Provided by Business Insider's Steve Kovach
After several weeks of hype, Samsung made the Galaxy S4 official Thursday night. BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk, who covers mobile and telecom companies, attended Samsung's extravagant event at Radio City Music Hall. He told The Daily Ticker's Henry Blodget that he saw little difference between the new S4 and its predecessor the Galaxy S III.
"You're going to see a lot of disappointment today," Piecyk says. "People are going to say 'why upgrade?'"
The S4's larger screen could be the biggest selling point with consumers, Piecyk notes.
"There's a market for these big screens and Samsung is really taking advantage of that," he argues. "For people that like those big screens, Samsung is the go to guy right now."
Here are all the details on the Galaxy S4:
The Galaxy S4 will have a 5-inch full HD display and a plastic body. It runs the latest version of Android called Jelly Bean with Samsung's TouchWiz "skin" that adds several more user interface tweaks and software features.
The hardware design doesn't look that much different than the Galaxy S III, but the device is noticeably thinner and lighter than before. And even though Samsung stuck with a plastic casing, the materials don't feel cheap. It's not as ideal as a metal and glass body, but it's definitely not terrible either.
On the software side, the GS4 will run Android Jelly Bean, the latest version of Google's (GOOG) operating system, but Samsung added a slew of extra features on top of it. The camera app has been completely redesigned to match the interface on the Galaxy Camera. And there are several new shooting modes, including one that lets you automatically "erase" a blurry figure in the background.
The phone's front-facing camera can tell when you're looking at the device and automatically adjust the screen brightness based on the kind of content you're looking at. It will darken when you're reading an e-book, for example.
New Finger Waving Feature
Samsung also added a feature called Hover that lets you hold your finger a centimeter or two over the screen to view extra content. This was most useful in the email app. When you hold your finger over a message in the inbox, you get a pop-up preview of the message. You can also use a waving gesture over the screen to scroll through photos or songs.
"The swipe feature was a little glitchy," says Piecyk. "That might not be a great selling feature for the phone right now."
Eye-Tracking vs. Tilting
And yes, the Galaxy S4 does have that rumored eye-tracking feature for scrolling through pages, but it doesn't work quite as we had imagined. When looking at the phone, you have to tilt the device to make the page scrolling. It didn't feel very natural when we tried it though and it's still easier to use your finger to swipe on the screen.
Samsung says the GS4 will launch in the second quarter of this year and will be available on all four major U.S. carriers. Samsung did announce pricing or a specific launch date.
Got all that?
Now for some more gritty details, software features, and hardware specs on the GS4:
- 16, 32, and 64 GB storage options
- Micro SD slot for expandable storage up to 64 GB
- 2 GB of RAM
- 441 ppi screen resolution
- Samsung would not comment on the processor speed, but did say it will vary by region.
- 4G LTE (where available)
- Fitness app called S Health that monitors your steps, diet, etc. There's also an optional Nike FuelBand-like accessory that connects via Bluetooth.
- ChatOn app for screen sharing with other Galaxy devices
- "Smart Pause" feature that stops a video from playing when you look away from the screen
- Voice commands while driving via a Bluetooth connection with your car
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