As Samsung gears up to release the latest version of its winning Galaxy smartphones, United Kingdom-based Vodafone announced it will be one of the first carriers lined up to offer the S III to the public.

That makes us wonder if Vodafone's joint subsidiary with Verizon Communications, Verizon Wireless, will carry the device in the United States. The Galaxy S III is expected to be launched May 3 at Samsung's Unpacked 2012 event in London.

Launch Delayed

Samsung in February announced that the S III, widely expected to be launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in March, would instead be released closer to the date of availability. Meanwhile, it built anticipation with teaser videos and ads with the familiar theme that the device will help the masses break free from conformity with other popular devices, presumably meaning Apple's iPhone. Such ads were also used to promote the Galaxy Note "phablet."

The Galaxy S III will be the second smartphone to ship with Google's Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich, or ICS) operating system, after the Galaxy Nexus.

The first Galaxy S phone was released in June 2010 and its successor, the S II arrived in February of the following year. The first model had variants on all four major carriers, selling as the T-Mobile Vibrant, AT&T Captivate, Sprint Epic, and Verizon Fascinate.

But Verizon declined to carry the S II for unexplained reasons, perhaps to avoid an overstock of Android-powered devices. The S II is available via AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and a smaller carrier, U.S. Cellular.

No U.S. carrier has been named for the S III. Vodafone stocking the device does not necessarily have any bearing on Verizon's plans, said J.D. Power and Associates wireless analyst Kirk D. Parsons.

"Vodafone pretty much leaves Verizon Wireless alone in the U.S. market," Parsons said.

Leaked screenshots and a video that showed up on the Vietnamese tech site show a gleaming device about the same size and shape of the Galaxy Nexus. Anticipated specs include a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel camera, 1 GB of RAM and a 4.6 inch, 16 gigabytes of memory with a microSD card for more and a 4.6 inch, 720p Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen. It's equipped for near-field communication for mobile payments.

iPhone Rival?

"The Galaxy model line-up has gotten better in each series and the third [edition] will be very popular once again -- with the latest technology including the ICS 4.0 OS platform," Parsons told us. "It could be a very capable alternative to the iPhone."

Apple's iPhone is due for a refresh this summer and the new version is widely believed to be the first iPhone to offer compatibility with 4G long-term evolution high speed data. The Vietnamese video made no mention of LTE capability for the Galaxy S III.

Peter Han of Current Analysis cautioned us that whatever specs emerge from the launch event next month, "keep in mind that the U.S. market will almost certainly receive variants of the Samsung Galaxy S III that is being announced on May 3rd."