Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4: Everything you need to know

After much anticipation, mystery and terrible teasers, Samsung finally launched the Galaxy S4 on Thursday at a press event in Times Sq. The next in the series of hugely successful Galaxy devices had a lot to live up to after the superb SII, and impressive SIII. So, how much on an improvement is it?

Well firstly, let’s be shallow – how does it look?

Nope, that’s not the S3, that’s the S4. I know, similar right? That’s a major gripe for me. One of my reasons for disliking the iPhone is a lack of adventure with design. Now, of course there is rightly an element of “If it aint broke, don’t fix it” but there is just no external difference which I find disappointing. Perhaps I am being too purist with that opinion but I wasn’t a big fan of the S3 design, and I am not a big fan of the S4 either. When I look at the HTC One, my jaw slowly drops. It is a stunning phone. I just don’t get that feeling with the S4 and that could well be because of the plastic exterior. Whilst I understand the idea behind cost cutting, I just don’t know if it’s necessary when the S4 is hardly going cheap.
     Samsung have clearly considered the success of the Galaxy Note devices and see a real market for the larger devices. For that reason they have given the S4 a 5” screen. We are sure to see a ‘mini’ version in the near future and hopefully this will be around the 4.3-4.5” territory which I believe to be ideal for a mobile phone. This screen delivers an extraordinary 440ppi, better than any phone on the market and the result looks spectacular.

Not a great aesthetic result but Samsung have pulled out all the stops with what appears under the bonnet. The 1.6GHz processor, supported by 2GB RAM is nothing spectacular but the Exynos 5 Octa chip has seen great results so far. The battery is better than the S3 at 2600mAh and the storage comes in 16/32/64 GB options. Also, THANK YOU SAMSUNG for keeping with the removable storage. A micro SD can be added with up to 64 GB of further space. In an era that this is becoming increasingly ‘uncool’, I’m delighted to see Samsung retain this feature as I miss having the option on my HTC One X.

The new

Where Samsung really have impressed me is there intention to go the extra mile with new features and software. It's fair to say that not all of these will be practical/useful but it shows that Samsung is trying something new, not simply rehashing and improving the old stuff. Kudos for that.

The S4 camera is testament to this. At 13MP, it's challenging the very top of the smartphone camera market. It also places plenty of pressure on the competition: HTC One's 4 Ultra Pixel camera and the iPhone 5's 8MP camera. That’s impressive, but Samsung have been innovative with new features on the camera:

Dual shot
The Galaxy S4 is the first phone to enable both front and rear facing cameras to be used at the same time. This allows the user to place themselves in the photo. We're yet to see how practical and popular this is but it's a nice option. The dual images can be edited and arranged in a split screen or 'picture in picture' style.

Drama shot
Drama shot snaps 100 images in 4 seconds and then stitches them into one. That's pretty much it, but its a cool end product:

Sound Shot
Samsung have included a neat little feature that allows you to add audio to your image. This sounds a bit strange but it will allow you to take a note about a photo, or maybe some noise to capture the atmosphere. At a football game for example.

Other features to the phone:

Smart pause
Samsung have developed their eye-tracking software on the S4 and this starts with smart pause, where videos will stop when the user looks away from the screen.

Smart scroll
With rumours flying about eye-tracking based scrolling, Samsung have kept it a bit more simple and included tilt screen guidance. Tilting left, right, up, down etc will result in the screen scrolling in that direction.

Samsung have taken a feature from the Galaxy Note and removed the S-Pen's involvement with it. If you hover a finger over the screen then you can preview the item. This might be the first line of a text or email. It could also be a larger shot of a gallery image, or more details about a contact.

Air gesture
This rather peculiar addition allows you to do the same actions, just without touching your phone. You can answer your phone with a swipe for example. Nice technology but utterly pointless.

Group play
One really nice feature - from both a technology, and marketing point of view is the strides Samsung have made in group uses of the S4. Samsung have made it possible for 8 people to game against eachother on their S4s. Not only this but 8 S4s can be connected to act as several speakers, playing the same music.

TV Remote
Suddenly the most popular mobile accessory after years of quite obvious use for it. Samsung have joined HTC by including a TV remote in the S4. Similar to the HTC One, this allows access to TV guides, channel changing, volume etc. The advantage Samsung have is that there should be a nice link-up with the Samsung TVs - HTC don't have that benefit.

Here's Samsung's official video - for once, this is pretty decent:

What do you think of the S4? Is it a worthy successor to the S3? How does it stack up against the HTC One?
All thoughts, debates welcome.

1 comment :

  1. hi..Im student from Informatics engineering, this article is very informative, thanks for sharing :)