Samsung sets stage for Galaxy S IV release, with raised expectations

Samsung Electronics is widely expected to unveil its latest flagship device, the Galaxy S IV smartphone, Thursday night at a media event in New York City, and when it does it will be showing off more than just new hardware and software--Samsung will be displaying to the world how it approaches a major smartphone launch now that it is the undisputed global leader in smartphones and handsets in general.

The company chose New York for its launch rather than London, where it unveiled the Galaxy S III last May, or Seoul, its headquarters. Some have interpreted that as a shot across the bow to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which has always announced its iPhones at similar media events in the United States. The U.S. market, of course, remains a major one for Samsung and the company is expected to get widespread carrier support for the Galaxy S IV (or will be Galaxy S4?) as it has had for previous Galaxy S launches.

More than the hardware though, which is expected to be top-of-the-line, analysts, investors and consumers will be watching to see how high Samsung raises the bar over the Galaxy S III, its best-selling smartphone to date. "Samsung is facing strong pressure from Apple in the U.S., and Samsung needs to strike back with a competitive flagship smartphone," Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston told the Wall Street Journal.

"Samsung has been successful in positioning itself as the only alternative to Apple's iPhone, and with that comes a much higher expectation" for the new phone, Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told Computerworld. Samsung shipped an estimated 63.7 million smartphones worldwide in the fourth quarter, according to IDC, commanding 29 percent of the market.

Though Samsung executives have said little about what to expect in the new device, the company is likely going to beef up the gadget's hardware specifications and also add new software enhancements. According to various leaks that have emerged in the past week, the S IV will run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, sport a 5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, and will be powered by either an octo-core or a quad-core Samsung Exynos 5 processor clocked at 1.7 GHz (though the U.S. version may use Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 600 chip). The device also likely will include a 13-megapixel camera, 2 GB of RAM, and will come in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB variants.

According to a New York Times report, one of the gadget's new software features will allow the device to track users' eyes to determine when to scroll to a new page. The report, citing an unnamed Samsung source familiar with the matter, said that the software will automatically scroll down to reveal more text when a user's eyes hit the bottom of a page. Samsung has filed trademarks for "Eye Scroll" and "Eye Pause," suggesting that the technology is in the offing, but it is unclear what is powering the service or how it will work.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Computerworld article
- see this Engadget article
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this CNET article

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