Samsung's Galaxy S IV Arrives Next Week: Here's What to Expect


South Korean giant Samsung is set to unveil its latest and greatest smartphone, the Galaxy S IV, on Thursday at an "Unpacked" event in New York. One of the ways Samsung has successfully replicated Apple's success in recent times is that there's quite a buzz going around about what Samsung may have up its sleeve to follow up its successful Galaxy S III.

The company isn't mincing words here, either. Make no mistake: the Galaxy S IV is being unveiled.

Source: Samsung.

Samsung has had incredible success with its Galaxy S series of smartphones, announcing in January that it had reached 100 million in unit channel sales. The company was the largest smartphone vendor in the world in 2012 ,and the Galaxy S III was ranked the No. 3 smartphone worldwide in the fourth quarter behind the iPhone.

Galaxy S III. Source: Samsung.

What can we expect on March 14?

Keep on biggering
Samsung has continued to push the envelope with device size and is one of the leaders of the phablet movement. Each generation of the Galaxy S has gotten successively bigger, and the S IV isn't expected to break this trend.


Display Size

Display Resolution

Galaxy S

4 inches

800 x 480

Galaxy S II

4.3 inches

800 x 480

Galaxy S III

4.8 inches

1280 x 720

Galaxy S IV

5 inches*

1920 x 1080*

Sources: Samsung and SamMobile.

There's been some debate over the display. Samsung is one of the biggest proponents of OLED displays, which has been greatly beneficial for OLED specialist Universal Display over the past few years, as Samsung's unit shipments have soared. The company was reportedly facing some production challenges with manufacturing AMOLED displays at the full HD resolution it wanted, and as such it may have been considering a different display technology.

However, the most recent rumblings from SamMobile suggest that Samsung is going with a new type of AMOLED display that will be 25% more power-efficient. That's incrementally beneficial for Universal Display, even if the company is still waiting on OLED TVs to ramp up.

All that and a bag of chips
On the processor front, Samsung had also been reportedly running into power issues with its Exynos 5 Octa processor and was thinking about sticking with a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. The Exynos 5 Octa combines two different quad-core processors and is among the first implementations of ARM Holdings' big.LITTLE architecture, where high-performance cores sit alongside energy-efficient cores. In this case, Samsung is using four Cortex-A7 cores and four Cortex-A15 cores.

The Exynos 5 Octa technically has eight cores and as such will inevitably marketed as an eight-core processor, although this is slightly misleading, since only four cores can be active at any given time, depending on the task at hand. Qualcomm CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs called Samsung out on this point in January, adding that competition should instead be shifting toward better efficiency and optimization instead of simply adding more cores.

An insider told SamMobile that the Exynos 5 Octa will indeed be shipping in the Galaxy S IV, despite earlier Snapdragon rumors. Since Samsung has immense scale, it sometimes uses different chipsets in different variants tailored to specific regions, so it could potentially use both Exynos chips in some models and Snapdragons in others.

Open your eyes
Earlier this month, The New York Timesreported that the S IV will feature an innovative interface that will allow pages to scroll based on eye movements. Not much is known about the underlying technology, and it's not clear if Samsung will demonstrate the feature at its event.

The company has been aggressively trying to differentiate itself from other hardware manufacturers to maintain dominance, focusing heavily on new software features in recent times. Apple has always had great success with interface breakthroughs, and Samsung has been taking plenty of notes on Apple's rise.

No surprises
The S IV will reportedly ship with Google Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean, naturally with Samsung's custom TouchWiz software layer on top. Even though Samsung has done wonders for Android's market share and that's all the better for Google, the search giant may still be getting uneasy about how much power its South Korean partner is gathering. Among other things, Google's Motorola acquisition was an expensive hedge against the possibility that partnerships would turn sour.

Despite criticism, Samsung is probably sticking with its plastic chassis designs, as exec Y.H. Lee recently defended the decision, saying the material offers a balance of a premium feel with manufacturing flexibility (not to mention cost savings). Rivals have invested heavily in higher-quality materials. Apple and, more recently, HTC now use machined aluminum unibody casings in their flagships.

The Galaxy S IV will be a high-profile launch to intensify competition. BlackBerry is reportedly launching its Z10 a week later on March 22 on AT&T, its first domestic carrier, while Apple is expected to launch new iPhones as early as June.

If you're in the market for a smartphone, you'll have plenty of choices over the next few months.

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Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple, Qualcomm, and Universal Display. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google, and Universal Display and owns shares of Apple, Google, Qualcomm, and Universal Display. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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