Samsung's latest Superphone is… not quite here yet, but it's no longer any kind of secret. Here's everything you need to know to make an informed purchasing decision.
What Is It?
The Galaxy S4 is Samsung's latest top of the line Galaxy smartphone, unveiled last week in a glitzy/painfully awkward (delete depending on your viewpoint) launch event in New York City. It's unlikely that Samsung will try to top the Galaxy S4 in terms of its smartphone lines in 2013, outside the release of a third Galaxy Note model, but as yet that's strictly in rumour territory. So if you're a die-hard Samsung fan, this is as good as it's likely to get this year.
How Does It Compare?
The S4 will come with some pretty impressive hardware under the hood. Specifically, it's running either a four or eight core processor (it's not yet clear which model we'll see in Australia), a 5" 1980x1080 441ppi Super AMOLED display, 2GB RAM, 16GB/32GB/64GB of storage plus microSD, 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, NFC, Bluetooth, IR and 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi.
In terms of comparison with other smartphones, here's our guide to how the S4 stacks up against the other top contenders.
The hardware is only part of the story, however, with Samsung spending far more time on the associated software applications around the camera, smart scrolling and pausing, Knox for enterprise and personal data separation and group play features, to name but a few. If you're not a fan of phones with lots of additional apps, this might not appeal, but conversely, those who want lots of pre-installed custom built software may find it appealing.
At this stage, that's a very open question. All three of the major local carriers have signed on to stock the Galaxy S4 (including Optus offshoot Virgin), and Kogan has an expression of interest page promising "the world's best price", but as to what that price will be, nobody's talking just yet. In official terms, you're almost certainly talking in the $700-$900 outright price zone, or a $60 and upwards contract plan price.
Is It Worth It?
A tough question to answer. We've only had limited hands-on time with the Galaxy S4 and it certainly seems like a capable enough smartphone.
It's a step above the Galaxy S III and Note II, and that should be expected. Samsung's clearly put a lot of work into its software engineering this time around, and arguably a little less on the physical hardware design, given how closely this mirrors the Galaxy S III look and feel. The start of 2013 has seen a number of premium-end smartphones emerge, from the HTC One to the Sony Xperia Z. Samsung's hoping to top them all with the Galaxy S4, but we'll reserve final judgement until we've had proper testing time.