This year has been very busy for the Android enthusiasts and the phone manufacturers, a year packed with lots of interesting smartphone releases. We've seen the HTC One X released in April, the Samsung Galaxy S3 debuting in late May, and the Galaxy Note 2 hitting the market a few days ago. The LG Optimus G will arrive soon and the Android fans are also expecting the debut of the next-gen Nexus smartphone.
It's not an easy task to choose the right Android smartphone for you, that's why some of you may ask about Samsung Galaxy S4 release date. Others may be forced to wait until 2013 to buy a new Android smartphone because they are tied on a contract with a carrier.
Well, it seems that Samsung Galaxy S4 release date will be in July 2013. No, we don't have any sources close to Samsung, no insiders at the company's supply chain, nor "little birdies" giving us anonymous tips. This is just an educated guess based on Samsung's previous launches and the company's marketing strategy and approach in the battle against Apple.
We all know that the Cupertino-based company is Samsung's biggest rival on the phone segment. The South Korea-based company have stolen the crown from Apple and is now world's biggest smartphone vendor. Even so, the Asians will constantly try to stab deeper into iPhone's market share and a new flagship is always set to do so. In 2012 Samsung Galaxy S3 has set a new sales record for Samsung and the Android-powered smartphone market. In 2013, Samsung Galaxy S4 is supposed to be even more popular. The smartphone market continues to grow, which basically translates into better sales for the big players of the segment.
Since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S, each new flagship Android smartphone of the South Koreans was sold better than its predecessor. Samsung Galaxy S was outsold by Galaxy S2, Samsung reporting that 10 million GS2 units were shipped 5 months after the official launch. Galaxy S3 is by far the best selling Android-powered smartphone manufactured by Samsung: 30 million units were shipped in the first 100 days after the launch. Now, everyone expects the Samsung Galaxy S4 to be even more popular than its predecessor.
The analysts are estimating that 660 million smartphones will be shipped by the end of 2012, with a growth of 21.4% forecasted for 2013. Of course, both Apple's and Samsung's shipments will grow, but the South Koreans are seeking to bite an even larger chunk of iPhone's market share, with Samsung Galaxy S4 on song.
You are probably aware of the buzz created around the launch of the new iPhone models, thus the best Samsung can do is introduce its flagship smartphones ahead of Apple, in order to push the customers into signing two year contracts with carriers and stop them from buying the newest iOS smartphones.
The first Galaxy was meant to be a competitor for the iPhone 4. It was released in June close to the debut of iPhone 4, with not enough time left to hurt iPhone 4's sales. Next year the Samsung Galaxy S2 was made available for purchase in April, while Apple launched the iPhone 4S six months later, in October. By that time the Galaxy S2 sales were going down, as the customers already forgot about the smartphone launched by Samsung.
Statistics have indicated that the popular devices reach the sales peak in the first quarter after the launch, therefore the Samsung Galaxy S3 has hit the market at the right time and its sales were not affected by the iPhone 5 launch. I guess that the South Korean phone maker will have a similar approach for 2013. It will try to give the Samsung Galaxy S4 enough time (three months) to hit at the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, or whatever the guys at Apple decide to call it.
The next iPhone will probably be released in September or October. Apple will not unveil a new smartphone in less than a year interval since the debut of the previous model, as the new iPhone with badly affect the previous' sales. So, Samsung will have to set the Samsung Galaxy S4 release date three months earlier, in late June or early July. I would go for the latter option.
There were some rumors saying that Samsung Galaxy S4 will be announced at Mobile World Congress 2013 in February, but, personally, I'm taking them with a pinch of salt. If the terminal is announced in February, then the Samsung Galaxy S4 release date would probably be scheduled for March, and, in my opinion, this would be to early to be able to fight against the next iPhone. I don't believe Samsung will make the same mistake it did with Samsung Galaxy S2, therefore, the next-gen flagship will be unveiled in a special event, sometime mid-June.
So far, Apple used to introduce its iPhones during the summer. The first four generations of iOS smartphones were all announced in the June - July time frame at the WWDC conferences. The pattern was changed by the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 which were both unveiled in the fall, October and September, respectively. Meanwhile, Apple centered the WWDC event on presenting new iOS and Mac OS X versions. Since Samsung is one of Apple's part suppliers the company's officials are probably aware when Apple's products are launched, so they ought to be able to schedule the Samsung Galaxy S4 release date to allow the device start a new war against the next iPhone.
With all these being said, my guess is that the Samsung Galaxy S4 release date will be set for early July 2013, a couple of weeks after a Samsung Unpacked event in mid-June.
The Asians have learned that they must make the smartphone available for purchase soon after the official announcement, as otherwise the hype created by the launch event would fade out.
Even though the sale figures don't reflect it, the last two Apple smartphones, namely iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, have disappointed some of the Apple's fans. That's why Samsung must take advantage of Apple's slight drop in popularity and show the customers that it is the company that is constantly trying to innovate and bring the best products for them.
Samsung Galaxy S4 is bound to bring a new design language and new features in order to be able to withstand iPhone's huge popularity. The technical specifications are another weapon against the iOS terminals and against other products on the smartphone market, so let's have a look at some of the technologies that might be used for the next-generation Galaxy flagship.
