Galaxy S IV smartphone launches in NYC

Samsung logoAndroid phonemaker Samsung is scary successful. Its rivals have tried -- and failed -- to use lawsuits to slow its sales. It's so wildly successful that even partner Google is reportedly getting a little nervous.

The South Korean firm has risen quickly through the ranks, passing Nokia in smartphone and featurephone unit sales, and creeping closer to Apple in profitability. Tonight in New York City, just blocks from one of Apple's busiest stores at the Radio City Music Hall, Samsung unleashed its latest flagship model in its best-selling.

With the Galaxy S IV's U.S. launch, its first American launch event for its flagship phone series, Samsung takes another step in its push to shift its marketing, engineering, and management towards the U.S., the world's most lucrative electronics market.

Specs

Currently Apple is sits at the top of U.S. smartphone sales, but the Galaxy S IV could soon change that.

Here's a breakdown of the phone's specs, versus the phone's chief competitor, the iPhone 5:

(The only items not revealed at the launch event were the price and GPU of the Samsung device.)

Clearly the Galaxy S IV has a much more powerful set of hardware, while being only narrowly heavier/and larger. The 1080p screen is the real star of the show, although the inclusion of 802.11ac, the higher resolution camera, microSD, and a removable battery are other niceties.

When comparing the GSIV and its chief competitor, the iPhone 5, the only remaining questions are battery life (given the more powerful CPU) and buyer preference with regard to screen size (while the iPhone screen is lower resolution, some buyers do prefer smaller screens). Clearly some will prefer the slick metal/glass body of the iPhone 5 to the plastic-type case of the GSIV, as well.

II. What's New

Samsung's Head of Mobile Communications, J.K. Shin calls the Galaxy S IV a true "life companion" bragging, "Innovation improves the way people live every day. For each of us, life is a journey. What you want is a device that can help us on the journey. Ladies and gentlemen, the Samsung Galaxy S4."

Samsung Galaxy S IV

The device is loaded with proprietary apps -- Knox (a BYOD technology), home sync (which connects various in-home Wi-Fi devices, S Translator (9 language speech-to-text, text-to-speech), and S Health.

The S Health is particularly cool -- it uses the built in accelerometer to track steps taken/calories burned when you're carrying the device, plus features options to track your meals and sleep. S Translator should be handy too; it supports Chinese, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean, Portugese, Spanish, and English. The app even can attempt to translate text on signs/printouts using the cameras. The app has mild offline support, with canned phrases.

Home Sync allows you to tap your phone with compatible Samsung NFC devices, like televisions, to pair it. You can then transfer photos wirelessly. The images are uploaded to a 1 TB cloud storage account, which is free for GSIV buyers.

Knox is essentially identical to BlackBerry recently announced multi-mode feature in BB10. The phone can be placed into either a work or a home mode.

TouchWiz on the Galaxy S IV has been glistened up, with a translucent menu bar and other graphical perks.

One are of the UI/firmware that Samsung spent a lot of time on is the camera UI. There's new editing features, and an ability to select still shots from a burst of frames (100 in 4 sec.) -- similar to rival HTC much-advertised technology. There's a new "dual camera", which allows you to simultaneously use both cameras on the device for photos or video; there's composite merging of photos; and there's a new AirView touch-friendly gallery app.

There's also been big improvements on the control side. While Apple and other rivals are still largely confined to static touch on the screen, the GSIV introduces air gestures, via the infrared and proximity sensor. If your hands are dirty or full, you can do a rough gesture over the screen surface to get the phone to perform basic actions.

The 2 MP front camera also tracks your eyes for both scrolling purposes ("Air Scrolling") and to pause video if you look away ("Air Pause").

As with its tap-to-share technology Samsung has clear differentiating technologies that its competitors lack.

Tags: Galaxy S4, Samsung, smartphones

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