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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 retrospooty on 3/16/2013 8:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
"I didn't say it was a bad thing and it certainly isn't bad or good for me as I don't use Android and I won't be using Tizen."

That is a given. Just curios, how much better would it have to be for you to jump ship? You are already using an OS that doesnt stack up to the competition by most measures. Lets say Apple stayed right where they are today and Android or Tizen or some other entity evolved at the rate Android has over the past 2-3 years (from worst to first). Would you jump ship in 2 years? 4 Years? How long would your blind loyalty last in the face of obviously superior products?

"For me the single most interesting thing to watch over the next year or two is going to be how Samsung and Google each evolve their strategies and how their relationship develops."
I suppose it will, as will Apple's reaction to the vastly superior products and the perception that they have been left behind technically. That isnt just me ribbing you, its all over the stock channels and financial outlets. I am getting it from them, not from nerd fodder sites like I visit.

Also, note you glossed over the whole us vs. them thing again.


RE: .
By Tony Swash on 3/16/2013 12:09:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are already using an OS that doesnt stack up to the competition by most measures.


You think that, I don't.

I almost never talk about why I use the kit I do and what I personally prefer, I am not really here to discuss such things. As I have said before I am interested in debating how the tech industries and markets are developing, and doing so with people who have vastly different opinions and points of view to myself helps me enormously in developing that understanding.

But as you asked a direct question here goes.

I've played around with both Android and Windows Phone on friends and relatives handsets and chatted to them about their experience of using the different OS, how they do things, what's easy, what's hard and I can see nothing in Android which is better than iOS.

My iPhone 4s feels faster than most Android handsets (it seems the speed of the processor is only part of that equation), I get regular OS updates without a problem, I don't get carrier crap, I get access to the best and biggest digital contents store on the planet, I am 30 minutes away from one of the largest Apple Stores in the world and thus I know I can get the best technical assistance in the game anytime I want (although I have rarely used it), ditto with the best customer service support in the game (a number of friends new to Apple have been astonished by the level of customer care they get from Apple, including the exchange of damaged goods at no cost), all my devices, computers, tablets and my TV and stereo all just work together seamlessly, my data syncs instantly between all my devices, I get free messaging to other iOS devices, my iPad has access to over 300, 000 tablet optimised apps, my devices are effectively immune to malware, all my Apple kit looks and physically feels fantastic, well designed and beautifully crafted. Why would I switch to Android, what possible advantage would I get from doing such a daft thing?

quote:
the perception that they have been left behind technically. That isnt just me ribbing you, its all over the stock channels and financial outlets.


And that's all it is - perception. The origin of that perception is interesting, it's partly just the usual slurping of media attention always looking for the bad news hype and the click bait headline, it's partly from the froth of iPhobics and Fanroids keen to talk up and amplify any bad news from Apple no matter how insubstantial or spurious it is, but it's also part of a deeper problem about the lack of understanding of Apple. For most of the media, and indeed the technarati, the insane rise of Apple and it's explosion into the music and mobile device markets was essentially incomprehensible, Apple had been talked down and dismissed for so long, the 'Apple doesn't innovate' meme was so deeply embedded amongst many commentators, that the ability of Apple to release a series of blockbuster products felt a bit like magic and in the end was put down to the unknowable and irreplaceable genius of Steve Jobs. Plus Steve Jobs was one of the best communicators ever so he could explain what Apple was doing and sell the company like no other. So now he is dead and more than a year has passed and no further new blockbuster has been released and Jobs is not here to calm the nerves and so the hysterical ninnies are all in a froth about Apple hitting the wall, a froth that iPhobics and Fanroids lap up like warm milk.

The important thing at times of silliness is to just try to keep an eye on the facts.

What does the data show about Apple's performance? Apple is in the very top echelons of the business world in terms of performance with immense reserves to weather any storms.

What does the data show about Apple's 'lack of innovation'.

The actual timeline of major product pillars is as follows:

iMac

3 years 4 months later

iPod

5 years 3 months later

iPhone

3 years

iPad

I do think that not having a communicator is supremely competent as Steve Jobs selling the company does mean that the Apple is now not sold, as a company, as strongly as it was so it's easier for the doubters to doubt.

Everything I have read about the internal workings of Apple and of Steve Jobs second stint as company leader points in the same direction: that Steve Jobs greatest product, the one he lavished the greatest care and attention on, the one he most shaped to leave as a legacy, was Apple itself.

Apple is strong, competitive and it will be a very, very large player in the new tech markets, and it will be around for a long time yet.

Lastly: did you not look at Samsung's overblown and tasteless mega launch show and at the actual product released and not think 'what a lot of noise for a minor upgrade?' Samsung have spent a vast fortune on advertising and marketing, many times what Apple has, and amusingly it's those who have always dismissed Apple as primarily a marketing phenomena that seem to have been totally hypnotised by it.


RE: .
By retrospooty on 3/16/2013 2:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
That's a long post to not answer the questions posed. OK, fine you don't see Android as better now. If Apple stays where it is today and other platforms advance how long would you stay with the inferior product out of loyalty? How many years? Just curios. You obviously hold the company in very high regard for some reason that I cannot understand so I am wondering how long you would hold out.

You post an awful lot on Android articles, like you are obsessed and afraid of its power LOL. No Android related article gets posted here without you trying your best to detract from it. Again, you should stop trying to figure out why it is and how it is and deal with the fact that it is.


RE: .
By retrospooty on 3/16/2013 3:32:38 PM , Rating: 2
I forgot your last part... Yes, the S4 launch was a lot of hype for a small upgrade. Not unlike the iPhone releases. I am not too impressed with the S4. I love the idea of eye scrolling, but I suspect it won't work as seamless as it needs to to be a big draw, but that remains to be seen. I am really liking the Optimus G Pro a lot more than the S4. That and the Moto/Google X phone coming. Its gonna be a good year for smartphone fans, but I thing the S4 will fall short of its 100 million unit goal. Its just not that great. Spec and feature whose its like any 1080p Android phone, with a plastic shell. Just all right.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov














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