Samsung is poised to introduce the next generation of its flagship Galaxy smartphone next week in New York City. It will be the first U.S. launch of a Galaxy handset in three years, and Samsung is heralding it with a “Samsung Unpacked” advertising blitz.
It’s official that Samsung will debut the Galaxy S IV, but apart from the name, all the details circulating are still rumor.
It is widely believed that it will have a 5-inch full HD (1920x1080p) super AMOLED display and be powered by an Exynos 5 Quad 5440 mobile processor, which is based on the ARM Cortex-A15 processor design.
It is expected to run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with a TouchWiz 5 user interface. It will have 2 GB of RAM and sport a 13-megapixel camera.
Samsung did not respond to our request for further details.
Flagship Sets Sail
Samsung is gearing separate launch events toward consumers and the media, and it decidedly did not want to compete with other announcements at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which just concluded last week.
“Samsung is looking to take control of their destiny with an Apple-like event,” said Chris Silva, industry analyst for Altimeter Group. “What they are doing is something that will have people talking about it, and it has that Apple-esque edge.”
“They’re doing this unpacked branded event for the media and analysts alongside the consumer launch that is taking part in Times Square,” Silva told TechNewsWorld. “It is a media blitz but one that might have too many channels. With all this Samsung has to deliver something — something big.”
Charting a New Galaxy
Samsung has been a dominant player in the Android space, but with this launch, it’s likely aiming to cultivate the same type of excitement consumers have long reserved for Apple. It is already attracting some positive buzz around a new ad campaign that just kicked off.
A teaser video features a fresh-faced businesskid named “Jeremy,” who’s tasked with guarding the product’s secrets. The glow emanating from the box he peeks inside has drawn some Pulp Fiction comparisons.
Of course no amount of advance buzz will matter if the phone itself doesn’t deliver — but based on the rumors, it does seem that Samsung could be ready to unveil something big.
“Samsung is trying to do something different, and it’s looking like they succeeded,” said Stephen A. Blum of Tellus Venture Associates. “The performance specs that were leaked, if accurate, put the S IV into laptop-class power range. It’ll be interesting to see the apps that are written to take advantage of it.”
Possibly even more interesting than what’s inside the phone could be the handset’s new design.
“The form factor is what’s going to get the attention,” Blum told TechNewsWorld. “If a phone that big is embraced by consumers, it’ll change the content and network sides of the equation, too.”
The handset’s presumed 5-inch screen, on the heels of Samsung’s launch last week of the 8-inch Note tablet, suggests that Samsung is in a supersizing mode.
“It raises viewing expectations, which in turn means fatter media and heavier traffic,” added Blum. “The buzz Samsung is creating is fine — they do that well — and having a readily identifiable signature phone could lead to more buzz and more sales.”
Samsung could hit it out of the park with a radically redesigned Galaxy phone. On the other hand, many Galaxy fans may want more of the same, and they might prefer smaller changes. The question is whether Samsung’s gamble will pay off among consumers merely looking to upgrade their phone to the next model.
“We have seen updates work and fail in the past, depending on how different they actually are,” said telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan.
For example, Apple has given the iPhone a major overhaul with every other update, making incremental changes to releases between, he pointed out.
“This has not hurt Apple,” Kagan maintained, “so we have to ask, is the next version of the Samsung Galaxy S IV going to be a totally new product, or just a little better here and there?”
“If it’s called ‘S IV,’ I would think it would be a total update, but it doesn’t have to be,” he added.
In any case, the handset makers may have to do more to attract consumers who are just now making the transition from a feature phone to a smartphone.
“It is about the functionality more than the device,” said Silva.
“We’re starting to come out of the heady moments with smartphone growth,” he added, and it “is only going to slow down.”