After days of speculation and built up enthusiasm, Samsung finally managed to end our wait with the launch of its next flagship device of 2013, The Galaxy S4. The event which took place at Radio City Music Hall in Times Square, New York managed to attract a large number of anxious tech gurus along with a lot of gadgets personnel from all over the world. The event with respect to the place lived up to its theatrical expectations by the stage artists and performers who graced the event with their unique acts explaining each of the many new features of the Galaxy S4.
The mega event kicked off with Samsung’s President and Head of IT and Mobile Communications, Mr. JK Shin giving us a brief introduction of what the new device has to offer and exactly how each feature differs from those that are currently existent in other smartphones not only in Samsung devices but other smartphone’s as well. For the first time in the history of their launch events, the Korean tech giants managed to introduce us to the new and distinctive features of the device before actually unveiling it. Now its time for us to show you all the bells and whistles, the Galaxy S4 has to offer.
Body and Design
The Galaxy S4 which we like to call a hybrid version of its predecessor, the Galaxy S3 also borrows a few of its design traits from the Galaxy Note II and the Galaxy Grand. As mentioned earlier, the Galaxy S4 even though looks quite similar to the S3 does manage to create its own lasting impression with its sleek and smart 5 inch body which is wrapped up in a fine plastic enclosure which gives a nice smooth finishing touch to the device. Just like the Galaxy S3, the plastic feeling of the Galaxy S4 won’t appeal to all. It feels very lightweight (weighing in at just 130 grams) in the hand, and while people have been conditioned against this feeling cheap, compare it to the HTC One and you’ll see that it’s a long way from premium feeling.
However, it’s exactly the same sensation as we found on the Galaxy S3, and given the record numbers of sales that it had, Samsung is sticking with a winning formula, and on top of that, there’s a market that does seem to exist for a phone that you’ll barely notice in your pocket most of the time. Right ? Besides the body and design, Samsung have unveiled two color variants for the Galaxy S4 which would be available in ‘White Frost’ and ‘Black Mist’; with both the colors giving a nice elegant touch to the new device.
Samsung through out the years have a tendency of coming up with some of the most eye capturing displays. Whether its a television, a smartphone or a tablet, Samsung have never disappointed us when it comes to display and it still manages to live up to its reputation without any doubts. The same goes with the Galaxy S4 which is wrapped up in a beautiful 5 inch 1920×1080 Full HD Super AMOLED screen which manages to offer a screen density up to 441 ppi which is slightly lesser than the HTC One which manages to offer a mammoth 469 ppi on a 4.7 inch display. Theoretically speaking, even though the HTC display is slightly better than what the S4 has to offer, it still manages to impress anyone and everyone who lay their eyes on it for the first time and specially for those who do not like to go into much details about pixel densities and screen resolutions as long as the display is sharp and vivid.
User Interface and Smart New Features
The Galaxy S4 comes with TouchWiz Nature UX 2.0, which looks quite similar to the previous version but has received some nifty upgrades to it. The lock screen no longer has the Ripple effect, but now the phone can be unlocked with out even touching the screen, Yes you did read correctly, with Samsung’s new upgrades the Galaxy S4 can be unlocked with just a hover of your finger (2-3 meters above the device), a small beam of light will follow your finger as it moves. The black status bar found on all smartphones has been removed and is now integrated with the screen , this gives a very elegant finish to the home screen. The device runs on the latest Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS, which gives it a bunch of new features such as a secondary notification panel which can be opened with sliding two fingers from top to bottom. The secondary panel has toggle switches, which control the likes of NFC or Smart Stay, basically all the ones not found in the original panel. The following are the “Smart” features the device boasts about.
Smart Scroll and Smart Pause
The Galaxy S3 came with the smart stay feature, which meant that the display would not time out as long as the user was looking at it. Now, the Galaxy S4 has an improved version of this with two new features, Smart Scroll and Smart Pause. Smart Scroll will help you browse up and down the page when you slightly tilt the device back or forward. Smart Pause as the name suggests uses the front camera to check your gaze, when viewing a video, if you are looking away then the video will automatically get paused, and when you look back at the device the video will start playing again. So you won’t miss a thing.
Smart Voice Drive
The Smart Voice feature has been upgraded and has been tweaked for situations like when you are driving. The device will you feedback, depending on what you want, it can read out a text or can even show you directions as to where you want to go.
Smart Alert (Air Gestures)
Now can you can scroll through images or songs without ever having to the touch the phone, this is possible by swiping your hand in front of the front camera. Air Call Accept is another air gesture where you just need to swipe at the camera to pick up an incoming call. Hover Mode is the upgrade to the Air View of the Galaxy Note 2, you can just hover your finger on top of a folder, gallery or email to see a preview of what inside.
Connect up to eight Galaxy S4s via NFC and share music (imagine a half-dozen phones all playing the same song at the same time) and photos and what not.
Samsung Optical Reader
One for serious networking folk and travelers this new feature uses the camera tech to translate text on menus and books or read QR codes and can actually view a business card and know exactly what information it needs to pick out and keep (offline use is possible, however Arabic is not one of the supported languages during launch, unfortunately).
Samsung Adapt Display and Adapt Sound
The new Adapt sound and Adapt display feature will change the screen and sound settings to suit whether you are watching a video or reading an article on the web. The feature also lets you optimize sound and screen on an app-by-app basis.
Remember the good old IR days when we used to switch channels with our phones ? Well it seems that smartphone manufacturer’rs have found a new love interest in this otherwise quite out dated technology. Initially it was HTC who came up with the IR controller feature in the HTC One and now Samsung have also seemed to follow on that similar footstep. Using the built-in IR blaster, you can easily flip through the different channels while resting on your couch or lying on the bed.
