Galaxy S4 design story posted by Samsung [video]

April 29, 2013
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A video telling the design story of the Galaxy S4 has been posted on Samsung Tomorrow’s YouTube channel, revealing some of the design principles behind the company’s flagship device.

Just like with the Galaxy S3 about a year ago, Samsung decided to release a Galaxy S4 design video, but this time around it posted it a lot closer to the handset’s launch. In it, you’ll hear Samsung designers talking about Galaxy S4 design lines, but also about some of the new software features part of Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface.

In addition to all the new information provided by the company on the design process of the Galaxy S4, we will notice some inconsistencies between what designers say.

When talking about the motif of the phone, Product Designer Hyoungshin Park says that “while Galaxy S3 has natural elements as a motif, in Galaxy S4, the form factor was designed with a more rational approach and the CMF [it most likely stands for “Color, Material, Finish,” as Samsung doesn’t say in the video] was created with more emotional elements in mind,” suggesting that Samsung moved from nature to emotional elements.

But then, in the following shots, Product Designer Jongbo Jung says that the Galaxy S4 is inspired by nature after all, comparing it with a “precious stone glittering in the dark, or countless stars sparkling in the night sky” revealing that Samsung designers were “inspired by these kinds of elements in nature” after all when making the Galaxy S4.

Park also says that the Galaxy S4 is “not a radical difference, but more of an evolution,” presumably from the Galaxy S3. That’s basically what anyone would notice when comparing the Galaxy S4 with the Galaxy S3, and it shouldn’t be perceived as a bad thing.

But then other Samsung designers keep asking us, or themselves, the following question: “Like nothing you’ve ever seen before?” The question appears a couple of times in the almost 4-minute video, which makes us wonder how can something be “like nothing you’ve ever seen before” while being “more of an evolution” at the same time?

At the end of the video, Vice President of Product Design Minhyouk Lee says that Samsung tries to create something completely new with every smartphone, Galaxy S4 included:

People say there is nothing more you can design in smartphones, but in Samsung Design, despite this challenge, we believe we can create something new, something that brings greater value to people. That’s what we think.

This statement also seems to somewhat agree with the fact that the Galaxy S4 is an evolution but at the same time it antagonizes the “not a radical” comment offered before.

Maybe the problem with the video is that Samsung tries to simultaneously explain software features and the design process at the same time, without separating the two. Separately, the design can be perceived as an evolution from the Galaxy S3, while some UI elements are new and can be classified as something that you’ve never seen before. But the messages seem to be somewhat lost in translation.

More importantly, the company’s preference for plastic is not explained in the video, even though it has been criticized over the years both because of its feel but also durability – our Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 drop test shows you how the new Samsung handset performs in accidental drops (see video below).

What the company seems more interested in promoting is the UI on top of Android. Samsung’s software features for the Galaxy S4 have been the center of the announcement event, and have been met with some criticism from users.

In our Galaxy S4 review we show you both hardware details, talk about design and present the new software features (check out the following video for a shorter version).

While Samsung doesn’t address some manufacturing questions – rumor has it that the company toyed with the idea of using metal for the Galaxy S4 – and while it seems to contradict itself in the design video above, the fact remains that the handset is already selling like hot cakes considering the shortages that have already affected its launch and is likely to become the best-sold Android handset in the world, replacing its predecessor along the way.

How do you feel about Samsung’s design choices for the Galaxy S4? What do you think about the added software features?

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