NEW YORK — Samsung has just introduced its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S 4 to the world.
The Galaxy S 4 follows the spectacularly successful Galaxy S III, which sold over 100 million devices in 2012.
From a design point of view, the Galaxy S 4 iterated from the Galaxy S III, while still offering a more streamlined, refined design. The screen is now 5 inches but the body of the device doesn't feel much larger than the Galaxy S III. Moreover, Samsung made the device slimmer and stronger. Gone is the plasticky feel of the Galaxy S III; the Galaxy S 4 is light, but feels higher quality.
Under the Hood
The 5-inch Super AMOLED display is 1920x1080, giving the Galaxy S 4 an eye-popping 441ppi resolution. It's covered with Gorilla Glass 3.
Depending on the market, it has a 1.9Ghz quad-core processor or a 1.6 octa-core processor. The Galaxy S 4 runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. It has 2GB of RAM and comes in 16, 32 or 64 GB configurations and also includes a microSD card slot.
It has all the basic wireless connections, including Bluetooth 4.0 LE, NFC, Wi-Fi and GPS. Like the Galaxy Note 8.1, the Galaxy S 4 is equipped with an IR port and can be used as a remote control.
Powering all of this technology is a 2600 mAh battery.
It's All About the Cameras
Samsung put a lot of focus on the cameras inside the Galaxy S 4. Yes, cameras, plural. In addition to the 13-megapixel rear camera, the Galaxy S 4 also has a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.
What's different is that these two cameras can be used together in a mode Samsung calls Dual Camera. The Dual Camera functionality allows both cameras to be used simultaneously to record video or take photos.
Users can choose how the second camera superimposes on to the main camera screen — either in an overlay or in true side-by-side mode. It also lets users make video calls while showing off what they are seeing without having to switch camera positions.
In addition to the Dual Camera mode, Samsung has beefed up the traditional camera software. Taking cues from the Galaxy S Camera, the Galaxy S 4 has a number of different shooting modes for different kinds of shots.
The camera also includes a few special features, including a mode called Drama Shot that lets users create cinemagraph-like images that are saved as animated GIFs.
Users can also create special Story Albums from geo-tagged information as a way to create virtual reminders of a trip or event. If the virtual reminder isn't enough, you can order actual prints from the devices too.
Gestures and More
Samsung has added some of the gesture and haptic features from its Galaxy Note line into the Galaxy S 4.
A new feature called Air View lets users hover their fingers over content in certain apps — such as Flipboard — and see a preview of the content before changing screens. Air Gestures are Kinect-like gestures that allow users to navigate the phone and even make voice calls without touching the screen.
Samsung also has new Smart Pause and Smart Scroll features that help users control content based on action. With Smart Pause, videos in enabled apps will pause when you are turned away and resume when turned back. It doesn't work by using eye-tracking, but instead uses facial recognition.
Smart Scroll lets users scroll through the browser and email without touching the screen. It uses your face movements and wrist gestures to determine when to scroll.
The Galaxy S 4 will be available on Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, U.S. Cellular and Cricket in the U.S. in Q2 2013. That's soon.