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5″ HD screen, 4G, 13MP camera, Pictures with sound, S translator, group play, S Health, Home sync (Phew).Meet the new Samsung Galaxy S 4.

Launched at Radio City in New York today, the “new and amazing” Galaxy S4 by the world’s biggest phone maker was launched by JK Shin, Samsung’s VP Telecommunications.

Shin admitted massive “rumour and speculation” about S4 but says its latest brainchild is “designed to make our lives easier.”

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Looking like the SIII, the S4 is slimmer, lighter and yet stronger says Shin – its 136mm long X 7.9mm thin, and appears to have more of a pronounced edge than the S3. 

Samsung needed a big bang with the S4 if it’s to beat Apple, analysts warned, as the “two horse race” betweenApple and Samsung intensified in Q4 which saw the Koreans power ahead of Cupertino, although the iPhone is still a formidable player. 

However, it appeared the S4 lacked the big bang Samsung made with the S3, but still, unveiled a slew of clever software –  pictures with sound, S translator, group play, S Health and 4G/3G ready – some features very useful, other novelties you may never use.

“We are always listening from people around the world and what kind of progress they really want” said Samsung’s mobile boss.

The S4 “helps us get closer to what matters in life” and what a “smartphone should provide to us” in our lives (Hey, you can answer the S4 without even opening the cover and scroll pages using your eye).

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And Samsung has gotten plenty of attention as it launched its new hero today: almost half a million people tuned into the S4 launch on YouTube alone.

Dubbed your “life companion,” the phone maker globally launched its latest hero smartphone with 5″ screen HD AMOLED screen – slightly bigger than S III 4.8″ display.

It runs Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 and the super fast S4 supports downloads of 100Mbps and uploads of 50Mbps.

Other features include:

S Health S4 will  help you keep healthy and calculate calorie consumption – while walking for instance –  has a body scale and and monitors sleep patterns. Pretty cool. 

S Translator S4 can translate foreign languages ( text to speech and speech to text) so if your mate writes an email in French, the Samsung will translate it for you.

 

Adapt display: screen adapts to suit your eyes thanks to AMOLED which is superior to LCD displays, says Samsung.

Other features include TV, FDE dual mode, supports WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, infra red LED so you can use it to control your TV, Infra red gesture and sensitivity and 13MP rear camera, front facing is 2MP for “True to life shots” and you can take 100 shots in 4 seconds.

It has 2GB of RAM, 16 GB storage, options for additional 32GB and 64GB and can take a micro SD card for another 64GB.

Battery life is better with 2,600mAh battery

You can also have a dual camera video call, air gesture – use the phone without even touching it, eye scroll the screen, and if you look away from the screen while say watching a video it will auto stop, similar to feature on LG Optimus G unveiled this week.

Samsung has engineered a “graceful translucent effect” on S4 home screen and the black bar featured on S III is gone. It comes in two colours–Black mist or White frost–and has a polycarbonate case.

Samsung will roll out the S4 in Oz during the second quarter, and to 327 mobile carriers globally in 155 countries on 3G, 4G LTE networks – support “all frequencies and standards” globally, says Shin.

Two Horse Race- Can Samsung Pull Ahead?

The phone market is commonly known as a two horse race between Apple and Samsung, who between them account forover 50% of all phones sold.

Samsung sold 215.8 million smartphones in 2012 growing 129% compared to 2011, followed by Apple 135.9 m sales which rose 29%.

In Q4 last, Samsung reached even higher heights, selling 63.7 million smartphones compared to Apple’s 47.8m, according to IDC.

The Galaxy maker accounted for one third of all smartphones sold in fourth quarter ahead of Apple’s 21.8%.

Samsung does not breakdown mobile phone sales, but said it sold 40 million Galaxy S 3’s by January, last.

Strategy Analytics predict Samsung smartphones are set to grow by 35% in 2013 to 290 million shipment, possibly  helped by the new Galaxy, compared to Apple’s 180 million.

However, Samsung predicts a slowdown in 2013 in the wake of “intensified competition with new smartphone & tablet launches” from rivals like Apple, HTC, Nokia as well as new players Huawei, LG  all looking to get their share of the lucrative phone pie.

There will be close to 1 billion smartphones sold by the end of 2013, and there was 207 million bought in q4 last- a 38% rise, so it’s still all to play for.

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JK Shin at Radio City today

HTC released an amazing One phone recently and LG also launched its Optimus G superphone just this week and declared war on phone leaders, saying it is ready for “fierce” competition marks a massive change in the guard, declared LG Australia’s Lambro Skropidis.

 

Samsung now depends heavily on their smartphone business with its recently US$6.6 billion net profit attributed to stellar sales of Galaxy S III and their ‘phablet’ Note II in particular, pushing operating profit up 89.7% to 8.84 trillion won.

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IDC too warned about the emergence of new low cost devices from the likes Huawei and ZTE, Chinese makers who now both made it into the top 5 global smartphone vendors in Q4 2012.

But Apple too is worried as its marketing guru Phil Schiller recently appeared to attack Samsung’s phone strategy of releasing a slew of devices to suits all pockets and taste “At Apple we know that it’s not just enough to have products pumped out in large numbers,”

“You have to love and use them. There is a lot of data showing a big disparity there.”

But it appears plenty of people love Samsung so much so its the biggest phone maker on the world.

IDC says 2013 will be a “pivotal year” for Samsung new projects the horizon for Samsung – unleashing its new Tizen smartphone operating system as well as focusing on Windows Phone 8 “will continue to rely on Android as its primary operating system”

And with the S4, it could well stay ahead of the game. Unless the iPhone 6 can do one better

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