Gadgets: Samsung Galaxy S4 unveiled

It wasn't as bad as Qualcomm's Born Mobile debacle at CES, but Samsung really pushed the schmaltz at today's Galaxy S4 reveal event involving role-playing families, awkward clapping and worst of all – child actors.

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With Samsung's popularity (and its $400 million mobile ad budget in the US alone), the Galaxy S4 is more than likely to do well in sales. However,  today's hype definitely did not stack up against the revealed product.

The Galaxy S4 hardware is there or there abouts with competitors like the HTC One or the Sony Xperia Z.  The addition of a humidity sensor is just an outright gimmick (in fairness there are some other features like a barometer and gesture control). Design-wise the S4 looks nearly identical to its predecessor, with only slight changes in size. 

 
 

Display: 5-inch AMOLED , 1080 by 1920 pixels 

Processor: 1.9 GHz quad core or 1.6 GHz octacore (Samsung says it hasn't confirmed which version will be available in NZ)

Camera: 13 megapixel main camera

Operating System: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean

Dimensions: 137 x 70 x 8 mm and 130 grams

The software additions on the other hand are very interesting. S-Translate is what caught my eye the most. This app translates speech and text in nine languages, doing away with the need for pesky phrase books when travelling.  The service requires a data connection to do the heavy lifting of the translation in the cloud, eating into costly mobile data plans.  

Samsung has loaded its latest flagship phone with several apps like this that would in the past have been catered for by third-party developers. For instance S-health monitors calorie intake while Group Play shares music with friends across connected devices. There's several examples of these kinds of apps already in the Google Play marketplace, so is Samsung risking alienating Android developers? Speaking of Android, there was barely any mention of the S4's core operating system at the event at all. 

I'll leave my actual verdict for the device until I have the S4 in my hands. I'm not confident from what I've seen that it will unseat the Sony Xperia Z from the top of my phone pantheon, but if anything can it's Samsung.

The S4 will be available in New Zealand sometime in the second quarter of the year across the three major telcos, but no firm dates or prices yet.