Will you buy Samsung Galaxy S4?

Now that some carriers have started taking preorders, time is to ask whether or not you will buy Samsung's new flagship smartphone. The South Korean consumer electronics giant will offer the handset from 327 carriers in 155 countries, later this month.

Ian Fogg, IHS Screen Digest principal analyst, predicts that Galaxy S4 will be huge -- extending Samsung's "market lead from 4 to 11 percentage points over the next largest handset maker. Globally, Samsung will ship 29 percent of all mobile phones in 2013".

He emphasizes: "Galaxy S4 will cement Samsung's existing position as the leading mobile handset maker globally. This flagship smartphone will act as a halo device that will boost Samsung's mobile brand and support sales of all of Samsung's handsets at all price points."

Key Benefits

Galaxy S4 is a big upgrade in some respects, small in others. The phone's screen jacks up to 5-inches and increases screen resolution to full HD. The physical design changes little from the S3, but software enhancements abound -- and they, working with the eight sensors, are designed to make the phone more responsive to you.

Among the software features:

  • Air Gesture lets users wave over the phone to manipulate some controls, such as choosing music or scrolling web pages. Related: Air Wave allows people to hover their fingers to manipulate the screen.
  • Dual Video Call permits use of both cameras simultaneously so that the caller on the other end can see other people, say, at a party.
  • Eraser removes unwanted objects (or people) from photos. Who hasn't wanted to do that?
  • Group Play lets S4 users share documents, music, games and more, even combining up to eight handsets to create a speaker system (using Share Music).
  • S Health tracks some personal biological functions, such as calorie burn, heart rate and pulse and pulls them together into a mini report.
  • S Translate is quite futuristic. Think Star Trek's universal translator. The feature can translate 9 languages, including speech-to-text and text-to-speech capabilities. While the service needs a network connection for optimal use, there is basic vocabulary on device for basic translation.
  • S Voice Car is a voice-activated system for using Galaxy S IV hands-free.

Fogg warns that "many of the features of the S4 overshoot current consumer needs". Do they? That's a question for you.

Specs Compared

Samsung's smartphone should not be judged on features along but how they stack up to other tech-leading handsets. To help answer the question, I've prepared specs.

Galaxy S4: 5-inch Super AMOLED with 1920 x 1080 resolution and 441 pixels per inch; 1.9GHz quad-core or 1.6GHz dual quad-core processor; 2GB of RAM; 16GB, 32GB or 64GB storage (expandable up to 64GB with microSD card); 13-megapixel auto-focus rear-facing and 2MP front-facing cameras; 1080p video recording; 4G: LTE (Cat 3 100/50Mbps), HSPA+ 42Mbps (850/900/1900/2100 MHz); 2.5G GSM/ GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz);WiFi N/AC; GPS + GLONASS; NFC; Bluetooth 4; IR LED; MHL 2; accelerometer; barometer; gyroscope; geomagnetic, gesture, proximity, RGB light and temperature & humidity sensors; 2600 mAh removable battery; and Android 4.2.2 with TouchWiz UI. Measures 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm and weighs 130 grams. Prices and configurations vary by carrier. In the United States, AT&T starts preorders April 16 -- $199.99 and $249.99 for 16GB and 32GB, respectively -- locked with 2-year commitment. T-Mobile: $99.99 upfront and $20/month for 24 months.

HTC One specs: 4.7-inch Super LCD3 display with 1920 x 1080 resolution and 468 ppi; 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor; 2GB RAM; 32GB or 64GB storage; 4MP front-facing and 2.1MP rear-facing cameras; 1080p video recording; 4G: LTE (Asia 1800/2600 Mhz), EU (800/1800/2600 MHz), AT&T (700/850/AWS/1900 MHz), Sprint (1900 Mhz), T-mobile USA (1900 Mhz); HSPA/WCDMA (850/900/1900/2100 MHz); GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz); WiFi N; GPS + GLONASS; Bluetooth 4; NFC (carrier chooses); DLNA; ambient-light and proximity sensors; accelerometer; digital compass; gyroscope; 2300 mAh battery; Android 4.1.2 with HTC Sense. Measures 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm and weighs 143 grams. In the United States, AT&T and Sprint start sales April 19 for $199.99 for the 32GB model with 2-year contract. AT&T sells the 64GB One for $299.99. T-Mobile: $99.99 upfront and (presumably) $20/month for 24 months.

