Samsung Electronics Co. unleashed its latest volley against Apple Inc. this week, releasing its Galaxy S4 smartphone. The S4’s key differentiators from previous generations, and from the iPhone 5, are a larger screen and gesture controls.
The S4 is the first Samsung phone to debut in the U.S. — Apple’s home turf. The two companies have been battling on several fronts: in the patent courts and in the smartphone and the tablet markets.
The S4 includes a variety of new features, including the ability to stop and start videos depending on whether someone is looking at the screen; flip between songs and photos at the wave of a hand; and record sound to run alongside snapped still pictures.
The South Korean company also released an iTunes-like media-content service called Samsung Hub, where users will be able to purchase and download videogames, books, music and videos. Apple has long been able to attract more users to its iPhones in part because of the popularity of its ecosystem of content that works seamlessly with its devices.
The Android-based S4 will be available by the end of April and rolled out to 327 carriers in 155 countries, including U.S. service providers Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA. It will use either Samsung's own applications processor or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon central processing chip, depending on the country. The device comes with a 5-inch screen, slightly larger than the previous model's 4.8 inches, and a body that is slightly thinner. The phone will connect to next-generation LTE networks and has capability to connect to higher speed Wi-Fi networks.
The product and the high-profile New York rollout are clear shots at Apple, which already is feeling pressure from Samsung. Earlier in the week, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller blasted Samsung and the Google Android software in select media interviews. Apple's shares have tumbled 20 percent as disappointing sales of iPhones raised fears that its dominance may be slipping.
Samsung did not release the exact rollout date and price of the S4.