The Lowdown: Samsung Announces Galaxy S4, New Services & Co-CEOs


Samsung launched its new Galaxy S4 flagship phone and a series of software announcements at an event held in New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Here’s a quick lowdown of all the announcements made by the company:

Hardware

Samsung Galaxy S® 4

Samsung announced its next flagship smartphone called The Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S4 will feature a 5 inch full HD super AMOLED screen with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 and 1080p resolution. It’s worth noting that the device comes with very little bezel on the sides of the screen. While all other Galaxy devices were fully made of plastic, the company said that Galaxy S4 will come with a polycarbonate line on the sides.

Connectivity-wise, the device will have 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Cat 3 100 / 50 Mbps LTE, NFC and an IR blaster. What’s interesting is that the S4 will feature a removable 2,600mAh battery, while other phone makers are opting for non-removable batteries in their newer devices. Apart from that, the phone will have 2GB of RAM, and will be available in three storage variants – 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. The Asian and European variants of the device will have Samsung Exynos 5 processor, while the American variant will have Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad core processor.

Besides this, the Galaxy S4 will sport a 13 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash, support for 1080p video capture and 2 megapixel front camera. Samsung said that it will also feature the same interface as seen on the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Camera. The camera app will now includes features like as Eraser, dual-shot mode and drama mode among others. It will also feature a Dual Video Call functionality, which allows users to make and receive a video call while showing their current surroundings.

The company says that the device will be launched across 327 mobile operators in 55 countries by April, however, it’s not clear as to when the device will be available in India. There is no information on the pricing front as well. What’s known is that the device will be available in two versions – a 3G and a 4G/LTE version and in two color options at launch, including Black Mist and White Frost, with additional color options to follow later this year.

Software & Applications

It appears that Samsung has also started paying more attention to software side of the devices as well. The Galaxy S4 will run on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI.

One of the most interesting feature is an eye-tracking feature called Smart Pause, which pauses the video once the sensor detects that the user is looking away. It also features a Smart scroll feature that lets users move through emails or web pages without looking at the screen. There’s also some other touch-free gestures such as Air View, which lets users hover your fingers over the screen to pull out contextual data or preview the content of messages  and Air Gesture, that lets users control music, answering calls, or scrolling without touching the screen.

The Galaxy S4 also includes S Voice Drive which allows users to check their messages through voice while driving; Samsung Optical Reader, which can scan business cards and convert phone numbers and other actionable data into text, and WatchOn, which converts the phone into a remote. As for the keyboard, Samsung has included the new Swipe-to-type keyboard from Swiftkey.

Another interesting feature is the GroupPlay, that lets users share content such as photos, music, videos games via NFC. Note that all eight devices needs to come with NFC integration.

Samsung has integrated its S Translator app with its messaging apps such as ChatOn, Messaging, Email, and optical reader. Like Apple, Samsung has been paying attention to wearable tech. It has included an app called S Health that tracks the number of steps a users takes or runs by using a built-in pedometer. There are couple of other accessories included with the S Health app (discussed below).

Accessories

Samsung GALAXY S4 – LIFE COMPANION Samsung GALAXY S4 – LIFE COMPANION1 Samsung GALAXY S4 – LIFE COMPANION2

Taking a cue from Apple and Nokia, Samsung has released couple of accessories with its flagship device. The S View Cover is a flip cover for the device but with a small cut on the top of the device that will display time and other notifications. For the S Health app, Samsung has introduced three health tracking accessories – S Band which is basically a pedometer bracelet that tracks your steps, and Body Scale & heart-rate monitoring bands that will work with the S Health system. Apart from that, there’s also an extra battery kit, protective cover+, pouch, flip covers, wireless charging pad cover, and gamepad. The pricing of the accessories have not been disclosed yet.

New CEOs

Besides this, Samsung has also made few management changes to the company. It has appointed Boo-Keun Yoon and J.K. Shin as co-CEOs. The existing CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon will however continue in his role and will be the chairman of Samsung’s board of directors.

This essentially means that Samsung will now have 3 co-CEOs who will be handling different divisions of the company. Yoon will head the Samsung’s consumer electronics division, which includes TV and appliance products while Shin will head Samsung’s IT and mobile communications division and Kwon will be overseeing the company’s component division.