Many have complained that the iPhone is getting boring, because Apple refuses to ditch the design introduced in 2010 by the iPhone 4, so the Samsung designers must not make the same mistake. The Samsung Galaxy S4 will have to look better than its predecessors and, most important, it will have to bring a new design that looks fresh.
Some said that GS3's design is bad, while others appreciated it. Controversies like this boost sales and, in my opinion, Samsung's "inspired by nature" design language was a good move and a good way to start something new. The designers of the South Korean phone maker must continue on the same note but yet bring something new, some new shapes and design ideas. Maybe the design of the next Samsung flagship will get its inspiration from space or plants and we will get colors like Mars Red or Ebony Black, or who knows?
The Samsung Galaxy S4 might be good-looking enough to please the most, but also ugly enough to outrage others, which will try to bash it, creating a controversy around it, ending up providing free advertising for Samsung.
The Samsung Galaxy flagships have grown bigger each year. Slimmer, but bigger. This trend must stop or else the terminals will become uncomfortable when it comes to controlling them with one hand. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is 13.7 cm tall and 7 cm wide and, in my opinion something beyond this size would bother the users, well, unless they have the hands of a Yeti. So, please guys, don't make the Samsung Galaxy S4 bigger than the previous model.
On the other hand, I am expecting the Samsung Galaxy S4 to be thinner than its predecessor, its profile dropping below the 8 mm threshold, but still thick enough to accommodate a generous battery capable of supporting all the smartphone's hardware components.
Before the Galaxy S3 was released it was rumored that Samsung has ditched the two capacitive buttons and the physical Home button in the early prototypes, but then, for some reason, they decided to put them back on. Maybe the officials decided to keep this design idea for the next generation smartphone.
The picture above is the closest I could find to match my view on the design of Samsung Galaxy S4. The smartphone will probably not have the same shape as the one you are seeing above, but it might have an edge-to-edge display and a buttonless front panel. The Galaxy Nexus does just fine without a physical Home button and the two capacitive keys on the bottom end, while the Android experience is cleaner with the three soft keys embedded into the system software.
Samsung is aware that the display is their main advantage over the iPhone. So far, all the Galaxy flagships outmatched their Apple rivals when it came to web browsing, watching videos and gaming experience courtesy of their bigger displays and I am confident that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will make no exception.
So will the Samsung Galaxy S4 come with a bigger display? Probably yes, but certainly not bigger than 5-inches or else it would trespass Galaxy Note's territory, and some of the company's customers might choose the S4 over the company's phablets.
But because the Samsung Galaxy S4 could feature a 5-inch display doesn't mean the terminal will be bigger. By implementing an edge-to-edge display and a buttonless front panel with three Android-specific soft buttons, the GS4 would provide an experience similar to the one of a 4.8-inch display. The rest is marketing.
Earlier this month Sharp introduced a 5-inch display with full HD resolution developed for mobile devices. The Japanese have opened a road, and if their display catches on, Samsung might also build one of their own, so we might actually get a full HD Super AMOLED display on the next-gen Galaxy flagship. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
As about the flexible displays the South Koreans presented at CES 2011 I don't think we'll see them on the Samsung Galaxy S4. I just don't see Samsung taking such a risk and test the flexible AMOLED display on one of their flagships.
Well, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be a challenge for the company's hardware engineers. We've all heard that the dual-core processors based on ARM Cortex A15 technology can outscore the quad-core processors underpinned by ARM Cortex A9. I know that, you know that, the tech savy guys know that, but it would be almost impossible to persuade the public that a dual-core is actually better than a quad-core. It's like trying to tell them that having two double-cheeseburgers is better than four cheeseburgers, which in fact it is, as you get to eat less bread and enjoy the same amount of tasty meat and cheese.
Even though Samsung officially introduced the new Exynos 5 Dual SoC, based on two Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.7 GHz, the South Korean company will probably not use it on its next-gen flagship smartphone out of pure marketing reasons. This SoC will be probably licensed to other manufactures or maybe used for one of the company's mid-range smartphones.
The Galaxy S4 will most likely sport a Samsung proprietary quad-core Cortex A15 processor (probably named Exynos 5 Quad), a response to Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro that uses the Krait design, which is yet considered the most powerful CPU on the market, helped by an Adreno 320 GPU which scored an impressive 132 fps in GLBenchmark tests compared to Galaxy S3's 99 fps. You will find the Snapdragon S4 Pro solution fitted inside high-end smartphones like the LG Optimus G.
The Exynos 5 Dual processor also comes with a quad-core Mali-T604 GPU, but the quad-core version designed for the Samsung Galaxy S4 will probably be helped by a Mali-T628 unit with eight cores which provides up to twice the graphics and GPU compute performance of the Mali-T624, helping the GS4 enter the playground opened by Nexus 7.
The 4G is a major selling point for any high-end smartphone model and even Apple figured it out and integrated an LTE chip inside its iPhone 5. Both Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2, the latest high-end apparitions from Samsung come with 4G support, so the Samsung Galaxy S4 is bound to get it, too.
