David Bloom is a contributor to Deadline.
Samsung Mobile just unpacked its next flagship smartphone, christening it the Galaxy S4 and loading it with improved technical specs and nifty functions the company hopes might entice high-end users away from Apple’s iPhone and other competitors. Streamed lived to some 400,000 people over YouTube from New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, the Galaxy S4 announcement increases pressure on Apple and others to improve their own flagship smartphones, particularly to meet stiff competition in faster-growing overseas markets.
Given the increasing smartphone consumption of video entertainment, the Galaxy’s advanced specs should also bolster interest in mobile delivery of Hollywood content, possibly with sophisticated interactive and personalized features. Befitting the entertainment angle and location, the presentation included stage performers showing off different functions and scenarios for using the device during the hour-plus presentation.
At 5 inches diagonally, the S4 has a slightly bigger and significantly higher-resolution screen than its S3 predecessor. The screen is a full inch larger than Apple’s iPhone 5, which was released last fall. The 1080p display has 441 pixels per inch (compared to iPhone 5′s 326 ppi. The larger screen makes using the phone functions somewhat more ungainly but improves video experience, data manipulation and other functions that have little to do with phone calls.
Lighter and thinner than its predecessor, the S4 has a substantially upgraded main camera, at 13 megapixels, a better battery, more sensors for health monitoring, and the ability to simultaneously shoot a scene and include an image of the shooter in the photo. It also includes an infrared sensor for remote-control of TV screens. Samsung also highlighted other other gee-whiz features, including translation capabilities for phone calls plus eye-tracking and gesture abilities to operate the device without pushing buttons and swiping screens.
There’s also a new security system called Knox that can separate work and personal worlds on the same unit, while also allowing content to be shared with home storage devices. A “Group Play” function allows multiple users to simultaneously playback a song or share a photo.
South Korea-based Samsung has become the dominant device manufacturer using Google’s Android mobile operating system. Samsung’s Android-side dominance has led some to suggest it has snatched the crown of cool from Apple. The criticism has become pointed enough that Phil Schiller, Apple’s top marketing executive, this week publicly criticized the shortcomings of Samsung and Android-based devices. Apple’s next iPhone upgrade is due later this year.
You can watch a cached version of the entire presentation on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/SamsungMobile