Last night, Samsung held a splashy event at Radio City Music Hall for its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S4. Emceed by Broadway actor Will Chase, who like every New York actor has appeared on an episode of Law & Order, the event featured a number of theatrical sketches that demonstrated some of the S4's new features. Understated, it was not. While the press filled the theater, thousands were watching the livestream of the event on jumbotrons in Times Square and on YouTube. After the presentation, we had the opportunity to try out pre-production units. Here's what you need to know.
The Galaxy S4 has a slightly bigger screen than the Galaxy S3 (5-inches vs. 4.8) and a high resolution Super AMOLED screen. The biggest difference hardware-wise is the camera, which is 13 megapixels, up from 8 megapixels. Many of the new software features are camera-related too. You can shoot video simultanously with the front and rear cameras, essentially bringing the cameraperson into the a video - the results ends up looking like the picture-in-picture functionality that you'd see on a TV. You can also record audio while snapping photos and send them as messages to friends and family. New editing features make it easy to correct photo bombs - you can "erase" people or objects in the background of your photos that don't belong.
S transation can translate 9 languages in a variety of ways. You can talk into the phone in one language and it will speak back in the translated language of your choice. (For example, you're in Spain and you ask for directions in English to a Spanish speaker.) It can also do speech to text and text to speech. You can even point the phone at a menu or sign to translate it. And S Translator will work with messaging apps as well: email, texts, etc. I gave this a try on a pre-production unit and the feature wasn't working with Gmail, but a Samsung rep promised that it will be there when the phone is finalized.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, U.S. Cellular and Cricket later this year. The rollout begins at the end of April and continues through June. Pricing has not yet been announced.