After months of teasing and speculation, Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy S4 in New York today. The phone is set to launch at the end of April and will be available in 55 countries with 327 operators. There are two versions of the phone, one with 3G readiness and the other supporting 4G/LTE. Initially the new Samsung flagship will be available in white and black livery.
The phone itself looks fairly similar to the Galaxy S3, but there are some slight aesthetic changes. Notably, the back is a lot flatter and the sides have also been straightened out. Overall, it's less curvaceous, although nothing like the bold changes we were told to expect. The sides have a chrome trim, which could be faux aluminium, but we will have to wait for the actual device to check it out.
We know you are itching for the specs. Here they are: There's a 5-inch mega display up front with a robust 1080p resolution and, as befitting a Galaxy S flagship, is covered with Corning's Gorilla Glass 3. Samsung's official name for the display is “full HD super AMOLED” and it brings 441 pixels per inch. By all measures, it looks a flagship and is the first phone outside of Google's Nexus line-up to ship with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.
As far as the processor is concerned, there's no clarity about which regions will get the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa and which ones have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor reserved for them. In any case, the phone is expected to be smooth and fast thanks to 2GB of RAM.
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Samsung is also touting its new 13-megapixel primary and the 2-megapixel front-facing camera unit. The rear shooter can take more than 100 shots in four seconds, according to Samsung, and then select some to composite into a single frame to effectively eliminate photo-bombs. Then there's “Sound and Shot”, which seems like a bit of a gimmick at the moment. It lets you record five seconds of audio before you take a photo. Just like fellow Korean LG, Samsung has also included a “dual camera” mode, which takes shots with both the front and back cameras and integrates them into a single scene. The device is also equipped with 12 shooting modes, including Drama Shot, which allows you to see all the action in one continuous time-lapse.
The Galaxy S4 comes with all the connectivity features one expects from a flagship. There's support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which also runs on the standard a/b/g/n bands, Bluetooth 4.0, and LTE Cat 3. There's an IR blaster here, which is making a comeback of sorts into smartphones after a brief exile. The battery sounds wholesome at 2600 mAh. Initially, it will be available in 16, 32 and 64 GB versions.
Of course, there are a whole lot of other software features that come with the new and improved TouchWiz. The Smart Scroll and Smart Pause features got leaked in the build up and they are present here. “Smart Pause” lets you pause a video simply by looking away, with the clip resuming playback when you look back, while “Smart Scroll” lets you move through web pages without looking at the screen. While this is not exactly what was rumoured, Samsung says the S4 recognises the user's face looking at the screen as well as the movement of the wrist and moves the content to match the user's movements.
Other TouchWiz features include S Voice Drive, which is a take on the Eyes Free feature of Siri and optimises voice commands when you're driving. Then there's Optical Reader, which scans business cards and the like and provide useful actions like calling a number or translating the text. Samsung also spoke at length about WatchOn, which leverages the IR blaster to use your phone like a remote. A very neat addition is Group Play, which syncs multiple phones to use them as stereo speakers for music playback. You can also share photos, files and games with your selected friends without needing a dedicated network.
The Galaxy S4 is also a full-blown fitness tracker thanks to the addition of S Health. The phone's sensors can monitor your fitness level and surroundings; it'll integrate with a number of Samsung accessories as well. There's a built-in pedometer, which is fairly standard but Samsung has given the phone the ability to measure the ambient temperature and humidity of the room, all of which is taken into account by S Health.
Samsung also added some touch-free gestures – Air View and Air Gesture – to the S4. Air View lets you preview messages or images and pull contextual data by hovering your fingers over the screen. Air Gesture allows you to control the music player, answer calls or scroll through pages without having to actually touch the screen.
Here are the key specs of the Samsung Galaxy S4:
- 5-inch full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi
- HSPA+, LTE, GPRS/EDGE
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot
- Bluetooth 4.0 with EDR and A2DP
- GPS with A-GPS support and GLONASS
- MicroUSB 2.0 with MHL, USB On-the-go, USB Host
- 13-megapixel primary camera with LED flash, Simultaneous HD video and still image stabilisation, 1080p video recording.
- 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 1080p video recording @ 30fps
- 16/32/64GB internal storage with microSD card for further expansion up to 64 GB
We are still awaiting confirmation about the status of the India-bound S4. Stay tuned to tech2 for more coverage of the Samsung Galaxy S4 through the day.
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