Today is Samsung Galaxy S4 launch day and we’ve a mere hour to go until Samsung takes the wraps off its new handset. We’ve got live Galaxy S4 updates available direct from the launch event in New York.
The fervour associated with the new Galaxy S4 is already outstripping that of the Galaxy S2 and Galaxy S3, both of which nabbed ‘phone of the year’ titles in recent times.
If you needed a barometer of this, just look at how the Galaxy S3 was unveiled. Not at MWC like lots of others, but its own event, proving the Galaxy line has reached the level where it can guarantee hoards will come just for an unveiling, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is going to land at its own event. It’s an event that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Apple – it seems to be making Phil Schiller rather nervous.
The Galaxy S4 name was even ‘confirmed’ at a recent event by a researcher, and now we even have this lovely video that sets the scene for today’s launch:
The trickle of ‘sources’ talking about the Galaxy SIV (if you’re being all Roman numeral about it) is building to a roaring crescendo, so we’re on hand to help let you know which whispers have a notion of truth about them – as well as providing our wishlist of what we want Samsung to improve on the new handset.
Don’t forget to look out for our hands on: Samsung Galaxy S4 review which will be popping up online once we’ve managed to spend some time with the device.
Samsung Galaxy S4 release date
The Unpacked event which will bring the announcement of the S4 is today in New York, with proceedings kicking off at 7pm EDT (sadly for the UK, this means it will be 11PM before you can see what’s going on).
And if you’re in New York then head on down to Times Square, as Samsung will be live streaming the event and may even have some stuff to play with as well.
However, possibly in retaliation to the HTC One buzz that Samsung predicted might pop up, the launch is earlier than last year, which means some S3 owners might feel aggrieved that Samsung is already making their handset outdated.
But it does catch the old Galaxy S2 owners nicely as they come to the end of their contract cycles, so Samsung could be playing an ace (no, not that one) by launching now.
The rumour mill seems to be pointing towards an April, or possible May release date for the Galaxy S4 and Samsung will be keen to get it in shops as soon as possible, as there’s string competition from the HTC One and Sony Xperia Z.
As the clock counts down we’re hearing demand has apparently been ‘overwhelming’ for Samsung’s new flagship handset with huge numbers of pre-registrations for the Galaxy S4 already taking place.
Analysts are also predicting a much smoother roll out of handsets this time around, with lessons learnt from the major issues which occurred with the Galaxy S3 – although minor delays may still happen if demand is as high as expected.
An all-new screen
From the various leaks and reports the Samsung Galaxy S4 is looking pretty likely to sport a 4.99-inch full HD display, although there are some sources still claiming the Galaxy SIV will rock up with a 5-inch display, or even a highly unlikely 4.6-inch offering.
While we all dream of edge-to-edge displays on our smartphones, the reality is that the Galaxy S4 is probably going to still keep a slender bezel down either side of its screen, with more sizeable chunks above and below to accommodate the menu keys, ear piece, front facing camera and various sensors.
The Galaxy S2 had an amazing Super AMOLED Plus display – and boy, was it vibrant. The S3 upped the screen size from 4.3-inches to 4.8-inches and the pixel density went from 217 to 306 to take a run at the iPhone’s Retina Display.
But, Samsung also opted for a PenTile approach, to the chagrin of geeks. What does that mean for the end user?
Well, the screen looks great but you can make out pixels if you really, really strain. And some of the vivacity and colour saturation is lost. On the plus side, Samsung reckons the screen will last longer – but we’d rather see a much more S2-like screen with a sharper resolution – and given that’s now appeared on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, we’re pretty hopeful we’ll get it on the Samsung Galaxy S4 too.
And on top of that, here’s the good stuff: whatever the resolution or size of the screen on the Galaxy S4, rumours suggest that you’ll be able to control it with your eyes. Yes you read that correctly, your eyes!
Screenshots apparently showing the various settings for the eye tracking tech popped up online – but we fear battery life may take a hit.
