Samsung is under considerable pressure to deliver the “wow” on Thursday when it releases the long-awaited Galaxy S4 smartphone at an event in New York City. Like Apple’s (AAPL) splashy iPhone announcements in recent years, a considerable chunk of Samsung’s 2013 revenue rides on the success or failure of this particular model, and many believe that a strong showing tomorrow could help bolster the Korean company’s place in the smartphone pecking order.
Apple commanded 42.7 percent of the global smartphone market in Q4 2012, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, while Samsung came in second with 28.7 percent. Most notably, however, Samsung all but took over control of the Chinese smartphone market last year, trouncing both Nokia and Apple with more than 30 million units sold.
But what is the rumor mill hoping to see from the company at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night? Expectations are, to put it mildly, quite high.
(1) Eye tracking: The Galaxy S4 is widely expected to include a software feature that will allow the user to scroll through Web pages, emails and other texts using just their eye movements. This feature is also expected to include “Eye Pause,” which will automatically pause video playback when the user looks away from the screen.
(2) Touchless controls: Like the gyroscope in most modern smartphones that automatically rotates the screen from vertical to horizontal when you turn the phone on its side, the S4 is expected to support a series of gesture controls that would allow the user to, for example, answer a call by simply lifting the phone to their ear or even to click icons by hovering their finger over the screen.
(3) Samsung Wallet / Mobile payments: Like Apple’s Passbook feature, which allows the user to store virtual purchases such as concert tickets and airline boarding passes in their iPhone, the new Samsung Wallet is expected to bring very similar functionality to the Android platform. The company also recently announced support for mobile payments via a new partnership with Visa, which will most likely roll out with the S4.
(4) Panoramic photos: Camera support barely qualifies as a smartphone feature anymore, but the rumored Samsung Orb feature on the Galaxy S4 might just breathe new life into this admittedly basic category by tapping Google’s (GOOG) Photosphere technology and allowing users to take 360-degree panoramic images with their phones.
(5) Hardware updates: It’s boring, but it’s true: Hardware sells smartphones. With that in mind, the S4 is expected to ship with a speedy quadcore processor, a 4.99-inch high definition AMOLED display and a 13-megapixel rear mounted camera. The device will also be available with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage and a microSD slot for additional space.
What do you think? Will any of the rumors swirling around the Galaxy S4 actually come true? Is there anything in particular that you'd like to see? Let us know in the comments below.