesome, high-powered games.”

Camera

Samsung spent a lot of time boasting about the Galaxy S III’s camera. It’s not the 12-megapixel sensor some rumors had suggested, but again, it’s not a disappointment, either. There’s zero shutter lag, so you can open up the camera app and snap a quick very quickly. It’s certainly faster than any other smartphone camera I’ve ever used.

It also features some really incredible features that other smartphone vendors should take note of. When you snap an image of your friends, it will automatically detect who’s in the image, then offer to send the photo to them. It also allows you to tap on your friends’ faces for quick access to their Facebook profile, email, or SMS.

S Voice

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on S Voice, Samsung’s Siri competitor. But unfortunately, it was just too noisy at the event and S Voice couldn’t understand a word I was saying. According to Samsung’s promotional videos, it’s going to be great.

Final Thoughts

I wasn’t a huge fan of the blue Galaxy S III — I’d prefer to have it in black instead — but the white handset is stunning. It ticks all the right boxes: Its display is impressive, it’s incredibly fast, it’s got a great camera, and some terrific features.

This is most certainly the Android handset to beat this year, and if you just went out a bought a HTC One X, I think you’re going to be a little disappointed that you didn’t wait.

Samsung Galaxy S III Hands On Gallery