Formidable force


  • Technology
  • Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013

The latest flagship smartphone from Samsung, the Galaxy S4, is high-tech in more ways than one.

Samsung took the wraps off its highly anticipated flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, to a packed audience at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

After months of rumours, leaks and speculations, the real deal was showcased at the tech giant’s Unpacked event which was streamed to audiences live across the world.

Much of the design is similar to the S3 but there are a lot of changes internally that differentiate Samsung’s new flagship phone from its predecessor and other Android phones.

Sizing it up

The S4 is slim, measuring just 7.9mm thick and weighing 130g thanks to its polycarbonate body which makes it tough but light.

Adorning the front is a beautiful 5in full HD (1080p) display which has the same resolution as most HDTVs on the market. Samsung says everything from photos to videos will look stunning because it has a pixel density of 441ppi (pixels per inch).

Interestingly, the S4 can be ­powered by either a 1.9GHz quad-core or 1.6GHz octa-core processor — the first for any Android ­smartphone — but it’s unclear which model will be available here.

The battery has also been beefed up to keep up with the fast processor. The S4 now has a 2,600mAh battery.

Shooting modes

There are two cameras on the S4. A front-facing 2-megapixel camera for video calls, and a much more powerful 13-megapixel camera on the back for shooting stills and recording videos.

Samsung has found an unusual but interesting method to make use of both cameras simultaneously. Called Dual Camera, this feature takes a shot from each camera and blends the photos together so that the user appears in the scene.

The Dual Camera feature can also be used when you make video calls within Samsung’s ChatOn messaging app.

The default camera app has also been enhanced to include Drama Shot which takes a series of action shots and overlaps them to give the impression of movement.

Cinema Photo, meanwhile, lets the user highlight an area in the video while keeping the rest of it static. It then creates an animated photo which the user can edit at leisure.

There is also the Eraser mode which takes five quick snap shots of a subject so that the user can wipe out anyone else in the background that ruins the photo.

And when it comes to organising photos, the S4 has you covered with its Story Album feature which automatically sorts out photos by timeline and geo-tags to create a photo album of a memorable event or holiday.

But that’s not all — if you want a physical copy, Samsung says you can order one and it will have it delivered internationally to users around the world. The album is expected to cost between US$10 and US$30 (RM30 and RM90).

Making connections

Are you planning a holiday to a country where you don’t speak the local language? Don’t worry, as the Galaxy S4 has a handy S Translator app that provides instant translations, and does both speech to text and text to speech.

For instance, if you wanted to ask for directions, you can type the question in English and the S4 will translate it into local language as speech. The S Translator also contains about 3,000 common phrases and sentences.

Vice versa, it can also translate spoken foreign language into text that you can understand.

S Translator, which currently supports nine languages, works with several applications including the e-mail app, SMS and ChatON.

This feature works even without a network connection, so the user won’t be charged exorbitant international data charges when abroad.

Even smarter

The S4 also expands the Smart features that were introduced with earlier smartphones. When watching videos, a feature called Smart Pause will pause the video when the user looks away. Look at it again and it’ll resume playing back the video.

Then there is the Smart Scroll feature that allows the user to scroll a page up or down simply by looking at it and tilting the device.

The S4 also inherits a feature from the Galaxy Note 2. With the Note 2 you could hover the stylus (known as the S Pen) over the screen to preview content when accessing e-mail, calendar, picture gallery and videos. With the S4, you don’t need a stylus, as just hovering your finger over the screen will do the trick.

When it comes to browsing music on the phone, the user only has to wave his or her hand to flick through them. The feature is called Air Gesture and it also works for answering calls.

Meanwhile, the health conscious user will want S Health, an app that monitors calorie intake and the number of steps taken in a day.

All in all, Samsung has chosen to make most of the changes on the inside — the smartphone may look like the popular S3 but its features are much more advanced.

The S4 is expected to make it to our shores in the third quarter. The pricing has yet to be announced.

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Samsung , Galaxy S4 , launch , New York , Chong Jinn Xiung

   

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