Die hard supporters of Apple may claim that Samsung has thrived in the mobile market by copying the designs and other popular features of Apple mobiles, but the most recent event that Samsung hosted in New York City last Thursday showcasing the new Galaxy S 4 was never in any part a copy of how Apple launches its products.
Held in Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the place was brimming with VIPs, partners, journalists, and all sort of personalities lounging in the open bar. The event was, in no way, Apple-esque as it featured a complete opposite of how Apple normally handles its own launches. Samsung decided to project a complete turn around with the way it introduces its flagship phone, away from the minimalistic presentation of Apple. the Radio City Music Hall event was a splashy one as it featured a full orchestra, a real convertible sportscar running on simulated highway, etc.
Apple’s own way of presenting their new products are normally direct, with little to no fanfare, with one or a couple of guys doing a demo on a simple stage. Samsung is often accused of “featuritis”, to use the term of a writer, by packing its product with many different features that usually overwhelms its not-so-tech-savvy users. The point made by Samsung is that the more features there are in its products, the more it can offer its customers.
The new S 4 will sport the biggest Super AMOLED display in a smartphone (5-inch screen) that offers the highest resolution (1920×1080) available in any of the company’s Galaxy S line. The main camera sports a 13-megapixel resolution compared to its predecessor’s 8-megapixel rear camera. The S 4 also packs an 8-core processor compared to S 3’s 4-core processor.
Some of S 4’s features are listed below:
- Adapt Display. The phone intelligently determines what is the best screen settings when a user opens a content and adjust the screen settings accordingly.
- S Health. This feature gives the phone a capability to monitor a room’s temperature and humidity.
- Samsung Knox. As a reference to the vaunted security of Fort Knox, Samsung S 4 offers more security features catering to the needs of businesses.
- S Voice Drive. This one lets you switch to voice-controlled mode when one is driving for easy phone usage.
- S Scroll and S Pause. This useful feature allows the phone to monitor your eyes to let is stop scrolling text and playing a video when you look away from the screen.
- Air View. This may redefine how we view touchscreen. Air View lets you preview things like e-mail messages and photos without actually touching the screen.
- S Translate. A useful feature that allows you to translate voice and text when travelling. This can also translate menus and signs.
- Group Play. This one is packed with several other features including the capability to tap the phone with other phones so they play the same song simultaneously.
- Story Albums. The S 4 automatically gather your photos to make as a collection so you can order them as real-world photo albums.
- Dual Camera. A user can insert his or her little photo while at the same time taking a picture of something else.
As mentioned, the S 4 is overflowing with features but there are still questions that need to be answered if asked directly instead. Let’s take a look at some them here.
1. Are Google and Android still relevant in Samsung’s new line of Galaxy S phones especially on the S 4? True, the S 4 runs Google’s Android operating system but the software was, interestingly, mentioned only once throughout the presentation or just in passing when the Knox security feature was introduced. The word “Google” was probably not mentioned during the launch.Samsung has instead sensationalized the operating system’s interface and the additional features the South Korean company has added into it. I don’t think Google is thrilled that the high profile phone runs its Android operating system. Most probably, Google is worried about a decreasing relevance of the underpinnings of Android in Samsung’s Galaxy line of phones, as well as Google ties with the South Korean company. Nothing much suggests otherwise, but this is a speculation that will answered over time.
2. How big can Galaxy phones get? The trend has been to increase the size of Galaxy phones since the very first one was released. The new S 4 sports a 5-inch screen, which is acceptable for people looking for bigger screen-sized phones. It is not as big as the 5.5-inch screen Galaxy Note 2 but I think the Galaxy S phone will eventually stop growing in size after some time. In fact, the 5-inch screen size is probably the biggest this line of phone can get without turning a new product into a hybrid between a tablet and a phone in terms of size.
3. Can Samsung keep up steam in marketing? In many major cities in the United States, there is no major location not adorned with Samsung ads. Advertising is a major reason why Samsung’s Galaxy S phones are popular. The company’s massive marketing budget surely helps make the brand thrive. There is no doubt that the Galaxy S 4 marketing blitz will be enormous but the question is: can Samsung keep the same amount of effort for its upcoming Galaxy 5,6,and 7 without bombarding customers with ads.
4. How will Samsung rivals cope? Apple is not the only concerned party that is worried by the increasing popularity of Samsung phone brands as fellow Android phone makers like LG, Motorola, and HTC are not gaining any significant traction in their bid to outmatch the South Korean tech giant. Samsung is doing so great that even its fellow Android phone manufacturers are more like pipsqueaks than peers. HTCs effort to make a better phone is a good sign but is never enough to change the current dynamic in the smartphone market.
5. Can Apple do anything to stop Samsung’s onslaught? Being the world’s top smartphone maker normally has its perks, but at the same time can be a source of worry if the competition starts gaining headway. This is exactly the situation in the smartphone market. Apple remains the number one phone maker but Samsung’s continued rise to power threatens Apple’s poistion. I don’t think Apple is panicking at this time and will continue the trail it created. It can be expected that the Cupertino company will be churning out iPhones that look like the iPhone 5, rather than Samsung’s S4, however good the next Galaxy line of phone will become in the future. At the same time, it is wrong to assume that Apple is ignoring the competition. Phil Schiller, Apple’s top marketing guy, gave a pair of interviews this week designed to diminish interest for the S 4. Samsung’s Galaxy S line of phone is most probably Apple’s worst nightmare today.
6. Is anyone surprised by the similar design to S 3? While the S 4 is slightly bigger than its predecessor, the general look and feel of this new phone is nothing special. The S 3 design is already good enough, and S 4’s similarity to it, while not fresh, is still a plus. The S 3 is already an attractive piece and feels just right in the hand. I don’t think changing that excellent design is a need at this time, even for a new handset model as the S 4. Apple has followed the same strategy with its iPhone 5, whcih is also similar to its previous iPhone 4S.
7. Does higher pixel figure matter? Higher megapixel number does not always translate to higher image quality. S 4’s 13-megapixel rear camera may be good on paper but it still remains to be seen if can perform better than the already excellent camera of the S 3.
8. Are we looking at another landmark in smartphone technology with touch-free interface? The S 4 can be controlled by simply looking at it, eliminating the need for touch or a tap on the screen. This technology is not as great as a breakthrough when touch input was introduced by iPhone before, but it can be a revolutionary first step towards more interesting and useful interfaces in the next generations of smartphones.
With the S 4’s release approximately a month from now, many other questions may surface about this new phone. Feel free to post comments below or engage us in our forums for more lively interactions.