The Samsung Galaxy S3 has undoubtedly been the biggest smartphone success in 2012 so far. In the space of a few months it has sold over ten million units and become the fastest selling Android phone of all time, as well as the most pre-ordered gadget in history. In all likelihood, its success will be overshadowed by the impending launch of the iPhone 5, which some analysts are forecasting to sell in excess of 250 million, but to date no other smartphone has come close to matching it.

This could all be about to change with LG’s recent unveiling of the Optimus G at IFA 2012 in Berlin. In many respects, the Optimus G is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S3. It is a similar size and, like the S3, features a 4.7 inch display. It also runs on Google Android and is powered by a quad core processor, includes NFC, and has LTE support where available.

Although Samsung’s Super AMOLED screen technology is renowned for its unparalleled vividness and colour depth, the Optimus G’s True HD IPS+ LCD screen is certainly noteworthy in its own right. As the name would suggest, this offers one of the highest screen resolutions found on a smartphone to date, and the 768 x 1280 resolution provides a much sharper screen pixel density than the Samsung Galaxy S3.

On top of this, the Optimus’ quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor has outperformed the S3’s chip in all benchmark tests, even though on paper it is only marginally quicker at 1.5GHz, and the LG device includes double the amount of memory as Samsung’s flagship, with 2GB RAM.

But even though much of the hardware in the Optimus looks set to outperform the Galaxy S3, will it prove to be quite as popular? Within the last year or two, Samsung has started to realise something that Apple and many of its fans have been saying for years: most people do not care about hardware specifications, but what they can actually do with their phones. In this respects, the Galaxy S3 still has the upper hand.

The Optimus may include a 13 megapixel camera with 1080p video support, but Samsung has included many excellent software features to accompany the S3’s 8 megapixel camera that make it much more enjoyable and easier to use. Like the HTC One X, it is possible to take photographs while recording video, and Samsung’s superior facial recognition and Social Tag features make it much easier to browse through and share images captured on the phone.

Likewise, the Galaxy S3 offers many other superb and novel software features including the SmartStay eye tracking feature, S-Voice, the ability to watch videos while composing a message or email and also an enhanced version of the NFC powered Android Beam sharing app.

On top of this, the Galaxy S3 is currently in the process of being updated to Android Jelly Bean, and will be one of the first phones to see this update. Although its launch is still a couple of months away, the Optimus G will be put on sale with the older Android Ice Cream Sandwich and have to wait even longer to be updated to Jelly Bean, by which time the next version of Android may already be on release.

There may be one major advantage that the Optimus has over the Galaxy in the United States at least. In the aftermath of the recent Apple vs Samsung court battle, Apple is keen to have many Samsung smartphones pulled from sale in the United States. While the Galaxy S3 was not one of the devices listed with the offending products, it is only a matter of time before Apple attempts to knock down its biggest smartphone rival. The recent court victory in California may make it much easier for them to achieve this outcome.