Now that BlackBerry 10's launch has come and gone, the Samsung Galaxy S IV's unveiling on March 14 is the next big event on the smartphone calendar. The event will signal the direction of the growing Samsung-Apple competition, and rumors are flying.
The newest Galaxy will be rolled out with an event in New York. The Galaxy S III, unveiled last year in London, has turned out to be a blockbuster for the company, which is the world's largest handset maker. More than 40 million S III's have been sold to date.
There had been some expectations that the S IV would be released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, but Samsung has opted for the new star to have its own opening show. The IV is expected to be available for sale by sometime in May or June, although the actual name has not been confirmed as being "IV." Invitations sent to the press for the March event declare: "Ready 4 the show. Come and meet the next Galaxy."
First to Outsell iPhone
Expectations are high and, according to Strategy Analytics, the S III was the first smartphone to outsell Apple's iPhone, in the third quarter of last year -- 18 million units compared with 16.2 million. The competition is thus intense for the two companies, not to mention that they are the top two phone makers in the world, and have been carrying on a fierce, worldwide patent legal war.
There is some speculation as to whether Samsung will choose to revamp the model's body construction. The III's polycarbonate plastic body, while highly durable, has received some less than enthusiastic feedback about its look, compared with the sleek handset bodies that are emerging on other Android models such as the HTC One -- not to mention the iPhone's sleek exterior.
A larger and higher-resolution screen could be in the cards, perhaps as large as 5 inches and as sharp as a 1920x1080 AMOLED screen. The S III features a 4.7-inch display. The camera may be a standout, with reports the device will sport 13-megapixels. Does anyone actually need that kind of resolution on a smartphone, assuming they're not regularly producing large posters? Unlikely, but need doesn't appear to be the most important driving factor in the spec war among smartphones.
Jean Bean, 'Touchless Gesture'
An upgraded battery is expected, especially to handle a needier display and especially because batteries have become LTE Android phones' weak spots. Some observers speculate that Samsung may even choose to offer wireless charging.
The IV is expected to have Android Jelly Bean 4.2, possibly with more enhancements to the Samsung customized interface. One intriguing rumor is that new "touchless gesture" interface features will be added, by which a user can hover a finger over the screen to select links. A Korean publication has recently reported that this capability, which utilizes a front-facing camera and is available in the Sony Xperia sola, will be offered in a major way on the IV. This could certainly appeal to users who are tied of cleaning their smartphone screens.
Observers anticipate the Galaxy S will come in LTE and non-LTE versions for appropriate markets, and that the processors will be chosen in part to accommodate that capability. In the LTE markets, such as the U.S., that could mean the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 , a quad-core that is employed in the HTC One.