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Android-leader Samsung puts iPhone 5 on notice

Android phonemaker Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) is scary successful.  Its rivals have tried -- and failed -- to use lawsuits to slow its sales.  It's so wildly successful that even partner Google Inc. (GOOG) is reportedly getting a little nervous.

The South Korean firm has risen quickly through the ranks, passing Nokia Oyj. (OMX:NOK1V) in smartphone and featurephone unit sales, and creeping closer to Apple, Inc. (AAPL) in profitability.  Tonight in New York City, just blocks from one of Apple's busiest stores at the Radio City Music Hall, Samsung unleashed its latest flagship model in its best-selling.  

With the Galaxy S IV's U.S. launch, its first American launch event for its flagship phone series, Samsung takes another step in its push to shift its marketing, engineering, and management towards the U.S., the world's most lucrative electronics market.  

I. Specs

Currently Apple is sits at the top of U.S. smartphone sales, but the Galaxy S IV could soon change that.

Samsung Galaxy S IV unpacked


Here's a breakdown of the phone's specs, versus the phone's chief competitor, the iPhone 5:
Galaxy S IV spec
(The only items not revealed at the launch event were the price and GPU of the Samsung device.)
 
Clearly the Galaxy S IV has a much more powerful set of hardware, while being only narrowly heavier/and larger.  The 1080p screen is the real star of the show, although the inclusion of 802.11ac, the higher resolution camera, microSD, and a removable battery are other niceties.

When comparing the GSIV and its chief competitor, the iPhone 5, the only remaining questions are battery life (given the more powerful CPU) and buyer preference with regard to screen size (while the iPhone screen is lower resolution, some buyers do prefer smaller screens).  Clearly some will prefer the slick metal/glass body of the iPhone 5 to the plastic-type case of the GSIV, as well.


II. What's New

Samsung's Head of Mobile Communications, J.K. Shin calls the Galaxy S IV a true "life companion" bragging, "Innovation improves the way people live every day.  For each of us, life is a journey. What you want is a device that can help us on the journey.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Samsung Galaxy S4."

Samsung Galaxy S IV

The device is loaded with proprietary apps -- Knox (a BYOD technology), home sync (which connects various in-home Wi-Fi devices, S Translator (9 language speech-to-text, text-to-speech), and S Health.  

The S Health is particularly cool -- it uses the built in accelerometer to track steps taken/calories burned when you're carrying the device, plus features options to track your meals and sleep.  S Translator should be handy too; it supports Chinese, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean, Portugese, Spanish, and English.  The app even can attempt to translate text on signs/printouts using the cameras.  The app has mild offline support, with canned phrases.

Air Health
Samsung Air Health [Image Source: AnandTech]

Home Sync allows you to tap your phone with compatible Samsung NFC devices, like televisions, to pair it.  You can then transfer photos wirelessly.  The images are uploaded to a 1 TB cloud storage account, which is free for GSIV buyers.

Knox is essentially identical to BlackBerry Ltd.'s (TSE:BB) recently announced multi-mode feature in BB10.  The phone can be placed into either a work or a home mode.

TouchWiz on the Galaxy S IV has been glistened up, with a translucent menu bar and other graphical perks.

One are of the UI/firmware that Samsung spent a lot of time on is the camera UI.  There's new editing features, and an ability to select still shots from a burst of frames (100 in 4 sec.) -- similar to rival HTC Corp.'s (TPE:2498) much-advertised technology.  There's a new "dual camera", which allows you to simultaneously use both cameras on the device for photos or video; there's composite merging of photos; and there's a new AirView touch-friendly gallery app.

There's also been big improvements on the control side.  While Apple and other rivals are still largely confined to static touch on the screen, the GSIV introduces air gestures, via the infrared and proximity sensor.  If your hands are dirty or full, you can do a rough gesture over the screen surface to get the phone to perform basic actions.

Samsung Air Pause
Air Pause/Scroll [Image Source: The Verge]

The 2 MP front camera also tracks your eyes for both scrolling purposes ("Air Scrolling") and to pause video if you look away ("Air Pause").

