Samsung announces the evolutionary S4

Posted on Thursday, March 14th 2013 at 8:36 p.m.

Samsung has been accused of slavishly copying Apple, and while I don’t believe those arguments hold a lot of water, the announcement of the new Galaxy S4 tonight was at once very Apple-like and the very antithesis of an Apple announcement.

Today at Radio City Music Hall Samsung unveiled the latest of the Galaxy line, the S4.  While some of the fanfare was diminished thanks to various leaks and a teaser image that Samsung published itself, there was still a lot to take in as the phone was unvieled.  Here are some rough specs:

  • 5 inch full HD Super AMOLED display
  • 1.9 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor
  • 13 megapixel front- and rear-cameras
  • 2600 mAh battery

Design-wise, the 4 is pretty much a note-for-note copy of the SIII, which I am kind of mixed on.  I’m glad Samsung put their effort into the tech and not the looks, but I hope it doesn’t mean that they are playing it safe.  I kind of felt like it was when Apple went from the iPhone 4 to the 4s, but Justin points out that Apple’s release was only a new processor while the S4 has a ton of new tech in it.

Samsung appears to be betting the main reason you’ll buy an S4 over its competitors is their software, and there are some pretty nifty features.  The camera software allows for incorporation of images from the front and rear cameras into one shot, and on-the-fly editing to remove unwanted portions of images.  Dual video call mode allows the person on the other end to see both you and what you are looking at.  In-car features make the phone safer and more convenient.  This reminds me of the focus Apple has during its iPhone unveilings - what the phone does for your lifestyle rather than the pure tech.

However, the demo that Samsung of that technology was decidedly un-Apple like.  Rather than a solitary on-stage figure and a massive white-on-black slide presentation behind, Samsung went full Broadway with live-action vignettes demonstrating various aspects of the software and really maxed out the cheese factor.  While it was a good real-life demonstration of how you would use the phone, it felt a little forced.

The S4 is expected to launch with US carriers in late April, and I’m excited for when I’ll get the chance to have it in my hands.

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