Announced at the Samsung UNPACKED Event in New York, at the Radio City Music Hall, Time Square to be precise on the 14th of March 2013. The unveiling gave us a glimpse of all the new features on the Samsung Galaxy S4. We take a look at the new features and a side by side comparison with iPhone 5 including application level functions. The phone is set to be available globally from April 2013 and is coming to the UK on the 26th of April.
Samsung Galaxy S4’s New Features
New features include AirView from Galaxy Note II and Note 10.1, Smart Pause uses facial recognition to pause a video playback when users turn away (an enhanced feature from the S3), WatchON to carry on watching your video on the big screen and Optical Reader great for snapping documents and name cards and converting this digitally to text. The S4 also allows users to share their tunes with up to 8 other devices acting as speakers or play multi-player games on GroupPlay.
The new 13 MegaPixel camera also comes with a whole host of effects such as Sound and Shot (capturing voice memos with your photos), Drama shot combining multiple shots into one, Cinema Photo creating pictures in which a few selected objects move by freezing or animating objects detected by the phone.
DualShot feature works simply by employing both front and rear facing camera not only for still but has a dual recording facility for videos. Users can choose from a set of templates and customise the arrangement of their Picture in Picture shoot.
Other camera features are Best Face, Best Photo, Beauty Face making use of the multi-burst shooting feature. Other standard shooting mode such night, sports, 360, panoramic and HDR modes are also available to provide rich tone photography.
Finally for the camera, an Eraser mode that allows you to remove ‘cross traffic’, people or vehicle passing behind your subject, by merging multiple shots and letting you decide the object(s) to remove.
For video calls, the S4 comes with ChatON, a video chat application that employs both the front and rear facing cameras to show the person at the other end what you are looking at and provides the ability to share you screen and option to annotate on the screen.
The S Translator is great for travellers and help to remove the language barrier when communicating. Simply type what you wish to ask and have this translated and read out for you. It will also do the reserve by capturing your answer in foreign language and have this translated into text on your screen. A basic translator for everyday conversation in different languages are also pre-loaded allowing you to use this without the need for connection to the web.
Health is also a theme that Samsung is ready to explore with the S4. The Samsung Adapt Display gives its users more comfortable viewing experience with a display that is optimised for the eyes.
The S Health suite allows users to monitor their health with a calorie counter, heart-rate monitor, and options to measure blood pressure and blood-sugar level with optional accessories.
The smartphone keeps a record of all the reading and allow users to monitor and reach their goals as well as to share this with their friends.
Air Gesture apart from the AirView, there is now Air Gesture allowing scrolling through web pages, or navigating between pages, viewing photos, changing music tracks through fast forward or rewind, and even pick up a call with a wave of your hand with Air Call Accept.
Samsung Knox is the S4’s answer to combining both a work and personal phone as one. This allows users to separate the contents on their phone so work related emails or contents are kept safe and separate from personal content and vice versa on the same handset.
Samsung Hub is Samsung’s answer to the AppStore or Google’s Play store, offering music, video, ebooks and other digital content.
Finally, the S Voice Drive is a driving mode for the S4 that enables the phone’s satellite navigation, turn on dictation of messages, and start taking voice controls.
The design of the Galaxy series has evolved since Samsung Galaxy S. With each generation, we see further improvement to the aesthetics of the phone. With the S4, we see push towards a slimmer (7.9mm) and lighter (130g) design. There are two colours available, these are Black Mist and White Frost.
It may have a bigger screen, but Samsung has managed to shave off the thickness and weight. Using a polycarbonate body, unique textured backing plate and slim bezel; the body is has rounded corners and identical home button at the bottom of the phone. There is a silver trim that runs along the sides of the phone to give it that high-end phone feel.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5
Now for the side by side comparison taking a look at the different specifications on each phone and how they match up.
Samsung Galaxy S4: 1.6 GHz Octa-Core Processor or quad-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor in US, Canada, Sweden WINNER
Apple iPhone 5: A6 dual-core
Apple claimed that there’s no need for quad-core processors in a smartphone let alone octa-core as the device’s speed is largely dependent on how well the operating system and apps are optimised for the hardware components. On the other hand, Android handset makers take a different view, pumping more processor cycles and memory into their devices. This does make a difference for the Android OS given that the manufacturers and app developers are constantly pushing the technology envelope of their devices e.g. introducing high density screens, higher resolution cameras and innovative apps. Giving them an edge over their rival.
Samsung Galaxy S4: 5in full HD super Amoled 1920×1080 display, 441 ppi WINNER
Apple iPhone 5: 4in 1136×640 Retina display, 326 ppi
When launched, the iPhone 5’s Retina Display was the best ever display seen on any smartphone. However since then competitors like HTC, Asus, Sony and now Samsung have caught up creating displays with even higher pixels-per-inch displays (pixel density). At 441 ppi, it’s one of the highest pixel density on any smartphones except for HTC One that managed to squeeze 468ppi into its smaller 4.7-inch screen..
Samsung Galaxy S4: 2,600 mAh removable WINNER
Apple iPhone 5: 1,440 mAh
The Galaxy S4’s battery is significantly bigger than the iPhone 5’s. True to all its predecessors, the Galaxy S4’s battery is still removable. Standby and talk time figures are yet to be revealed but given the additional capacity this should cope well. A typical talk time for a battery and screen of this size is around 16 hours talk time on 3G, Apple’s reported talk time is 8 hours on 3G.