This was later proven to be the Galaxy S3; new screenshots then appeared, but thanks to an eagle-eyed TechRadar reader, these could also be faked, as a display with 1080 x 1920 pixels would need to be 4.6 inches across to achieve the claimed PPI.
Bloomberg reported that the eye tracking tech would feature in the S4, but it wouldn’t be as advanced as the rumours suggested, instead simply doing stuff like pausing a video when you look away from the screen.
Samsung Galaxy S4 specs
The main spec aside from the screen is the processor which will be housed inside the Samsung Galaxy S4, and this is still very much open for debate.
In one corner is the tried and tested quad-core processor (possibly the Exynos 5440) which is the chip of choice at the moment for most manufacturers in their flagship handsets and we certainly wouldn’t be disappointed with four beefed up cores in the Galaxy S4, rumoured to be clocked at around 1.8GHz or 1.9GHz.
However in the other corner is the ugly cries of an octo-core processor – yep that’s right power fans, eight cores!
It could be the Exynos Octa which debuted at CES 2013 and sports ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture for improved efficiency and battery life.
More support for the eight-core model materialised in the form on benchmark results claiming to be for the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4, saying it will sport a 1.8GHz Octa processor which will run Android 4.2.1.
The other big news that we think should be on our wish list is the fact that Samsung’s internal storage bods have been hard at work bringing the flash memory down in size and up in speed… so think even thinner phones with higher capacity that can be written to up to 10x faster.
The Galaxy SIV could follow in the footsteps of the Nokia Lumia 920 andLumia 820 as it brings wireless charging to the table. The Galaxy S3 also apparently has this, but it’s never been properly realised – and further ‘insiders’ have stated that the Galaxy S4 is deffo coming with some Qi – the wireless charging standard.
Also Samsung’s S Health app could well make its way onto the Galaxy S4, allowing you to monitor things such as blood pressure, blood sugar, BMI and weight with the aid of a separate pad.
And let’s not forget about NFC – this is key to the firm’s plans in the future, so will definitely be embedded within the S4. Combine that with the new Samsung Wallet application for cards, loyalty, plane tickets and such and you can see that Samsung is looking to take even more things from your pocket.
Will it run Jelly Bean 4.1 or 4.2?
Android 4.2. There we said it. What are you going to do about?
Okay so we can’t be 100 per cent sure that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will come running version 4.2 of Jelly Bean, but that’s the most sensible option and we can rule out reports that claim it will pack Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie or Tizen – because that’s just ridiculous.
There’s a chance the Galaxy S4 may ship with Android 4.1, with an upgrade to Android 4.2 coming soon after but we find this unlikely and various benchmark leaks seem to point towards Android 4.2.1
Expect Samsung to slap an updated version of its TouchWiz user interface on top of Android for the Galaxy S4, which will no doubt bring some useful features as well as some unnecessary bloatware.
Battery life is key – obviously
Ok, we admit we always want more. The S2′s 1,650mAh was manageable and the S3′s 2,100mAh blows that out of the water. But it’s still only OK.
You can get by on a day of moderate use but if you use this phone heavily (and we’re talking watching TV shows on the morning and evening commute alongside your normal tinkering), this handset will still want a plug in at some point.
Motorola has proven it can be done by whacking a 3,300mAh power pack into the RAZR Maxx which can still be considered a skinny Minnie. Something of that size – along with ICS and Samsung’s power management abilities – would really be the icing on the Ice Cream Sandwich.
Samsung Galaxy S4 camera
What’s that? You’re bored of an 8MP camera on the Samsung Galaxy S3 since you’ve seen the likes of the Sony Xperia Z popping up with a 13MP snapper attached?
Well, good news everyone: a picture supposedly captured from the S4 hints at an at least10MP camera, according a snap shown on Picasa. Remember, EXIF data can be faked though, so there’s every chance this amazingly well-framed photo is just the work of a chancer hoping to jump on the S4 bandwagon.
