(Update: We got the following statement from Three, one that indicate that the S III Ultrafast is indeed a totally different beast - possibly an LTE one - although Three wouldn't expand on the differences: "The brand new Ultrafast ready Samsung Galaxy S III handsets cost more than the older model which doesn't support Ultrafast and that is reflected in the prices we charge consumers, both on contract and pay as you go. We do not charge a premium for the Ultrafast service using either DC-HSDPA or LTE technologies.")
Three announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy S3 Ultrafast edition on Friday. It supports Three’s Ultrafast network, which provides with DC-HSDPA technology, allowing for speeds of around 42Mbps to be reached.
This solution is already being rolled out and should reach 80 per cent of the population by the end of Q1 2013. Beyond that, Three has already committed to providing 4G to its existing customers for free, unlike all of its competitors. The smallest independent mobile phone operator in the UK hasn’t confirmed though when it will launch 4G yet.
As for the Ultrafast version of the Samsung S3, we are at pains to find out how this smartphone is different from the current version. Back in May 2012, Samsung confirmed that the vanilla S3 would support DC-HSDPA (Dual-cell High-speed Downlink Packet Access), a solution that was back then supported by O2, Everything Everywhere and Three.
On paper as well, both handsets have the same configuration and most importantly, they have a quad-core Exynos 4412 SoC. Three doesn't list the amount of RAM on the Ultrafast version although we guess it might be 2GB to justify the price (and that would imply that it is the LTE version, the GT-i9305).
Three sells the Ultrafast for £450 while the original version costs £350 (incidentally the cheapest in the UK) and contract prices costs an extra £5 per month on the Ultrafast edition, which translates into an additional £120 over the duration of the contract.
We’ve reached out to Three to find out whether the two handsets are actually two different SKUs and will report back as soon as we’ve got clarifications. In the meantime, Check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone.