The S4 handset is a lighter, sleeker upgrade from Samsung’s Galaxy S3, coming it at 0.31-inches thick, compared to the 0.34 inches on the S3. And while isn’t a major difference, the S4 is a whole 0.1 ounces lighter than its predecessor. With a 5-inch screen, the S4 boasts one of the prettiest, clearest displays on the market, with a 441ppi Super AMOLED HD display, completed with exceptionally sturdy Gorilla Glass 3. While the S4 still has a plastic body, it feels sturdier and slightly more expensive in hand than the S3.
Depending on the market, the Galaxy S4 will come equipped with either a 1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor or a 1.6 GHz Octa-Core Processor and 2 GB of RAM. The eight core Exynos processor is making its first appearance in a mobile phone with the S4 though consumers in the UK and a handful of other markets will have to settle for the still formidable four core Qualcomm processor in their devices.
The sizable display and impressive processor will be powered by a 2,600 mAh battery that is an incremental improvement on the S3′s 2,100 mAh battery. And while there was some pre-launch concern about the amount go storage available on the S4, users will be happy to know that while Samsung will be selling three different models of the Galaxy S4 – with 16, 32, and 64 GB of internal storage – the microSD slot will support up to 64 GB of additional storage.
A Camera That Works Overtime
One of the Galaxy S4′s strongest features is its new and improved camera, which comes with a slew of new bells and whistles, some of which work better than others. The rear camera has a whopping 13MP sensor and while the number of megapixels isn’t necessarily an indicator of image quality, when we tested the phone at Samsung Unpacked, we were considerably impressed with the clarity and resolution of the photographs we took. The camera also comes with a high speed shutter that allows for features like Drama Shot, which creates a collage of sequential photos in a single image.
The 2MP front-facing camera allows for new features like Dual Shot, which inserts the photographer into the picture in an offset frame. The result is a bit cheesy, but neat idea nonetheless. The front camera is also utilized with Dual Video Call which combines with the rear camera to create a split-screen display for video calls. With the Cinema Photo feature, users can select a portion of their image to move while leaving the rest still, and the selective eraser will cure all your photobomb problems.
A Flurry of Features
The device will ship with the latest version of Android Jelly Bean (4.2.2) which has been on the market for some time now, so there are few surprises there. With the Galaxy S4′s design, Samsung didn’t see fit to reinvent the wheel so they’re investing a lot in the device’s new features. Much has been said about the phone’s Smart Screen technology but as with so many things in this life, it works better in theory than in practice. Eye Scroll, which was advertised as tracking the user’s eye movement so that the screen would intuitively scroll down while reading, but the feature actually relies on the phone’s tilt angle more than eye-tracking technology. Smart Pause works much the same way and the device as to actually tilt in order for it to pause video when you look away from the screen.
Although Samsung said that the Galaxy S4 would work with gloves, we tried out the phone with several different pairs and only the very thinnest registered on the touch screen after several aborted attempts of frustrated jabbing. If you’re big on silk opera gloves, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Living up to the hype were Air View and Air Gesture which worked nicely (with bare hands) during our hands-on trial.
Voice recognition was a bit of a problem with the Galaxy S3 but as far as we can tell, the S4 has improved on that front. S Translate and S Voice Drive both utilize the device’s voice recognition function and the translation tool worked remarkably well. It’s worth noting that Voice Drive will only work with cars that come equipped with Bluetooth. For the health conscious user, the Galaxy S4 will also be shipping with S Health, which functions not only as a pedometer, but can also be used to track sleep patterns, exercise, and nutritional info.
Samsung is aiming to take a leap forward in integrating smartphone technology with external devices with their new media features. With the Galaxy S4′s infrared transmitter, WatchON lets users control other devices, like their television sets, with their smartphone while also allowing for TV shows to be viewed on the device itself. Group Play lets users share media across devices and can even be used to combine phones like a music playing Megazord, with individual devices acting as left, right, and central speakers.
And finally, the Galaxy S4 will ship with Knox, Samsung’s own security solution for combining your business and personal phones into a single device. Knox keeps your work life wholly separate from your personal life so employee privacy is respected while also protecting the enterprise IT.
A New Way to Play
With surprisingly little fanfare, Samsung also introduced its new game controller at last week’s event and many have noticed that its appearance seems to have been inspired by the design of the Xbox controller. The Game Pad, as it’s currently being called, will work with the Galaxy S4 and Android 4.2.2 and all subsequent hardware and software releases from Samsung and will be compatible with 80 games at launch, 8 of which will be bundled with the device.
The controller’s dock can support mobile phones with displays ranging from 4 to 6.3 inches, but it can also be hooked up to a television set via Bluetooth, effectively turning the Galaxy S4 into an Android gaming console. Though there is no release date set at this time, the controller is currently available for pre-order from select online merchants, with MobileFun listing a retail price of an eyebrow-raising $112.99.
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