NEW YORK--Samsung Electronics officially launched its newest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, which it hopes will become a best-seller like its predecessor, the Galaxy S III, and help Samsung retain its position as the No. 1 global smartphone maker.
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Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), T-Mobile USA and U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) promised to sell the device, but none provided details such as pricing or specific launch dates. Samsung said it will roll out the Galaxy S4 starting at the end of April through 337 operators in 155 countries. The phone will support 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 3G and Cat. 3 LTE (supporting up to 100 Mbps theoretical peak downlink speeds) in both FDD-LTE and TD-LTE modes.
The S4 sports several new software enhancements, including a dual-camera feature that lets the person taking a photo or video insert themselves into the video or photo using what is captured in the front-facing camera. The camera also lets users erase objects taken in pictures.
"We are committed to innovation," said JK Shin, president of Samsung's mobile business, who was just named co-CEO of Samsung Electronics. "We are always listening to learn from people around the world about what kinds of products they really want." (Samsung named Shin co-CEO along with Boo-keun Yoon, president of Samsung's TV business.)
As expected, Samsung said the S4 will offer what it calls a "Smart Pause," which the company said will allow users to control the screen by where they look. Specifically, the technology will pause a video when the user looks away. Samsung's S4 also offers "Smart Scroll," which Samsung said will scroll the browser or emails up and down by tracking a user's movements. "It recognizes your face looking at the screen and movement of your wrist and then scrolls the pages up or down accordingly," Samsung said.
Also, Samsung said its S4 "Air View" technology will allow a user to hover with their fingers over the screen to preview the content of an email, image gallery or video without having to open it. "With 'Air Gesture,' you can change the music track, scroll up and down a web page, or accept a call with a wave of your hand," Samsung said.
Samsung's JK Shin shows off the company's new Galaxy S4.
The phone also offers an "S Translate" translating service that supports English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Latin American Spanish, and supports speech to text and text to speech.
Additionally, the S4 connects to Samsung's HomeSync device and cloud service, which offers 1 terabyte of storage. The S4 can connect to HomeSync via Near Field Communications and the service lets users transfer photos and videos from the phone to the HomeSync device as well as display content from a TV to the S4. Samsung also highlighted its Group Play feature, which lets users share and play the same song simultaneously or share photos. The phone also lets users have a group video call with up to three parties.
The S4 will run Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and will sport a 5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display with 441 pixels per inch resolution. The device will run a quad-core 1.9 GHz (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 600 processor in the U.S., and an octa-core 1.6 GHz Samsung Exynos processor in other markets, and includes a 13-megapixel camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 2 GB of RAM, and will come in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB variants, with a removable 2,600 mAh battery.
Samsung has become the world's largest smartphone and overall handset maker largely due to its sales of smartphones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform--and Samsung's Galaxy S line of phones has been its most popular Android product. Samsung reported in mid-January that global sales of its flagship Galaxy S smartphone line surpassed 100 million. Of the total, Samsung said the original Galaxy S, released in 2010, reached 24 million sales; the S II, released in 2011, had 40 million; and the S III, released in 2012, achieved more than 40 million unit sales as well.
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