By David Thompson
For those excited about the latest high-powered Android smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is probably one of the most high-profile, thrilling releases of the year. Samsung’s latest labour of love, the 5-inch-screen-equipped smartphone with specs that make not-so-old computers blush, is clearly targeted not just at power users, but those who want a luxury technology experience that sits alongside Apple’s famous ease of use.
Samsung have pitched this phone as their best work, with a dramatic but well-rehearsed presentation that showcased many of its features – some of which will most likely give the jitters to phone manufacturers who are about to release new models.
One of the highlights for Galaxy S4 owners will be the eye-tracking feature that the phone uses to detect whether or not you’re looking at the phone itself. No, really – this isn’t science fiction. Watching a film on the phone and get distracted? Your phone notices you looking away and pauses the film, hitting “play” again only once your eyes have returned to the screen. It’s forward-thinking tech like this that has placed Samsung head-on against Apple for the race to the next big innovation.
A replaceable battery is an obvious plus, as some phones make replacing an old, dead battery very difficult. Wireless charging, however, is a more modern feature that’s so far been seen only as a mooted concept in a few phones. To be able to charge your new appendage (let’s be honest) without having to fiddle around with cables is a great idea that will provide you with a charger on your desk you can simply place your phone onto while you get on with anything that isn’t figuring out which side up your micro USB cable is (usually the wrong way up the first time, we’ve found). Then again for those who aren’t interested in this, it’s actually an optional hardware upgrade that comes in the form of a new attachable back casing for the phone, so those who don’t want to pay extra for the feature don’t have to.
Expandable storage space is back, which is a relief, as many phones (such as Google’s Nexus 4) puzzlingly don’t offer this feature despite the highest-end model only offering 16GB of storage space. The Galaxy S4 however allows you to simply stick a microSD in and expand your storage to your heart’s content (allowing for the current limits the consumer tech market, of course).
What’s likely messing with the minds of the competition is the sheer amount of software the phone comes with, a lot of it centring on the handset’s use as a digital camera. This includes Dual Shot mode, Eraser (yes, erasing bits of photos while on your phone, so that photo-ruining idiot friend of yours will suddenly vanish Back to the Future-style before your eyes and under your finger) and of course the quality of the camera itself, which should handle video and photo work very well.
It’d be foolish to call this year’s market in favour of the S4 just yet, but it’s also pretty difficult to ignore its potential, given its considerable feature set and Samsung’s history of making great phones. Did we mention the 1080p Super AMOLED screen? No? Well, there it is!