Sunday, March 24, 2013
Samsung's setting out on its own against Apple and Google.
Galaxy S4The brand-new flagship smartphone, which runs the latest Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, improves upon its predecessor. And by super-sizing the screen and packing in so much specialized software, the GS4 sets itself even farther apart from the iPhone. The Galaxy S4 has the same design as the S3, but the screen is now 5 inches, the resolution upped to 1080p, a much higher battery capacity 2,600mAh, with a faster processor, and a higher mega pixel rear-facing camera. But it's the software that Samsung has been pushing. There are a few features that you would be hard-pressed not to want. The IR blaster is one of these (the HTC One has this, too), speech-to-text and text-to-speech translator, and eye-tracking and gesture technology that let you pause a video automatically when you look away and let you hover your finger over an item to preview it.
Samsung also showed off a new feature during the S4 release known as S Voice Drive. This feature will let drivers make calls, send messages, and check the weather.
The S4 has the same edges and physical home button as the Galaxy S3, but it's lighter and thinner, at 7.9mm thick and 130g. The GS4 is part polycarbonate (making it a higher build quality than the S3) but it isn't as classy as the all-metal HTC One or the iPhone 5. Samsung refuses to give up plastic for a few reasons, including durability and price.
|Updated Notification Tray|
The Galaxy S4 runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Samsung's Touch Wiz overlay. Samsung uses TouchWiz to add a whole new host of software enhancements, like gestures, and a larger notifications tray that offers more settings toggling than stock Android does. Samsung also introduces the S Translator tool with TouchWiz 2.0. It is integrated with e-mail and ChatOn. ChatOn now includes three-way video calling, screen-sharing, and video calls that make use of both cameras.
Another noteworthy feature is Group Play. It lets you connect to other Galaxy S4 devices to share music, photos, documents, and even play multiplayer games. Gun Bros 2 and Asphalt 7 have been adapted for the new Group Play feature.
Also included with the Galaxy S4 is S Health, a calorie-counter/pedometer that uses phone sensors like the accelerometer and barometer combined with a Samsung-branded fitness wrist band.
Smart Pause and Smart Scroll are two features that build off the Galaxy S3's optional Smart Stay feature, which kept the screen from dimming when you looked at it. In the GS4, tilting the screen up or down while looking at it scrolls you up or down. The new Smart Pause feature pauses and resumes video depending on whether or not you're looking at the screen.
Air View and gestures
Hover your finger to preview a video clip or image from the photo gallery, glance at browser tab thumbnails, find your place on a video timeline, and check out an e-mail. You'll also be able to magnify calendar events and get a closer look in speed dial. Flipboard has built a customized app to work with Air View, which lets you hover over a tile to see which articles lie beneath.
You can also wave or wipe your whole hand in front of the screen to pick up a phone call or switch songs in a playlist. Sliding your hand back and forth can go through photos in a gallery, or browser tabs. You can also scroll up and down in a list.
Cameras and video
Samsung is hoping that its refreshed interface and enhanced features will impress. Perhaps the most out-there is the dual-shot mode, which takes photos and video from both the front- and rear-facing cameras, and combines them into one (LG's Optimus G Pro does this, too.)Even more new modes include Sound & Shot, which takes a picture and captures up to 9 seconds of audio (similar to HTC's Zoe), and Drama Shot, which combines all the actions from a burst shot into a single frame. If someone is jumping you see all stages of the leap in one shot (The HTC One also has this)
The Galaxy S4 will either come from a 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 series processor, or from a 1.6GHz eight-core chipset, Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa core processor depending on your location. The Galaxy S4 will also support LTE. The phone has a large, 2,600mAh battery. In terms of storage and memory, the Galaxy S4 has 2GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, and another 64GB available through the microSD card slot.
This phone will be sure to make waves and disrupt other company's phone share. This may also be the phone that will finally unseat Apple. Many of its features are slightly gimmicky, but they function. If Samsung can refine its new features it may change the way we look at mobile phones.
HTC Sense 5.0
HTC's newest overlay
HTC's new Sense 5.0 overlay has been surrounded by mixed feelings since its unveiling earlier this year. HTC has taken steps to ensure that its brand will stand out of the crowd. This includes their new overlay. Sense has taken strides since its introduction. Sense 5 has taken dramatic changes from Sense 4. All throughout its life it has been either loved or hated. This version features a more minimalistic design, and new scrolling news source known as "BlinkFeed", which is reminiscent of Flipboard and Windows Phone live tiles, displays a series of news headlines and social network content. Sense 5 only uses two home screen pages: one with a traditional grid for apps and widgets, and Blinkfeed with a redesigned clock, although more pages can still be added and you don't have to use Blinkfeed. Sense 5.0 will not be available to the HTC One; on February 28, 2013, HTC announced that it would provide updates for the DNA/Butterfly, One S and the One X/X+ to Sense 5.0 in the coming months. Other changes include the use of the Roboto font and a vertical scrolling app drawer instead of the widely used horizontally scrolling one. All of the lockscreens also feature the new HTC clock and weather widget, which is located at the top of the app drawer. It's a simplified version from the original HTC clock. It's cleaner, easier to read, and blends in better with Android Jelly Bean.
HTC's new version of Sense has been refined and cleaned thoroughly though many think that the new Blinkfeed feature causes bloat. HTC's new version of Sense along with the HTC One is critical to the company's success and HTC' CEO has threatened to step down if it isn't successful.