BlackBerry Z10: 4.2-inch touch display with 1280 x 768 resolution and 356 pp1; 1.5GHz dual-core processor; 2GB RAM; 16GB storage (expandable to 64GB with microSD card); 8MP auto-focus rearing-facing and 2MP fixed-focus front-facing cameras; 1080p video recording (rear camera), 720p (front); 4G: Quadband LTE 2, 5, 4, 17 (700/850/1700/1900 MHz), Triband HSPA+ 1, 2, 5/6 (850/1900/2100 MHz), Quadband HSPA+ 1, 2, 4, 5/6, (850/1700/1900/2100 MHz); Quadband EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz, Verizon 4G: LTE Band-13 (700 MHz), CDMA Cell-band and PCS-band (800/1900 MHz), WCDMA Band-1 and Band-8 (2100/900 MHz); GSM/EDGE Quadbands (850/900/1800/1900 MHz); WiFi N; GPS; 4G mobile hotspot; Bluetooth 4; NFC; micro-HDMI; accelerometer; ambient light sensor; gyroscope; magnetometer; proximity sensor; 1850 mAh fixed battery; and blackBerry 10. Measures 130 x 65.6 x 9 mm and weighs 137.5 grams. T-Mobile sells off-contract for $99.99 upfront and $18/month for 24 months. AT&T and Verizon: $199.99.

Apple iPhone 5: 4-inch display with 1136 x 640 resolution, 326 ppi; Apple A6 dual-core processor; 1GB RAM; 16GB, 32GB or 64GB storage (depending on model); 8MP rear-facing and 1.2MP front-facing cameras; UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), LTE (bands vary by carrier model and region); accelerometer; ambient-light sensor; gyroscope; GPS; proximity sensor; digital compass; Bluetooth; WiFi N; 1440 mAh fixed battery; carrier locked; iOS 6. Measures 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm and weighs 112 grams. With 2-year contract sells for: $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), $399 (64GB). Carrier locked, but in United States not Verizon model. T-Mobile, starting April 12: $99.99 upfront and $20/month for 24 months.

Google Nexus 4: 4.7-inch display with 1280 x 768 pixel resolution, 320 ppi; Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor; 2GB RAM; 8GB or 16GB storage (depending on model); 8-megapixel rear-facing and 1.3MP front-facing cameras; GSM/EDGE/GPRS (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), 3G (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz), HSPA+ 21; WiFi N; wireless charging; Bluetooth; NFC; SlimPort HDMI; accelerometer; ambient-light sensor; barometer; compass; GPS; Gyroscope; microphone; 2100 mAh fixed battery; unlocked; Android 4.2. Measures 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm and weighs 139 grams. Sells unlocked and without contract commitment for $299 (8GB) or $349 (16GB), direct from Google.

Nokia Lumia 920: 4.5-inch display with 1280 by 768 resolution with 332 pixels per inch; 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 4 dual-core processor; HSPA+ and LTE (no T-Mobile USA HSPA support); 1GB RAM; 32GB storage (and 7GB SkyDrive free); 8.7MP rear-facing camera (F/2 aperture, 26mm focal length and Carl Zeiss Tessar lens) with LED flash; front-facing camera; 1080p video at 30fps (back camera), 720p (front); NFC; Bluetooth 3.1; Assisted-GPS; WiFi N; WiFi Direct; WiFi Channel bonding; DLNA compatible; magnetometer; ambient-light, proximity and orientation sensors; 2,000 mAh fixed battery; and Windows Phone 8. Dimensions: 130.3 mm high by 70.8 mm wide by 10.7 mm thick; weighs 185 grams. Sells locked for $99.99 with 2-year contract from AT&T.

Early Reader Reaction

Some of you already have expressed strong sentiments about Galaxy S4 in previous BetaNews stories. Xuanlong: "Regardless of what people think of the Galaxy S IV, there's no doubt that Samsung has pushed the envelope on both hardware and software. That's a lot more than Apple can say these days".

"This phone reminds me of the PC market", Mark Bryant opines. "You get a lot of crapware on it which you usually delete first thing. Only you probably won't be able to do with this phone". He's right.

Iain Simpson, commenting about the launch event: "Blah blah blah, same crap with a bunch of stolen shit included. Not impressed at all with Samsung". Reader ladylust responds: "Wow talk about denial. Who did they steal from space aliens? If your referring to Apple -- this phone makes the iPhone 5 look like a flip phone. Your kidding me right?"

ToeKneeC67 raises a good point:

Incredible specs for a mobile device, a smartphone. Most sites agree that it's overkill, but specs sell. However, I ask, did we just hit the end? Just like the PC market, you hit a point of 'good enough'. I think with these specs, anything put out next year won't make much difference. When means the smartphone hardware race is dead, it's all about software now. Which I also find funny, Apple calls their stuff i-AppName and now Samsung calls their stuff s-AppName. Still going to keep my Nexus 4. Really holding off until Windows Phone 9 ships.

Reader theboyr shares similar sentiments: "What I think we've all learned -- the magic of smartphone advances has really hit a ceiling. There's not much higher Android or iPhones can go in the platform alone for a phone...They can add software, but most of the software here is gimmicky and will be used by little amounts of people".

Only one question remains: Will you buy Samsung Galaxy S4? Please take the poll above and expand in comments below.

Photo Credit: Samsung

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