Samsung Galaxy S4 release date, news and rumours

UPDATED All the speculation on the new Galaxy SIV

Samsung Galaxy S4 release date, news and rumours
The S3 still could do with a few tweaks

It certainly feels like Samsung is taking over the world right now – at least, the Android world. There’s no doubt that last year’s Galaxy S2 was arguably the phone of the year.

And not in recent times, discounting Apple of course, can we remember the anticipation and expectation of a phone as much as the Galaxy S3.

If you needed a barometer of this, just look at how it was unveiled. Not at MWC like lots of others, but its own event, proving the Galaxy line has reached the level where it can guarantee hoards will come just for an unveiling.

The name was even ‘confirmed’ at a recent event by a researcher, which means it’s coming closer and closer to reality.

But that’s last season’s device, and we’re looking forward to the next level of what to expect in the Galaxy SIV. The trickle of ‘sources’ talking about this new device is starting to build to a steady stream, so we’re on hand to help let you know which whispers have a notion of truth about them – as well as providing our wishlist of what we want Samsung to improve on the new handset.

Samsung Galaxy S4 screen

The Galaxy S2 had an amazing Super AMOLED Plus display – and boy, was it vibrant. The S3 upped the screen size from 4.3-inches to 4.8-inches and the pixel density went from 217 to 306 to take a run at the iPhone’s Retina Display.

But, Samsung also opted for a PenTile approach, to the chagrin of geeks. What does that mean for the end user?

Well, the screen looks great but you can make out pixels if you really, really strain. And some of the vivacity and colour saturation is lost. On the plus side, Samsung reckons the screen will last longer – but we’d rather see a much more S2-like screen with a sharper resolution – and given that’s now appeared on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, we’re pretty hopeful we’ll get it on the Samsung Galaxy S4 too.

Alternatively, there have been a number of rumours that Samsung is going to bring a flexible screen to the Galaxy S4 – but given the Korean brand is already pushing the delivery of such tech back into 2013 for its customers, we think we’ll be in Galaxy S5 territory before that happens.

There seems a much more likely option in the shape of the 5-inch 1080p screen that could offer up an eye-splitting 441ppi, making it easily the highest res out there. It would probably need to be shrunk down a smidge to fit into the palm, or Samsung could actually just make the phone even closer to the edges of the screen. Dare we dream of an edge-to-edge display like on the 9000 series TVs?

However, the bad news is that due to reported manufacturing issues these may have been delayed… does that mean the phone will have to be pushed back as well?

Update: A source for the Verge now suggests that the flexible display option really is out of the question, with no Galaxy S device sporting the new screen tech in 2013, although it will be shown off as a concept at the Vegas smorgasbord of gadgetry.

Samsung Galaxy S4 release date

It seems more than likely that Samsung will eschew MWC 2013 once more for the release of its top handset, instead focusing on the launch in May 2013, which we’d really like to see. A recent teaser by Samsung promised something at CES in January, but this is really rather unlikely – although apparently the brand showed off prototypes to key execs from networks and supply chain-ers.

This is for a number of reasons: time to allow the current customers to buy the S3, being able to scoop up all the customers about to come out of contract from the S2 and also not making its fans feel like its throwing out a new flagship phone every three seconds.

Samsung galaxy s4 release date

However, that didn’t stop the rumour mill deciding that the Galaxy S4 launch was set for March 2013, based on something a Samsung ‘representative’ said to the media. The brand quickly took to Twitter to discredit the rumours, so it looks like the middle of the year launch is still firmly on the cards.

Since then another rumour, of a phone dubbed ‘Project J’, has emerged, and that’s set for an April unveil… so it seems we’re looking at a Q2 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 launch as it stands, which means you’ll probably be able to actually hold one in your hands come May, and it will likely be given the model number of GT-I9500, which is leap from GT-I9300 but has been confirmed as likely legit when showing up in firmware versions, as well as on Samsung’s official software page.

