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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: All these cores and still laggy Android crap
By corduroygt on 3/15/2013 3:58:46 PM , Rating: 1
I used android and know the distinction between an app drawer and a desktop. I personally don't care for it as it's just another thing I have to maintain, and move apps back and forth...just tinkering with the phone instead of using it. I accomplish the same on the iPhone by putting the most commonly used apps in the first page and the rest in folders on 2nd and 3rd pages. If I have to quickly find an app, there is the search function.

Still does not excuse lagginess, not one bit. All those icons take 1-2MB max, which is nothing on a phone with 2GB memory.


By Reclaimer77 on 3/15/2013 4:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
God you're stupid...

quote:
I accomplish the same on the iPhone by putting the most commonly used apps in the first page and the rest in folders on 2nd and 3rd pages. If I have to quickly find an app, there is the search function.


Dude this IS tinkering. And you can do the same thing on Android. Do you not understand what he's saying??

quote:
I used android and know the distinction between an app drawer and a desktop. I personally don't care for it as it's just another thing I have to maintain, and move apps back and forth...


????

You do it once, and you're done! This is no more "tinkering" than your iPhone method. It's the same thing, Android is just presenting you with a way to see all the installed apps and widgets easily.

quote:
Still does not excuse lagginess, not one bit. All those icons take 1-2MB max, which is nothing on a phone with 2GB memory.


....

Just..okay, it's not worth it. Again, on display for all, we see the complete computer illiteracy of the average Apple customer.


By retrospooty on 3/15/2013 7:52:23 PM , Rating: 2
"Again, on display for all, we see the complete computer illiteracy of the average Apple customer."

Bingo... Although snottier, this guy is not quite as daft as Nortel, insisting Samsung copied Apple with their choice of RAM size on the GS3. He actually thinks that using 16, 32 and 64gb of RAM is Samsung copying Apple... Another hilarious iTard. Not only did he think it, he defended it vigorously LOL. A freegin riot.


RE: All these cores and still laggy Android crap
By Solandri on 3/15/2013 8:01:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Still does not excuse lagginess, not one bit. All those icons take 1-2MB max, which is nothing on a phone with 2GB memory.

Well, you're free to think whatever you like. If you ever do wish to learn about why it's not that simple, read up on transactional databases and all the work you have to do to maintain consistency. It's a design decision Google made - that given what the function was used for and how infrequently it was used, accuracy was more important than scrolling smoothness.

But if you're one of those people who would rather something look pretty than be accurate, you're entitled to your opinion.


By retrospooty on 3/15/2013 10:39:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yup...

Googles approach: Find a way to make it work because its a great feature.

Apples approach: Don't do it, just tell people they don't want it and its not useful.


By Reclaimer77 on 3/15/2013 10:45:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apples approach: Don't do it, just tell people they don't want it and its not useful.


Yeah I loved their snide self-serving "Flash is for porn if you want porn get Android" nonsense lol. The most condescending company on the planet...


RE: All these cores and still laggy Android crap
By corduroygt on 3/15/2013 11:59:44 PM , Rating: 2
Tell me what does a transactional database have anything to do with icons, which are just small PNG images easily able to fit in memory? iOS and WP8 just do fine without any lag and WP8 even has animated tiles to boot. User experience and smoothness is the most important thing in an OS. UI threads should ALWAYS have the highest priority and anything less is just poor customer experience and inexcusable.

While putting apps in folders is tinkering, it's FAR less tinkering than in Android, where you'd have to go to a DIFFERENT place to uninstall an app than where you launch it from.

It's a good thing that DT is not representative of the entire country, otherwise we'd have Romney for president and the Galaxy S3 outselling the iPhone 5.


By retrospooty on 3/16/2013 1:55:37 AM , Rating: 2
LOL. With every post you embarras yourself further. Seriously, just stop. You don't get it, a widget is not an icon and the widget selection screen is not a bunch of icons. At the very least wait for a shopping ROM before you completely misunderstand a problem. Too funny. I am not sure if you are just trying to spread FUD on purpose or you are a complete moron.


By Sta5h on 3/26/2013 9:57:41 AM , Rating: 2
On my Nexus 4 I can uninstall an app from the home screen.

1. Long press app icon on homescreen.
2. Drag up to "Remove" that appears at the top of the screen.
3. Hold over "Remove" for a second until it changes to "Uninstall".

All of this takes about 2-3 seconds total – it's almost painfully simple to uninstall apps on modern Android.

Not massively discoverable I'll admit, but then I was flummoxed the first time I tried to uninstall an app on iOS. Of course, once you've done it, it's easy. A lot of "intuitive" in software is actually what you are used to – just don't assume you can't do something on another system as easily as the one you're more familiar with…


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