After months of speculation and a massive amount of rumours and leaks, Samsung finally made the Galaxy S4 official at its Unpacked event in New York last night. And as expected by many, anyone who was wishing for a revolutionary new upgrade over the Galaxy S3 will be sorely disappointed, even though the underlying specs are as awesome as ever.
While companies like Sony and HTC are inching closer and closer to Apple in terms of industrial design, Samsung has decided to continue to stick to the design family started by the Galaxy S3 last year – the Galaxy S4 is somewhat of a cross between the Galaxy S3 and Note 2 and simply doesn’t look like a flagship phone from the biggest Android phone manufacturer. Compare it to the HTC One or the Sony Xperia Z, and you can see how little effort Samsung has put in on the S4’s looks and design, though the plastic used in the device’s construction feels more solid than ever before.
However, things get better when it comes to the specs – starting with the 5-inch 1080p (1,920 x 1,080) Super AMOLED display, which while still using the PenTile matrix is a stunner at a pixel density of 441ppi. The S4 is powered by Samsung’s new octa-core Exynos processor at 1.6GHz along with 2GB of RAM, though the US variant will use a Qualcomm 1.9GHz processor (probably a Snapdragon 600) for integrated LTE connectivity.
The Galaxy S4 comes with a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 1.9-megapixel front shooter, both capable of HDR and 1080p video recording. An interesting new feature for the camera is Dual Shot, which lets you capture a picture using both the cameras at the same time and then combines the two into one. Meanwhile, Cinema Photo allows you to take a series of shots, and pick one part of the photo to move while the others stay still; or you can use Drama Shot to take a burst of photos and then overlap them, all of which make the camera features one of the most exciting (if not useful every day) features of the device.
Rounding off the spec sheet are 16/32/64GB built-in storage along with microSD expansion, usual connectivity features such as Wi-Fi, HSPA, Bluetooth, NFC and GPS, and a 2,600 mAh battery that is replaceable (as is the tradition with every Samsung device). There’s also an inbuilt IR blaster much like the HTC One, working in tandem with Samsung’s WatchOn app to provide a universal remote and visual TV guide for users. All of this hardware is packed into a body 7.9mm thick and only 130g in weight, which is impressive and lower than the Galaxy S3’s despite more powerful specs.
On the software side of things, the Galaxy S4 runs on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Samsung’s usual TouchWiz customization, though there are multiple new software features packed into the device. The S Health feature is the major new feature – it makes use of the integrated pedometer and temperature and humidity sensors and lets you track your workouts, daily intake, and weight levels, letting you know details like your blood pressure levels or calorie intake.
Then there are Air Gestures, which let you scroll through webpages and pictures by simply waving your hand over the display without touching it, while Air View lets you view details of a photo or email by holding your hand over the screen for a few seconds. Samsung has also said that many of these features will be making their way to older devices like the Galaxy S3 and Note 2 (and possibly others) in future updates.
Last but not the least, Samsung has added Group Play – this feature allows you to share and sync pictures and other media with other Galaxy S4 owners via NFC, or play local multiplayer games like Asphalt 7 and Gun Bros 2 (the two launch partners) and many more once developers add support for them. Hopefully, this is one feature Samsung will be putting on the S3 or Note 2, or people might have a hard time finding someone to make use of this feature with.
As for pricing, all Samsung could say was that the Galaxy S4 will carry the price tag of a “premium Samsung smartphone.” Availability will be on a massive scale like the Galaxy S3, with the smartphone launching on 327 carriers in 155 countries and all four major carriers in the US (along with Cricket and US Cellular) sometime in the second quarter of this year. UK carriers are listing the launch date as April 26th, though that might change later on.
While the Galaxy S4 is yet another all-rounder from the Korean manufacturer along with some useful (and some gimmicky) new software tricks, it’s the least major upgrade of all the Galaxy S series of flagship phones. Of course, it is still a great device that will see a massive number of units sold, but it’s hard not to think of Samsung as going down Apple’s route of milking its brand name and providing an incremental upgrade just for the sake of an upgrade.
Here are a few more official photos of the Galaxy S4. Let us know what you guys think about Samsung’s newest flagship smartphone!
Samsung Galaxy S4 Specifications
- 5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, 1920 x 1080 pixels
- 1.6GHz 8-core Exynos/1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
- 2GB RAM
- 13-megapixel rear camera, HDR, 1080p video recording
- 1.9-megapixel front camera
- 16/32/64GB storage, microSD slot
- Wi-Fi, HSPA+, LTE, NFC, GPS, IR Blaster
- 2,600 mAh battery, wireless charging via optional back cover
- Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, TouchWiz UI
- 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm