Samsung is ready to introduce the sequel to its most popular smartphone it's ever released on Thursday evening in New York City, as press and tech enthusiasts will begin their descent upon Radio City Music Hall in less than 24 hours to see the next Galaxy S smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Little else is known about what Thursday's event might hold, but we can say for absolute certainty that Samsung will finally lift the veil on its Galaxy S4 handset. Samsung's marketing department has been far from coy: Its Unpacked 2013 event invitations, released on Feb. 25, featured many not-so-subtle hints about the Galaxy S4, including its title (“Ready 4 The Show”) and its icon, which casts a giant shadow in the shape of a "4." Nearly every ad spot released from Samsung has revolved around revealing "The Next Galaxy." We get it: They're excited; they're not alone.
With the highly anticipated launch event just hours away (Samsung will begin live streaming its event starting at 7 p.m.), there's still some discrepancy in the rumors and reports about what Samsung will actually unveil in its next-generation flagship smartphone on Thursday. To give you an accurate picture of the Samsung Galaxy S4, we've sifted through all the rumors about the phone's features, specs, appearance and price to depict what we believe Samsung will release at tomorrow's event.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This mantra sounds like it'll apply to the dimensions of the Galaxy S4, which is said to be only slightly different from the Galaxy S3 -- and that's a good thing. In fact, it looks like Samsung is following its own formula when it transitioned from the S2 to the S3: Make the screen a little bigger, but the phone a little thinner. The Samsung Galaxy S3 measured 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 is said to measure slightly longer at 140.1 mm and slightly wider at 71.8 mm, but much thinner than its predecessor at just 7.7 mm thick, which is just a tad (0.1 mm) thicker than the iPhone 5.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is a beautiful smartphone with a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display and a 1280 x 720 resolution of 306 pixels per inch, or ppi; its successor, the Samsung Galaxy S4, is said to feature a slightly larger 4.99-inch Full HD SoLux Display with a reported resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, which comes out to be an extremely dense-looking display at 450+ ppi. If the display isn't SoLux, it's possible Samsung will implement its experimental phosphorescent organic light-emitting diode (PHOLED) displays, which can be up to four times more power efficient than the current OLED screens in the Galaxy S3. That said, we're not sure if those PHOLED displays are fully ready for mass production just yet, so we'll keep our money on the Full HD SoLux Display showing up in the Galaxy S4.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 was powered by Samsung’s own quad-core 1.4 GHz Exynos 4 processor and an ARM Mali-400 for its GPU. Both chips are said to get an upgrade in 2013, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 is said to feature a new Exynos 5 Octa CPU, which was initially used in the company’s Chromebook model -- the new processor is said to have eight cores for enhanced work flow and power efficiency. Last year's ARM-based GPU is also said to be replaced by a new 1.9 GHz Snapdragon 600 chip from Qualcomm, which will help power the display and the phone's operating system (likely Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, since we're not expecting Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie until Google's i/O Conference in May). The new Smapdragon chips don't quite touch NVIDIA's top-of-the-line Tegra 4 SuperChip Processors, but Qualcomm's 600s clock in at about twice as fast as the Exynos 4 chip in the Galaxy S3.
More and more customers use their phones to browse the Web, so Internet connectivity speed is a major issue for customers, particularly in connecting over Wi-Fi and cellular bands. While the Samsung Galaxy S3 featured 4G LTE, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is said to boast an even more powerful chip from Broadcom -- the "5G Wi-Fi combo chip," listed as the BCM4335 chip. According to Broadcom’s press release, the BCM 4335 is the “only combo chip to address unique interference challenges in systems with both 4G LTE cellular radios and wireless connectivity.” The 5G Wi-Fi combo chip is also said to improve the wireless range of devices, making it even easier and faster to stream and download large files or videos.
Compared to the 8-megapixel camera in the Galaxy S3, many reports have claimed the Samsung Galaxy S4 would boast a beefy 13-megapixel camera, with an added feature that would put the iPhone's Panorama to shame: While Google introduced its 360-degree panorama called "Photosphere" in Android 4.2, the Galaxy S4 will reportedly include a similar feature called "Samsung Orb," which is said to create similar 360-degree images to create 3D-like photography; the company has allegedly been working with Facebook to ensure easy sharing of Orb images to the popular social network.
6. Special Features
Among the quirky features we've heard may be coming to the Galaxy S4, we believe the main "special feature" of Samsung's 2013 handset will be Atmel’s new MaXTouch S controllers, which allow users to interact with their devices without actually touching the screen. The feature is similar to the Galaxy Note 2 S Pen, which can draw on the 5.5-inch phablet by simply hovering over the screen in what’s called Air View, but in the Galaxy S4, users will reportedly not need a pen.
7. Price Tag
As far as price goes, we fully expect Samsung to retain identical price tags from the Galaxy S3 in the Galaxy S4. Now that the Galaxy S3 has seen a price drop -- Samsung is selling last year’s model anywhere between $49 and $99 -- Samsung is free to sell the Galaxy S4 at last year’s prices. If the company follows the same plan as last year, the Galaxy S4 could cost $199 for 16 GB or $249 for 32 GB. Without a two-year contract, it’s possible Samsung could sell the new handset at $599 and $649 for 16 and 32 GB storage models, respectively, like it did last year.
Considering the growing number of reports saying Apple is working on a cheaper iPhone, Samsung might be keen to lower the price range for the Galaxy S4 to make its flagship smartphone even more competitive throughout the year, especially when we reach the all-important holiday season.
8. Release Date
Last year, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S3 on May 3 but didn’t release the device until May 28, and that was in Europe. The US didn’t even get the Samsung Galaxy S3 until June 21; it’s possible Samsung will roll out the Galaxy S4 in a similar manner, releasing the phone in the US roughly a month after its public unveiling.
With the unveiling set for tomorrow, it won't be long until the official release date hits: Considering how Samsung is announcing the phone in the US, it would make little sense to tease the home crowd by telling them the release date isn't for another two months. That said, it’s entirely possible Samsung will make customers wait until April to actually purchase the new Galaxy S4, just so it has enough time to build more hype until the release. As we learned with the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, a little hype can go along way when it comes to selling smartphones.
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