DAILY DOT COM - Samsung Electronics fires the latest round in the smart phone war, with the launch of the new Galaxy S4.
Samsung took the wraps off its long-awaited Android handset, in dramatic flare Thursday, March 14 complete with an orchestra, at Radio City Hall in New York. The entire show streamed live on YouTube.
A number of new features have been added to the handset, starting with a larger, sharper screen and 20% more battery life than its predecessor, the usual bells and whistles --like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Plus, smart scroll and smart-pause technology that knows when the user is staring at their phone and scrolls up and down with a tilt.
The S 4 comes with a built-in infra-red diode, so it can control an entertainment center as a universal remote. This is a feature that has showed up in Android tablets before.
The S 4 comes with several new technologies intended to help users interact with the phone. For instance, the screen now senses fingers hovering just above the screen, and some applications react. The Mail application shows the first few lines of an email when a finger hovers above it in the list, and the Gallery application shows an expanded thumbnail.
But we found the Dual Camera, Air Gesture, and S-Health and Translator to be the most notable features.
A lot of focus was put on the 13-mega pixel camera. It's stocked with tricks, including a dual camera mode that uses both front and rear cameras at the same time. Users can even add sound to the images.
Another cool feature Samsung displayed was Air Gesture; touch-less control to navigate the phone.
JK Shin, the executive in charge of Samsung's mobile communications division, promised the money would be well spent for a "life companion" that will "improve the way most people live every day." The bold promise set the tone for S-Health, built-in software on the S4 that tracks your calories, heart rate, and exercise.
When it came time to show off the S-Translator --one user spoke in English, while the phone translated and asked the question in Chinese. The S-Translator can translate for up to nine languages by either using speech to text or text to speech.
The Galaxy phones first came out in 2010, and a lot has changed in an effort to keep up with the times. Whether the Galaxy S4 will be a hit depends on consumers, and the response from the competition.
Interestingly enough there were no details from Samsung during Thursday's event on a launch date or a price for the S4.
However, reports indicate it will be sold in the U.S. by all four national carriers - Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA - as well as by smaller ones US Cellular and Cricket.
The phone may likely start at $200 with a two-year contract.
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