Samsung Galaxy S4: What to expect and what really matters

At Thursday's launch, Eye Scroll software, 440 PPI display expected (see video below)

Samsung's next-generation Galaxy S4 smartphone, to be unveiled Thursday night in New York City, will reportedly have a larger display with ultra-high resolution, a faster processor and trademark Eye Scroll software that tracks a user's eyes to determine when to scroll through pages on the display.

Amid widespread pre-launch excitement over the device, Samsung has also hinted that the GS4 will still have a plastic body and will not be upgraded to aluminum as was done with the recently announced HTC One.

According to various sources, the GS4 will have:

  • A 5-in. display
  • Android 4.2
  • -- Screen resolution of 1080 x 1920 with 440 pixels per inch (PPI)
  • -- A quad-core processor clocked at 1.7 Ghz or faster
  • -- A 13-megapixel rear camera and a 2.2 megapixel front camera
  • -- 4G LTE
  • -- 802.11 ac, a faster Wi-Fi spec.

While Samsung used the roman numeral III in naming its current Galaxy S III smartphone, it seems to favor the Arabic numeral 4 for the next generation, using the figure in an invitation to the event that reads, "Ready 4 the show -- come and meet the next Galaxy."

What Samsung must accomplish with the launch is not only to substantially top its current GSIII in hardware specs and software, but to compete with the next iPhone, expected in June, and whatever HTC and other Android phone makers introduce in 2013, analysts said.

The GSIII is Samsung's best-selling smartphone. Samsung sells half of all smartphones based on Android, the top mobile operating system with more than 70% of the worldwide smartphone market, according to IDC and Gartner.

"Samsung has been successful in positioning itself as the only alternative to Apple's iPhone, and with that comes a much higher expectation" for the GS4, said Carolina Milanesi, a Gartner analyst.

"This is a big thing for Samsung, make no mistake," added Ramon Llamas, an IDC analyst. "This launch is their own international holiday, and they are once again flexing marketing and smartphone muscle to help maintain their position at the top of the leaderboard."

The hype for the GS4 is much greater than it was for the GSIII last year, "and I think consumers will not be as easily pleased with incremental improvements," Milanesi added. "Samsung runs the same risks as Apple if it enlivens more software-based enhancements versus hardware, which is harder to sell to consumers."

Regarding that eye-tracking software, an unnamed Samsung employee told The New York Times that GS4 users will be able to read articles on the display and when their eyes reach the bottom of the page, the software will automatically scroll down to reveal the next text passages.

Samsung will announce its Galaxy S IV smartphone in New York Thursday. We asked IDC analyst Ramon Llamas what to expect. You can follow our live broadcast of the event at www.ustream.tv/idgnews

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