Samsung unveiled its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S4 at an extravagant event in New York Thursday. The thinner, lighter and faster successor to the Galaxy S3 will launch at the end of April, eventually rolling out to 327 operators in 155 countries.
The S4, loaded with Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2., will come in a HSPA+ and LTE version, supporting FDD-LTE and TD-LTE. The rumors this time proved to be mostly accurate, as the S4 will be sporting a 5-inch 1080p full HD “Super AMOLED” display showing off 441 ppi. The processor under the hood will be a 1.9 GHz quad-core or 1.6 GHz octa-core depending on market. The S4 will support downloads of up to 150 mbps and uploads of up to 50 mbps. The handset will come with 2GB of RAM and either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB or storage with a MicroSD slot allowing for up to an additional 64GB. All of it will run on a 2,600 mAh battery, a nice step up from the 2,100 in the GS3.
The S4’s camera packed a whopping 13 megapixels—the front-facing sensor has two megapixels—and there’s a new dual-camera functions that allows for use of both at the same time. That function will also work during video calls. Other new features include Drama Shot, which shows the user a time lapse of action shots, and Sound & Shot, which stores audio while taking stills.
A new Group Play functions allows for syncing and sharing across multiple devices without the need for wi-fi. Users will be able to play the same song simultaneously on a bunch of S4s, which will be a very cool party trick.
The S4 will also sport Samsung Knox, similar to BlackBerry’s Balance, that will allow for the division of work and personal information on a single device, a growing necessity given the BYOD culture.
And as promised, the S4 does include some eye-tracking functions as well as some touch-free features. Smart Pause will be able to stop video when the user looks away from the screen and Smart Scroll will allow the user to move up and down in the browser or emails by moving their eyes. Air View will enable a preview of an email by having the user hover their finger above the screen and Air Gesture, similar to a feature on the Pantech Discover, will allow the user to move between music tracks, scroll up and down or answer a call by waving their hands in front of the device.
Jan Dawson, chief telecom analyst at Ovum, said in comments, “Overall, there are lots of features, but based on past experience most people will never even find them on the device.”
The hardware itself is the same length and it is 0.7 mm thinner than the S3 despite its larger screen. Its removable polycarbonate backing will come in colors termed “Black Mist” and “White Frost.”
If you missed the live event, Samsung has posted video of Unpacked on YouTube.