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When it comes to tech innovation, who's better--Samsung or Apple? This topic generally results in verbal fisticuffs on message boards, with fanatics from both camps (Android and iOS) hurling nasty insults at one another. But, hey, it's all in fun ... right?
Whatever your views on the ongoing Samsung vs. Apple saga, it's hard to disagree with the statement that Samsung's Galaxy S phones have become the closest thing to the mythical "iPhone killer" of Android fans' dreams. In fact, Samsung announced last month on its flickr page that it has sold (into the channel) more than 100 million Galaxy S phones since launching the series in May 2010. Even more impressive are sales figures for the Galaxy S III: 40 million shipped in just 7 months. (The S III debuted in May 2012.)
Samsung's going gangbusters in the overall mobile phone market as well. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, the Korean tech giant shipped just under 400 million cellphones in 2012, and accounted for 25% of all mobile phones shipped worldwide.
Samsung's phone sales will likely get another big boost when its next-generation S phone--likely named the Galaxy S IV--arrives in the coming months.
What can we expect from the S IV? Rumors suggest a characteristically thin design with a slightly larger display, as well as a series of finely tuned enhancements that manage to boost processing power and reduce energy consumption, make battery-charging a bit less cumbersome and utilize the device's improved cameras in innovative ways that go beyond conventional video- and photo-shooting.
The Galaxy S IV may be Samsung's flagship phone, but it certainly isn't its largest. That distinction goes to the Galaxy Note 2, a behemoth phablet with a 5.5-inch display and a pressure-sensitive stylus. The popularity of the Note 2 -- Samsung claims it sold 5 million of the devices within two months of the product's launch -- and well as reports of an upcoming Note model with an even larger 6.3-inch screen, may keep the Galaxy S series from growing supersized. It may remain the Note's slighter smaller--yet more sophisticated--sibling.
Indeed, if months of rumors of the Galaxy S IV's features are accurate, it would appear Samsung is focusing more on refining the phone's existing features rather than expanding the device to phablet-like proportions.
Samsung didn't return our request for comment on this story, and it's a safe bet that it won't be revealing any significant S IV specs before the phone's launch event.
Click through the slideshow below to see the latest Galaxy S IV predictions.
A smartphone can grow only so large before it becomes, well, a tablet. Huawei is pushing the limits with its new 6.1-inch Ascend Mate, and Samsung's own Galaxy Note 2, with its 5.5-inch display, gets close to Tablet Town as well. Ongoing rumors suggest the Galaxy S IV's screen will measure roughly 5-inches diagonally, making it slightly larger than the Galaxy S III's 4.8-inch, 720-by-1280 pixel display. The S IV's screen should look a lot sharper, however, if rumors of 1920-by-1200 resolution are true.
The stylus-equipped Galaxy Note series is a hit, but is the pen a key factor in the phablet's success? If so, then the rumor that the upcoming S IV will also have a stylus--a first for the Galaxy S series--might not seem so far-fetched. Unlike a conventional stylus, such as Samsung's optional C Pen for the Galaxy S III, the S Pen is pressure-sensitive for better accuracy. However, by including a stylus--and its requisite pouch--to the S IV, Samsung runs the risk of adding unwanted bulk to the svelte smartphone's shell. And who wants an ugly Galaxy S?
Some new high-end smartphones, including the Nokia 920, Google Nexus 4 and HTC Windows Phone 8X, have built-in wireless charging. Rumor has it the Galaxy S IV will too. Samsung is a member of the Wireless Power Consortium, and it's a safe bet that its cordless charger will adhere to the group's Qi inductive power standard.
Not only does wireless charging make sense for a high-end smartphone, it also has the potential of spurring aftermarket sales of profitable power-charging doodads. And from a marketing perspective, wireless charging might give Samsung more iPhone-bashing ammunition for its next round of TV ads -- assuming, of course, the next-gen iPhone lacks a similar (or superior) feature.
We all know that gratuitous megapixels don't necessarily make a great camera. But if this particular rumor is true--the Galaxy S IV will have a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera--then Samsung could gain another advantage vs. Apple. After all, the iPhone 5's excellent rear camera takes 8-megapixels shots.
Then again, the S IV's alleged 13MP shooter still wouldn't come close to Nokia's 41-megapixel PureView wonder, which reportedly will grace the Finnish company's flagship EOS phone later this year. The S IV's front-side camera is expected to be a 2-megapixel unit; by comparison, the iPhone 5's front cam is 1.2MP.
The Galaxy S IV will be powered by Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa, the world's first 8-core mobile processor, according to some published reports. Unveiled in January at CES 2013, the ARM-based Octa has four large Cortex-A15 processor cores, which are built for high-performance tasks such as HD video streaming and graphics-intensive gaming. Four smaller ARM Cortex-A7 cores, optimized for low power consumption, handle the bulk of mobile chores. The benefit for mobile users is twice the performance at half the power consumption, or so Samsung and ARM claim. Impressive-sounding, yes. But will the average smartphone user see real-world improvements?
Power-hungry features, like the Galaxy S IV's alleged 1.8-GHz 8-core processor and a 5-inch HD display, demand a bigger battery. According to Samsung mobile blog SamMobile, the S IV will pack a 2600 mAh battery--a step up from the Galaxy S III's 2100 mAh unit. One question: Will the S IV match (or, dare we dream, surpass) its predecessor's battery-powered lifespans of up to 11 hours, 40 minutes (3G) of talk time, and up to 790 hours (3G) on stand-by?
The Galaxy S IV will feature the 8-core ARM Mali-450 MP GPU, according to various reports. The powerful graphics chip promises twice the performance of its predecessor, the Mali-400, which just so happens to be the Galaxy S III's GPU. With its low-power architecture and reduced memory bandwidth, the Mali-450 would be a good match for the (allegedly) feature-packed S IV.
The Samsung Galaxy S III does some cool tricks. Smart Stay, for instance, is a face-detection feature that keeps the display lit as long as you're looking at it. But as is often the case with cutting-edge tech, it's far from perfect. According to one rumor, the S IV may offer better facial recognition. Dutch language tech blog SamsungGalaxyS4.nl, citing the usual anonymous sources, claims the S IV will include two eye-detection features, Eye Pause and Eye Scroll, but lacks details on the alleged tools' benefits. While this rumor may seem specious, the S IV may very well feature eye-tracking capabilities that improve upon those of its predecessor.
One of the more provocative rumors out there claims the Galaxy S IV will feature a bendable display based on Samsung's flexible "YOUM" OLED technology, which the company showcased at CES 2013. YOUM enables Samsung's designers to build an OLED display on a sheet of thin, flexible plastic (rather than glass). Given the obvious fact that smartphones are oh-so-easy to drop, YOUM seems a great choice for mobile devices, including new form factors with foldable screens. But with no timetable from Samsung on YOUM's real-world readiness, it's reasonable to assume that bendy screens won't be ready in time for the Galaxy S IV's looming launch date.
As of late January, Samsung had yet to announce a release date for the Galaxy S IV. In recent months, likely candidates for a blockbuster unveiling have included CES 2013 in Las Vegas (didn't happen), Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona in February (new reports say that's unlikely ) or an exclusive Samsung shindig in the spring (looking very likely). FYI: Samsung announced the Galaxy S III in early May 2012, and began shipping the phone in late May (in some regions) and June.