There’s no avoiding the fact that this past week has been dominated by the Samsung Galaxy S4. The impending launch of Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone has had the technology world in a frenzy and consumers waiting with baited breath for the latest, must-have gadget.
There was a time when Samsung, or any tech manufacturer for that matter, played a distant second fiddle to Apple. But over the past couple of years Samsung’s reach and impact has grown to brand affirming levels, and it’s clear that there are gadget fiends out there who are as obsessive about Samsung as even the most loyal Apple fan-boy is about Cupertino’s most famous enterprise.
But even though most of us were on tenterhooks, waiting for a glimpse of the new handset and a rundown of its specs and features, our resident business analyst, Rawiya, was more interested in what the launch of the Galaxy S4 could mean to Samsung as a whole.
It’s clear that the smartphone market is incredibly important to Samsung, and the Korean giant is keen to increase its already significant market share – the company is expecting to sell over half a billion mobile phones during 2013!
There’s more to Samsung’s continued growth in the phone market than the S4 though. The company is closely tied to the successes enjoyed and disappointments suffered by Apple, and the more dominant Samsung becomes, the more critical its fans will become of its products, as we’ve seen happen with Apple recently.
A Galaxy of wonders
The actual launch of the Galaxy S4 was a somewhat strange affair. With Samsung staging the launch at the famous Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, the whole event was presented as if it was a Broadway musical. Anyone who’s a follower of the TV show Smash (which I’m kind of embarrassed to say I am), would have recognised that Will Chase was hosting the proceedings – no doubt to give it a bit of extra Broadway pizazz.
In the end, the spectacle fell a bit flat, and got down right surreal at times. But at least the S4 broke cover, and we got a detailed look at some of the more interesting features of the new handset.
What we didn’t get was a solid metal body to compete with the HTC One’s beautiful chassis. The S4 is, like the S3 before it, a polycarbonate affair. It has a removable back and consequently a removable battery. Many will consider that a killer feature, but I can’t remember when I’ve last wanted to carry a spare mobile phone battery with me.
Under the hood you’ve got a phone that’s compatible with every LTE standard around the globe, as well as being HSPA+ compatible. It also has some pretty innovative features, like being able to track when you look away from the screen, and being able to share media across other S4 handsets in the vicinity.
Whether the Galaxy S4 turns out to be your ideal phone or not, the message that was made clear this week is that Apple is going to have to make a much bigger effort with its next handset than it did with the iPhone 5.
One phone to rule them all
Samsung wants the Galaxy S4 to be as attractive to business users as it is to consumers, but while consumers will be wowed with flashy cameras and music sharing gimmicks, corporate users care more about security.
To address those security issues, the Galaxy S4 includes a feature called Samsung Knox, which allows the phone to run two completely sand boxed environments – one is completely locked down and secure, while the other is open for the user to do anything they want with.
Our security guru Will has taken a close look at Samsung Knox to find out whether it’s the key to pushing the Galaxy S4 into the Enterprise sector, and whether it can end the saga of carrying two phones with you everywhere.
And the winner is…
Of course a week dominated by the Samsung Galaxy S4 wouldn’t be complete without a spec comparison pitting Samsung’s latest contender against the reigning champion.
James has compared the Galaxy S4 with the iPhone 5, with the two phones duking it out feature for feature. So which handset is the king of the hill? Read the Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5 spec comparison to find out.