At a packed event in New York’s Radio City Music Hall Thursday, Samsung revealed its newest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S 4. Following in the footsteps of the bestselling Android phone on the market, the Galaxy S III, the S 4 sports a number of unique new features, while keeping some favorite options from its predecessor.
A far from ordinary event, the announcement was full of song and dance numbers, some bizarre theater moments, and a few surprises.
A Familiar Look
At first glance, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Galaxy S 4 for the Galaxy S III. The phone sports a very similar look and feel to its predecessor, in a slightly thinner body, with a slightly larger 5-inch screen. The handset is made entirely of polycarbonate, and will be available in two options: black mist and white frost.
The phone has an updated 1080p Super AMOLED screen. Depending on the market you're in, you’ll get a 1.9Ghz quad-core processor or a 1.6 octa-core processor under the hood as well as 2GB of RAM.
An IR-blaster built into the phone allows it to replace your television’s remote control. Samsung’s WatchOn software works as a virtual TV Guide of sorts to enhance that experience.
A 2,600mAh battery powers the handset, and while Samsung didn’t specify at the event what that 2,600mAh would get you, it did say that it was constantly working on software tweaks to ensure you get the most out of that battery.
The Camera Is Where The Galaxy S 4 Shines
The Galaxy S 4 camera saw an improvement on both the hardware and software side of things. The phone has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 2-megapixel forward-facing camera.
The handset sports some of the same features at Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, including several of the scene modes as well as the on-screen mode dial. All in all, the phone has 12 different shooting modes.
One particularly noteworthy feature is Samsung’s DualShot, a feature not entirely unlike a feature announced by LG Wednesday, which allows you to take a photo with both the front and rear camera at the same time and then combine the two together into a single photograph.
Another interesting camera feature is Cinema Photo, similar to Cinemagram, which lets you pick one piece of your photo to move, while keeping the others still.
The Galaxy S 4 comes running Android 4.2.2, currently the most recent version of Android. Along with Android’s stock features, Samsung has added a number of other Galaxy-specific software features to the phone that make it stand out from the pack.
Samsung’s Smart Scroll feature allows you to scroll through websites by tilting your phone. A Smart Pause feature lets you control the screen with your eyes. Similar to LG’s ‘Smart Video’ feature, the feature stops and starts video based on whether or not you’re looking at the screen.
If you’re watching a movie and put your phone down to grab a snack, video play will stop until you return and look at the screen again.
Group Play lets you share music, photos and games with the people around you. The feature can also be used to play music together as a group, turning your friend’s phones into a makeshift surround system of sorts. For instance, your phone might play the role of the right speaker, while your friend Bob will be the left. If your friend Sarah decides to join in on the fun, her phone can be the center speaker in your system, and so on.
An Air View features lets you hover your fingers over an email, S Planner, or image gallery to view a larger preview of content before selecting it, and an Air Gesture feature allows you to change a song, scroll through a web page, or answer a call by just waving your hand.
An S Health feature attempts to replace your FitBit, and works as not only a pedometer, but also a way to keep track of what you eat and your sleeping patterns. An optional 'S Band' syncs via Bluetooth with your phone and can be used when it might not be practical to tote your S4 along with you.
Finally, S Translate helps you translate your email or text messages into one of nine different languages, using text or voice translation. The feature can translate from both speech-to-text and text-to-speech.