Another source has written off the chance of the Galaxy S4 appearing at CES 2013 and MWC 2013 – giving the suggestion that an April event is on the cards more weight.

Update:New sources, apparently Samsung’s Korean execs themselves, are touting an April Samsung Galaxy S4 release… and it will even come with an S Pen accessory too! However, this seems unlikely given it’s only currently used on the Note range, so a boring C Pen upgrade could be all that’s on the cards.

Samsung Lebanon has weighed in too, revealing that it’s not coming in the next three months: “The Galaxy SIV won’t be released before May 2013,” the brand said, rather emphatically – despite some sites carrying news that an anonymous exec was claiming March as the release date and the venue for launch was going to be in the US, UK or South Korea.

Samsung Galaxy S4 specs

There’s not a lot around about specs at the moment, but the rumours emanating from the good ol’ internet rumour mill are certainly enough to make us excited.

The first is that the S4 will have a quad-core chip, which might sound a little ‘last gen’ to many. However, it will be based on ARM’s A15 architecture, bringing with it a big boost in power for all those resource-intensive tasks we love to do all the time.

But then again, that’s not Samsung’s way really, is it? We want to see bigger, bangier and faster, so doubling it again to an OCTO-core would be the way to go.

Rather than just making it super powerful though, the eight core innards would split into two groups: A15-spec chips for the big stuff, and A7 when things need to get a little lower power, bringing with it the best of both worlds.

The other big news that we think should be on our wish list is the fact that Samsung’s internal storage bods have been hard at work bringing the flash memory down in size and up in speed… so think even thinner phones with higher capacity that can be written to up to 10x faster. We’re now looking forward to the S4 even more now.

Update: A quad-core processor looks more likely than an eight core offering after the new Exynos 5440 quad-core chip appeared on Samsung’s site, making it a strong contender to feature in the Galaxy S4.

Samsung Galaxy S4 operating system

What’s the good word here? Well, given the time scales involved, we’d fully expect to see the Galaxy S4 running a more mature version of Android 4.2, better known as Android Jelly Bean, as well as the next generation of TouchWiz skin on top.

There are some more daft rumours floating around, namely that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will run off a different operating system called Tizen, simply because Samsung is using it on other phones.

Don’t worry, this won’t happen…although a variant of the phone could be used as a blueprint for a decent alternative handset.

More likely is Samsung bringing out the Galaxy S4 to coincide with the next version of Android from Google, called Key Lime Pie.

April would be roughly the time we’d start seeing rumours of such things, so it’s not unbelievable that you could buy an S4 with a cutting edge OS.

In truth, we’ve never really seen this happen from the Koreans, so chances are it will be boring old Jelly Bean when your S4 appears in your hands.

Samsung Galaxy S4 battery

Ok, we admit we always want more. The S2’s 1,650mAh was manageable and the S3’s 2,100mAh blows that out of the water. But it’s still only OK.

You can get by on a day of moderate use but if you use this phone heavily (and we’re talking watching TV shows on the morning and evening commute alongside your normal tinkering), this handset will still want a plug in at some point.

Motorola has proven it can be done by whacking a 3,300mAh power pack into the RAZR Maxx which can still be considered a skinny Minnie. Something of that size – along with ICS and Samsung’s power management abilities – would really be the icing on the Ice Cream Sandwich.

Samsung Galaxy S4 design

We’ve lost count of the amount of people we’ve shown our device off to who’ve replied with the words: “Yeah, it’s great but looks like a bit of a toy.” It’s a double-edged sword: the plastic is used to keep this handset nice and light, but does detract from what should be a premium device.

A bit of glass wouldn’t go amiss. Android users, say what you like about the iPhone 4/4S (and we know you won’t be short of words), but aside from being smash-tastic, the glass really adds that premium and expensive feel that the S3 just doesn’t have.

Forget what your mum told you – it’s what’s on the outside that counts too, so the Samsung Galaxy S4 needs to step it up in the design stakes.

