Update: please also check out our hands-on report on connect.
Samsung has launched its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, with plenty of features to pique mobile photographers' interest.
The new device is slightly smaller and at 7.9mm also thinner than its predecessor, but otherwise the design language is very similar to the S3. Despite the slightly smaller dimensions, the new model comes with a large 5-inch 1080p Full-HD Super-AMOLED screen (441ppi).
The device will be powered by a new 1.6 GHz Exynos 5 Octa processor which doubles the number of cores of the processors in other high-end smartphones or even Laptops/PCs. However, this super-powerful processor will not be be available in all versions of the device. Depending on the region some Galaxy S4's will feature a 1.9 GHz Qualcomm quad-core chip.
From a hardware point of view the most exciting news is a range of new sensors including a barometer, temperature and humidity sensors. There is also an IR transmitter to use the device as a remote control for most types of AV-equipment.
We'll deliver a hands-on with the new Galaxy S4 soon, until then, here's a look at what we learned from today's press event in Times Square:
New camera features
With a 13MP sensor driving the main camera and 2MP front-facing camera, the imaging hardware is in line with other top smartphones recently released. However, on the software side of things a number of cool new features can be found:
- Dual Camera: Video and still images can be recorded with the front and rear cameras simultaneously. With a tap you can insert a small version of the the front camera's image (typically this is video or still of yourself) into the main footage that is being recorded with the rear cam. In still image mode you can choose from a variation of insertion formats. The front image can be inserted in a heart-shape or distorted with a fish-eye effect, for example. The dual camera mode also works when video chatting: the person on the other end of the line can not only see yourself but also the scenery that is being recorded by the rear cam. Both users can make notes and draw on the screen during the video chat.
- Eraser is another image mode that takes a number of frames of the same scene and can then automatically delete unwanted objects or persons in the background.
- Drama Shot takes up to 100 frames within 4 seconds and then combines them to a 'motion collage.' This looks like an intriguing feature for capturing sports or other types of action in one still image.
- Sound shot lets you record a sound snippet along with your images.
- Story album automatically creates albums of your pictures based on the date and enviroment. You can then choose an album name and cover, and add notes to the pictures.
Other new features
Other, non-camera-related features include the following:
- Airview: This feature allows you to get previews of certain types of content, for example a larger size thumbnail in the gallery app, just by hovering your finger over the screen. This is the same feature that we've seen before on the Galaxy Note II and 8.0. However, the Note requires the use of a stylus while only your fingers are needed to use Airview on the S4.
- S-Voice drive: A new set of voice commands that allows you to control the device when using it as a GPS navigator. You can also send and receive calls and texts hands-free.
- S Translator is a translation app that supports text-to-speech and speech-to-text. For example, you can type a question in your language, then get the device to speak it to a person in their language. Their reply will then be recorded, translated and put out as text by the phone. In the demo this looked like pretty powerful stuff. Currently the system supports the following languages:
- Brazilian Portuguese
You can also take pictures of written text, such as restaurant menus or any kind of signs, and then use the S Translator application.
- Samsung Knox was first introduced at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona and now appears on a device for the first time. The system basically creates two profiles on your device, for personal and for business use, similar to what we've seen on the new Blackberry 10 devices. This gives your company control over the enterprise element of your device but doesn't give them access to your personal data and settings. The system is based on a security-enhanced version of Android.
- S Health allows you to monitor your calorie consumption, heart rate, blood sugar level and sleeping patterns with the help of a range of accessories such as heart rate monitor and the so-called S-band wristband.
- Adapt Display: the S4's display automatically adapts its brightness and contrast to the displayed content. The aim is to ensure the best possible viewing experience for text, movies, photos, web-browing etc, or anyother type of content you might be viewing on your phone.
New UI functions
The user-interface comes with a few interesting novelties too:
- Air gesture allows you to navigate your device with gestures in front of your screen, without touching. This is useful if you've just eaten some greasy fingerfood or painted your nails as you can answer a call just with a wave of your hand. For those of us living in colder regions of the planet, the touch screen also works when you are wearing gloves.
- Smart Pause automatically stops video replay if you are looking away from the screen and resumes when your eyes are back on the video.
- Smart Scroll: When browsing web pages you can slightly tilt the device up or down to scroll the pages.
To power this abundance of features the Galaxy S4 comes with a large removable 2600MAh battery. It will be available in 3G or 4G LTE versions through 327 operators in 155 countries, starting at the end of April.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Headline features:
- Android 4.2.2
- 5-inch 1080p (441ppi) Super-Amoled screen
- 7.9mm thin
- 13MP rear and 2MP front cameras
- 2GB RAM
- 16/32/64 GB storage versions, Micro-SD card support up to 64 GB
- 4G LTE 100Mbs down, 50Mps up
- Barometer, pemperature and humidity sensors
- 2600MAh battery, removable
Looking at the specs and features listed above, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is, as expected, a true high-end device that comes with a range of innovations we're eager to test and try out. We'll post our hands-on article shortly.