Samsung Galaxy S IV Specs: A Worthy Upgrade To The Galaxy S III?

Today, Samsung unveiled its latest flagship Android smartphone, the Galaxy S IV. The new phone is a gentle evolution of the S III with the main improvements falling under camera and software. While it certainly sounds like an impressive phone, is it worth upgrading your Samsung Galaxy S III for?

Photo: Getty

It feels like the Samsung Galaxy S III only came out yesterday, yet it has already been knocked off the top perch by the inexorable march of progress. If you're still clutching onto your S III, here's an overview of the main improvements ushered in by the new phone.

Screen

The Samsung Galaxy S IV has a 5-inch 1080p super AMOLED display boasting a pixel density of 441ppi (pixels per inch). Its predecessor made do with a 720p 4.8in super AMOLED display with 306ppi.

The S IV's boost in resolution should translate to a significantly sharper viewing experience, especially when it comes to photos and small or spidery fonts. The added screen real estate will also be a plus for web browsing and video playback, but at the same time, it does make for a slightly more cumbersome smartphone.

CPU

The Samsung Galaxy S IV is powered by a 1.6GHz 8-core Exynos processor, although in some regions it will ship with a 1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon CPU (at the moment there's no word on which version Aussies will get).

The original Galaxy S III came with a 1.4Ghz Exynos 4 quad-core processor which proved perfectly zippy for most tasks. If you're a casual smartphone user, the S IV's additional processing power probably won't make that much of a difference.

User interface

The Samsung Galaxy S IV runs on the latest version of Android Jelly Bean and comes with a handful of new UI tricks up its sleeve that were absent from the S III. Chief among these is 'Air Gesture', which allows you to explore, magnify and preview content by hovering your finger just above the screen — in a manner reminiscent of Windows 8 touch displays.

The Galaxy S IV's touch screen has also been optimised for use with gloves, which really only affects people living in colder climates (although we suppose it could be useful if you happen to own a motorbike).

Network

The Samsung Galaxy S IV will be compatible with all Australian 4G networks. At launch, the Galaxy S III was a 3G device, although this has since been replaced by an LTE version dubbed the Galaxy S III 4G. Depending on which version of the S III you have, the S IV could be worth upgrading to.

The launch model of the S IV will be a 4G category 3 device which means it "only" supports download speeds of up to 100Mbps. It should still be plenty fast though.

Design

Today's launch event in New York featured crumping house wives, smooching lovebirds and tap-dancing kids — but as much as Samsung tried to distract us, there was no getting past the fact that this was a very similar looking smartphone to the Galaxy S III.

At 7.9mm thick, the Galaxy S IV is slightly slimmer than its predecessor and it also comes with a bigger screen, as mentioned. Otherwise, the word 'samey' springs to mind. It will be available in black and white variants. (Or 'white frost' and 'black mist' to give them their obnoxious marketing names.)

Memory and storage

Samsung has doubled the amount of DDR3 RAM in the Galaxy S IV which now stands at 2GB. Again, the added grunt probably isn't something you'll notice during day-to-day applications.

The S IV will ship in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB configurations. Like the Galaxy S III, it also boasts a Micro SD memory card slot for additional storage.

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S IV has been decked out with a 13-megapixel camera capable of shooting Full HD video. It can also take 100 photos in four seconds, although we're not sure what the practical purposes of this would be for a mainstream user.

The most interesting thing about the new camera is its inbuilt editing software, which includes an auto-album creation tool, "talking" photos (via embedded audio files) and an 'eraser' function which lets you to auto-remove unwanted people and objects from your photos using the S IV's touch screen. Bizarrely, Samsung has also built a hard copy album app into the camera which lets you order physical albums of your photos for around $30 a pop.

If you use your smartphone as your primary camera, this may be the deciding factor in making the leap to the Galaxy S IV.

Battery

The S IV will ship with a 2600mAh battery, which is slightly more powerful than the Galaxy S III. Whether this will translate to longer battery life remains to be seen however — the bigger screen, beefier specs and myriad inbuilt applications will presumably take their toll.

Conclusion

We're going to reserve our final judgement until we actually get out hands on the device, but based on today's unveiling, we wouldn't class the Galaxy S IV as an essential upgrade — in terms of hardware evolution, it's roughly comparable to the leap between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

While the myriad improvements are nice to have, the Galaxy S III does a perfectly adequate job in most of the same areas. Meanwhile, many of the all-new features, ranging from inbuilt calorie counters to temperature and humidity sensors, seem a bit niche. (Samsung might even bring some of the new software over to the S III in a future update.) For the time being, we'd stick with what you've got.


Comments

    I was rather ho-hum about the SIII, the only thing that really stood out to me was the 4G. The SIV on the other hand seems to have quite a few new and good features. It's tempting me more than ever to abandon my iphone.

    Looks nice. Any news if Multi Window is supported out of the box?

      New S3's currently have Multi-Window support via software updates, so I'm 99.9% sure this will have it as well.

        It's visible on the screenshots of some other reports. So yes.

    As someone still using the SII this looks like it may be worth the upgrade. I'm still dubious on the claim of BLE support and want to see it working with various BLE devices like the Amiigo Fitness Bracelet though.

    The phone will only use 4 cores at a time for any given task. Calling it an 8 core phone is misleading. That's like saying a car which has been converted to dual tank Petrol/LPG has twice as much horsepower.

      Its nothing like that. Its like saying this car has two fuel tanks...
      Are you saying it doesn't have 8 cores? Because if it does then the reporting is correct and you should be quiet.

        Calling it an 8 core phone implies that it is twice as fast as a 4 core phone though. People will buy an 8 core phone expecting it to be twice as fast as a 4 core phone and it just won't be true.

    Thanks for the article Chris. When you say it's like an iPhone 4S, do you. Ran its 1 generation behind Apple, or there's not a lot of difference between FS3 and GS4, similar to iPhone4 vs iPhone 4S? I'm not quite sure where you were coming from...

      Argh! Apple keyboards... Sorry for typos...

        Hi Dan, I meant there's not a huge amount of difference between GS3 and GS4.

          there isn't much difference between the iphone 4s and 5 either.

          Iphone:
          0.5inchs bigger / same ppi / smaller sim and connecting port (which aren't actual changes in my eyes) / twice the ram (upgrade to 1Gb) / 4G / same camera that was slightly better at low light / lighter.

          Gs4 V Gs3 (original):
          0.2 inches bigger / much higher ppi / twice the ram / 4g / higher mega pixel camera (no low light tests yet- presumably worse) / Lighter .

          If anything you have to compared the software addons between the 2. Iphone 5 came with nothing but a new IOS which was definitely the worst update apple has ever executed. Ignoring that though (since this one has yet to be seen). The SG4 comes with quite afew samsung UI implementation changes with an updated android OS

    I'm very interested as to how long the battery life lasts on the Exynos big.LITTLE processor (obviously with the crappy "Smart" features turned off)
    The S3 has adequate battery life, but could big.LITTLE be a leap forward for battery life?

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