You have to hand it to Samsung really. After getting the public to generate unprecedented buzz and pandemonium, Samsung certainly brought in the Galaxy S 4 with a bang thanks to its snazzy Unpacked 2013: Episode I event. Heck— the buzz and excitement caused not one, but two competitors to try and pour salt in Sammy’s coffee, yet Sammy wasn’t deterred. As opposed to the traditional unveilings and demos that we’re used to seeing at keynote events, Samsung instead thought about doing something ummm, “unique” or “different” to say the least by providing a variety of skits, dances and literally theatrics to introduce its new flagship. More importantly, Samsung used its brand name to be out of the box in comparison to its competitors: go into the heart of the Broadway, use one of the world’s largest stages complete with an orchestra, an MC and some sweet live performances to introduce something that is “unique” and different”.
While those of us in attendance were quite impressed (and believe us, Rob Nazarian & I were certainly entertained at the event)— the Galaxy S 4 certainly poses a significant observation of not just the Galaxy S 4, but Samsung as a brand as we know it: Samsung is utilizing the features and more importantly— the marketing of its products to sell its brand. Make no mistake about it: Samsung has made a serious transition going from what was known as a relatively unknown Korean brand to a wannabe Apple competitor to what is perhaps the most exciting and controversial brand to date. The scary thing is this— not only is the transition a success, but everyone else is now playing catchup in terms of brand recognition and excitement.
JK Shin may have been pretty excited about the Galaxy S 4 launch yesterday, but he doesn’t seem to be quite as enthusiastic about Sammy’s Windows-based smartphones. As highlighted in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Shin clearly indicates that:
“Smartphones and tablets based on Microsoft’s Windows operating system aren’t selling very well. There is a preference in the market for Android. In Europe, we’re also seeing lackluster demand for Windows-based products”.
While he took some time to clearly express what we’ve all been thinking all along with Windows-based products, he also took some time to reiterate its partnership with Google and put to rest any potential rumors out there by stating that “we like Android and we plan to continue our good relations with Google. I don’t think it’s correct to say that there’s friction”. So there you have it folks— Samsung is content with Android, knows the market well and will continue to do its best to innovate and grow as a brand.
HTC is wanting the launch of their One smartphone to be a success and has extended a special deal through April 4. For consumers in the market for a new phone, when you sign up online and buy the HTC One, you’ll receive a $100 Visa pre-paid gift card in the mail. To fully qualify, you’re required to send in your old smartphone and proof of One purchase. HTC doesn’t say how long it’ll take for the gift card to arrive, but you can likely expect at least several weeks after mailing your old phone and proof of purchase. Does this deal entice you to buy the new HTC One or are you more interested in another phone?
Those of you who are looking to get a more secure device can look forward to something new and exciting from Blackberry. It has announced that it plans on bringing its Secure Work Space for Android devices in June, which should bode well for those of you who happen to hear about a little something called Samsung Knox, but want to stay with your existing smartphones. In case you’re not familiar, Secure Work Space is a security solution that allows enterprise customers to separate and secure both work and personal data on employee smartphones— effectively creating a work profile completely independent of a personal profile that’s all on one device. The great thing is that the product is completely managed by BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, which frees users from the need of having to use separate phones or complicated virtual networks. No word on the cost yet, but further details will probably be out before you know it.
We always love updates for our apps, especially when they bring drastic changes for the better. Facebook’s newest update is definitely a big change, but it’s also pretty weird. Instead of getting the prompt to update your app from the Play Store, users are beginning to see a notification from within the Facebook app itself letting you know there’s an update available. The app then updates from within itself, no Play Store required. It’s a weird approach to take, especially for a major application like Facebook. Although, with Google’s foray into the world of social networking and web integration with Google Plus, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to see Facebook attempt to distance themselves from their competitor’s market.
As far as the update goes, it’s actually pretty minor. It includes the ability to change profile photos from within the app, and you can now hide and mark postss as spam. It also comes with a new permission to allow the app to auto-update itself. According to Facebook’s support center, that’ll only happen over WiFi, but I’m not sure this is a direction everyone is going to be comfortable with. Anyway, we’d give you a Play Store link in the source and tell you to go download the app, but, uh… I guess that doesn’t work anymore. So let us know in the comments if your Facebook app has become self aware updates itself.
Last night’s Samsung Unpacked event unveiled the Galaxy S 4 and one accessory, the Game Pad, caught gamers’ interest. Looking very reminiscent of an Xbox 360 controller, the Game Pad can attach to the S 4 for better game play on the phone’s 5-inch 1080p HD display. What’s particularly interesting though is that it works with devices up to 6.3 inches. If you’ve been following news around the Galaxy Note III, you’ll remember that it’s rumored to have a 6.3 inch Full HD display. We’re still months away from hearing anything concrete about the Note III, but in the meantime, you can check out the video below of the Samsung Game Pad in action.
NFC payment technology is on the cutting edge and Samsung has implemented Visa payWave into the Galaxy S 4 which completely bypasses carriers. Visa payWave works by storing encrypted payment information on an embedded secure element within the phone versus storing payment information on your SIM card. Samsung claims the Galaxy S 4 is the world’s first device to do this with Visa payWave. NFC payment services like Google Wallet have had issues with carriers, Verizon being the largest. Back in December, the carrier delayed approval of Google Wallet while not surprisingly developing their own mobile payment service, Isis. Samsung seems to have been aware of carriers interfering and has developed a better way for users to pay with their smartphones.
