It certainly feels like Samsung is taking over the world right now – at least, the Android world. There’s no doubt that last year’s Galaxy S2 was the phone of the year.
And not in recent times, discounting Apple of course, can we remember the anticipation and expectation of a phone as much as the Galaxy S3.
If you needed a barometer of this, just look at how it was unveiled. Not at MWC like lots of others, but its own event, proving the Galaxy line has reached the level where it can guarantee hoards will come just for an unveiling.
The name was even ‘confirmed’ at a recent event by a researcher, which means it’s coming closer and closer to reality.
But that’s last season’s device, and we’re looking forward to the next level of what to expect in the Galaxy SIV. The trickle of ‘sources’ talking about this new device is starting to build to a steady stream, so we’re on hand to help let you know which whispers have a notion of truth about them – as well as providing our wishlist of what we want Samsung to improve on the new handset.
Samsung Galaxy S4 screen
The Galaxy S2 had an amazing Super AMOLED Plus display – and boy, was it vibrant. The S3 upped the screen size from 4.3-inches to 4.8-inches and the pixel density went from 217 to 306 to take a run at the iPhone’s Retina Display.
But, Samsung also opted for a PenTile approach, to the chagrin of geeks. What does that mean for the end user?
Well, the screen looks great but you can make out pixels if you really, really strain. And some of the vivacity and colour saturation is lost. On the plus side, Samsung reckons the screen will last longer – but we’d rather see a much more S2-like screen with a sharper resolution – and given that’s now appeared on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, we’re pretty hopeful we’ll get it on the Samsung Galaxy S4 too.
Alternatively, there have been a number of rumours that Samsung is going to bring a flexible screen to the Galaxy S4 – but given the Korean brand is already pushing the delivery of such tech back into 2013 for its customers, we think we’ll be in Galaxy S5 territory before that happens.
However, the bad news is that due to reported manufacturing issues these may have been delayed… does that mean the phone will have to be pushed back as well?
A source for the Verge suggests that the flexible display option really is out of the question, with no Galaxy S device sporting the new screen tech in 2013, although it will be shown off as a concept at the Vegas smorgasbord of gadgetry.
There seems a much more likely option in the shape of the 5-inch 1080p screen that could offer up an eye-splitting 441ppi, making it easily the highest res out there. It would probably need to be shrunk down a smidge to fit into the palm, or Samsung could actually just make the phone even closer to the edges of the screen. Dare we dream of an edge-to-edge display like on the 9000 series TVs?
That dream could be closer to reality after the pretty likely screen for the Samsung Galaxy S4 was shown off by Samsung Display at CES 2013, featuring a 4.99-inch screen with a Full HD pixel count and a dizzying 440PPI resolution, which is set to ship in Q1 2013… also known as the perfect time frame for manufacturing the S4.
Another report has suggested the Galaxy S4 will sport a full HD display with a leaked PDF document suggesting the handset will have a 5-inch screen with a 1920×1080 resolution.
Samsung Galaxy S4 release date
It seems more than likely that Samsung will eschew MWC 2013 once more for the release of its top handset, instead focusing on the launch in May 2013, which we’d really like to see. A recent teaser by Samsung promised something at CES in January, but nothing appeared – although apparently the brand showed off prototypes to key execs from networks and supply chain-ers.
This is for a number of reasons: time to allow the current customers to buy the S3, being able to scoop up all the customers about to come out of contract from the S2 and also not making its fans feel like its throwing out a new flagship phone every three seconds.
However, that didn’t stop the rumour mill deciding that the Galaxy S4 launch was set for March 2013, based on something a Samsung ‘representative’ said to the media. The brand quickly took to Twitter to discredit the rumours, so it looks like the middle of the year launch is still firmly on the cards.
Since then another rumour, of a phone dubbed ‘Project J’, has emerged, and that’s set for an April unveil… so it seems we’re looking at a Q2 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 launch as it stands, which means you’ll probably be able to actually hold one in your hands come May, and it will likely be given the model number of GT-I9500, which is leap from GT-I9300 but has been confirmed as likely legit when showing up in firmware versions, as well as on Samsung’s official software page.
Another source has written off the chance of the Galaxy S4 appearing at CES 2013 and MWC 2013 – giving the suggestion that an April event is on the cards more weight.
