Friday, March 15, 2013

Samsung Presents the new Galaxy S4

Samsung has finally showed what they've been up to, and presented us their new high-end Android smartphone that will probably become one of the most wanted gadgets this year: the new Galaxy S4.

We know by now that new smartphones presentations have become "more of the same old stuff". Faster CPUs, more RAM, better screens... the "usual stuff". And that's precisely why Samsung presentation event barely mentioned the hardware at all. No reference to the powerful octa-core CPU (in the USA it will be a quad-core Snapdragon, go figure); nor the GPU. But... we know that it does have the Exyons 5 dual-quad-core; 2GB RAM, 16/32/64GB Flash + microSD; WiFi ac, LTE (global roaming, they say), NFC, IR, BT, 13MP and 2MP cameras, and... a 5" Super AMOLED FullHD 1080p screen (441ppi).

You also get less common sensors, like temperature and humidity, and IR gestures. The S4 can detect your gestures when you hover the screen without touching it, and allows you to use it with gloves.

Most impressive: Samsung found a way to put all this into a slimmer form factor than the previous Galaxy S3! The S4 measures just 69.8 x 136.6 x 7.9mm, and weighs 130g while the S3 measured 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm and weighed 133g. The S4 comes with a  2600mAh battery and the latest Android 4.2.2.

But, like I said, the hardware was barely mentioned. Samsung opted to show how the S4 behaves in seemingly real-life situations (although the Broadway musical style wasn't necessarily the best fit for it).

Samsung tweaked Android and added a lot of extra "S features", of varying degrees if interest. To to make sure you stay out of all the photos, you can enable the Dual Camera mode, that inserts a small picture taken with the front camera whenever you snap a picture with the mais camera. You also get to record a 5 sconds audio clip to create more memorable multimedia moments

One nice touch: you can easily manage your photos and create a story album (it even prompts you to do so when it detects you're on vacation or away from home). And the picture in picture mode is also available in the video chat: so you can show what you're seeing as well as being seen at the same time.

Samsung also provides a migration tool so anyone, having any smartphone, can easily transfer (most of) their data to their new Galaxy S4 (certainly something that many users will worry about when moving to a new platform for the first time). And you get things like S Voice Drive for voice commands, the improved eye/face control Smart Scroll/pause: that automatically stops a video when you face away from the screen; or scroll through pages using nothing but the movement of your face.

A bit unexpected was the S Health. Allowing to use heart rate monitors, activity trackers, and a digital body scale, you can use your S4 has the main hub to keep track of your health and fitness levels.

The S4 didn't come with anything that made the crowd go wild, but that would be quite hard to do these days (smartphones already seem to have "everything"). It certainly was everything it need to be on par with the competition, and the hardest part will be choosing among the Galaxy S4, the HTC One (with its ultrapixel camera), the Sony Xperia Z (waterproof), and so on.

Now we just need to know when it will be available, and how much it will cost.

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