Samsung Electronics Co on Thursday premiered its latest flagship phone,
the Galaxy S4, which sports a bigger display and unconventional features
such as gesture controls and will spearhead its effort to challenge
Apple Inc on its home turf.
(Also see: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 and others)
The phone is the first in Samsung's highly
successful Galaxy S-series to make its global debut on U.S. soil, and
represents another bet that consumers prefer larger screens.
S4 which Samsung preceded with a marketing blitz that drummed up
industry speculation reminiscent of some of Apple's past launches - will
be available globally in the second quarter. Samsung said all major
U.S. service providers will sell the phone but it kept mum on exact
dates and prices.
The company was more than willing to share some
of the latest Galaxy phone's capabilities: it can stop and start videos
depending on whether someone is looking at the screen, flip between
songs and photos at the wave of a hand, and other features not typically
found on rivals' screens.
The success or failure of Samsung's
latest flagship phone - the fourth in a brand launched in 2010, will be
pivotal in the world's biggest smartphone maker's battle against Apple
and smaller rivals to attract consumers who have a dizzying array of
choices in advanced phones.
Samsung held the global launch event
in the United States in the hope of regaining the lead in the crucial
market. Apple's U.S. sales outstripped Samsung's for the first time in
the quarter ending in December, even after Samsung spent a record $400
million on phone advertisements here last year.
While the global
smartphone market's growth rate is tapering off, Samsung still derives
the majority of its annual profits from Galaxy phones.
said the Galaxy S4 will sport a bigger 5-inch display than the S3's 4.8
inches. But because the new display will cover more of the phone's
surface area, the device itself will be the same length and slightly
narrower, thinner and lighter than the previous generation.
newest features involve different options for navigation. For example,
if the phone senses someone is looking at the screen, the user can tilt
it forward or backwards to scroll up and down a Web page.
feature falls slightly short of what some consumers may have expected
after the New York Times reported that the phone would be able to scroll
automatically by tracking readers' eyes.
But what it can do is
sense when it has someone's attention. When a video is playing, for
instance, the stream will automatically pause if the person glances away
and it will restart when the eyes refocus on the screen.
an update on an existing Galaxy S III feature which allows the screen to
sense whether or not the user is looking at. If there is nobody looking
at the S III, the screen's light switches off automatically to conserve
The latest phone also has a sensor that lets users
move their hands to the left or right to scroll between different
websites they have opened or through songs or photos in an album without
having to touch the phone.
The idea is to make it easier to
change the song playing without having to pick up the phone while
driving or to avoid putting sticky fingers on the touch-screen display
while scrolling through a Web page at mealtimes.
The phone will
also allow users to hover a finger over an email inbox or a photo
gallery to get a glimpse of more details of what's in the email or which
photos are in an album.
Another feature includes the option to
automatically put a copy of details from a photograph of a business card
into the phone's contacts database or call a number in the business
Samsung is also promising an instant translation between 10
different languages for certain applications, as well as a separate
translation application on the device.
The device also has a 13
megapixel camera, compared with the S 3's 8-megapixel. U.S. operators
planning to sell the S4 include Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc, Sprint
Nextel, T-Mobile USA and smaller operator Leap Wireless.
Galaxy S IV launch in pictures
Samsung Galaxy S IV key specifications
- 5-inch full-HD (1080x1920) Super AMOLED display (441 ppi)
- 1.9GHz quad-core processor/ 1.6GHz octa-core processor (Depending upon region)
- 2GB RAM
- 16/32/64 GB Storage (expandable by 64GB via microSD slot)
- 13-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS/ GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, IR LED, MHL 2.0
- Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
- 2,600 mAh battery
- 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm
- 130 grams
© Thomson Reuters 2013