As with its tap-to-share technology Samsung has clear differentiating technologies that its competitors lack.

III. The Impact on Apple and Google

Apple is clearly a bit nervous about the Galaxy S IV.  Analysts are saying interest in the iPhone 5 has "cooled off".  Apple is firing back, calling the Android ecosystem "fragmented", accusing it of being lacking in out-of-the-box service experience, attacking its low pricing, and calling the OS outdated.

But for all the bold talk Apple's stock trends, versus Google's tells a different story:
Apple stock

Apple has seen its momentum halted by the death of its iconic leader Steven P. Jobs (in 2011) and then by disappointment over the iPhone 5 sales growth and hardware. Google, meanwhile has surged as Apple's court bid to ban Android stalled [1][2], and as its OEM parteners pounced on Apple in terms of hardware offerings.

For Google, the Galaxy S IV is more good news.  For Apple it's a major concern.  The soonest Apple will respond is mid-to-late 2013 (with what is being called the iPhone 5S).  That gives Samsung potentially 5 or 6 months of uncontested market dominance.

Barring unforeseen events (product bans) expect this launch to help sustain both the upward pressure on Google's stock and the downward pressure on Apple's stock.

Sources: Samsung [1], [2], AnandTech, The Verge



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RE: .
By fteoath64 on 3/15/2013 6:15:45 AM , Rating: 3
Surely, it is!. At a time when Apple is having all sorts of bad news in the market and no new product lines to launch. Sammy is really rubbing it in. To the extend that Phil S recently was doing some silly talk about "Android fragmentation". Hey, he ought to know, fragmentation is GOOD!. It provides differentiation and choice to customers out there. Only a silly vendor will sell you a single Ford Model T. Does not matter if this Model T is coated with gold, people will get sick of the same old thing. It means product getting stale!. That is a bad as a good product with bad/lousy marketing associated with it.

Ever since BlackBerry had their launch, the rest seems geared up to meet that challenge for this year.

Note: The GPU is PVR 544MP although we had to guess how may cores. My hunch is 3 cores due to power demands for a phone implementation of the Octa 8. It will just be enough to fend off the Snapdragon assault for a few months yet before Tegra 4i hits the market!.


RE: .
By Tony Swash on 3/15/13, Rating: -1
RE: .
By retrospooty on 3/15/2013 11:08:01 AM , Rating: 5
I am qite sure he means bad news like this...

http://www.businessinsider.com/consumer-reports-ip...

Or perhaps this...

http://www.androidauthority.com/iphone-android-sat...

Or maybe this
http://www.thestreet.com/story/11870792/1/apple-es...

Or just the 300 point slide in general and the reasons behind it.

Nice try at spinning. Not unexpected. We all knew you would be in here, becasue its a competitive product


RE: .
By jimbojimbo on 3/15/2013 11:34:05 AM , Rating: 2
I think the only reason their stock prices haven't slid more is because a lot of big owners are suing Apple to get a cut of those huge multi-billion dollar credits as dividends. Once that finalizes you can bet they're selling off what they have then the price will really tumble.


RE: .
By retrospooty on 3/15/2013 12:09:44 PM , Rating: 2
Ya... But they arent in any trouble. It's just that the insane climb is over. they will level off and be merely extremely profitable and stay that way unless they come out with some better products.


RE: .
By symbiosys on 3/15/2013 6:12:28 PM , Rating: 2
I remember back when you were saying Apple were well on their way to a $1000 share price. Since then you have been very quiet Tony. What happened to you man... Now you're just posting graphs... You've changed man!


RE: .
By retrospooty on 3/15/2013 7:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
He hasnt been quiet. He's here almost daily. Now his big thing is - No matter what features Android has, no matter how much better screens, functionality, variety. Apple is better because IOS users browse the web more, and of course Apple makes more money. An odd thing to keep trying to prove, but he does it... pretty much daily.


RE: .
By karlostomy on 3/15/2013 8:45:33 PM , Rating: 2
... and further to that, it has been demonstrated that android is clawing back those usage statistics from apple as well. Albeit slowly.

No amount of TS crowing can change the hard facts.


"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad














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