Samsung's long-awaited smartphone is sleek, sexy and full of familiar specs. This is the phone the rumors said consumers were getting, but is it the device the tech community wanted?
"With the likes of the 13-megapixel snapper's dual camera mode offering more entertaining usage and the incoming octa-core processor to provide power with battery survival, the Samsung Galaxy S4 looks set to take off exactly where the Samsung Galaxy S3 has made its home, as the market leading Android handset," Trusted Review wrote in its preview.
"The screen is the real star of the Galaxy S IV," VentureBeat's Devindra Hardawar concluded. "At 5-inches with a 1080p display, it's incredibly sharp and vibrant. It even bested the Galaxy S III's already-bright screen."
Not everyone is full of praise for the Galaxy S IV. Some bloggers and tech reporters have been critical of the device's familiar design.
"Until today, it was believed that only Apple could get away with mildly refreshing its flagship smartphone device without suffering an apposite dip in sales and consumer interest," The Verge's Vlad Savov wrote. "Now, Samsung is emulating the Cupertino strategy in a bid to prove that it is every bit the globe-conquering big timer that Apple is."
Gizmodo's Brent Rose was downright disappointed. "There has been a ton of hype and build-up to this device, and ultimately, it left us feeling cold," he wrote. "The S IV feels uninspired. There are small spec bumps from the previous generation and there's a ton of software which will largely sit unused. There's just no wow-factor here."
Samsung inadvertently set itself up for failure (in the eyes of some people, at least) when it decided to copy Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL [FREE Stock Trend Analysis]) faux-secret hyping strategy. Unlike a device that is truly shrouded in secrecy prior to its unveiling, the Galaxy S IV had a plethora of leaks -- including official images of the handset -- that revealed every detail. By the time the launch arrived, consumers knew everything there was to know about the device. Like it or not, this reduced some of the S IV's excitement.
In terms of worldwide sales, however, this may very well be the best strategy for Samsung. It has worked wonders for Apple -- while analysts and bloggers continue to complain about the lack of innovation within the annual iPhone upgrades, consumers repeatedly buy them up in record-breaking numbers.
In the fall of 2011, Apple sold 37 million iPhones. During the fall 2012 quarter, Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones -- a 10.8 million increase.
Comparatively, Samsung sold 30 million Galaxy S III units between May and November 2012. The South Korean tech giant still leads the smartphone market (thanks to the collective sales of all of its models). On an individual basis, however, Apple is the king.
By pushing for greater sales year after year, Samsung may eventually find a way to change that.
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