In my opinion Samsung made a mistake with the Exynos 4 Quad chipset fitted inside the international Galaxy S3 model which, unfortunately doesn't come with 4G support. Since many of the North American customers want to have LTE on their smartphones, Samsung ditched the Exynos 4 Quad processor and replaced it with a dual-core Snapdragon S4 solution on the US variant that, as consolation, comes with 2 GB of RAM.
The maker of the Galaxy figured where the mistake was really quick and fixed the problem on the 1.6 GHz Exynos 4 Quad that powers the Galaxy Note 2, which is now optimized for the US LTE networks.
Samsung showed they are capable of learning from their mistakes, so I am pretty confident that the processor that will underpin the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be compatible with the US 4G networks.
Of course, Samsung Galaxy S4 will come with WiFi in all standards, WiFi Direct, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth, microUSB and 3.5 mm audio jack, and definitely a NFC chip. Maybe the South Koreans will to something funny and interesting with the NFC, as those Tags have some potential.
Well, nothing out of ordinary will happen here. We will see the same model with three different internal storage options: 16, 32 and 64 GB of storage. Since the first Samsung Galaxy S hit the market the company have provided support for microSD cards, and the Galaxy S4 will certainly have one of those slots inside it.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with 2 GB of RAM in North America, South Korea, Australia and Japan. On the other hand Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will sport 2 GB of RAM on all the markets, including Europe, so you should expect the Samsung Galaxy S4 to come with 2 GB of RAM, as well.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with an 8 megapixel camera, but so did the SGS2. Of course, even though both devices have an 8 megapixel sensor, the real-life tests have proved that the unit installed on the latest Samsung flagship is way better than the one of the previous generation.
Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with face and smile detection, image stabilization simultaneous HD video and image recording, full HD video support and a BSI sensor.
Apple also brought an 8 megapixel camera on its iPhone 5. Just like Samsung did, the Americans borrowed the 8 megapixel iSight camera from the previous generation smartphone and made it better. The new camera installed on the iPhone 5 is definitely better than the one installed on the iPhone 4S and some real-life tests have indicated that it outmatches Galaxy S3's unit, too, when it comes to taking photos in low light conditions. Yes, some users complained about the "Purple Halo" effect of the smartphone's camera, but we are not here to talk about Apple's problems.
Anyway, since the iPhone 5's camera outperforms the Galaxy S3's, then Samsung will have to bring a new and better camera sensor for the Galaxy S4. As I mentioned before, Samsung's only weapon against the frenzy created around the Apple product launches is to bring newer and better hardware specifications.
Therefore, we might see a 12 or 13 megapixel camera installed on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Maybe the South Koreans will include some awesome features, too, like the 720p @ 120 fps video recording capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Camera.
Even though I want to believe that Samsung Galaxy S4 will come pre-loaded with Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, Kiwi Cheesecake, Kheer, or whatever Google decides to name the next version of their mobile operating system, I don't think we'll see it installed out of the box on the next-gen Samsung flagship.
Rumor has it that Android 5.0 will debut sometime mid 2013 meaning it will be close to Samsung Galaxy S4 release date. So, the company's software engineers will not have enough time to mess around with it and optimize it to bring the best experience for the new smartphone.
Moreover, each new Galaxy flagship brought the Android version released a few months ahead of its debut. So far, we've had Samsung Galaxy S running on Android 2.2 Froyo, Galaxy S2 powered by Android 2.3 Gingerbread and, now, the Galaxy S3 on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. This pattern indicates that Samsung Galaxy S4 will most likely run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean as it leaves the factory gates.
Of course, this doesn't mean that the Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie will not come as an update as soon as the South Korean company optimize it for their smartphones.
Everyone expects Samsung Galaxy S4 to come with a new version of the TouchWiz UI, customized with features that are supposed to make the customer's life easier. Samsung Galaxy S3 introduced features like Direct Call, Smart Alert, Tap to Top, S Voice, Smart Stay, Pop up Play or Palm swipe to capture, while Galaxy Note 2 brought an even more interesting one, dubbed Multi Window. The Multi Window feature allows you to simultaneously open two apps on the same screen being an extension of the already-awesome multitasking system in Jelly Bean.
Therefore I am expecting all these plus many other more coming along with the next-generation Samsung Galaxy flagship smartphone.
So far, especially this year, Samsung have shown us that they have learned how to fight against their biggest rival, Apple. Constantly pushing their limits and attempting to bring the best experience for the users, the South Koreans manged this year to release two awesome smartphones (GS3 and Note 2) and everyone expects the next year's flagship to be even better.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I am expecting the Samsung Galaxy S4 release date to be scheduled sometime early July, after the device will be unveiled in a special Samsung Unpacked event mid-June.
Regarding the technical specifications and the design of the Samsung Galaxy S4, we should expect some surprises. All the aforementioned specs are just my view on the next-gen Samsung ubersmartphone, after I looked closely at the South Korean's previous products and marketing strategies.
Summing up, we might see a Samsung Galaxy S4 with a 5-inch display and a processor based on four Cortex A15 cores arriving in July. Do you think otherwise? Please let us know in the comments section below.