On March 14, Samsung Electronics Co. unveils the Galaxy S4 at Manhattan's iconic Radio City Music Hall on Thursday evening, which sports a bigger display and unconventional features such as eye control, and is considered a sign that the South Korean electronics giant is challenging Apple Inc on its home turf.
If you're looking for Samsung's new Galaxy S4 to define a novel new era of smartphone greatness, it's time to temper your expectations. The brand-new flagship smartphone, which runs the latest Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, improves hardware significantly and it piles on the features. Compared with the extremely successful Galaxy S3 that came before, it's a firm stride forward rather than a giant a leap, but it raises the bar again for Samsung's competitors. And by super-sizing the screen and packing in so much specialized software, the GS4 sets itself even farther apart from the iPhone.
The success or failure of Samsung's latest flagship phone - the fourth in a brand launched in 2010 - will be pivotal in the world's biggest smartphone maker's battle against Apple and smaller. Key to that struggle will be phone differentiation.
The plethora of new features "are good steps in this direction, but they can be seen as gimmicks rather than game changers. At this point, Samsung appears to be trying to kill the competition with sheer volume of new features," said Jan Dawson, chief telecom analyst at IT research outfit Ovum. "For now, Samsung can likely rely on its vastly superior marketing budget and the relatively weak efforts of its competitors in software to keep it ahead."
The latest phone also has a sensor that lets users move their hands to the left or right to scroll between different websites they have opened or through songs or photos in an album without having to touch the phone, designed to make it easier to change the song playing without having to pick up the phone while driving or to avoid putting sticky fingers on the touch-screen display while scrolling through a Web page at mealtimes.
Samsung said the Galaxy S4 will sport a bigger 5-inch display than the S3's 4.8 inches. But because the new display will cover more of the phone's surface area, the device itself will be the same length and slightly narrower, thinner and lighter than the previous generation.
In addition, the phone will enable users to hover a finger over an email inbox or a photo gallery to get a glimpse of more details of what's in the email or which photos are in an album. Another feature includes the option to automatically put a copy of details from a photograph of a business card into the phone's contacts database or call a number in the business card.
For people using different languagesm, Samsung is promising an instant translation between 10 different languages for certain applications, as well as a separate translation application on the device.
The newest features involve different options for navigation. For example, if the phone senses someone is looking at the screen, the user can tilt it forward or backwards to scroll up and down a Web page. That feature falls slightly short of what some consumers may have expected after the New York Times reported that the phone would be able to scroll automatically by tracking readers' eyes.
But what it can do is sense when it has someone's attention. When a video is playing, for instance, the stream will automatically pause if the person glances away and it will restart when the eyes refocus on the screen. This feature is in fact an an update on an existing Galaxy feature, which powers down the display if it senses no one's looking at it, conserving battery power.
While the global smartphone market's growth rate is tapering off, Samsung still derives the majority of its annual profits from Galaxy phones.
The Galaxy S4 will hit six U.S. cellular networks beginning in April 2013. Indeed, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Cricket, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon plan to sell Samsung's latest creation starting next month.comments powered by Disqus