Posted on March 14th, 2013 by Barry Collins
Samsung Galaxy S4 launch event: as it happened
Samsung has launched the Galaxy S4 handset in New York. Below, you’ll find a transcript of our live blog from the event with all the key details of the hardware and new services that were announced during the show.
Our run-down of the Samsung Galaxy S4 specs gives you in-depth details of the specifications and features of the new flagship handset.
11:00pm Showtime – all the key details below
The Samsung Galaxy S4 launch has kicked off. We’ll update you with all the key facts below. Latest points will appear at the top. Refresh your browser for the latest updates:
- That’s the end of the show!
- S Health – calorie counter, heart-rate monitor, and blood pressure/sugar monitoring with extra dongles.
- When reading, you can tilt screen up and down to scroll.
- Now the much-trailed eye-tracking. Avert your gaze while video is playing and the movie is paused.
- Can answer a call by waving your hand over the phone.
- Dual video-call: caller can see you and your friends at the same time. This has got grandparents at Christmas written all over it.
- World’s most annoying phone feature – Group Play. Play same song simultaneously on different handsets. For the mother love of God, why?
- Samsung Knox – stolen BlackBerry’s idea for ring-fenced work and personal spaces on the phone.
- Samsung Hub – a store for video, music and other digital content. Google: that’s your lunch money being stolen by your biggest manufacturer.
- S Voice Drive – turns the phone into a driving mode, transcribing spoken messages into texts, and offering other voice controls. Satnav pre-installed on device.
- This presentation is cheesier than Cheddar Gorge…
- Story Album – way to automatically collate photos from the same day, event or trip.
- Adapt Display adjusts screen brightness and contrast depending on what app’s being used and the ambient surroundings.
- S-Translator feature allows you to say phrases and have them translated into a different language. Nice touch for tourists. Supports text-to-speech, and speech-to-text. Knows nine languages, including Chinese, Japanese, French, German and, of course, English. Doesn’t need a network connection.
- Camera can snap 100 frames in 4 seconds, and lets you pick best snap from burst.
- “Sound -in-shot” feature allows you to record a short sound clip to accompany photos. “Hi Grandma, get well soon,” and such like.
- Dual-camera video recording. Shoot yourself in-screen with the front-facing camera while you shoot subjects with the rear-facing camera. Seems a bit, well, weird.
- 2GB RAM, 16GB/32GB/64GB storage, microSD card slot for up to 64GB more.
- Rear camera 13-megapixel, front 2-megapixel.
- 4G LTE (offering 100Mbits/sec downloads, and 50Mbits/sec uploads on supporting networks). 802.11abgn Wi-Fi. Bluetooth 4. Infrared LED to turn the phone into a remote control.
- 5in screen, Full HD Super AMOLED, 441 ppi. “Kyrptonite” polycarbonate case – that’s plastic to you and me.
- Shin takes two models (black and white) of the new Galaxy S4 out of a box on stage: the leaked photos were bang on. It’s a slimmer version of the S3. Available in 29 countries from the end of April.
- Samsung’s president JK Shin is on the stage, giving us the corporate slogans. Now starting to talk features – cameras that record sound with photos (isn’t that video?) and smartphones that know when you want to scroll the screen.
- Show’s started. Fetch the popcorn. They’ve got a whole orchestra on stage. Bizarre.
- Samsung are running a little late – “show will start in a few minutes”.
- Audience is being told to take their seats.
10:50pm Ready for kick-off
If you’re watching the live stream above, you’ll note the video’s gone from ominous, end-of-the-world type countdown to rotating graphic and Disney-style soundtrack. We’re taking that as a sign things are getting underway shortly.
9:25pm Prepare for launch
So a quick reminder of tonight’s running order. The live keynote will start in New York at 11pm GMT. You can watch it as it happens by clicking on the video embedded above, and we’ll summarise the key facts here. This page doesn’t refresh automatically, so you’ll need to click refresh to get the latest text updates.
Now, who’s putting the coffee pot on?
5:25pm Samsung’s grip on emerging markets
An interesting piece of research lands in our inbox from solutions provider Upstream and YouGov, which has been polling smartphone users in four emerging markets: Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. The survey found that, unlike here in the UK where Apple reigns supreme, Samsung was the preferred smartphone brand, with 32% of respondents plumping for the Korean firm. Interestingly, Nokia came second with 22%, while Apple was in third with 21%.
2:47pm A Core explanation
Reviews editor Jonathan Bray has some further insight on the expected Galaxy S4 processor:
“Those eight cores are likely to take the form of four lightweight cores – for dealing with lightweight tasks such as music playback and email synchronisation, while keeping the power consumption down – and four heavyweight ones, which are used whenever a speed boost is required – while playing intensive, 3D games, for example.
“Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa chip, announced at CES, would seem to fit the bill, packing twin quad-core processors into a single CPU package. We saw a development tablet sporting this chip on the ARM stand at MWC a few weeks back, running a demo that showed the lightweight core (an ARM A7) dealing with simple tasks such as video playback and web page scrolling, and the higher powered core (an ARM 15) kicking in when complex, 3D graphics appeared on screen.”
(Credit also to reader BigM, who picked up on this in the blog comments)
1:58pm SmartPause video
One of the heavily trailed features of the S4 is eye-tracking. A video leaked on YouTube this feature in action, in the form of “SmartPause”. In the demo video, the user starts playing a video, which is paused the instant he averts his gaze from the screen. The snap judgement in the PC Pro office is that feature could prove more irritating than anything else.
11:48am Samsung search stats
Some stats arrive from Experian that highlight why tonight’s launch is such a big deal for Samsung. One in four searches for mobile phones made last week were for Samsung models – Apple accounted for only one in five. The S4 was the most searched for handset, even a week before its launch.
No pressure, guys. No pressure.
10:18am: Four or eight cores?
The big specs question ahead of tonight’s launch concerns the processor: will it have four or eight cores? Leaked specification sheets have listed the Galaxy S4 as having “4+4″ cores, giving rise to speculation that we’ll see the first eight-core processor inside a smartphone. More likely, it will be a true quad-core processor with four virtual cores, similar to Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology.
Quite what a smartphone would do with eight physical cores is a mystery. Few (if any) apps are sufficiently multithreaded to take advantage of them.
10:04am: Apple goes on the offensive
Apple has attempted to spoil Samsung’s party, with chief marketing officer Phil Schiller launching an offensive in a rare interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Schiller launched a multi-pronged attack, claiming that more people are deserting Android than migrating to it, and rehashing the old argument made by Steve Jobs about Android fragmentation and customers being lumbered with outdated versions of the OS.
However, he reserved his greatest criticism for the Android user experience. “Android is often given as a free replacement for a feature phone and the experience isn’t as good as an iPhone,” the Apple man claimed.
“When you take an Android device out of the box, you have to sign up to nine accounts with different vendors to get the experience iOS comes with. They don’t work seamlessly together.”
Google and Samsung took the higher ground, refusing to comment on Schiller’s little outburst.
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