Last night Samsung took the veil off its latest and much hyped flagship phone, the Galaxy S4. The push of the event was to show how the S4 integrates into your life, and it’s now being billed as a “Life Companion.” Take a look at the new features of the S4 and how Samsung expects them to change your life forever in this new video.
After the initial claim that the S4 will create, “a richer, simpler and fuller life,” which is a bold statement, Samsung shows of the dimensions of the device. It’s slightly larger than the S3 in screen size, bumping up from 4.8 inches to a full 5.0 inches, though it’s a little slimmer at 7.9 mm.
The bigger Super AMOLED screen looks beautiful with its 441 ppi, but the Galaxy S3’s 4.8 inch screen pretty well maxes out my ability to use the device with just one hand, and the S4 is probably getting into “phablet” territory, which is fine if you’re into that sort of thing.
Not that the Galaxy S3 is ugly or anything, but it does seem like Samsung put a bit more effort into the details of design this time around. They claim the S4 has a “premium finish” around the edge, and they seem pretty pleased with themselves over the color choices of “Black Mist” or “White Frost.”
Samsung’s whole “Life Companion” angle seems based around the idea that the S4 will not just be something you carry around, but that it will actually make your life better. It will not only make things more convenient and fun, but Samsung is claiming it can improve relationships and your health.
The health claim is based around the new S Health app which is essentially a calorie counter and exercise log. Apps for those things are plentiful in the Google Play store. I use a few of them pretty regularly, but I like the idea of having one more easily integrated into the phone itself.
Similar to the way Galaxy Note II owners can hover the S-Pen stylus above an icon without actually touching it, the S4 allows you to hover a finger above an icon for similar functionality. They tout this as a way to get information about an icon without “having to commit to clicking it.” Clicking icons really isn’t enough of a commitment that I’m trying to find a way around it, and I’ve never really seen this feature as that useful.
One way the touch interface is improved is with the ability to interact with the screen while wearing gloves. Not special gloves designed for touchscreens, either. Just regular gloves. That’s tremendous. An aspect of the touch-without-touching interface that I do like is the ability to scroll through pages and tabs by waving your hand over the screen. I like this because it will make me feel like a wizard. Everyone wants to feel like a wizard.
As expected, the S4 tracks your eye movement. Putting aside how creepy that is for a second, it does actually offer one potentially useful feature in Smart Pause — a system whereby the S4 recognizes when you are looking at it, and will therefor pause a playing video if you look away. This technology could forever solve my problem of falling asleep during a movie and not remembering where I left off.
Another feature, WatchON lets you push media from your S4 to an enabled television that’s very similar to Apple’s AirPlay. A bigger integration into how you watch television with your device is that the S4 has an IR blaster that allows it to be used as a remote control.
The S4 will also feature an optical reader that can pull information from things like business cards and add them to contacts. Seems like a handy way to save yourself a bit of phone-typing.
Having both a front-facing and rear-facing camera is par for the course nowadays, but the S4 lets you make use of both at the same time during things like video chat, and even regular video recording. There are also additional camera modes, including one that records audio with a still photograph, and one that takes what are essentially HD GIFs.
Overall, it seems like Samsung has crammed as many new features into the S4 as possible, whether all those features are particularly useful or not. It’s certainly a decent jump from the S3 in terms of functionality and features. I only recently purchased the S3, so I’m not due for an upgrade for a while, but after looking at all the features that I do like about the S4, I kind of wish I was, even if it comes with some things I likely won’t use.
Finally, Samsung calling the S4 a “life companion” has gotten this stuck in my head all morning:
- I really just want to call the Galaxy S4 a “mobile” and not a “phone”
- Robots are getting a shared hivemind
- Here’s a galaxy that looks like a Space Invader