In a separate report blurry shots showing the rear of a computer tower made their way online and while hardly awe-inspiring the EXIF data suggests the Samsung Galaxy S4 is packing a 13MP camera, but we can’t be sure.
And apparently it’s not just the sensor size that Samsung is working on, with the Korean firm also developing its own version of Photo Sphere called Samsung Orb, allowing you to take 360 degree snaps with the Galaxy S4 camera.
Will polycarbonate make a return?
We’ve lost count of the amount of people we’ve shown our device off to who’ve replied with the words: “Yeah, it’s great but looks like a bit of a toy.” It’s a double-edged sword: the plastic is used to keep this handset nice and light, but does detract from what should be a premium device.
Forget what your mum told you – it’s what’s on the outside that counts too, so the Samsung Galaxy S4 needs to step it up in the design stakes. Some reports state that the ‘Pebble Blue’ colour that caused so much consternation with the S3 is on its way out – black and white are the only way to go these days, apparently.
Rumours suggest the Galaxy S4 has been in production since late last year, and thankfully (or sadly, depending on your stance on front furniture) there will be a physical home button. There won’t be any room for an S-Pen though, which makes sense as this won’t be part of the Note range.
And hopes for a brushed aluminium Samsung Galaxy S4 may have been dashed after a Samsung executive talked up the use of plastic in the firm’s flagship devices.
Samsung has provided us with what we think is the first glimpse of the Galaxy S4 after it posted a photo on its Twitter page showing a handset mainly in shadow, but revealing just enough to show a design similar to its predecessors.
A new raft of images have appeared straight out of China, apparently showing the Samsung Galaxy S4 in all its glory, as well as “confirming” that it will sport a 4.99-inch Full HD display, crazy 1.8GHz octo-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a slender 7.7mm plastic chassis.
The brushed effect found on the plastic of the Galaxy S3 looks to be out, replaced with a more mosaic effect for the Galaxy SIV.
Round the back things seem to be pretty similar to the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2, but we can’t be sure these leaked images are the real deal.
These images fall in line with a previous set of leaks which shows a Samsung Galaxy S4 that looks very much like its predecessors.
A video appeared along with the above shots, showing the handset in question being turned on and used, although it does seem very chunky. This has now been joined by four more clips apparently showing off various new features on the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Early on it seemed ‘confirmed’ that the famous home button may be here to stay in an image claiming to show the Samsung Galaxy S4 next to the Galaxy S3 – although it could well be Photoshop job.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and smartwatch
Here’s something interesting from the rumour mill: Samsung’s Project J, which was what we all assumed was the codename for the new S4, will actually yield a Galaxy S4 mini and a Galaxy Smartwatch.
The Galaxy S4 Mini would be an odd choice to launch at the same time as the S4 ‘proper’, simply because the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini has only recently gone on sale in the last few months – surely the brand wouldn’t cannibalise sales that quickly?
And as for the other device: In the last few month the smartwatch, a device that connects your phone to a small screen on your wrist, has gained massive traction, with the likes of Apple even having a 100-strong design team working on the concept.
Word is that the Project J Active (or Fortius, if you prefer) which appears to be a slightly different device with accessories such as an arm band, bike mount and pouch listed, so could easily be a transferable piece of technology – and smartwatches are what everyone is talking about, despite the fact it sounds more like another tough phone to follow on from the Galaxy XCover.
Samsung Galaxy S3 reboot?
There may be another handset ready to jump on the Samsung Galaxy S4 bandwagon on March 14, with fresh rumours suggestion the Korean firm will also give a reboot to the Galaxy S3.
Noted phone leaker Eldar Murtazin claims the rebooted S3 will come with an updated display, a battery boost to 2,400mAh and proper wireless charging.
It seems pretty unlikely as it would see the S3 pitted against the new Galaxy S4 which makes no sense at all.