Samsung Galaxy S4 unveiled: eye-tracking voice-recognition and gesture sensor gadget
Samsung has unveiled its latest smartphone the Galaxy S4, a handset which senses when it has someone's attention and can be controlled by fingers hovering just above the screen.
The device, revealed last night at a global launch in New York, boasts never-before-seen technology, and some say it is the most threatening answer to the iPhone yet.
Its "smart pause" feature allows users to pause a video by looking away from the screen, and text on the go thanks to the voice recognition feature which has the capability to dictate, reply, forward and save messages using only verbal commands.
Its infrared gesture sensor lets users interact with the phone without touching the 5in (12.7cm) screen, and in the browser you can command the screen to scroll up by swiping from top to bottom a few inches from the phone.
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Users can also change music tracks or accept a call with a wave of a hand.
And its dual camera function can take two pictures at once, and insert a picture of the photographer even as he or she is capturing the scene in front of them.
It also has an erase feature, which allows the phone to take several pictures of a subject and then create a composite of the images to remove an unwanted aspect.
Samsung has also signed a deal with photo-printing service Blurb to enable users to quickly order printed albums of pictures.
The S4 is slightly thinner than its predecessor - 7.9mm thick - and weighs 130g. Which? Technology says: “You’ll really notice the difference when it comes to carrying the phone around in your pocket”.
The Which? review adds: “Featuring a 1.6GHz octa-core processor, 2GB Ram and 16GB internal storage, it will handle all your day-to-day tasks with no hassle at all.”
And the S4’s AMOLED technology means the screen has a resolution of 441 pixels per inch.
It boasts a number of “well-being” features such as scales and a heart-rate monitor, as well as a blood pressure and blood sugar monitor from other companies.
It also has an integrated IR-blaster to use as a TV remote and an in-built translator which can recognise nine languages.
The device will be on sale in the UK from April 26, and will be available through 327 mobile operators in 155 countries, including EE and Vodafone.
Samsung did not say what the phone will cost, but it can be expected to start at $200 with a two-year contract in the U.S, the Daily Mail reports.
The reaction to the S4 has been mixed - Luke Johnson of Trusted Reviews said it was “not the out-and-out game changer some were expecting”, while Matt Warman of the Daily Telegraph said “it's not a revolution but it's certainly an improvement”.
And Ovum chief telecom analyst Jan Dawson says the features are worthy additions but could prove to be a bit gimmicky in the long run.
Meanwhile Which? points out the “smart pause” feature “is likely to be a futuristic battery drain”.
But Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch, said: "With brains as well as beauty, Samsung's latest effort looks set to be the biggest handset of the year - and that's in spite of an inevitable iPhone sequel".
And Paul Thompson, managing director of mobile advertising company BlisMedia, said "there is certainly enough to set the Galaxy S4 apart from the iPhone 5 by some distance".
Phones 4U says the interest in the S4 has been "astounding", Cnet reports, and the new phone is in with "a strong chance of becoming the biggest selling smartphone of 2013."
Twitter users have been discussing the new smartphone, prompting 'Galaxy S4' to trend. User @dazburn said: “The Samsung Galaxy S4 launch was impressive but once again the new features are incremental. Mass innovation has stalled.”
Meanwhile @MildlyClassic joked: “In Samsung Galaxy S4, the video will pause if you look away. In S5 a hand will come out and slap you if you look away while watching a video”.
And @CaliLewis wrote: “Setting the event aside, the Samsung Galaxy S4 looks like a pretty good phone".
Shares in Samsung were 2.3 per cent lower in Seoul on Friday.