Image Credit: Engadget
There’s hype, and then there’s hype.
In the days leading up to the Galaxy S 4 launch in New York City, the hype for the device was through the roof, despite accurate leaks hitting the airwaves as much as weeks prior to the event. Samsung has become so synonymous with Android that the Galaxy launch is the second-most anticipated phone launch each year, behind Apple’s annual new iPhone unveiling. Historically, Samsung’s presentations have been fairly entertaining and arguably well-done, though nobody will be arguing that case with last night’s Galaxy S 4 launch.
LG attempted to steal last night’s show by placing a key advertisement above Samsung’s own Times Square ad. HTC tried to steal it as well, sending folks decked in HTC garb to the Radio City Music Hall to hand out hot cocoa and hands-on time with the HTC One. Ultimately, however, Samsung stole its own show by a fairly dull presentation with various annoying distractions intermixed throughout the introduction of the Galaxy S 4′s software innovations. The stunts were an attempt to get the wider audience to see how the S 4 could make their lives easier, and there was truly a lot of meat to the new features, but the way they presented it was over the top in a way much different from that of other phone launches, and left a sour taste in my mouth.
The device itself is as uninspired as the presentation, looking and feeling nearly identical to last year’s Galaxy S III. Sure, it’s thinner, lighter and packs a slightly larger screen, but the overall aesthetic of the device is eerily familiar, much more an iteration of what Samsung’s gotten right in the past as opposed to moving the industrial design forward. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, obviously, as the Galaxy S III was the best-selling Android smartphone of 2012, and the Galaxy S 4 will likely do the same. Still, we can’t help but think Samsung’s due for a refresh, especially after seeing what Apple did with the iPhone 5 and what HTC did with the impressive One device.
Samsung spent most of the event talking up the exclusive software it brought to the Galaxy S 4, which is truly the selling point for this device. The S 4 has eye tracking technology (it’s an Eye Phone!) that allows you to scroll up and down the page with your pupils, and automatically stops and plays video when you look away/back toward the device. And those sick of buying additional connected fitness accessories will love S Health, which puts health tracking functionality into the phone itself. They’ll also sell you connected accessories, but you won’t necessarily need them in order to get your rear in gear.
The device itself features an as yet unannounced processor which will vary by region, 2GB of RAM, 16/32/64 GB of storage with 64GB microSD Card support, a 13 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, global LTE connectivity, and a whopping 2,600 mAh battery. It’s got all the top end features you’d expect in a 2013 flagship, and in this regard can easily compete with any other manufacturer’s flagship phone. The software additions are a nice touch, though we’re not quite convinced as to how useful they actually are.
In the end, we have a fairly uninspired yet amazing device that despite stronger competition will sell tens of millions of units in 2013. The Galaxy S 4 will launch to the masses sometime in April, and will come to all major U.S. Carriers as well as a handful of regional carriers at launch. Pricing will likely be $200 for the base model with 2-year contract, and around $500-600 unlocked.
Will you be picking up the Galaxy S 4 in 2013 or have you decided it’s not the One for you.
This article was written by Anthony Domanico
Anthony is the Editor in Chief of Techgress, and a big mobile and gaming geek. He's covered mobile technology for the better part of three years, and gets excited about shiny, new things. He currently uses an iPhone, iPad Mini, and Nexus 7, but Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry devices are never too far away.