Samsung Galaxy S4 - first impressions

I guess all of you want to find out the first impressions about the event from the night of 14 March, when the new Samsung Galaxy S4 was unveiled to the public at the Unpacked event in Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, New York. Now, this wasn’t an usual product launch but a veritable show. And if this show might not have been everybody’s cup of tea, Samsung has certainly got reasons to be proud of its “packed new of innovative features” product. It isn’t a giant leap forward from the previous generation but it raise the bar for Samsung’s competitors. In terms of looks and design, the new Galaxy S4 is not too different from the S3 (in fact it’s really similar to it but maybe just both a bit bigger and, at the same time, smaller!). How is that possible? It seems that the S4 displays a bigger screen (5 inches comparing to the S3’s 4.8 inches) and a bigger battery, but on the other hand, it’s 3 grams lighter and almost 1 cm slimmer. The screen is not just bigger, it’s also stronger, with a Gorilla glass 3 coating and an extra-tight 441ppi pixel density. Intriguing, the new Galaxy S4 can even adjust colour temperature automatically depending on the content it’s currently displaying.

The Galaxy S4 has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera which is a great upgrade from the 8-megapixel camera in the Galaxy S3, and also has a 2-megapixel front facing camera. All these improvements are nice and good but also kind of expected with any gadget upgrade. What’s cool, though, is that with the new phone there are a few places where Samsung is going beyond the expected to produce a futuristic phone. As the focus of the innovation is the software, here are some completely new tricks that the Galaxy S4 can perform: The eye-tracking system This will let you change pages solely with your eyes. Thus, when you reach the bottom of the page, additional content will be automatically uploaded. That should be useful when you find yourself crammed in a train on your way back from work. Touchless gestures This means, for example, that you can answer your phone without having to tap “answer”, navigate around by waving or wiping your whole hand in front of the screen and camera sensor or watch the photos in your gallery by steadily sliding your hand back and forth. Smart scrolling This feature allows you to scroll the pages up and down simply by tilting the phone in the corresponding direction. Remote Control The new Galaxy S4 has an inbuilt infra-red sensor which means that it can be used as an universal remote. By using the Watch On feature, you can use your new phone as a TV remote control. Dual camera Normally, when shooting a photo or video, you need to select either the rear or front-facing camera, not both. Things are different with the Galaxy S4. The new camera mode allows you to record a thumbnail view from one camera, and the remainder of the show with the other. Even more, by using the merge option, you can stitch two images taken by both cameras at the same time into one, or you can select a number of effects including Postage Stamp or Cinemagram – which creates animated GIFs. What’s even more cool is that if something in the shot doesn’t work for you, you can simply take that out by using the erase feature. And the innovation in terms of video and photos doesn’t stop here – the Sound and shot feature allows you to record up to nine seconds of audio with a still image! This is, in my opinion, one of the greatest features of the new phone and you can see in the video below how it works. Drama Shot This allows you to take up to 100 shots in four seconds, and then you can select some to be shown in the finished picture as a collage in one frame. Music Hub The new Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with a new version of Music Hub (powered by 7digital) which provides access to a catalogue of 23 million songs. These can be either streamed (for a monthly subscription fee) or purchased. Purchased tracks and albums can be stored in the cloud, synced to multiple devices, and stored locally for offline listening. Another smart innovation, when it comes to the music you play on your phone, is Group Play which allows the same song to be played back simultaneously through different Galaxy S4 handsets in near proximity. In addition to everything else, it seems that the new Samsung Galaxy S4 is also a health-oriented phone. The S Health in-built application will be able to count calories, monitor your heart-rate, measure your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and even connect to a pedometer and track your diet in order to better determine your state of fitness. The phone’s sensors can also detect the temperature and humidity in your room. S Translator This is another built-in application which doesn’t require network connection and helps you to do speech-to-text or text-to-speech translation in nine languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and English). Just type or speak to your Samsung Galaxy S4 and it'll translate to and from your chosen languages straight away. I’m sure this service will prove to be a real help during your holidays or work trips! With S Voice Drive, your Samsung Galaxy S4 acts as your personal assistant once you’ve got into your car. This is a feature which use the Galaxy S4's built-in navigation system and lets drivers make calls, send messages and check the weather. Very similar to Apple’s Siri digital assistant for cars. As you can see, the new Samsung Galaxy S4 seems to be a high-end smartphone, equipped with plenty of new and interesting features for everyone (which are made to at least hold your attention if not to be used constantly) and which are not likely to be found in any other smartphone at the moment. Overall, this phone is both remarkable and familiar. Here is what the Samsung representative Mr. Shin said about the new phone:
With the GALAXY S 4, Samsung is again going to enhance the way we live. All the innovative features of GALAXY S 4 were developed based on the insights and needs we found from our consumers all around the world. Following the successful GALAXY S series, this phone is yet another great proof point of people-inspired innovation. At Samsung we’ll never stop pursuing innovation conceived by people, so we can inspire them in return.
You can also read on BBC News website what technology reporters and enthusiasts had to say after holding the new Galaxy S4 for the first time – and now, if you’ve had the chance to get hold of the new device, we can’t wait to hear about your first impressions too!
May 07, 2014