The Galaxy S3 is by far Samsung’s most popular smartphone, but the South Korea-based tech giant is hoping to one-up last year’s effort with the Samsung Galaxy S4, which will be unveiled on March 14 at an event in New York City. Samsung officially released its event invitations on Monday.
Samsung’s invite features many not-so-subtle hints at the Galaxy S4’s release, including its title “Ready 4 The Show” and its icon, which casts a giant shadow in the shape of a "4."
Even though speculation about the launch date has ended, rumors about the Samsung Galaxy S4’s features, specs, appearance and even price are running rampant. In the lead-up to the New York City event, we’ve compiled everything we know about the Galaxy S4 to try to give you a decent picture of what Samsung might unveil.
View From The Outside
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is a beautiful smartphone with a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display and a 1280 x 720 resolution of 306 pixels per inch, or ppi; its successor, the Samsung Galaxy S4, is said to feature a slightly larger 4.99-inch Full HD SoLux Display with a reported resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, which comes out to be an extremely dense-looking display at 450+ ppi.
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Besides the screen, the dimensions of the S4 itself are also said to be slightly different. In fact, it looks like Samsung is following its own formula when it transitioned from the S2 to the S3: Make the screen bigger but the phone thinner. The Samsung Galaxy S3 measured 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 is said to measure slightly longer at 140.1 mm and slightly wider at 71.8 mm, but much thinner than its predecessor at just 7.7 mm thick, which is just a tad (0.1 mm) thicker than the iPhone 5.
The new phone’s exterior is said to resemble the Samsung Galaxy S3 with its home button and touch buttons along the bottom, as well as its plastic back with aluminum sides. And just like last year, Samsung news site SamMobile believes the Galaxy S4 will be initially available in three storage options -- 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB -- and two colors -- black and white -- upon its release date.
View From The Inside
The Samsung Galaxy S3 was powered by Samsung’s own quad-core 1.4 GHz Exynos 4 processor and an ARM Mali-400 for its GPU. Both chips are said to get an upgrade in 2013, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 is said to feature a new Exynos 5 Octa CPU, which was initially used in the company’s Chromebook model -- the new processor is said to have eight cores for enhanced work flow and power efficiency. Last year's ARM-based GPU is also said to be replaced by a new 1.9 GHz Snapdragon 600 chip from Qualcomm, which will help power the display and the phone's operating system (likely Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, since we're not expecting Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie until Google's i/O Conference in May). The new Smapdragon chips don't quite touch NVIDIA's top-of-the-line Tegra 4 SuperChip Processors, but Qualcomm's 600s clock in at about twice as fast as the Exynos 4 chip in the Galaxy S3.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 may also feature Atmel’s new MaXTouch S controllers, which allow users to interact with their devices without actually touching the screen. The feature is similar to the Galaxy Note 2 S Pen, which can draw on the 5.5-inch phablet by simply hovering over the screen in what’s called Air View, but in the Galaxy S4, users will reportedly not need a pen.
While new processors are well and good, speed is ultimately what customers want, particularly when it's connecting to the Internet over Wi-Fi and cellular bands. While the Samsung Galaxy S3 featured 4G LTE, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is said to boast a powerful new 5G Wi-Fi combo chip from Broadcom, listed as the BCM4335 chip. According to Broadcom’s press release, the BCM 4335 is the “only combo chip to address unique interference challenges in systems with both 4G LTE cellular radios and wireless connectivity.” The 5G Wi-Fi combo chip is also said to improve the wireless range of devices, making it even easier and faster to stream and download large files or videos.
Release Date In March? And At What Cost?
Considering how Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S4 on March 14, it’s likely the phone’s release date will follow shortly thereafter. However, it’s possible Samsung will make customers wait until April to actually purchase the new Galaxy device.
Last year, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S3 on May 3 but didn’t release the device until May 28, and that was in Europe. The U.S. didn’t even get the Samsung Galaxy S3 until June 21; it’s possible Samsung will roll out the Galaxy S4 in a similar manner, releasing the phone in the U.S. roughly a month (or more) after its public unveiling.
As far as price goes, we fully expect Samsung to retain identical price tags from the Galaxy S3 in the Galaxy S4. Now that the Galaxy S3 has seen a price drop -- Samsung is selling last year’s model anywhere between $49 and $99 -- Samsung is free to sell the Galaxy S4 at last year’s prices. If the company follows the same plan as last year, the Galaxy S4 could cost $199 for 16 GB or $249 for 32 GB. Without a two-year contract, it’s possible Samsung could sell the new handset at $599 and $649 for 16 and 32 GB storage models, respectively, like it did last year.
Considering the growing number of reports saying Apple is working on a cheaper, low-cost iPhone, Samsung would be wise to bring down the price range for the Galaxy S4 to make its flagship smartphone even more competitive throughout 2013.