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Samsung Galaxy S4 Release Date, Specs, and Rumors (Mid-week Round-up)

As the Samsung Galaxy S4 release date is getting near, the rumors about the next-gen flagship of the South Korea-based company are starting to pile-up. A lot of Samsung Galaxy S4 leaks made the headlines of the tech publications over the past couple of months, and even though Samsung didn’t officially reveal its smartphone we already know almost everything about it.

Even though the interwebs were flooded with Samsung Galaxy S4 specs and features, many of them should be taken with a pinch of salt until the Android-powered smartphone is announced. One thing is certain: the Samsung Galaxy S4 release date is set for March 14th, confirming Eldar Murtazin’s report, the popular Russian blogger who accurately predicted the date of the Samsung Unpacked event.

Galaxy S4 is expected to become the best-selling Android smartphone and the analysts are saying that Samsung aims to ship more than 100 million S4 units world wide in 2013. Everyone expects the new flagship to dominate the high-end Android market, but the SGS4 will have serious competitors. Sony announced the water and dust proof Xperia Z, while HTC announced the interesting HTC One, not to mention that the rumor mill says that Google and Motorola will launch the X Phone, which will be a “game changer.”

Of course, one of Samsung’s goals is to outsell its biggest rival, Apple. Reports are saying that the Cupertino-based company wants to return to its old habits and launch the next-gen iPhone during the summer. In order to be able to hurt of iPhone 5’s sales, but also compete against the next-gen iPhone, unofficially dubbed iPhone 5S, Samsung has scheduled the launch of the Galaxy S4 mid March, while the smartphone will hit the stores early April. This move would give the S4 two months to bite a big chunk of iPhone 5’s market share.

After the iPhone 5S will hit the market, the Samsung Galaxy S4 sales will probably slow down, but the South Korea-based has an ace up the sleeve in the fight against the iPhone 5S: the Galaxy Note 3, which will be reportedly announced late August, ahead of IFA Berlin 2013, but that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, let’s forget about the Samsung Galaxy S4 release date for a moment, and concentrate on the rumored technical specifications and features of the highly-anticipated smartphone.

Each and every smartphone enthusiast has high expectations from the Samsung Galaxy S4, but will the Asian phone maker deliver? A lot of buzz is created around the chipset underpinning the new terminal, especially after Samsung announced the Exynos 5 Octa SoC at CES 2013.

The Exynos 5 Octa is indeed an interesting chipset and the Samsung fans do have real reasons to want it under the hood of the S4. Exynos 5 Octa has an octo-core configuration and is manufactured on 28 nm architecture. Samsung has used ARM’s big.LITTLE technology with four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz that will join the action when processing power is required and four 1.2 GHz Cortex A7 cores for regular tasks like calls, web browsing, or listening to music. Samsung says that the Exynos 5 Octa is 70% more battery friendly than the dual-core Exynos 5 Dual.

The Exynos 5 Ocata chipset has a tri-core PowerVR SGX544MP, allegedly clocked at 533 MHz, which promises a 3D performance somewhere between the ones delivered by the iPad 3 and iPad 4.

Other sources say that the Exynos 5 Octa chipset will not make under the case of the next-gen Galaxy S, because Samsung has secretly built a Cortex A15-powered quad-core Exynos 5 Octa unit for the new smartphone, while the octo-core SoC will debut on the Galaxy Note 3. I call it pure fantasy.

Other rumors are saying that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will ditch the Exynos chipset and that the new device will be powered by a Snapdragon 600 chipset. Anyway, some benchmark logs have indicated that the Galaxy S4 might actually come with a Snapdragon 600 processor. It seems that the reason for the switch is that the Exynos 5 Octa has overheating issues, which forced Samsung to choose a Qualcomm unit.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 is, for the time being, the most powerful chipset fitted on a smartphone, boasting four Krait 300 cores clocked at 1.7 GHz and Adreno 320 GPU. Surprisingly enough the Snapdragon 600 unit fitted on the Galaxy S4 prototypes was overcloked at 1.9 GHz.

Now that you know what the gossips say about the Galaxy S4 processor, let me tell you what’s my personal opinion on the matter. Since both Exynos 5 Octa-powered and Snapdragon 600-powered GT-I9500 prototypes have been caught in the benchmark logs, the South Korean company might actually launch several Galaxy S4 variants.

