Last night while we were all sleeping, Samsung put out the biggest challenge to the mobile phone industry we’ve ever seen. The Galaxy S4 is possibly the most important thing to the mobile phone industry because it changes two things: the perceived acceptable size of a mobile phone and also the kind of hardware you can pack inside without the damn thing exploding. Its almost as big as the Galaxy Note II and almost as pretty as the original Galaxy S2. It continues on with Samsung’s design language and the white one looks really, really good.
I guess it’s the screen that’ll need to be talked about first, since that’s the major draw of the phone. The S4 comes with a 4.99-inch 1080p Super AMOLED screen with a PenTile matrix, putting it in the same range as the Galaxy Note II, only with nearly double the density at 441 pixels per inch. Its aimed pretty much as Huawei’s Ascend D2, which carries almost the same screen size at 5″ but uses a RGB pixel matrix. In any case, both are in a league of their own.
The S4 has only two hardware variations around the world and we’re only going to see one of them. The “international” version is powered by a octo-core Enoxys 5 chipset, consisting of two ARM Cortex-A15 cores at 1.6GHz and four Cortex-A7 cores at 1.2GHz, both sharing the PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU. The second version uses just four Krait 300 1.9GHz cores and the Adreno 320, which makes up the Snapdragon 600 chipset. While both versions offer LTE and 2GB of RAM, it’s likely that the international version will be heavier, using the Cortex A-15 cores for heavy grunt work while the A7 sublings take care of everything else when you don’t need the power of a small bomb to run your games.
It also packs in a 13MP camera with a 2.1MP front-facing one for video calls. It also takes care of some other Galaxy-only technologies, like eye and hand tracking as well as keeping the screen lit while you’re looking at it. It sounds like black magic and probably is, but it’s awesome. The rear camera also features auto-focus, gimmicks like face and smile detection, while also boasting image stabilisation and something Samsung calls Drama Shot. Drama Shot is similar to Nokia’s Cinemagraph, taking nine photos in burst mode and combining them into a single image. From that you can create a still or GIF image, making the photos move like in Harry Potter.
The battery sits at a staggering 2600mAh, enough for two full day’s worth of moderate use, which is weird because the phone actually weighs 130 grams, three grams lighter than the Galaxy S III. The S4’s body is 7.9mm thick and narrower than the S III because it uses a taller 16:9 screen. In all probability, though, it won’t be suitable for landscape use beyond the standard games, movies and camera usage.At the top of the phone is also an Infrared Sensor, allowing you to use the S4 to control your home theater and other IR-packing appliances. I can actually see Samsung integrating more control features to allow you to use the S4 with their range of laptops, Ultrabooks and even Smart TVs.
There’s a lot more to the S4 than just a phone, though. Samsung’s working on their first version of its in-house S Translator, an app that atomatically transposes e-mails and instant messages from one language to another. At some point in time there’s even a possibility they’ll match it with a voice translator, but for now its text-only. There’s also a huge range of announced accessories, which includes a Smart Watch, a heart monitor, a wireless charging pad (yes, the functionality is already there), a spare battery kit and a game controller. The charging pad will have to be sourced though, as it won’t be immediately available in all regions. And rather weirdly a… body scale?
Samsung says the S4 will hit stores in the US and UK in mid April in white and black, with the rest of the world following soon after. No pricing and no availability for South Africa yet, but you can bet that Vodacom’s going to try claim to be the first to stock it, with Cell C following suit soon after. All things considered, it’s going to cost a pretty penny and owning one will be a fantasy unattainable for many for some time to come. That’s why it deserves to be on today’s Fantasy Friday!