Samsung’s main high-end handset will be the Galaxy S4 this year, and there’s no question about it, and there are already plenty of rumors offering details about the Galaxy S4’s design, specs, features and release dates.
With over a month to go until the product is announced we take a look at what’s being reported about the upcoming flagship device, at least up to know.
Product name and model number
Samsung made a lot of fuss about the product name of the Galaxy S3 last year at a time when Apple decided to drop the “3” from the “iPad 3” tablet and call the device simply the “iPad.” At the time it was speculated that the company could do the same with the iPhone – something that didn’t happen – and that other handset and tablet makers could follow suit when naming future device generations.
In the end, the third Galaxy S model was logically named “Galaxy S3,” a brand that Samsung managed to impose to worldwide carriers, especially U.S.-based ones.
This year, the fourth-gen Galaxy S model is already confirmed to be called the Galaxy S4, at least if a Samsung exec is to be believed. And we’re almost certain that will be the product name of the device. Furthermore, we’re also certain that worldwide carriers will use the same product name for the device, especially considering the popularity of its predecessor.
Speaking of popularity, Samsung is apparently expecting to sell 10 million Galaxy S4 units per month, at least if a report based on supply chain leaked data is to be believed, which would most likely make the handset the best sold Android device in the world. Update 1 (March 4, 2013): An analyst company has recently said that Galaxy S4 sales would top 100 million, with manufacturing requirements from third-party suppliers expected to somewhat hurt Apple’s own supply chain.
When it comes to model number, the Galaxy S4 is almost confirmed to be baptized the GT-I9500 internally (the device is apparently also known as “Altius” or Project J,) with variations of this product name describing international and LTE models – in fact a GT-I9500X model number has already been spotted on Samsung’s website in early January.
AT&T’s Galaxy S4 model number is believed to be SGH-I337, while one of the South Korean Galaxy S4 versions is said to have the SHV-E300S model number.
Update 1 (March 4, 2013): A variety of reports claim that Project J doesn’t include only one product, the Galaxy S4, but two others, the Galaxy S4 mini and an unconfirmed Galaxy Watch (that’s what we’re calling it until we find out more details about it).
Announcement and launch
Early reports suggested that the Galaxy S4 could arrive at CES 2013 in January or MWC 2013 in February, but the device was a no-show in Las Vegas (although we did talk to Samsung about the device at the event,) and it appears it won’t be present in Barcelona, Spain, either, at least not officially. The handset is said to have been shown behind closed doors at CES, but we have no idea whether Samsung will take a similar approach for MWC.
Update 1 (March 4, 2013): The Galaxy S4 announcement even will take place in New York on March 14, with Android Authority covering the show live for you. The event will be livestreamed on YouTube and aired in Times Square, in case you happen to have time to enjoy the whole presentation. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the first teaser video, although don’t expect to get a glimpse at the device just yet.
Following the announcement, the handset will start shipping in certain European markets by early April and head to other markets in the months after that. U.S. carriers are said to start selling the device in May or June, therefore about a year after stocking the Galaxy S3.
Update 1 (March 4, 2013): However, a leaked report from a South Korean analyst company reveals that the Galaxy S4 could be launched in the weeks following the official announcement, or sometime in March, although there’s no actual launch date available yet. The Galaxy S4 mini also has its own rumored release date, with some reports saying that the handset will hit stores at some point in May.
We expect the Galaxy S4 to come with a high-end price, although it should be fairly affordable when purchased with new contracts. Specific details regarding pricing structure for the Galaxy S4 is not available at this time.
The Galaxy S4 is rumored to be slightly bigger than its predecessor, sporting a 4.99-/5-inch Super AMOLED Full HD resolution display – Full HD panels seem to be a must-have feature for this year’s high-end Android handsets. But we have no idea whether the display will feature Samsung’s Youm flexible display technology – which was demoed at CES 2013 as well – or whether only other Samsung devices will feature Youm displays this year.
While some reports say that Samsung will use its eight-core Exynos 5 Octa processor that was unveiled a few weeks ago at CES in the Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy S4 is also rumored to pack the same CPU. The Exynos 5 Octa is expected to deliver improved performance but also enhanced battery life thanks to its big.LITTLE chip technology.
Other Galaxy S4 hardware features will reportedly include an eight-core Mali-T658 GPU, 2GB of RAM, 13-megapixel main camera (the first images taken with Galaxy S4 images have been apparently leaked,) 16/32/64GB of storage (will Samsung also go to 128GB of built-in memory, microSD card not included?) a 2600mAh battery (if not bigger), NFC, LTE and Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean right out of the box (at least according to some leaked benchmarks).
Update 1 (March 4, 2013): Since we initially published this article (about a month ago,) there was a lot of speculation regarding the Galaxy S4′s processor. More and more reports have hit the web saying that the Galaxy S4 will come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor instead of an Exynos 5 Octa. The rumor was then slightly changed, as an analyst said that the handset will come in multiple versions, with LTE-enabled Galaxy S4 models to sport Qualcomm’s CPU, while non-LTE variants to pack Samsung’s latest processor.