We’ve now had the first in what we expect to be many leaked shots claiming to be the Samsung Galaxy S4 – and it isn’t filling us with a huge amount of confidence as it could quite easily be a mash up between the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2.

Samsung Galaxy S4 - LEAK

Credit: SamMobile

Better S-Voice

Galaxy S4 review

S-Voice just isn’t there. At least Siri had the nous to call itself a BETA so that it could be excused for not getting things right at times. The problem we have with S-Voice is it just doesn’t seem to be able to do much.

Sure, it can tell you what the weather is like if you really can’t be bothered to look out the window. And it’ll save you 10 seconds by setting an alarm.

But it’s just not powerful enough – and is, frankly, awful for something that’s supposed to be a headline feature on one of the world’s best smartphones.

We’ve actually been using Speak To It Assistant far more often because it’s superior. Samsung could do worse than buy a company like this to give the Galaxy S4 a real chance of being the best voice-controlled mobile out there.

Better Mac support

Yep, we know many consumers believe Mac users account for only 0.000001% of Android owners (why wouldn’t they just buy an iPhone, right?)

But there are lots who like Apple computers as well as Android devices. And up until the S3, they got on famously.

But Android has changed the rules and how storage works so that it follows the MTP Protocol which plays along brilliantly with Windows but can’t stand Macs.

Yes, we know this is a Google issue and not something that Samsung can be blamed for. But having said that, the HTC One X also runs Ice Cream Sandwich and it has managed to tweak the code enough for there to not be a problem.

Please Samsung – don’t shut them out. Ice Cream Sandwich may be frozen – but we shouldn’t be, so when you bring out the Jelly Bean or Key Lime Pie-powered Galaxy S4, let’s get some support.

Samsung Galaxy S4 accessories

Samsung unveiled the SIII alongside a raft of accessories – the usual things like cases were complimented by the C-Pen (like the Note 2’s S-Pen but smaller) and the dongle for connecting to your TV to stream stuff.

The problem is, they’re all so expensive: £20 for the C-Pen and the best part of £70 for the AllShare Dongle. They’re not mainstream accessories – and little wonder.

If Samsung made these cheaper – or even threw them into the box for the Galaxy S4 (highly unlikely, but we can dream) then it would make for a much happier customer.

Perhaps a premium package where you spend a little more but get the accessories at the same time would work… people like to get the most out of things when they get their shiny new device.

Better charging

Plug it in and charge until it’s full. That’s always been the way. But we’d love to see a more advanced version of charging – ditching the wires should be more prevalent.

Galaxy S4

Maybe something similar to the conductive methods used by Palm in the Pre which never really caught on. The idea being that you don’t have to plug the phone in to charge, just place it on a particular mat or place and it does it automatically.The S3 has that functionality, but it’s hardly been well-publicised since launch.

The likes of Nokia with the Lumia 920 have been banging on about the amazing world of wireless charging for ages now, with a range of accessories too. Given that it will all be based on the Qi wireless charging standard, we’ll soon see reams of coffee shops and airports with these charging stations littered around – just don’t forget to watch your phone.

Or how about something really radical – like a battery that can also charge kinetically on the S4. Sure, it would be slow but wouldn’t it be great if you could go for a run and manage to gain an extra 10 or 20% just by doing so to get you through the day? Radical – yes. But Samsung is known for its innovation.

Improved speakers

As beautiful and wonderful as the S3 is, the speaker still sounds tinny. Ringtones sound cheap and when it is on its back, they’re also muffled. At least the iPhone has a bit of bass.

But what about going a bit further? Have three or four powerful but small speakers around the rim so when you play music, it comes out loud and with a bit of bass.

Hell, even make it so strong that it negates the need for a travel dock so you can play music at a decent volume when you nip away for the weekend or are sitting on the beach. That’d be a real selling point.

By Gareth Beavis 



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