Samsung unveiled its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone Thursday evening, in a showy Broadway-style production inside a packed Radio City Music Hall in New York City. As expected, the S4 will deliver a slightly larger screen (5 inches), improved camera and faster processor - along with some innovative new features. But Samsung won't ship the Galaxy S4 until "late April," according to the company.
While promoting its impressive hardware specs (see below for a complete list) and an array of new Samsung-specific features, the company managed to promote its "premium smartphone" as a "life companion."
The "polycarbonate" - read "plastic" - device officially weighs in at 130g (4.6 ounces) and is 7.9mm (0.31 inches) thin. By comparison, the iPhone 5 weighs less (3.9 ounces) and boasts a mere 4-inch screen. Samsung calls the S4 the "first Full HD Super AMOLED display." Whereas the iPhone 5 display has a resolution of 1136 x 640, the S4 sports a 1920 x 1080 display, with more pixels per inch as well.
Just Look, You Don't Even Need To TouchScreen
Perhaps the most anticipated feature is Samsung Smart Scroll, which is designed to let users control the screen by where they look. You can scroll the browser or emails up and down without even touching the screen. "It recognizes your face looking at the screen and movement of your wrist and then scrolls the pages up or down accordingly."
Similarly, using Samsung Smart Pause, "when you are watching a video, the video pauses when you look away then it starts right up again when you are back."
It will be very interesting to test these features in the real world to see just how well they work.
Simultaneous Photo Shoots
The Galaxy S4 sports a 13-megapixel rear camera and a Dual Camera function that allows simultaneous use of both front and rear cameras. Similarly, Samsung also described what it branded a Dual Video Call - a feature that lets users make and receive a video call while showing the recipient what you are looking at during the call.
With the S4's Group Play function, users can share music, photos and games with those around them without requiring a Wi-Fi or cellular signal. According to the company, "this innovative feature enables users to connect directly with others to share, play and co-create content and entertainment instantly.
Another interesting feature is the S Translator, which provides "instant translation" via text or voice for email and text messaging.
The Galaxy S4 supports broadband via HSPA+42 Mbps and 4G LTE. According to Samsung, the LTE version supports up to six different band sets that should let it function in most LTE coverage areas - and enable global LTE roaming.
2.5G (GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE): 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps): 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
4G (LTE Cat 3 100/50Mbps) : up to 6 different band sets (Dependent on market)
5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi
1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor / 1.6 GHz Octa-Core Processor (varies by market)
Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
Main(Rear): 13-megapixel Auto Focus camera with Flash & Zero Shutter Lag
Sub (Front): 2-megapixel camera, Full HD recording @30fps with Zero Shutter Lag
Video Codecs: MPEG4, H.264, H.263, DivX, DivX3.11, VC-1, VP8, WMV7/8, Sorenson Spark, HEVC
Recording & Playback: Full HD (1080p)
MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AC-3, apt-X
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (HT80)
GPS / GLONASS
NFC, Bluetooth® 4.0 (LE)
IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0
Accelerometer, RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro, Barometer
Temperature & Humidity, Gesture
16GB / 32GB / 64GB User memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB)
136.6mm (5.4 inches) x 69.8mm (2.7 inches) x 7.9mm (0.31 inches), 130g (4.6 ounces)
Lead image by Dan Rowinski.