As you probably remember last year’s Exynos 4 Quad Galaxy S3 was not compatible with the LTE networks in the United States and because the 4G is a major selling point of the mother smartphones (especially on the North American market), Samsung fitted a less powerful-but-LTE-friendly dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor on the US and Canadian variants of the flagship.

This might be the case with the Galaxy S4, too. While the international variant will pack the Exynos 5 Octa processor, the Galaxy S4 variants retailed by the carries with 4G coverage will come with the Snapdragon 600. If you are reading this from the US, you shouldn’t be worried at all, as the benchmarks have proven that the HTC One smashes any other terminal in Quadrant. Now imagine HTC One’s 1.7 GH quad-core processor of the HTC One overclocked at 1.9 GHz.

Moreover, last year, the North American variant of the Galaxy S3 received 2GB of RAM, while the global model only had 1 GB of RAM, thus except some exclusive goodies on the US territory.

Talking about RAM, I guess that the Galaxy S4 will come with 2GB of RAM, lining up with the other high-end Android smartphones that were released over the past 6 months.

After HTC launched Droid DNA, the full HD 5-inch displays are somewhat becoming the standard on the Android smartphone segment. At CES 2013 we’ve seen the Xperia Z boasting a 5-inch full HD display and earlier this month HTC unveiled One with a 4.7-inch full HD display.

Because Samsung can’t stay behind competition we are expecting the Galaxy S4 to drop with a 1,080p 5-inch display with 16:9. Some sources say it will actually be a 4.99-inch display, but what’s the difference? What’s really important is the technology Samsung will use for the display. There are some controversies regarding Galaxy S4’s display, as well.

A week-old report says that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will ditch the Super AMOLED display for a SoLux display. Even though we don’t know anything concrete about the SoLux panel, it might be based on LCD3 technology, like the one used for the construction of HTC One’s display.

Even though Super AMOLED displays have their fans, personally, I will not miss it. While the Super AMOLED displays come with unrivaled contrast and almost 180-degree viewing angle, their color reproduction is not what’d you’d call accurate. Moreover, Super AMOLED’s visibility under direct sunlight is almost zero.

The general perception is that the Super AMOLED displays are more battery-friendly that the LCD displays, but it’s only half true. When the Super AMOLED displays produces black, it simply turns off the pixels in that area, and some say this reduces battery consumption. What it’s less known is that the Super AMOLED displays consume twice as much power compared to the LCD displays when producing white.

A Super AMOLED display might indeed eat less battery than a LCD one, but for that you will have to use a black wallpaper and start reading white text on black background.

In my opinion an LCD3-based display for the Galaxy S4 is neither a step forward nor a step backwards and will be warmly welcomed by many, while the Super AMOLED fanatics will say that their favourite would have done a better job.

If any of you guys hoped for a flexible display, I would have to disappoint you. The Samsung Galaxy S4 will definitely not come with a flexible screen. The Galaxy S smartphones are the best selling products of the Asian company and Galaxy S4 will make no exception. Samsung can’t know how the general public will react to a flexible display, so it won’t make any experiments on what is dubbed to become the best selling Android smartphone.

Of course, we might see a flexible Samsung smartphone later this year, but the Galaxy S4 will definitely not be that one.

Super AMOLED, LCD, I could care less, but what me and many of the potential Samsung Galaxy S4 are really looking for is a good design. You’ve probably seen tens of Galaxy S4 rendered photos hitting the web, but, in my opinion, none of them are even close to what Samsung is preparing.

Most of the Galaxy S4 concepts that made the headlines were made by enthusiasts and almost all of them didn’t sport a home button. I know most of you would love a button-less front panel for the S4, but it won’t happen. The Galaxy S4 will surely keep the physical Home button + two capacitive buttons trio beneath the display.

While some voices said that the Galaxy S4 will keep the design language introduced by its predecessor, a leaked photo of the smartphone suggests otherwise. It seems that the Galaxy S4 will have sharper edges than the S3, and while the back will be made of policarbonate the edges will be made of aluminium.

