Samsung Unpacked 2013 has just concluded, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 has been announced ahead of its launch this spring. The phone looks great, with powerful hardware, a crazy amount of software additions and a wide range of accessories. Here are the key points to know.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 resembles the earlier Galaxy S3, but is slimmer, lighter and more solid. It has a 5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display which works even if you have gloves on.
It’s powered by a eight-core big.LITTLE processor (in certain countries), backed with 2 GB of RAM and 16, 32 or 64 GB of internal storage plus microSD. There’s a 13 megapixel rear camera and 2 megapixel camera on the front. The battery has a capacity of 2,600 mAh.
In terms of cellular connectivity, we’ve got the usual 3G and 4G LTE options. The phone also comes with Wi-Fi ac, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and an IR blaster. The sensor suite includes the standard GPS, accelerometer and digital compass, but also includes temperature, humidity and IR gestures.
The Galaxy S4 comes in a polycarbonate chassis in Black Mist or White Frost colours (aka Black and White). It measures 136.6 mm tall, 69.8 mm wide and 7.9 mm thick. The phone weighs 130 grams. Overall, very light and thin given its strong specifications and large screen.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has an upgraded Nature UX, running TouchWiz on Android 4.2.2.
Samsung have built a number of new and existing features into its Galaxy S4 smartphone, that formed the bulk of their Samsung Unpacked presentation. I’ll run through them now.
The camera software is pretty cool. You can record video or take photos from both front and rear cameras, as well as use Sound and Shot to record five seconds of audio before or after you take a photo. Drama Shot allows you to take 100+ shots in four seconds, then select some of these to appear in a composite photo. The compositing can also remove people from photos.
Gesture control is also a big thing. You can swipe through photos that you’ve taken by swiping above the screen (similar to how the Note II worked with a stylus) with something called Air Gesture. You can also accept calls using air gestures. Finally, you can scroll through text automatically and have videos pause when you look away.
S Translator is a kind of universal translator app, which allows you to do text to speech or speech to text between ten languages. The app includes useful phrases that work offline. The S Translator app also includes an optical reader, so you can translate written text. The translation also works in the Samsung email and text clients.
Samsung also have thought about driving. They’ve got an app called S Voice Drive, which has voice controls as well as larger fonts and such. You can have it read out messages to you, or dictate messages to it. Pretty similar functionality to Siri, it looks like.
If you upgrade to the Galaxy S4, you can use Samsung’s Smart Switch program to transfer your data to your PC, and then onto the S4.
Business users can rely on Samsung Knox, which is reportedly a high security version of Android. It includes the same work / play division as the BlackBerry Z10.
Samsung Group Play reportedly allows each phone to act as a separate speaker, so if you somehow know someone else with a Galaxy S4 you can all hang out and play music. You can also play games and share photographs.
Chat On allows you to do a dual video call, letting your chat partners see video from both of your cameras.
All in all, one of the most comprehensive software packages we’ve ever seen on an Android phone.
There are the usual wide range of cases and covers available, as well as some new cloud and health related accessories.
The S View Cover has a hole cut into it so you can see the time, incoming calls and other important information. The Pouch is pretty much a nice looking pouch. The Flip Cover is available in a wide range of colours and is similar to the one we saw for the Galaxy S III, replacing the rear cover and adding screen protection. The Protective Case is a harder case designed for resisting scratches and impacts.
Home Sync is a personal cloud device that sits at your house, which has 1 TB of storage shared among eight users. An easy home server. The Home Sync also plays video to a connected HDTV or mirror content from the Galaxy S4.
The Galaxy S4 has a suite of health applications called S Health, which allow you record a variety of statistics about your body. There are also a host of health-related accessories available.
You can view all of our Samsung Galaxy S4 accessories here.
Phew – looks like that’s just about it! Thanks for reading through all that – while it may have taken a while, it probably was a lot quicker than Samsung’s hour-long presentation!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.
So far the most common reaction I’ve heard is that the Galaxy S4 is too close to the Galaxy S3! It’s true, they do share a very similar design, but I think Samsung has reached that Apple-like critical mass where it can play conservatively in some areas and still succeed. The Galaxy S3 was a popular phone, so why change it in every aspect? Instead, they’ve focused on upgrading the internals to be as good or better as any other phone on the market and added a host of software features the like of which we haven’t seen before. So I don’t think the Galaxy S4 is too close to the Galaxy S3!