With Better Camera and Hardware, Galaxy S IV Looks to Put iPhone on the Ropes
March 13, 2013 1:16 PM
Apple may be in trouble as Samsung's flagship smartphones storms into the U.S. market
March 14 -- mark tomorrow night on your calendars. That's when Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
), the world's largest smartphone maker, will
unleash its flagship smartphone
: the Galaxy S IV.
I. Galaxy S IV is Samsung's First Launch Held in America
Over the last two years Samsung has built a healthy lead in unit sales over archrival Apple, Inc.'s (
) iPhone. And it's
used attack ads
a page from Apple's own playbook
-- to slowly chip away at Apple's "cool factor".
Apple, for its part, has suffered from a less aggressive path of hardware development. While analyst still praise its App Store and developer ecosystem as the best in the industry, Apple's GUI as of iOS 6 looked
increasingly long in the tooth
, and the jump to a larger screen size was derided by Android fans
as a "me too" move
And yet Apple's supporters have plenty to crow about. The company still has the strongest brand -- even if it has weakened somewhat amid the Samsung storm. And Apple is
than any other phonemaker, making approximately twice the profit that
But analysts believe that for all Apple's success, it may be in trouble when Samsung launches the Galaxy S IV.
The latest Galaxy phone is set to be unveiled at the Radio City Music Hall. Capturing the carnival-esque vibe
Apple once held
iPhone launches of the Steve Jobs era
, Samsung's blockbuster launch will be broadcast live in Times Square. A simultaneous launch event will be held in London, the largest city in the European Union.
The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S IV will be broadcast live tomorrow night in New York City's Times Square. [Image Source: Global Torusim]
The New York City event will be held just blocks away from one of Apple's busiest stores -- a gesture that has certainly not gone unnoticed. Chung Chang Won, an analyst at South Korea's Nomura Holdings Inc. calls the launch a landmark event for a surging Samsung,
, "The upcoming event in New York has big implications because it’s Apple’s home ground. This is the first time Samsung has launched its Galaxy S phone in the U.S."
Past Galaxy smartphone launches
have typically been held at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain,
at the IFA tradeshow in Berlin, Germany
, or in South Korea.
II. Spec Sheet: an iPhone Slayer
Samsung is anticipated to serve up more than just hollow-hype. It's expected to bring a much faster processor and a larger screen size. Here's what
we know so far
about the device:
5.0-inch 1080p display
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
1.9GHz Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) Snapdragon 600 processor (U.S.)
2GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos 5450 processor (international) [
16/32/64GB storage options
Removable SD card slot (up to 64GB)
13MP rear-facing camera w/ "Orb" technology for compressed panorama shots
2MP front-facing camera w/ "eye scrolling" technology
4G LTE support
Multi-purpose / Dedicated camera button
3100 mAh battery
Plastic shell body
The U.S. processor (a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon), the 5-inch screen, and the new camera have all been confirmed by top U.S. news outlet
, which is owned by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
[Image Source: Sammy Hub]
Perhaps the biggest "wow" feature could be the eye-tracking technology, which will use the front-facing camera to track the users eyes allowing them to visually scroll through articles.
The New York Times
, the hands-free feature has been reportedly in the works for a long time and has been perfected to be very fluid.
's sources dispute that full-fledged eye-tracking will appear in the GSIV, but says that simplified versions of the technology may appear in the device. For example, if you look away from the screen, the phone may automatically pause the video you're watching.
The new spec appear to be well ahead of the iPhone 5 -- which only packs a 8MP rear camera with a (reportedly) smaller sensor, a 4-inch screen, and a slower dual-core CPU.
III. "Cooling Off" Apple May be Forced to Change Strategy
Park Hyun, an analyst at Seoul, South Korea-based Tong Yang Securities says that Apple will be unlikely to be able to muster its response (the iPhone 5S) until late this year. He says that is bad news for Apple, whose once hot phone is seeing slowing sales. He comments, "[The iPhone 5's] popularity has clearly cooled off."
Jan Dawson, chief analyst at the New York City office of London-based telecommunications consulting firm Ovum, says Apple's best hope to stay competitive may be to try to release different versions of the iPhone. She comments, "There’s been a drumbeat of rumors about Apple working on more than one version of the iPhone. The thinking is, if Apple does several devices it would help dampen the singular effect of having only one phone a year."
Apple may be forced to launch a variety of iPhones to keep up.
But one must wonder if copycatting Android's approach of a broad range of phones will do more harm than good for Apple. Apple's app ecosystem has benefitted from a homogenous screen size/resolution for each smartphone release; likewise its marketing has always focused on the simplicity of its phone offering -- there has always been only one iPhone.
Ultimately, though Apple may be forced to try to reinvent the wheel, as it sees Samsung stealing its thunder. With over
$100B USD in the bank
, and an incredibly strong brand it's far too early to count the Cupertino, Calif. phonemaker out. But the GSIV launch is certainly serving notice that Samsung has Apple pressed up against the ropes and is hitting it hard, in its home turf.
"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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