Other features like All Share Cast and Mirroring come back, with some performance tweaks as well. All Share Cast now makes it possible to remotely stream content on other devices as well. Mirroring is basically transferring what is on the screen of the device to a TV or a PC, imagine playing Temple Run 2 on a 50-inch TV, that would be awesome right ?
Now coming to the camera which does happen to be one of the main highlights of smartphones these days. The Galaxy s4 comes equipped with a powerful 13MP rear camera capable of capturing full HD 1080p videos along with ultra sharp and crisp images. On the front you will find a 2MP camera which is also capable of capturing high quality videos in full 1080p resolutions as well which indeed is impressive. Samsung have gone a little extra mile this time with the UI by bringing a somewhat similar user interface that is found in the Samsung Galaxy Camera that comes with a special mode wheel to move between items like the Macro, Beauty shot and smile setting, and while it’s a little slow it’s definitely an easier to use interface.
Burst mode also makes its return to the Galaxy S4, but it now comes with a ‘Drama’ setting, so you can take one shot and see all the pictures merge into one. It works really well as long as you don’t have something that’s just too close to the camera or too large. One unique and interesting feature which we found in the S4 is the all new Eraser Mode which actually captures and notes any unwanted objects moving in the background, draws a pinkish colored outline around that particular area and gives you the option of simply erasing it with just a single click of the button. What this means is that whenever you are taking pictures of your loved ones and somebody comes from behind to ruin that perfect family portrait, all you need to do is make use of this handy new feature.
Now coming to the all new Cinema Mode which lets you shoot a short video and choose the part to keep static which that means you can have a background moving while the person stays the same, and is created in a GIF file format. Sounds cool doesn’t it ?
When it comes to Android smartphones, battery usage has been the Achilles heel and one of the main focal factor for the user no matter how good the specs are, it all boils down to the battery life which has time and again proven to be a major setback. Nobody prefers to see their devices drain out completely after a day of normal usage now do they ? Well apparently Samsung have finally taken into consideration this notion and have managed to not only improve the device’s battery life, but by also providing new found ways to conserving the overall battery consumption.
The Galaxy S4 unlike its predecessor the Galaxy S3 comes with a massive 2600mAh battery which has been upgraded from the 2100mAh found in the S3. With the addition of the large screen along with an Octa-Core 1.6 GHz Exynos 5 processor (available only in selected markets) along with 2GB of onboard DDR3 RAM, battery life most certainly has to play a major role for the device to successfully capture the market. Lets see as to how far the battery lasts once we get a chance to fully test the device when its made available in the markets on April 26th.
Product Specifications at a Glance
Network: 2.5G (GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE): 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz; 3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps): 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 MHz; 4G (LTE Cat 3 100/50Mbps) : up to 6 different band sets(Dependent on market)
Display: 5 inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi
Processor: 1.9GHz quad-core processor / 1.6GHz octa-core processor (will differ depending on market_
OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Rear Camera: 13 Mega pixel Auto Focus camera with Flash & Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
Front Camera: 2 Mega pixel camera, Full HD recording @30fps with Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
Video: Codec: MPEG4, H.264, H.263, DivX, DivX3.11, VC-1, VP8, WMV7/8, Sorenson Spark, HEVC; Recording & Playback: Full HD (1080p)
Audio: Codec: MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AC-3, apt-X
Camera Features: Dual Camera: Dual Shot / Dual Recording/ Dual Video CallDrama Shot, Sound & Shot, 360 Photo, Cinema Photo, Eraser, Night, Best Photo, Best Face,Beauty Face, HDR (High Dynamic Range), Panorama, Sports
Additional Features: Group Play: Share Music, Share Picture, Share Document, Play GamesStory Album, S Translator, Optical ReaderSamsung Smart Scroll, Samsung Smart Pause, Air Gesture, Air View,Samsung Hub, ChatON (Voice/Video Call, Share screen, 3-way calling)Samsung WatchONS Travel (Trip Advisor), S Voice™ Drive, S HealthSamsung Adapt Display, Samsung Adapt SoundAuto adjust touch sensitivity (Glove friendly)Safety Assistance, Samsung Link, Screen MirroringSamsung KNOX (B2B only)
Google Mobile Services: Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Latitude, Google Play Store, Google Plus, YouTube, Google Talk, Google Places, Google Navigation, Google Downloads, Voice Search
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (HT80), GPS / GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth® 4.0 (LE), IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0
Sensors: Accelerometer, RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro, Barometer, Temperature & Humidity, Gesture
Internal Storage: 16/ 32/ 64 GB User memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB)
Dimensions: 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130g
Battery: 2,600 mAh
Colors: White Frost and Black Mist
Even though the Galaxy S4’s design did manage to put off a few people, the device does manage to pack in a solid punch with some of its new and innovative features. Now the question which does seem to arise in everybody’s mind is that whether the Galaxy S4 would actually live up to all the hype that was created for months before its official launch or would some of its closest rivals finally seem to have an answer for the Korean giants by conjuring something up their sleeves ? Only time will tell. As for now, the company has not disclosed any official pricing for the product and would be made available once the devices go on sale from April 26th, 2013.
Samsung further mentioned that that the Galaxy S4 would be made available in the United States to all major carriers including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile sometime during the second quarter of 2013.So what did you guys think about Samsung’s next piece of marvel ? Are you one of those who were left completely jaw dropped by the sight and features of the device or those who got a little disgruntled with the somewhat similar design to its predecessor the Galaxy S3 ? It would be an honor for us to share in on some of your opinions as well. Cheers !