Last night, at an impossibly lavish launch event, Samsung made the long-awaited Galaxy S4 smartphone official. Despite starting a little late, the event kicked off with Samsung’s President JK Shin taking the stage, where he said the company was, “committed to innovation” and that it had been inspired by Samsung owners around the world to create the Galaxy S4, a smartphone which would let us lead a, “richer, simpler and more full life” thanks to its innovations.
We all know Samsung is a fan of adding as many software features as possible to its Android smartphones, and the Galaxy S4 is no exception. Even before the phone made its entrance, JK Shin reeled off a long list of features it would be introducing later on in the show. That’s right, Samsung’s event was like a cheesy, Off-Off Broadway show, featuring little skits where the phone’s features were described. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but in reality it was quiet painful.
Before we get into all the software, let’s look at the technical specifications, which are almost exactly as the rumours predicted. The screen is a 4.99-inch super AMOLED panel with a 1080p resolution, which according to Samsung is a world first, and it has a particularly impressive 441ppi pixel density. The phone is powered by either an Exynos 5 Octa eight-core processor with 2 GB of RAM or a 1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, with different processors being used in different countries.
The Galaxy S4′s camera has been upgraded to one with 13 megapixels, while above the screen on the front is a 2 megapixel lens. Compared to the Galaxy S III – which has a 4.8-inch, 720p screen, a quad-core processor and an 8 megapixel camera – the S4 has seen upgrades in all key areas. The Galaxy S4 is slimmer and lighter too, at just 7.9mm thick and 130 grams.
There will be the option of choosing a 16GB, 32GB or 64GB model, and it’s going to come in two colours – Black Mist and Frost White. The Galaxy S4 has both 3G and global 4G LTE connectivity – EE has confirmed already it’ll work on its 4G network – and a range of other features including NFC, GPS, a microSD card slot and an Infrared sensor.
Android 4.2.2 is installed as standard, along with Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface, which has been tweaked slightly here. It’s also home to a dizzying amount of extra features, which was the focus of Samsung’s big event. Here’s a taste of those which are most interesting. Although an “Eye Scroll” feature was rumoured, the Smart Scroll reality is slightly different, as although you can scroll pages without touching the screen, the phone watches to make sure you’re looking at it and scrolls text when you tilt the phone forward or back.
It’s joined by Smart Pause, which checks to see if you’re watching a video and pauses it automatically when you look away. This hands-free approach continues with Air View and Air Gesture, the former replicating the Galaxy Note II’s hovering preview feature (only here it’s operated with your finger), while the latter recognizes a hand wave over the screen to perform certain functions like answering calls.
S-Translator is as it sounds, and can translate nine languages using speech to text and text to speech. Dual Camera has been seen on the LG Optimus G Pro before now, and as on that device, records video using both front and rear camera lenses at the same time. The camera gets other features too, including Sound & Shot, where still pictures are given a snippet of audio, plus Story Album gathers pictures together in a special album based on location data, a specific event or your social timeline.
The Galaxy S4 will go on sale at the end of next month, with 26 April currently being suggested as the actual date, while most networks will have the phone ready to be pre-ordered by the end of this month.
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