The dimensions of the Galaxy S4 leaked the same day with the photo and, according to the report, the new smartphone will be 140.1 mm tall, 71.8 mm wide and 7.7 mm thin, being 0.1 mm thicker than the iPhone 5. Of course, you should take the rumor with a pinch of salt, but we are keeping our fingers crossed hoping that the SGS4 will be this skinny.

If the rumors are accurate and the Galaxy S4 is 7.7 mm thin, this means that’s less place for the battery. Anyway, Sony has shown us with the Xperia Z that a 7.9 mm thick smartphone can still accommodate a 2,330 mAh battery, so you should expect a battery unit between 2,300 and 2,600 mAh to be fitted inside the Galaxy S4. In my opinion, pairing a 2,300+ mAh battery with the battery-friendly Exynos 5 Octa CPU would result into an autonomy of about two days of moderate usage, which will be an improvement from Galaxy S3’s one-day battery life.

Talking about improvements, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will certainly receive an upgrade in terms of camera, too. Sony Xperia Z and HTC One will be Galaxy S4 biggest rivals on the Android market, and both come with pretty amazing camera. While the Xperia Z packs an amazing 13 megapixel camera with photo and video image stabilization, the HTC One comes with an UltraPixel camera with 4 megapixel sensor, but 1/3” sensor size and three-times bigger pixels than normal.

Samsung can’t stay behind and it will fit a 13 megapixel camera on its next flagship, especially because iPhone 5S will also come with a 13 megapixel camera.

Earlier this month we’ve exclusively told you that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will come with a Photo Sphere-like 360-degree panorama mode called Samsung Orb, which will be the company’s ace up the sleeve in the fight against its competitors. The Samsung software engineer we had spoke to also said that Samsung Orb is sill in beta and if it’s not ready until the Galaxy S4 launch it will not come pre-loaded on the smartphone, but it will be added later via a software update. Hopefully Samsung will get Orb ready in time and we will see it on the S4 out of the box.

In terms of software platform, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Of course, Samsung will apply its proprietary user interface on top of it. TouchWiz has gathered a lot of fans lately, especially after the user interface introduced a lot of interesting features when the Galaxy S3 was launched. I’ll remind you of Smart Stay, Direct Call, Pop-up-play, or Smart Alert, and it got even better when the Note 3 was announced, receiving Multi View and Air View.

Talking about Air View, rumor has it that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will come with touch-less gestures. According to the gossips, this feature will work in a way similar to Air View, only you won’t have to use an S-Pen, but simply hover your finger over certain items to display information about it.

Besides the regular goodies of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean like lockscreen widget and quick settings menu in the notifications area, some leaked Android 4.2.1 builds for Galaxy S3 might have revealed some of surprises the next-gen flagship has for us. Even though for the Galaxy S3 everything looks almost the same, the leaked build contains a new menu called voice control, which allows the user to reject/answer calls, stop or snooze alarm, take pictures, control the music player, or the FM radio with his voice.

Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will have more treats than the ones mentioned above, but the mystery will be solved in less than two weeks.

For those wondering why Samsung Galaxy S4 is not coming with Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie out of the box the answer is simple: because it’s impossible to. The new Android iteration will be officially announced at Google I/O event scheduled for mid May, and by that time the Samsung Galaxy S4 will have already sold millions. Anyway, Galaxy Note 3 will probably be Samsung’s first smartphone to run Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie out of the box.

The connectivity features list of the Galaxy S4 doesn’t sound as spectacular as the other technical specs. The new smartphone will probably come with Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.1, 3.5 mm audio jack, NFC chip, and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, and Wi-Fi hotspot. The most interesting aspect is by far the WiFi ac support, also featured by the HTC One, which brings way faster download speeds.

As usual, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available in two body colors: white and black, and even though last year’s Samsung flagship was available in Pebble Blue and Pearl White, the new smartphone will probably return to the white and black recipe.

The internal storage options will most likely be the same as always: 16, 32, or 64 GB, and it will also offer support for microSD cards. If Samsung really wants to be stand out from its competitors, then it should also release a limited edition Galaxy S3 with 128 GB of storage, not because anyone would need that much storage capacity, but only for the buzz the media will create around it.

That’s about all for now, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch event is less than two weeks away, and we will find out everything about the new smartphone then. Will the Samsung Galaxy S4 be good enough to compete against the likes of Sony Xperia Z or HTC One? What special features do you expect from the new flagship? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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