The Samsung Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4The Samsung Galaxy S4 is possibly the most-awaited phone of the season, and if initial reviews are anything to go by, this device is definitely worth a look.

With features designed around four core themes- Fun, Improving our interactions with each other, making many of our daily tasks easier, and health and fitness, the device’s tagline- Life Companion, seems apt. Let’s take a quick look at what the S4 might have in store.

Starting off with what meets the eye- the physical design of the handset. On this front, the device is simply a more refined, sturdier (it still sports a plastic body similar to the S3) version of its predecessor, with a marginally smaller, slimmer chassis that houses a 5” Full HD screen and a tougher Gorilla Glass 3 front. It’s a light device (around 130 grams) that, at around 13.6 cm x 0.8 cm x 6.9 cm, might be largish for some people. With a 1.6 GHz octa-core Exynos 5 CPU and 2GB RAM, the device definitely has more processing clout; but it is yet to be seen, if this added power translates to truly superior performance or if it will simply drain the device’s (albeit with a larger capacity of 2,600mAh) battery. The device also has Swiftkey 4 for swiping out notes or messages along with an excellent prediction engine, which is a definite improvement over the standard keypad in the S3. The device will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variants with an additional memory of up to 64GB through a microSD card.

Samsung truly raises the bar on the software front and in the fact that it has a host of uber cool features built into a single device.  Here’s more on some of those aforementioned mentioned features:

You can control this phone without laying a finger on it- with features such as Air Gestures and Smart Pause. Air Gestures allow you to swipe the phone without touching the screen and Smart Pause is a feature that pauses a video you’re watching if you turn away from the screen (along similar lines as Smart Stay). These features definitely add a certain edge to the mobile.

The Full HD AMOLED screen is brilliant for watching videos. The phone also includes AllShare Cast- to stream videos to and from other devices. You’ll also be able to send videos from the phone to a TV and receive them from your laptop in your home network, even by accessing the devices remotely. The S4 also features mirroring- recording videos simultaneously on both the front and back cameras of the device.

The device features an in-built 13 MP primary camera that works well even in low light conditions. Along with refining the basic camera functions, Samsung has added a host of features such as a special mode that includes settings such as macro and beauty camera. It also has a Drama setting that lets you take multiple pictures as a single long shot and have them merge into a single image, Eraser mode that allows you to erase unwanted elements in the background of an image and Cinema mode, that allows you to choose to keep one element in a video static and the rest in video mode; this allows for static images against moving backgrounds- being able to achieve that without a green screen- very cool. However, most of these features need to be selected before taking pictures or shooting videos, and can’t be incorporated into a normally shot video or image.

The S Health application on the S4 gives you features such as calorie counter with a fairly large database of food varieties, an app that lets you know how many steps you've taken that day (with the phone's accelerometer or gyroscope functioning as a pedometer)  and whether you were walking or running. Samsung has also designed accessories the complement the app- a weighing scale that allows you to track weight changes through the app (for up to 6 people), a wristband to help monitor exercise when you don’t want to carry your phone with you, a heart rate monitor, are some of them. These features and accessories could be looked at by some as a replica of existing products. However, Samsung has conceived of a thorough ecosystem for the app. How it compares to existing devices, is something we’ll know only post-launch.

Other accessories announced include- a wireless charging pad, the Samsung Game Pad which turns your phone into a gaming console- the phone fits neatly into the game pad, and more.

While the S4 seems unlikely to be a major game-changer, it might still be a mighty popular phone. We’ll get a clearer picture, now,  post launch. But, if you’re already considering buying the phone, watch this space: Samsung Galaxy S4 on Junglee

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