Electronics giant and Apple rival Samsung unveiled its latest smartphone to the world at a lavish press event in New York City last night. While rumours about specifications and form-factor have run rampant over the course of the last two weeks, the company revealed all to a global audience. What is inside the new Samsung Galaxy S4? What makes it tick?
In terms of what the S4 looks like, the most obvious factor is that it is larger than the S3. It is not an incredible difference in size, but the S4 sports a full 5-inch display, while the S3 has a 4.8-inch working area. Although bigger than its predecessor, it is also lighter – which is always a good thing.
The S4 weighs in at 4.6-ounces (130g) and is thinner than the S3. The multi-million selling smartphone measures 0.34-inches thick, but the S4 shaved a bit off the top to tip the scales at 0.31-inches thick.
Other than the size difference in the screen, looking at the S4 straight-on, it almost seems identical to the S3 – front and back all made from the familiar plastic, while the trademark sloped edges ring in the distinct look. In terms of actual dimensions, it measures 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm.
In addition to being slightly bigger, the S3 has a 720p screen, while the latest model sports a 1080p Super HD AMOLED display which is covered in the super-strong Gorilla Glass 3. Corning, the makers of Gorilla Glass, has manufactured screen glass for many mobile phone producers and has proven its worth in fast-paced world of smartphone releases.
The S3 was released with a Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU, but the S4 will be trimming the edges with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset 1.9Ghz quad-core processor or a 1.6 octa-core processor (which will be dependant on the market you are in). The RAM will also be doubled from 1GB in the S3 to 2GB in the S4. A 2,600mAh battery will also be powering the handset, which is slighty more powerful than the Li-Ion 2100mAh battery found in the S3.
With technology growing faster than ever before, it is only natural that the latest smartphones will include the best cameras available to squeeze into the frame. The S4 makes taking pictures a little bit more easier by making use of a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. This is compared to the S3 which used a 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 1.9-megapixel front camera. That is a giant leap for the manufacturer, but Apple’s iPhone 5 also has a 8-megapixel rear camera. Operating the camera will be similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, and will also feature the on-screen mode dial.
Samsung has once again gone with the TouchWiz interface for operational input and it seems that it has largly stayed the same. The S3 recently updated its TouchWiz and Android version to 4.1.2, but the S4 will be released with 4.2.2, and is expected to operate the same. The input software has been generally well received by Galaxy users, so there is really no need to initiate a major overhaul of the system just yet.
While Samsung’s attempt to compete with Apple’s Siri voice search functionality did not exactly impress Galaxy users, the phone maker opted to include an updated version of the software and also throw in S Voice Drive – it is essentially the same, but will allow users to operate their phone through voice commands - only if paired with a vehicle’s Bluetooth system.
The Galaxy S4 will come with an Infra-red blaster that will allow users to control their Samsung televisions with their new mobile phone. Samsung’s WatchOn software will also act as a virtual television guide aimed at enhancing the experience. Smart Scroll is a feature that will allow users to scroll through websites by tilting the phone, and Smart Pause will play or pause video playback dependent on whether the user is looking at the screen or not – it is similar to an upgraded version of Smart Stay on the S3.
While some of the features are not exactly new to the Galaxy stable, the S4 will incorporate a lot of it, such as Air View and S Health, which was available on the Galaxy Note II. For users who travel a lot, or have business ventures outside their country borders, the S4 will feature a built-in translation service called S Translate. It will translate email or text messages into one of nine different languages, using text or voice translation. The feature can translate from both speech-to-text and text-to-speech.
The Galaxy S4 will be made available worldwide in April of this year and will be on Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, U.S. Cellular and Cricket in the US. No price has been indicated just yet, but it is expected to be made available across a number of packages.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor