Samsung just unveiled its latest and greatest mobile device, the Galaxy S4 after much anticipation and heavy rumours. Samsung is saying that this device will be your new life companion; It features a 4.99inch 1080p Super AMOLED screen, a 13mp camera, a 2600mAh battery, 2 gigs of ram and powering this beast is a 1.6GHz Octa-core Exynos processor / 1.9GHz Quad-core Qualcomm processor (varies by market). The device has all the usual sensors plus a temperature and humidity sensor, a first in a Smart Phone. The launch was very theatrical with different scenes and a big band giving a very Broadway feel, which while quite cheesy and annoying at times (that Jeremy kid was a mixture of the cutest, funniest and most annoying kid ever) it was actually a little entertaining and more exciting than the usual launch of a phone.
Design wise, the device is the exact same one we saw in the leaked shots yesterday, with a metal like look on the front and a textured white plastic on the back, or the other way around if you opt for the other colour combination.
Software is the main focus of the device with Samsung trying to make the device your new ‘Life Companion’. It’s new software features include Smart Stay, Knox, S Voice Drive, Smart Scroll, Story album, Dual Camera modes, Group Play, S Health, Samsung Translator and Air Gesture.
Smart Stay isn’t entirely new, it was in the Galaxy S III, but has been improved in and new features added for the S4, it can still keep the screen on when your eyes are looking at it but now it can also do things like pausing a video if you look away from it, to say, look at an attractive person walking down the street like Samsung showed us.
Knox is something really cool for the business world and is a full security suite providing enterprise level security on your phone while letting personal content also live on your phone, eliminating the need for a work and personal phone.
S Voice Drive is a build upon Samsung’s S Voice which acts as personal assistant for your phone while you’re driving. Once it’s connected to your bluetooth in your car the phone automatically goes into S Voice Drive mode which allows the device’s main functions to appear and be controlled by voice. You can ask for directions, ring someone or send and respond to text messages/emails.
Smart Scroll is the featured that has been most talked about before the launch, it allows you to scroll through pages just by moving your eyes – potentially pretty cool if it works well.
Story Album takes the pictures you have taken and automatically puts them in an album based on the location, time, facial recognition of photos and events if you’ve specified one. You can than send these photos if you want to Samsung for them to be printed into a physical album and sent back to you.
There was lots of emphasis on the dual camera modes of the device. You can take pictures, video’s and video call using both camera’s at once. The use of this while video calling will be awesome, allowing you to video call someone and showing them things and people all while watching them from the front screen too.
Group Play allows you to have one central device to then share and stream a song to up to 8 more Galaxy S4’s. You can select which phone acts as what speaker and other settings for each device. All you need is a sub woofer and you’re good to have the music everywhere for your party… I guess. This feature also allows multi-player gaming too.
One application that came from left field is the S Health app, this turns your phone into your own dietitian essentially. You put in what you eat, your weight, it detects your foot steps and heart rate (somehow) and can even estimate your blood sugar level and provide recommendations for food and diets.
Samsung is also including its own translating app which works both text to voice and voice to text. The demo on stage looked great and this could be very useful to overseas travelers.
The big one though is Air Gestures, this allows you to do basic functions without even touching your phone, just by waving past it. It will allow you to unlock your screen, change pages and scroll just by waving your hand pass the device. I can see this being really useful – I can think of countless times that I have gone to use my phone with dirty hands but couldn’t.
The Samsung Hub also got an update, we didn’t see much of it, but it looked very VERY similar to the Window’s Marketplace.
Samsung also has a line of cases for the phone.
Overall the Galaxy S4 looks like a compelling device software wise and inside wise, however, the outside leaves a bit to be desired with little deviation from the Galaxy S III. Although there are some very impressive parts to this phone, I’m left feeling a little bit like they have done an Apple and released the Samsung Galaxy S IIIS. The device will launch worldwide from the end of April with both 3G and 4G, I expect all major Aussie telco’s to stock the device in either the 3G, 4G version or both.