Samsung’s Galaxy S4 emerged blinking into the spotlight last night in a showbizzy press call that packed in everything from St Vitus-style tap dancing, hammy acting, live string sections, fourth-wall breaking, and, amid all the ballyhoo and bombast, a new smartphone.
Purportedly “inspired by people” and with packing features that Samsung’s head of mobile JK Shin claimed are “conceived from our observation of real life”, the handset marks itself out from Android rivals principally through user interface tweaks that add a sheen of novelty – and we mean that in a non-pejoratively – to the smartphone experience.
At the forefront of this is the Air View touchless interface, which recognises owners’ gestures without them having to touch the screen. Also on board, as months of rumours attested, is Smart Pause, which uses eyeball-tracking technology and the S4’s front-facing camera to automatically pause video when users avert their eyes from the screen.
The so-called Smart Scroll feature made its widely forecast appearance too. But not in the form that some had expected. Instead of allowing users to scroll through pages with eye movements alone, this feature means owners can page up and down by tilting their handset in the apt direction.
We also didn’t get the Samsung Orb camera, which we were led to believe would allow users to take 360-degree panoramic shots. In its stead, though, the 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, two-megapixel camera and camera app have been equipped with some smart video calling and composite-imaging functions.
Perhaps the pick of these is the option to make three-way video calls, as well as the ability to take pictures and video with both cameras simultaneously and blend the results.
Less expected but well received on the night was STranslate, which offers real-time speech translation and will surely star in cutesy emetic/emotive ads that tout the S4’s ability to bring people of all nations together.
As far as specs go, which it’s interesting to note that Samsung didn’t make too much of these at the announcement, the phone packs what seems an impossibly brawny Octa-core processor for the UK and features a five-inch, none-more-Samsung HD AMOLED screen with PPI of 441. All of which is packed into a 130g, 7.9mm thick shell that’s marginally thinner and lighter than its predecessor.
The handset, up for grabs in white and black colourways, will come in 4G and 3G variants, as well as 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options and will go on sale in the UK on April 26th.