Samsung Galaxy S4: 13MP rear, 2MP front WINNER
Apple iPhone 5: 8MP rear, 1.2MP front
The Samsung Galaxy S4’s rear facing camera with it’s higher resolution, built-in flash and high-speed shutter mode coupled with a long list of camera features is certainly something to look forward to. Those features alone would be worth getting the phone for. We have seen Samsung made great head in this department as seen on the Galaxy S2 and S3.
Samsung Galaxy S4: 16/32/64GB user memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB) WINNER
Apple iPhone 5: 16/32/64GB internal
Both devices are available with multiple storage options. However only Samsung offers the option of installing removable memory up to 64GB via the microSD slot. Samsung also offers HomeSync product, which allow users to access 1TB of storage via a streaming server set at home or the office and accessible by other devices. The content on your phone can be set to synchronise automatically over the web to the HomeSync device allowing others to have real time access to it. I like to think that you can never have enough storage especially with high definition full feature movies and large collection of music. Knowing that you can add a 64GB memory card to hold all that content means you don’t have the hassle of swapping files or constantly checking if you have reached the storage limit.
Samsung Galaxy S4: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Apple iPhone 5: iOS 6
DRAW: In our opinion each of these operating system has its own merits. While the Android OS has matured especially with the release of Android 4.2 and so is Samsung’s customisation (or skin) and included applications, it’s rival, the iOS has enjoyed minor improvements (including some set backs) but is still highly desirable, stable and consistent. Operating system is also subject of personal preference. But with the S4 and Samsung’s suite of Apps, you do get some really cool features that you don’t get on the iPhone.
Measurements and weight
Samsung Galaxy S4: 137x70x7.9 mm, 130g
Apple iPhone 5: 124x59x7.6 mm, 112g WINNER
Apple iPhone 5 is lighter and more small-hand friendly by comparison to the Samsung Galaxy S4, however it achieves this at the expense of screen size. Screen size a side, the iPhone 5 is a clear winner in this category
Samsung Galaxy S4: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSPA+/4G LTE Cat 3; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth 4, GPS
Apple iPhone 5: GSM/EDGE/HSPA+/HSDPA/LTE 4G; 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, 802.11n on 2.4GHz and 5GHz; Bluetooth 4; GPS
DRAW: In terms of connectivity features, we would say that it’s a tie between the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S4.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Specification
|FEATURES||OS||Android OS, v4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)|
|Chipset||Exynos 5 Octa 5410|
|CPU||Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7|
|GPU||PowerVR SGX 544MP3|
|Memory||System Memory 2GB DDR3 RAM|
Expansion Slot microSD up to 64GB
Built-in Storage Options 16/32/64GB
|Data||GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA: 42.2 Mbps, HSUPA: 5.75 Mbps, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, WiFi HotSpot|
Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, EDR, LE
NFC, Infrared, USB port microUSB v2.0 (MHL 2), USB On-the-go, USB Host
|Display||Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors|
1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.0 inches (~441 ppi pixel density)
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
|Mobile||2G, 3G, LTE|
|Sound||Alert type: Vibration, MP3, WAV ringtons with loudspeaker and 3.5mm stereo jack.|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, temperature, humidity, gesture|
|Messaging||SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM, RSS|
|Browser||HTML5, Adobe Flash|
|GPS||Yes, with A-GPS support and GLONASS|
|Java||Yes, via Java MIDP emulator|
|Battery||Li-Ion 2600 mAh removable battery|
|Dimensions||136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm (5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 in)|
|Weight||130 g (4.59 oz)|
|Colors||White Frost, Black Mist|
|Applications||– Wireless charging (market dependent)|
– S-Voice natural language commands and dictation
– Smart stay, Smart pause, Smart scroll
– Air gestures
– Dropbox (50 GB storage)
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– TV-out (via MHL 2 A/V link)
– SNS integration
– MP4/DivX/XviD/WMV/H.264/H.263 player
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/AC3/FLAC player
– Image/video editor
– Document viewer (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF)
– Google Search, Maps, Gmail,
YouTube, Calendar, Google Talk, Picasa
– Voice memo/dial/commands
– Predictive text input (Swype)
|CAMERA||Primary||13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash|
|Features||Dual Shot, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, HDR|
|Video||Yes, 1080p@30fps, dual-video rec.|
|Secondary||Yes, 2 MP,1080p@30fps, dual video call|
As expected, Samsung Galaxy S4 outperform iPhone 5 in our side by side comparison above in 6 out of 9 hardware categories. While some will argue, it’s all down to the software and how efficient or stable the platform performs but you can’t ignore Samsung’s effort to innovate and continue to make some of the best phones in the market.
It’s also good to know that there is still healthy competition among tech companies such as Samsung, Sony, Asus, HTC and Apple. What we don’t want is for one manufacturer to control the market thereby killing innovation in the industry.
While non-Apple devices are largely based on the Android OS, different manufacturers have taken to distinguish their hardware using different processors, screen sizes, camera and design.
Samsung chose to take this further by innovating the software for the Galaxy S4 as they have since the first generation Galaxy. I am not saying that other manufacturers have not done the same for their phones.
Companies such as HTC and Sony have injected their own identity into the phone with skins, widgets and apps instead of just providing a stock OS but not many have achieved the level of integration and a phone so feature-packed as Samsung has with its Galaxy S4.
Do you have the Samsung Galaxy S3 or have been a fan of the Galaxy series? Will you be buying the next Galaxy or have you had enough of it and yearning to cross over> We would like to hear from you regarding your experience. Leave your comments below.
Author: Samuel J. Tan
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