Samsung has announced that their next flagship smartphone will arrive in April and once again it’s larger, more powerful, and includes new ways to interact with your eyes.
The Galaxy S4 has a 5” screen, making it the largest in the series, and yet at 4.5 ounces and 7.9mm thick, also the lightest and thinnest too. The company claims its Full HD Super AMOLED display will have a higher resolution than Apple’s Retina screen technology, something that should stand out with a 13 Megapixel rear-facing camera.
In addition to withholding a price and release date, Samsung is also being a little cagey on other details, like battery life. They have yet to publish any specifications for the smartphone, instead offering a disclaimer that such details may change at launch, but did run through some of them at their announcement event this week in Times Square, New York.
Physical upgrades include a speedy 1.4 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 2600mAh battery, which improves over the battery included in the Galaxy S3. Colour choices include black or white and storage sizes will offer 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB options.
It will run Google’s Jelly Bean 4.2.2 Android operating system which includes Google Now, a voice assistant similar to Apple’s Siri. To stand out from other Android manufacturers with the same operating system, Samsung has come up with a long list of innovative software features.
Building on the eye-control technology introduced in the last Galaxy smartphone, the S4 will offer Smart Pause, a video playback feature that will pause the movie you’re watching when you look away from the screen. Smart Stay will brighten and keep the screen active if the phone detects that you’re reading while Smart Scroll will help you move up and down through web pages by also detecting how you hold and tilt the phone as you read.
Eager to find a way to drop the need for a stylus, but still keep its advantages, Samsung is also introducing gesture controls where you can merely wave your finger over the screen to activate stylus-like actions such as hovering over content for more info or swiping through albums.
Dual Camera allows for both of the phone’s cameras to be used together, to take picture-in-picture photographs or video calls that can include you, the photographer. Eraser will allow you to remove pesky photo-bombers and other accidental objects from photos that would otherwise be great.
With S Translator you can write or speak into the phone to have it translate your messages into a different language, similarly it can do this for received messages, even reading them aloud. S Voice Drive will allow you to interact with the phone through voice while driving, using a menu display designed to be more simple and easier to take in at a glance.
These features may not give Samsung an edge for very long. The night before Samsung’s event in New York, LG, who also makes Android phones, was quick to announce their own eye-controlled, video-pausing technology and dual camera mode for their upcoming Optimus G Pro smartphone. A reminder that software features are easy for competitors to add to their own phones and that, even amongst fellow Android purveyors, the competition is fierce.
Samsung will also be offering a number of accessories including several geared towards health and fitness. The company has unveiled a wireless charging pad, game controller add-on, wireless health bracelet, heart rate monitor, and even a body scale.
These health accessories will be matched with an S-Health app and in addition to monitoring fitness performance or calories burned can also record information on how well you sleep.
Since its launch last year, Samsung has sold more than 40 million Galaxy S3 smartphones becoming one of the industry’s best success stories. This upgraded version should deliver repeat business although for the long-term Samsung will need to find innovations that can’t be duplicated through software updates or apps and while consumers seem willing to go along with increasingly larger phone sizes, they need to be ready should the winds of taste change there too.
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