Samsung enjoyed a great bit of success with the Galaxy line, not only are they virtually neck and neck with Apple in terms of mindshare, they’ve also managed to bridge the gap is sales. Its only right the Galaxy S4 was as highly anticipated as it was, but did Samsung do it? Did they manage to get over the tipping point? Lets see.
Hardware and design
The Galaxy S4 brings along with it some great hardware improvements, all of which keep it in the “cutting edge” crowd and in the running for the short lived “King of Android” crown. It features a large 5 inch 1080p full HD display with a madness 441 pixels per inch. The S4 will offer two different processors depending on your region, you’ll either get Samsung’s Exynos 5 or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro, both quad core performers. 2GB of operational RAM, 16, 32 and 32GB of storage, the usual suspects in connectivity including 802.11ac and an IR blaster,a 13MP camera in the rear and 2MP in the front and a massive 2,600 mAH battery round out the specs.
Although these specs are worth some excitement, for most they seemed a bit lackluster only because the design of the S4 does very little to part resemblance to the S3. Even though Samsung made it thinner, lighter and even added a metal and around the side of the entire phone, the feeling is hard to shake. It just looks like the same plastic you either love or hate. Personally, I think this is okay.
Features aka gimmicks
Gimmicks I say? No, features you say! At this point, its tough to really draw a line, and this is a good thing. The Galaxy S4 brings along with it an almost overwhelming amount of features. The impressive part about it all is how well they’re implemented, it really does make it hard to point them out at gimmicks.
In no particular order, lets start out with S Health. The Galaxy S4 has an onboard pedometer and a number of other sensors able to track your daily steps, ambient temperature and even humidity, the data is then nicely tracked within the app. It even has the ability to work with other accessories such as scales or blood pressure meters.
Gestures, lots of gestures! How about one called “Air View,” which allows you to preview information on the without actually touching the screen, even pinching and zooming, just hovering your finger above the screen. Air Gestures, which allows you to swipe through images, messages and more by waving your hand from right to left of vie versa in front of the phone.
Smart pause and smart scroll are probably the show stoppers. Smart pause keeps and eye on your head while watching videos, if it detects you look away, it will pause the video, then resume when you return to viewing position. Smart scroll deploys the same concept, but it does so when reading, when it detects your eyes looking towards the bottom of the page, it will scroll up for you.
WatchON makes uses of the included IR Blaster on the S4 to change channels and control your TV or set top box. It also goes a bit future to allow you to download listings and even purchase content.
Dual Shot mode on the camera activates both the front and rear cameras all at once to allow you to capture a fairly unique image with both the subject and the person taking the picture. Other camera modes include the ability to turn a short video into gifs, the ability to create a story from a series of images and even the ability to erase and replace the backgrounds on pictures.
S View cover are a modified version of the popular Galaxy S3 flip covers, but they include a cut out in the front to allow you to view the widget on screen as notifications come in. S Translate can take pictures of text and even words and reproduce them in text for various apps. S Drive lets you interact with the GPS experience without ever touching the phone while driving!
Depending on what side of the fence you’re standing, these could all easily fall under gimmicks, but even so, I’ve never seen a company pack this many gimmicks in one product. And if you call them features? Well, Samsung sure did out the competition.
From an objective point of view, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is nothing but better designed piece of plastic with a bit more metal around the sides, perhaps HTC’s leader was right to say “SG4 is more of the same.” From a “get real” point of view, this phone stands for everything Samsung has been building slowly in the past 4 years and are now at the top, they made it!
They watched, learned and now they conquer. A lessoned learned from Apple, hold on to your core design a bit longer, people will still buy! Executed better than Apple, SOFTWARE OPTIMIZATION! Like I’ve been preaching for years, hardware isn’t the strong point, it’s the software. Samsung manages to put out a shocking quantity and quality of features in one iteration like never seen before. But the truly important part to note here, their supply chain is unstoppable. Because of the plastic we all hate, they’ll have this thing available when they say it will be, and in no shortage.
The already amazing success of the SG3 looks to achieve new heights with the new SG4, I am willing to bet no one will side with the “yea, but it’s the same thing!” the anti-Samsung crowd will push in our face. Why? Because Apple pioneered “the same thing,” and it has done well, but Samsung did not fail to keep the features and software experience fresh. Way to go Samsung!