However, in spite of all those reports, a fresh AnTuTu benchmark seems to suggest that the Galaxy S4 will use Samsung’s eight-core processor and will have LTE support, thus implying that a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 may not be in the picture after all. The same benchmark test reveals that the Galaxy S4 will indeed have a 4.99-inch touchscreen display with 1920 x 1080 resolution (Full HD), 2GB of RAM, PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU, 16/32GB of memory, 13-megapixel camera, 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean under the hood.
Furthermore, a rumor also claimed that the Galaxy S4 will not pack an AMOLED display, which would be replaced by an LCD variant, although we’ll have to wait for Samsung’s event to solve this particular mystery.
In addition to what we have already mentioned, there are several reports out there detailing certain special features for the Galaxy S4.
Samsung will reportedly drop the PenTile display technology, a criticized feature of many Android devices depending on who you ask, and adopt a new hexagon-based matrix for the Galaxy S4, and possibly other devices. Production of 4.99-inch panels is reportedly underway ahead of the early April launch.
Update 1 (March 4, 2013): As we have already said just above, a new rumor says that Samsung will replace AMOLED with LCD for its Galaxy S4, and while that report did not say anything about a hexagon-based matrix, it certainly looks like Samsung is ready to ditch PenTile displays – not that any of this is confirmed yet.
Speaking about display improvements, we’ll also mention different ways to interact with the handset, excluding the regular touch input. The handset is said to sport floating touch gestures, something that could help Samsung differentiate its flagship product from the bulk of Android handsets out there.
Update 1 (March 4, 2013): The gestured-based interface we saw in earlier reports seems to be confirmed by a new rumor that says the Galaxy S4 not feature an S Pen, but that it will offer support for more gestures.
Eye Pause and Eye Scroll eye tracking technologies are also said to be available on the Galaxy S4, to further enhance the way users interact with the device.
Since we’re touching on software features, we’ll add that the South Korean Android maker is also rumored to kick off a new software update policy starting with its Galaxy S4, which could mean that Android updates will become available to certain Samsung devices a lot faster than before, although the move may also have unwanted effects for certain consumers.
Finally, wireless charging is another feature that will be available to future Galaxy S4 owners, with the device ready to offer support for QI wireless charging technology. However, the back plate and charger are supposed to be sold separately, and they’ll most likely be available to consumers after the device hits stores.
Update 1 (March 4, 2013): Additional reports have revealed that the Galaxy S4 will offer its own Photo Sphere-like feature called Samsung Orb. Moreover, the handset could offer some sort of health-related features, with a new accessory like the smartwatch we mentioned earlier possibly being used to deliver this rumored health functionality.
On top of that, the Galaxy S4 is almost certainly going to feature a NFC-based Visa payWave integration, as Samsung and Visa have announced at MWC 2013 a few days ago a multi-device partnership that will see the payWave mobile payment app pre-loaded on future NFC-ready Galaxy smartphones.
You may have noticed that we didn’t start talking about the Galaxy S4 design from the beginning of the article, as one would when talking about an upcoming device, because we have no idea what the handset will look like.
As you can see, there are already several purported images out in the wild that show the Galaxy S4, but none of them has been confirmed so far, with some of them already having been proven as concepts.
Samsung managed to keep the Galaxy S3 final design under wraps last year, although we’ve seen plenty of Galaxy S3 leaks prior to its early May 2012 announcement, so we expect the company to do the same with the Galaxy S4. That doesn’t mean we won’t see even more leaked images in the coming weeks, because that’s surely going to happen.
Update 1 (March 4, 2013): A few recently surfaced images - blurry, dark and questionable - are said to show the design lines of the Galaxy S4, although there’s still no clear Galaxy S4 leak in the wild. If these images are to be trusted, then we may see Samsung use a design that’s more similar to the Galaxy S2 than the Galaxy S3.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that Eldar Murtazin says the Galaxy S4 will have a plastic shell, a feature that will certainly make the HTC One with its slick unibody design look even better.
Will the Galaxy S4 look like Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2? Will it sport a totally different design? Will it keep the Home button? Will it be available in more colors right from launch? While we think we have a general idea of the phone’s hardware and potential special features we can’t answer these design-related questions right now.
Update 1 (March 4, 2013): A recent report does say that the Galaxy S4 will come in two color versions and three capacities at launch, although we definitely expect Samsung to offer the handset in various other colors in the months following the official release.
We’ll remind you that nothing is yet official, and these Galaxy S4 reports, no matter how trusted the source is, are unconfirmed, so take everything with a grain of salt for now. But we’ll keep close tabs on the Galaxy S4 rumor mill, as more leaks and rumors are certainly going to hit the web in the coming months.
What would you like to get from the Galaxy S4?
Update 1 (March 4, 2013): We have more questions for you though! What do you think the Galaxy S4 needs to outshine the HTC One? Do you think Samsung’s flagship will disappoint in any way?