The dust has started to settle on the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and we can take a step back and really have a look at what the S4 has to offer over its predecessor. Samsung will have you believe it’s the biggest upgrade to their flagship smartphone as of yet, but is that necessarily true? Other than the beefed up hardware, does it offer anything of value? Let’s glance over the new features.
- View Cover
While this is more an accessory, the feature would be how the device uses the accessory. You will notice the cover has a window which leaves a part of the screen open for viewing. This small section of the screen remains active for the user to check things like the time and notifications without the need to lift the cover.
- Air Gestures
This feature lets you scroll through pictures, preview menu items or scan through a video without needing to touch the screen. This is of course an extension of the Air View functionality we see on Galaxy Note devices.
- Group Play
It grants you the ability to play multiplayer games with friends on different phones, sync music to listen simultaneously and share files, all via NFC.
- Three New Camera Features
Samsung have never had the absolute best cameras on their smartphones, but they have been very decent none the less. They prefer adding more software wizardry rather than enhancing optics. It uses a lot of the same features that became available on the Galaxy Camera, with some additions. You have new scene modes, including Eraser. This allows you to take a quick series of pictures, where it will automatically delete any object that is in motion in that particular shot. Dual Shot allows you to take a photo with both the front and rear cameras as the same time, although we have no idea why you would want to do that. Finally, Drama Shot takes the burst shot capability and overlaps them, which shows you how an action scene plays out across time.
- IR Blaster
This feature transforms your Galaxy S4 into a universal remote control and TV guide. Apparently all you need to do is point it at your TV in order to activate. How this will work outside the USA and Europe remains to be seen.
- S Health
The phone now has a pedometer, temperature sensors and humidity sensors which it uses to detect and analyse your surroundings as well as your exercise regime. It allows you to input how much you eat and sleep as well helping you to better your routines and supplying exercise recommendations. Another accessory that uses this feature is the S-Band. It connects via Bluetooth to track your progress if you can’t or don’t want to exercise with your device.
- Smart Pause and Smart Scroll
In early testing, some journalists have commented that this feature isn’t a hundred percent reliable. The device tracks the movements of your eye to either scroll as you’re reading in the browser or an app, or pause a video should you look away from the screen at any time.
While there are a couple of these features that are truly useful, most notably the cover and S Health for fitness enthusiasts, the rest doesn’t seems to hold huge value for the average user. They might all be pretty neat and nifty, but to us it all just looks like gimmicks. Will all these features just be more bloatware that will slow your device in the future? We hope not, but luckily most of them can be toggled on or off.
What do you think of these features? Is there anything you would find extremely useful that would make the device an enticing buy? Let us know in the comments below.