Other sources, apparently Samsung’s Korean execs themselves, are touting an April Samsung Galaxy S4 release… and it will even come with an S Pen accessory too! However, this seems unlikely given it’s only currently used on the Note range, so a boring C Pen upgrade could be all that’s on the cards – then again, Samsung has just whacked $58.9 million (UK£37 million, AU$56.4 million) in Wacom, the digital pen people’s, pocket as it invests in the tech, so it could come to the S4 quite feasibly.
Samsung Lebanon has weighed in too, revealing that it’s not coming in the next three months: “The Galaxy SIV won’t be released before May 2013,” the brand said, rather emphatically – despite some sites carrying news that an anonymous exec was claiming March as the release date and the venue for launch was going to be in the US, UK or South Korea.
More weight has been thrown behind the rumoured April Galaxy S4 release date and apparently “Project J” is now “Altius”, with March 22 being banded around as the date for the Samsung Galaxy SIV launch event.
This could be pushed back to March 15, which would be an odd day for a launch given it’s a Friday, but apparently it’s from a ‘trusted source’ of SamMobile’s…. either way, the rumoured date certainly seems to be getting further and further forward in the year compared to the launch of the Galaxy S3.
Samsung Galaxy S4 specs
There’s not a lot around about specs at the moment, but the rumours emanating from the good ol’ internet rumour mill are certainly enough to make us excited.
The first is that the S4 will have a quad-core chip, which might sound a little ‘last gen’ to many. However, it will be based on ARM’s A15 architecture, bringing with it a big boost in power for all those resource-intensive tasks we love to do all the time.
But then again, that’s not Samsung’s way really, is it? We want to see bigger, bangier and faster, so doubling it again to an OCTO-core would be the way to go.
Rather than just making it super powerful though, the eight core innards would split into two groups: A15-spec chips for the big stuff, and A7 when things need to get a little lower power, bringing with it the best of both worlds.
The other big news that we think should be on our wish list is the fact that Samsung’s internal storage bods have been hard at work bringing the flash memory down in size and up in speed… so think even thinner phones with higher capacity that can be written to up to 10x faster. We’re now looking forward to the S4 even more now.
A quad-core processor looks more likely than an eight core offering after the new Exynos 5440 quad-core chip appeared on Samsung’s site, making it a strong contender to feature in the Galaxy S4.
However it looks certain there really will be an eight core phone coming from the Korean firm, as the Exynos Octa was announced at CES 2013 complete with four big cores and four smaller ones, as part of ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture. Eight cores. Mental.
More support for the eight-core model materialised in the form on benchmark results claiming to be for the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4, saying it will sport a 1.8GHz Octa processor which will run Android 4.2.1.
Other benchmarks have since surfaced that show, that show it whizzing past the original S3 and Nokia Lumia 920… although intriguingly it doesn’t manage to usurp the Google Nexus 4.
The Galaxy SIV could follow in the footsteps of the Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 as it brings wireless charging to the table. The Galaxy S3 also apparently has this, but it’s never been properly realised.
According to a benchmark result claiming to be for the American varient of the Galaxy S4 (the SCH-I545) the quad-core processor will be clocked at a beefy 1.9GHz.
Update: Samsung’s S Health app could well make its way onto the Galaxy S4, allowing you to monitor things such as blood pressure, blood sugar, BMI and weight with the aid of a separate pad.
It’s already made an appearance on the Galaxy S3, but Samsung didn’t make a big deal about it last year – expect the hype to be bigger this time round.
Samsung Galaxy S4 operating system
What’s the good word here? Well, given the time scales involved, we’d fully expect to see the Galaxy S4 running a more mature version of Android 4.2, better known as Android Jelly Bean, as well as the next generation of TouchWiz skin on top.
There are some more daft rumours floating around, namely that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will run off a different operating system called Tizen, simply because Samsung is using it on other phones.
Don’t worry, this won’t happen…although a variant of the phone could be used as a blueprint for a decent alternative handset.
More likely is Samsung bringing out the Galaxy S4 to coincide with the next version of Android from Google, called Key Lime Pie.
April would be roughly the time we’d start seeing rumours of such things, so it’s not unbelievable that you could buy an S4 with a cutting edge OS.
In truth, we’ve never really seen this happen from the Koreans, so chances are it will be boring old Jelly Bean when your S4 appears in your hands.
Rumours that the Galaxy S4 will ship with Android 4.2 have been further reinforced after a benchmark result claiming to be for the flagship handset showed the device running version 4.2.
