Thursday night, Samsung unveiled a highly anticipated, highly rumored new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4. A full 5-inch screen, 13 megapixel camera, and thinner 7.9 mm. We are IN the future, and it looks great. If Samsung has anything to say about it, it’s full of robot personal assistants and Broadways dancers.
Obviously straining to out-do the grand spectacle of iPhone announcements, Samsung invited journalists and fans to the Radio City Music Hall in New York where they put on a strange show of mini sketches with the flair of a musical. Each skit illustrated a new feature of the Galaxy S4 that Samsung wanted to highlight. They get points for trying, but a big fat F for being annoying. CNET’s livebloggers in attendance didn’t even try to hide their frustration in trying to glean info about the features amidst the pomp and circumstance.
“This is torture…” said Roger Cheng.
The industry is already abuzz with speculations about how it compares to the iPhone 5. But before we get in to that, let’s take a moment to bask in the evolution of the Galaxy S line’s new baby. Here are four things worth noting about Galaxy S4:
The S4 was long-rumored to have eye tracking software that detects a user’s eyeball movement to better tailor the user experience. Smart Scroll lets the user scroll up or down by tilting the screen. Smart Pause actually monitors eye movements to pause a video if your eyes move away from the screen.
Demonstrated with a skit about two backpacking students, the translator app uses speech to text and text to speech in nine different languages (English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese) to cross communication barriers for travelers. Additionally, S Translator can translate written words. Pure magic.
A suite of security apps that makes the S4 a fierce Blackberry competitor for enterprise. Knox keeps your professional and personal information separate. Knox is part of the Samsung “SAFE” initiative, “Samsung Approved For Enterprise.” The feature keeps business data secure from apps like games or kid-friendly programs.
The abilities of this feature sound attractive, but they are executed awkwardly. It provides a picture-in-picture situation using both the front and back facing cameras so that the person taking a picture can be “in” the picture they are taking. This may be one aspect of the S4 that sounds cool, will be a fun party trick, but not actually very useful. The pictures end up with a square inset of the photographer. Meh. You can also add a voice note to a photo, which reminds me of those recordable greeting cards. Why not just take a video?
Other Galaxy S4 specs:
The S4 is a fun upgrade in the Samsung Galaxy line. Though the new features are being acknowledged as an elevated experience from the S3 rather than an innovation, it is still a great new option for Android users or even Apple fans looking to make the move.