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Advanced Galaxy S4 features may overwhelm some users

Analysts question whether some of Samsung S4's new features like eye-tracking will be used

By Agam Shah
March 15, 2013 12:52 AM ET

IDG News Service - For Samsung, the new Galaxy S4 smartphone is full of promise with its spectacular hardware and software features, and the company hopes to sell millions of units of the phone.

Analysts equally were impressed with the new smartphone, but questioned how often users would actually use some of the richer features. Some of the new technologies included in the 5-inch smartphone include language translation, a dual-camera function to simultaneously use the rear and front cameras, and a technology that tracks eyes to pause a video or to automatically scroll down an email or web page.

Samsung is packing many features into mobile devices to see what sticks, said Jack Gold, principal analyst of J. Gold Associates.

"Will I use a camera that follows my eyes to see where I'm looking. I'm not sure," Gold said.

The Galaxy S4 was announced at a glitzy, but sloppily organized event at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Thursday evening. In the vein of Broadway musicals, many of the new smartphone features were explained on stage through performances by professional actors and dancers.

The Galaxy lineup, which includes smartphones at different prices, have helped propel Samsung to become the world's largest smartphone vendor in 2012. According to Gartner, Samsung sold roughly 206 million smartphones in 2012, outpacing Apple, which sold 130 million units, and Nokia, which was a distant third with sales of 39 million smartphones. In 2011, Samsung was the world's second largest smartphone vendor behind Apple.

The new LTE smartphone is considered a vast improvement over its predecessor, the Galaxy S III. The S4 has a super AMOLED display with density of 441 pixels-per-inch, a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. The smartphone weighs 130 grams and is 7.9 millimeters thick. Depending on the market, the smartphone will come with a 1.9GHz quad-core processor or a 1.6GHz Samsung Exynos 5 eight-core processor. Other features include up to 64GB of storage, 2GB of low-power DDR3 RAM and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

The phone will be available from 327 operators in 155 countries starting at the end of April, though no specifics on its price or shipping were provided.

Everybody wants "whizbang" gizmos, but most of the fancy features in the S4 may go unused, Gold said. Smartphone usage still revolves around e-mail, apps, phone calls and light web browsing.

The S4 will still sell millions of units, and will please discerning Android smartphone users seeking bragging rights for some of the latest and greatest features available today, Gold said.

"To a large extent, the mobile market has turned into a game. It's more about upmanship," Gold said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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