Samsung Galaxy S 4 Does Software Magic - InformationWeek

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03:42 PM

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Does Software Magic

Samsung's new flagship smartphone goes after Apple with software that takes cool pictures, responds to hand gestures and follows faces.

Galaxy S 4
Galaxy S 4
There are two stories to the Samsung Galaxy S 4: One about hardware and one about software. With little space to innovate on the hardware side of the equation, Samsung went ballistic with the software.

The Galaxy S 4 is a premiere smartphone that has a five-inch Super AMOLED screen. The display has 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels, with a density of 441 pixels per inch. The screen tech used by Samsung gives the GS4 a bright and colorful display. Another notable aspect of the hardware is how thin, at just 7.9 millimeters tall, and light -- just 130 grams -- it is.

Under the plastic exterior, the GS4 houses two processor options. In the U.S., the GS4 will be sold with a 1.9-GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor. Other markets around the world will instead get the Exynos 5 processor with eight cores at 1.4 GHz per core. Both are mated to 2 GB of RAM. The device will be sold with numerous storage options, ranging from 16 GB to 64 GB. The device will support microSD cards up to 64 GB for additional storage.

[ HTC's One is another promising Android phone to watch. Read For HTC, The One Can't Come Soon Enough. ]

The main camera is 13 megapixels and can shoot 1080p HD video. The user-facing camera is a 2-megapixel unit and can also shoot 1080p HD video. The GS4 will support HSPA+ in most markets and LTE 4G in many markets, including those run by AT&T, Cricket, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless. Other communications features will include GSP, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and so on. The GS4 has a removable 2600-mAh battery.

Although impressive, these hardware specs mirror those of other modern flagship devices, and were expected.

Because it couldn't do too much to change the hardware, Samsung went to town with the software. The device will ship with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. The camera alone gains at least a half-dozen new features, called Dual Shot, Dual Record, Sound & Shot, Story Album, Drama Shot and others. This vast array of camera options will allow GS4 owners to create all sorts of content, including animated GIFs, picture-in-picture video and more.

As rumored, the GS4 will be paying attention to your face in order to control several features. For example, Smart Pause will stop video playback when owners turn their face away from the screen and resume the video when they turn back.

Using another bit of camera-based magic called Air Gestures, the GS4 will perform several different tasks when owners wave their hands across the front of the device. For example, owners can sort through open browser tabs, jump to the next music track, or advance to the next photo in a photo album all with the wave of a hand.

The GS4 also carries the Air Hover feature found on Samsung's Note-branded products, and will show previews of SMS messages, emails, and browser links when owners hover a finger above the screen.

Other software features include health and fitness software to help owners manage their exercise and diet, media software to control living room gear and online content, and advanced messaging tools that include three-way video chats and screen sharing.

The Galaxy S 4 will go on sale around the world during the second quarter of the year. Samsung did not specify which markets would get the GS4 first, nor how much the device will cost.

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