Oh My Tech!: The Samsung Galaxy S IV will be big this year

By Vince Horiuchi

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: March 8, 2013 08:32AM
Updated: March 13, 2013 03:15PM
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Vince Horiuchi

One of the most exciting product announcements of the year is happening next Thursday, and it isn’t from Apple.

On March 14, Samsung is expected to announce the Samsung Galaxy S IV, the newest version of its hugely popular Android smartphone.

Samsung has been out-innovating Apple for at least the past year with its phones, particularly the Galaxy series, and it’s starting to hurt Apple’s bottom line.

Last year, reports showed that the Samsung Galaxy S III was outselling the iPhone 5, and it’s been the only smartphone to give the iPhone serious competition. That’s easy to believe given that the Galaxy S III is sleek and light, and features a big, colorful screen.

The rumor mill has been buzzing about the Galaxy’s next iteration. Based on what I’ve heard, the Galaxy S IV is going to be a huge seller and could really cut into Apple’s sales even more deeply. Here’s why I think South Korea-based Samsung will rule the year with its new phone.

Better screen • Android phones have been sporting larger screens for some time, while Apple’s iPhone has stubbornly stayed at 3.5 inches diagonally. Only last year did the iPhone 5 increase to 4 inches, but by then Samsung already had grown its phones’ screens to 5 inches and beyond without making the overall phone that much larger or bulkier. Those bigger screens make all the difference when you’re browsing the Web, playing a game or watching Netflix.

The Galaxy S IV is going to have a 5-inch screen. It also will have a higher resolution by packing more pixels per inch on the screen than even the iPhone’s Retina Display. Photos could be more detailed than on the iPhone, which is hard to imagine.

Features • Much of the recent speculation about the Galaxy S IV is a feature that tracks the user’s eyes to determine where they’re looking on the screen. The New York Times reported that when your eyes reach the bottom of the screen, the phone knows to scroll to the next page. If this works well (I can imagine it could lead to a lot of unintended scrolling if it doesn’t), then this will be yet another example of one-upping the iPhone.

Android phones already have features such as facial recognition for lockscreens, animated wallpaper and homescreen widgets that Apple still hasn’t adopted (unless you hack — or “jailbreak” — your iPhone).

Performance • One of my biggest complaints about past Android models is that they didn’t feel as speedy and smooth as an iPhone. But lately, that’s become less of an issue, and it certainly won’t be one with the Galaxy S IV. The new phone is rumored to have a quad-core processor, 2 gigabytes of system memory and storage that could reach a whopping 128 gigabytes if the largest memory card is employed. That’s twice the storage of the iPhone 5.

With those kinds of specifications, the Galaxy S IV should be as smooth as silk when users scroll through text.

The one question for me is how well the camera will perform. I’ve always felt the iPhone’s camera was the top performer in terms of detail and color reproduction.

The new Galaxy S IV could have a 13-megapixel camera, higher than the 8-megapixels on the iPhone 5. That will lead to photos with higher resolution, but that doesn’t answer whether Samsung’s phone will have better optics or camera circuitry than before, something Apple’s phone has had that always produced better overall pictures and videos.

Apple’s complacency • Samsung’s biggest advantage has been Apple itself.

The company has been idling the past couple of years, and the iPhone has gone through minimal upgrades since the iPhone 4. There has been little change in the hardware, but worst of all, the operating system — called iOS — has been stagnant in terms of features.

Remember the feeling you had when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone back in 2007? It was a mind-blowing product that few could have imagined. When was the last time you felt that level of excitement from an Apple iPhone announcement?

While the advances for the iPhone have been incremental, Samsung and other Android phone manufacturers have swooped in with one innovation after another. The result is the Samsung Galaxy S phones.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he’ll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.

The unveiling

O Samsung will debut its Galaxy S IV on Thursday