After all is leaked and blogged about, the real thing appears. Behold! There’s a new Beast in town. Samsung has just officially announced its 2013 flagship, the fourth addition in the coveted Galaxy S lineup, the Samsung Galaxy S4.
The Galaxy S4 comes surrounded by a bevy of S-something features and its body frame and design aesthetics are what we’ve been familiar with for the last few days thanks to seemingly unstoppable leaks that only fell short of outing the real beast. Trust me, as much as the leaks were spot on, they take nothing away from the device that has just been unveiled. I stayed up all night to catch the livestream and I was not disappointed.
It is not a major bump but just a deserved update to the S III. The design language doesn’t change much, just a few tweaks here and there.
So what does the Galaxy S4 have?
Plenty. And no, S-Plenty is not a feature too.
- 5 inch full HD 1080p (1920 X 1080 resulting in 441 ppi) Super AMOLED display. It is protected by the recently launched Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for maximum durability. Surprise surprise! It is a PenTile like the S III.
- 1.6 GHz Exynos 5 Octa-core chip or 1.9 GHz quad-core Qualcomm chip (no details on which Snapdragon the device will pack. Could be either the expected 600 or the yet to be used 800) depending on your region
- 2 GB RAM
- Internal storage options of 16, 32 and 64 GB. Has a microSD card slot so memory expansion is possible upto 64 GB.
- 2600 mAh battery
- 13 megapixel BSI main camera with f/2.2 aperture and autofocus
- 2 megapixel front camera (Samsung says both cameras have zero lag)
- Measures 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
- Weighs 130g
- 3G HSPA+ (speeds upto 42 Mbps) and 4G LTE where it is available.
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- IR Blaster
- Bluetooth 4.0
- The device will run on Android 4.2.2, Jelly Bean with TouchWiz
The device will be available in two colours: black and white (marketed as Black Mist and White Frost). More colour options are promised later on.
Availability: Q2. Expect the device to show up in stores near you in April. It will be available in around 155 countries and there will be various offers from the 327 carriers who are on board. There’s no word on pricing yet.
Add-ons. More Standout Features? Surprises?
- The device is touted by the manufacturer as ‘Life’s Companion’ and in that breath it is supposed to properly integrate into an individual’s life by having that matters in all spheres of our lives e.g health and fitness, there’s something the Galaxy S4 brings to the table as far as that is concerned.
- To my delight, as is usual with Samsung devices, the Galaxy S4 will still have a removable back cover. For those who’ll be sure to drain the 2600 mAh battery, you can get a spare one. This is important since almost all the Galaxy S4’s competitors have a non-removable back panel.
- Expandable storage. This is crucial yet some high end devices have been omitting it (I’m looking at you HTC One).
- Plastic. Yes, the Galaxy S4 is all plastic. Samsung loves its plastic; you’ve heard that line before. You’ll still be hearing it for the whole of 2013 it seems. The competition is all gaga with glass and aluminium unibody designs but Sammy sticks with what it knows best, the plastic.
- The Galaxy S4 can be used with gloves. We first saw this on the Lumia 920, it has made its way to the Galaxy too.
- Knox feature. Unveiled alongside HomeSync tonight, Knox is an enterprise level security feature that intends to keep your work life and personal life separate on the Galaxy S4. Think of it as Samsung’s own Blackberry Balance (available on BB10).
- Dual Shot: camera feature that will allow users to take photos using both the front and the back cameras at the same time and mash them up using preset templates ready for sharing with friends.
- Dual Recording: the video recording equivalent of Dual Shot. The front and back shooters record all at once to produce a single video file with the two recordings (from front and back cameras).
- Sound in Shot: allows one to capture up to 9 seconds of audio while a still photo is shown.
- Drama Shot: for combining a series of snaps together into one final product.
- Cinema Photo: for creating moving .gif files. This camera feature allows you to take a video of a moment you’d like to capture and gives you the option to highlight the portions on the screen you want to feature as the rest remains static.
- Story Album: with this feature, you can store all your photos into collections with preset templates. All photos you take with the Galaxy S4 are sorted automatically based on your timeline, an event or geo-tagging info to create photo albums. (These albums can then be ordered for offline viewing and be delivered by Blurb which is partnering with Samsung).
- AirView/Hover: think of it as AirView for your fingers (no S-Pen). It is courtesy of it that we have such features like Air Gestures and Air Browse on the Galaxy S4. The latter allows one to flip through music tracks by just waving their hand or switch pages and tabs on the web browser, Pretty cool. The former is what traditional AirView is known for. Air Gestures allows content browsing/pre-viewing by simply hovering one’s hand above the device. Traditional AirView (traditional because we already saw the feature at work on the Galaxy Note II) allows users to hover with their fingers to preview content of an email, S Planner, the photo gallery or video without necessarily having to open it.
- Smart Pause and Smart Scroll. Smart Pause like the name suggests will intelligently detect when you’re not watching the video clip playing on your Galaxy S4 and pause it. It will resume playback when you gaze back. Smart Scroll on the other hand allows one to scroll through content by simply tilting the device. Not like we expected it to use the eye for this. Remember the Eye Scroll rumours? Forget them now. Though we might see the feature sometime soon, it is not here!
- S Translator. Will support 9 languages and will do as the name suggests: translate. It will provide “instant translation” using either voice or text on apps like messaging, ChatON and email.
- Samsung WatchON will take advantage of the Galaxy S4’s IR blaster for controlling your TV from the smartphone.
- S-Health. The app for looking after your health. My friends struggling with dieting should find it handy.
- S-Band: a Bluetooth-enabled tracker, S Band pedometer. Body scale and heart rate monitor that is part of the S-Health software.
- S View cover. Like flip cover but cut out at the top to reveal the device.
- Samsung Adapt Display: for optimal viewing experience customized for each app.
- Samsung Adapt Sound: each user will have sound personalized for them so that level and type of sound does not irritate anyone.
- Samsung Optical Reader: will automatically recognize text, QR codes etc. Even has S-Translator functionality baked in to be able to translate text messages and emails too.
- S Voice Drive: allows one to activate voice control when driving. If the Galaxy S4 connects with the car’s Bluetooth, then it will automatically enter driving mode and allow TTS (text to speech) for easily getting texts without compromising on your safety on the road.
- Dual Video Call function: you can make and receive a video call while showing your caller or recipient what you are looking at during the call.
- Group Play: allows users to connect with each other directly without requiring Wi-Fi AP or cellular data share photos, music and games together, play games, collaborate on docs etc.
- Share Music: Users can have the same song playing on multiple phones in sync.
As you can see the bundled S-somethings are quite many. These are the features that Samsung hopes will make the Galaxy S4 standout from the crowd. It is worth noting that all the awesome features that were there in the S III and the Note II (like Smart Stay, Direct Call, S Beam, S Planner, the Hubs, camera features like Best Face etc) have also been retained. Only new features as listed above have been added.
I hope I’ll review this device someday and test each one of the features that were highly hyped during the webcast to see if they work smoothly in reality as they are made to sound on paper.