Samsung Galaxy S4 battery
Ok, we admit we always want more. The S2’s 1,650mAh was manageable and the S3’s 2,100mAh blows that out of the water. But it’s still only OK.
You can get by on a day of moderate use but if you use this phone heavily (and we’re talking watching TV shows on the morning and evening commute alongside your normal tinkering), this handset will still want a plug in at some point.
Motorola has proven it can be done by whacking a 3,300mAh power pack into the RAZR Maxx which can still be considered a skinny Minnie. Something of that size – along with ICS and Samsung’s power management abilities – would really be the icing on the Ice Cream Sandwich.
Samsung Galaxy S4 camera
What’s that? You’re bored of an 8MP camera on the Samsung Galaxy S3 since you’ve seen the likes of the Sony Xperia Z popping up with a 13MP snapper attached?
Well, good news everyone: a picture supposedly captured from the S4 hints at an at least 10MP camera, according a snap shown on Picasa. Remember, EXIF data can be faked though, so there’s every chance this amazingly well-framed photo is just the work of a chancer hoping to jump on the S4 bandwagon:
In a separate report, a couple more images popped up on Picasa claiming that they were taken on a Samsung GT-I9505, thought to be the international version of the Galaxy S4.
The blurry shots showing the rear of a computer tower are hardly awe-inspiring, plus the EXIF data attached to the snaps revealing the device they were taken on can be easily forged.
Both images sport a 2322 x 4128 resolution which would suggest the Samsung Galaxy S4 is packing a 13MP camera, although we’re not pinning much hope on the authenticity of these pictures.
Update: Apparently it’s not just the sensor size that Samsung is working on, with the Korean firm also developing its own version of Photo Sphere called Samsung Orb, allowing you to take 360 degree snaps with the Galaxy S4 camera.
Samsung Orb will supposedly come with some fancy Facebook integration too, allowing you to share your snaps easily on the social network.
Samsung Galaxy S4 design
We’ve lost count of the amount of people we’ve shown our device off to who’ve replied with the words: “Yeah, it’s great but looks like a bit of a toy.” It’s a double-edged sword: the plastic is used to keep this handset nice and light, but does detract from what should be a premium device.
A bit of glass wouldn’t go amiss. Android users, say what you like about the iPhone 4/4S (and we know you won’t be short of words), but aside from being smash-tastic, the glass really adds that premium and expensive feel that the S3 just doesn’t have.
Forget what your mum told you – it’s what’s on the outside that counts too, so the Samsung Galaxy S4 needs to step it up in the design stakes.
The latest rumours state that the phone has been in production since late last year, and thankfully (or sadly, depending on your stance on front furniture) there will be a physical home button. There won’t be any room for an S-Pen though, which makes sense as this won’t be part of the Note range.
We’ve also now had the first in what we expect to be many leaked shots claiming to be the Samsung Galaxy S4 – and it isn’t filling us with a huge amount of confidence as it could quite easily be a mash up between the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2.
Again ‘confirmed’ is the possibility that famous home button may be here to stay if the latest image claiming to show the Samsung Galaxy S4 next to the Galaxy S3 is to be believed – although it could well be another Photoshop job.
We’ve also seen another half-cocked effort from a Photoshop enthusiast – as we’ve said, it’s a lot more like a ‘would like to see’ rather than any proper press shot.
Looks pretty though, right?
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and smartwatch
Here’s something interesting from the rumour mill: Samsung’s Project J, which was what we all assumed was the codename for the new S4, will actually yield a Galaxy S4 mini and a Galaxy Smartwatch.
The Galaxy S4 Mini would be an odd choice to launch at the same time as the S4 ‘proper’, simply because the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini has only recently gone on sale in the last few months – surely the brand wouldn’t cannibalise sales that quickly?
And as for the other device: In the last few month the smartwatch, a device that connects your phone to a small screen on your wrist, has gained massive traction, with the likes of Apple even having a 100-strong design team working on the concept.
Word is that the Project J Active (or Fortius, if you prefer) which appears to be a slightly different device with accessories such as an arm band, bike mount and pouch listed, so could easily be a transferable piece of technology – and smartwatches are what everyone is talking about, despite the fact it sounds more like another tough phone to follow on from the Galaxy XCover 2,
Reports state Project J Active is yet to be finalised, unlike the others, which have already been given the green light.