One thing you can’t argue about is the success Samsung has enjoyed with the Galaxy S and Note line. Each newer version has always exceeded the results of the previous version, and it doesn’t look like that will change with the Galaxy S 4. One UK retailer, Phones4U, says that pre-registrations are going through the roof. In fact, they are seeing a 40% increase over what they experienced with the Galaxy S III, and it has only been 48 hours since they opened pre-registrations.
“The anticipation surrounding the next Samsung Galaxy has been astounding and it has already received the most pre-registrations as Phones 4U of any other smartphone launch in 2013,” said Scott Hooton, Chief Commercial Officer at Phones 4U. He also went on to say that it could be the “biggest selling smartphone of 2013.”
It doesn’t seem limited to Phones4U as EE is seeing some action. “The interest we’ve received from consumers and businesses has almost reached fever-pitch levels,” said Paul Jevons, Director of Products and Devices at EE.
We had heard that SwiftyKey would be involved with the stock keyboard on the Galaxy S IV, but nothing was mentioned about it during the event. That is because it won’t be the SwiftKey keyboard exactly, but the the prediction engine itself. SwiftKey does have one of the top prediction engines, so this isn’t surprising.
Dr. Ben Medlock, co-founder and CTO of SwiftKey, said from the New York launch: “Following our great success with the SwiftKey 4 launch last month, we are excited to confirm that Samsung has chosen SwiftKey’s innovative keyboard technology to be at the heart of its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4. This is fantastic progress for our vision of bringing the best touchscreen typing experience to as many people as possible.”
Since most people that own a Galaxy S III are probably stuck in a contract with at least 1 year remaining, it’s good to know that Samsung plans on bringing most of the new Galaxy S 4 features to the Galaxy S III. I say “most” because some features such as anything regarding the IR blaster won’t make it since the GSIII lacks an IR blaster. So this means that features such as AirView, Smart Pause, Optical Reader, Group Play, Drama Shot, Photo Eraser, Sound and Shot, Cinema Photo, Dual Shot, Dual Recording, ChatON Video Chatting, ChatON Screen Sharing, S Translator, Adapt Display, and S Health will probably make it to your phone. I presume they will be part of the Android 4.2.2 update. As to when that will happen, no word, but you know how that goes with all the carrier testing. I wouldn’t expect carrier branded devices to approve the update until the end of the summer, but that’s just my opinion.
So there really isn’t a need to worry about upgrading, but if you’re still on the fence, you can check out our hands on video as well as Samsung’s overview video on the Next Big Thing.
Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 isn’t about the specs folks. Sure it sports some of the best specs around, but Samsung wants you to know that their phone is a life companion full of features that you need. That’s why they only spend about 1 minute talking about the specs in this four minute video. The rest of it is all about those new features including AirView, Smart Pause, WatchOn, Optical Reader, Group Play, Drama Shot, Photo Eraser, Sound and Shot, Cinema Photo, Dual Shot, Dual Recording, ChatON Video Chatting, ChatON Screen Sharing, S Translator, Adapt Display, and S Health. Hit the break for the full video and be sure to check out our hands on as well.
To say last night’s Galaxy S 4 event was cheesy might be an understatement, but one thing they did do was effectively explain all the new features of the phone itself. Sure, we could have done without all the pomp and circumstance, but you don’t bring 3,000 people into Radio City Music Hall without at a little. If you’re looking for more cheese for your Friday, or maybe you didn’t get a chance to watch it yet, you can watch the event in it’s entirety by simply hitting the break. Click here for our hands on.
Earlier this evening we saw HTC play the role of party crasher at Samsung’s big reveal event for the Samsung Galaxy S IV. Their efforts to present a different option did not stop with their pre-activity stunt though. Since Samsung’s event concluded, HTC has been busy leveling criticisms about their competitor and the new device.
If you’ve been itching to have a few more customization options on your phone lately, we’ve got some really cool apps you’ll be interested in. Developer astoncheah on the XDA forums has released a trio of apps into the Play Store aimed at giving you a ton of customization options, ranging from a highly tweaked lock screen to a customizable widget, and even an app that lets you shake your phone to launch apps or toggle settings on your device.
XOLO has done it again! Their latest addition, the X1000, will offer some incredible specs for a price that won’t drain your bank account and leave your wallet bare since the X1000 will sport the following new features:
SHARP HD 4.7-inch, 720p, 1280 x 720 LCD (edge-to-edge), 312 PPI
2GHz Atom Z2480
32GB of expandable storage
High-speed 8MP rear (with “Burst Mode”)/1.3MP camera at the front
1GB of RAM
21Mbps HSPA+ 3G
One fairly disappointing feature of the X1000 is its use of the antiquated Android ICS OS. This means buyers have to hope XOLO releases the Jelly Bean upgrade in a timely manner, or that a bootloader unlock and CM ROM is around the corner for it. But for the price, it may be worth settling for the archaic OS and bring a little Intel Inside.