NEW YORK: MONTHS OF RUMOURS came to an end on Thursday night at the Samsung Unpacked 2013 event in New York. There, Samsung unveiled its long awaited Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone to a huge crowd that had queued down 6th Avenue outside Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.
It was a launch event with all the trappings of a Broadway musical, including set changes, a live orchestra and dance routines, proof that this device is not just yet another smartphone. That said, the firm struggled to truly wow the crowd, given that the months of online rumours almost all turned out to be true.
For example, murmurs of a 5in screen proved to be spot on, and it features the HD 1080p resolution that we were expecting.
In reality, the screen does feel big - more like the Galaxy Note than the Samsung Galaxy S3. Those who don't mind big phones are in for a treat however, as the handset's 441ppi pixel density and Super AMOLED screen technology make for a bright and crisp viewing experience, giving the HTC One a run for its money.
It might be like the Galaxy Note, but the Galaxy S4 is very thin and lightweight in hand, not surprising given that it measures just 7.9mm thin and is built almost entirely of plastic. We'd liked to have seen a more expensive feeling aluminum casing, but that's not to say that the Galaxy S4 feels cheap, as the polycarbonate shell feels fairly premium in hand from our intial try-out at the launch event.
Although we didn't have long with the handset, we did pick up on its speed. Swiping through home screens was noticeably quick, as were opening apps and scrolling through web pages. This is thanks to the eight-core processor under its bonnet that UK buyers will be able to get their hands on. Those in the US, however, will have to make do with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor instead.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 isn't all about hardware, and the firm clearly has been keen to focus on software innovations - despite not mentioning Android once throughout its hour-long press conference. Smart Pause, for example, allows you to stop a video simply by looking away from the screen, while Samsung's Air Gesture feature lets users navigate the handset without even touching it. We have yet to fully test these features, but will be sure to do so in our full review.
Perhaps the most noteworthy elements are the Galaxy S4's photo features, which sparked whoops and cheers from the packed crowd. These features include Dual Camera, which allows a user to simultaneously take photos with the 13MP rear and 2MP front cameras and blend them together. The 13MP camera looked pretty impressive at first glance, but we're keen to test this more fully.
There are some handy video features like Stream On Video too, which depicts multiple moments in the routine onscreen at the same time. The Galaxy S4 will also let you add sound to an image and even delete extraneous people and objects you don't want in your photos.
So far, the Galaxy S4 and its launch have lived up to the hashtag #TheNextBigThing. The device itself was received well, complete with international media and an adoring crowd recording every moment on a sea of smartphones as if the event was a rock concert.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available in Black Mist and White Frost at launch, which will be on 26 April in the UK. Check back soon for our full review. µ