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April 17, 2013

Samsung's S4 to Launch in US - Here's the Full Feature Set for Your Consideration

We've covered the Samsung S4 - which Samsung likes to call your new "life companion" - since the day Samsung announced it back in mid-March. We've covered the launch, we've covered the S4's likely build costs, we've covered Samsung's new enterprise - and government-grade security platform, dubbed KNOX by Samsung - and we've covered just exactly where the real Samsung S4 innovations are to be found.

What we have not yet provided is a full set of specifications and features.

As the major U.S. carriers prepare to finally put the S4 in play, and as we gear up for what we can all expect will be huge sales records for Samsung, we thought we would step back for a minute and provide those specifications and details - so that you can be fully informed when you head into your wireless carrier store of choice to scope the S4 out.

Just look for the monster-sized smartphone - you won't be able to miss it. So let's get to it.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Product Specifications

Let's start with the overall hardware and device software specifications. They are as follows:

  • Processor: 1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM; 16/ 32 GB user memory, microSD slot (up to 64 GB)
  • Operating System: Android 4.2.2 (aka Jelly Bean), Samsung's TouchWiz Interface
  • Display: 5 inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro, Barometer, Temperature and Humidity, Gesture
  • Connectivity:  Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (HT80), GPS/GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 (LE), IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0
  • Rear/Main Camera: 13 megapixel auto focus camera with flash and zero shutter lag, BIS
  • Front-facing: 2 megapixel camera, full HD recording at 30 fps with zero shutter lag, BIS
  • Video: Codec: MPEG4, H.264, H.263, DivX, DivX3.11, VC-1, VP8, WMV7/8, Sorenson Spark, HEVC; recording and playback in full HD (1080p)
  • Audio: Codec: MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA, Vorbis(OGG), FLAC, AC-3, apt-X
  • Dimensions: 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130 grams/4.6 ounces
  • Battery: 2,600 mAh
  • Camera Features: Dual Camera (dual shot / dual recording/ dual video call), Drama Shot, Sound and Shot, Animated Photo, Eraser, Night, Best Photo, Best Face, Beauty Face, Rich Tone (High Dynamic Range), Panorama, Sports
  • Additional Features: Group Play (Share Music, Share Picture, Share Document, Play Games); Story Album, S Translator, Optical Reader; Samsung Smart Scroll, Samsung Smart Pause, Air Gesture, Air View; Samsung Hub, ChatON (Voice/Video Call, Share screen, 3-way calling) Samsung WatchON; S Travel (Trip Advisor), S Voice Drive, S Health; Samsung Adapt Display, Samsung Adapt Sound, High Touch Sensitivity (Glove friendly); Samsung Link, Screen Mirroring; KNOX (professional security)
  • Google Mobile Services: Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Latitude, Google Play Store, Google Plus, YouTube, Google Talk, Google Places, Google Navigation, Google Downloads, Voice Search

What are Some of These Features Anyway?

What is listed above certainly qualifies as a boatload of features. Some of them are obvious. Some of the perhaps less obvious among them include the following noted here.

Drama Shot: It becomes possible to capture a progressive event, like a baby’s first steps or a basketball player’s slam dunk, in one frame. It's a very interesting feature and one that can result in truly "dramatic" images if used correctly.

Eraser Shot: By automatically taking a series of burst mode shots, a user can flip through the shots and select those that remove unwanted objects or people from what might otherwise be a perfect picture. We've certainly shot thousands of shots that we would otherwise consider imperfect. Eraser should help.

Animation Shot: Users will now be able to easily turn any favorite moments into animated GIFs. If you have a website, you can now populate it with these GIFs and drive your visitors crazy. Hint: less is more.

Live Filters: Though we can't imagine most users fiddling with these, those among us who once used actual filters with our old SLRs might actually give these a whirl, and discover that for the most part we can eerily duplicate our old efforts. These built-in filter options show how a picture will look - on both the camera and camcorder - before you actually take the photo. Sort of like real photography.

No Need to Touch a Thing

Samsung has also added some very interesting "hands-off" features that allow the user to manipulate things on the display without actually touching the display itself. Samsung notes that the display on the S4 is particularly sensitive to touch, and will allow a user to do things while wearing gloves. We're not sure how well this feature stacks up to Nokia's Lumia 920 efforts to do the same, but it's worth noting.

In any case, on the touchless features, we've expanded on them a bit below.

Air Gesture: Don't feel like going through the trouble of actually touching the display? Well, now there’s no longer a need. Air Gesture allows you to do such things as, for example, answer a call or skip to the next song in a list simply by waving your hand in front of the screen. Samsung suggests this is useful when your hands are otherwise occupied - though we don't suggest trying it while holding a hot cup of coffee.

Air View: This feature is related to Air Gesture, but operates within certain types of applications. For example, you can now preview emails, photos in your gallery or even content in such apps as Flipboard simply by hovering your finger over the screen at the appropriate place.

Samsung Smart Pause: This "eye-catching" feature allows you to pause a video by looking away from the screen. The camera tracks your eye movements and if it detects that the user has looked away it will pause the video being watched. As soon as the camera detects that the eyes are back on the screen it automatically begins to play the video again. This almost sounds "gee whiz," but it is the one place where the pre-launch rumors fell flat - most pundits had it that Samsung would deliver full eye tracking capability to allow a user to do such things as scroll pages of content, webpages, and so on. That hasn't been delivered yet.

Easy Transitions

Samsung has also added a few first-timer features to the S4 to make the move to the S4 as easy as possible.

Easy Mode: First introduced on the Galaxy S III, this feature essentially helps a user new to Samsung’s high-end smartphones make a smooth transition through simplifying the home screen layout, camera, calendar, messaging and the internet browser in order to make the settings menu easier to navigate. Once users have mastered Easy Mode, they can then turn their attention to the standard and much more complicated capabilities the S4 provides.

Samsung Smart Switch: New with the launch of the Galaxy S4, Smart Switch is a PC application that lets new users easily transfer contacts, messages, photos, music, calendar notifications and more from another phone to the Galaxy S4. Smart Switch can identify favorite applications and recommend the same or similar applications within Google Play.

You are now more than well-equipped to head out to your wireless carrier and put its sales people to the test. Give them a quiz - see how they do. And let us know if the S4 wins you over.

For even more information make sure to check out Samsung's Galaxy S4 website.

Edited by Braden Becker

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