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Where the Samsung Galaxy S4’s Awesomeness Lies

Samsung finally unveiled its Galaxy S4 to the world, but despite the initial hype, many came away from the event feeling that maybe the company could have done just a bit more.


Back in 2011, consumers were initially disappointed when Apple came out with the iPhone 4S instead of the expected iPhone 5. Not that their first reactions were entirely blameless, considering that the 4S and its predecessor (the iPhone 4) do look a lot alike; not to mention the fact that the way the 4S was named called to mind a nominal upgrade (iPhone 4 Special, maybe?) rather than a full-fledged product evolution.

Then people started to actually use the 4S, and what they found surprised them in a good way. Suffice it to say, naming and appearance aside, the 4S really did step up its hardware, not the least of which included the 1080p camera, the dual-core GPU, and the A5 system-on-chip. Product reception was also bolstered by great software, with Siri and the iOS 5 (as it was meant to be run) being the most prominent.

Fast forward to March of this year, and history really does tend to repeat itself. Samsung finally unveiled its Galaxy S4 to the world, but despite the initial hype, many came away from the event feeling that maybe the company could have done just a bit more.

Déjà Vu… Sort Of

For one thing, besides being a little larger and thinner, the new phone looked very similar to the Galaxy S III, having the same rounded edges and a single home button at the bottom.

For another, since the Galaxy S III’s success was brought about as much by its software as by its hardware, Samsung sought to go back into the gold mine and bank on software upgrades once again. 

It also didn’t help that the model names of both the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S4 sounded alike; a minor point to be sure, but still a point.

The circumstances may not have been the same as the iPhone 4S’s launch, but the general audience reception definitely was: The idea that not enough substance was brought to the table. Perhaps the overall reaction was colored somewhat by what has quickly become one of the most awkward (with some even calling it sexist) gadget launches ever, but popular public opinion still remains that the Galaxy S4 is just “high quantity, low quality” on upgrades.

The Game Changers

“I disagree with public opinion, though. I think that if consumers really start to use the Galaxy S4, they’ll find that the new smartphone’s features are more than just gimmicky add-ons,“ states Hathem Brand, writer at “The Galaxy S4’s tagline is “Life Companion,” and that to me implies that the phone should be intuitive enough to be there for you wherever you are and in whatever situation you might be in. A human touch, if you will; one that really exemplifies the “smart” in “smartphone.” While the Galaxy S4’s performance is admittedly still far from machines with human-like behavior we’ve been speculating in sci-fi stories like A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, it’s definitely a huge step in that direction.”

This is in large part due to the various motion and eye sensors that encompass the so-called “touchless controls.” Samsung showed a precursor to this with the last Galaxy model’s Smart Stay feature, which detected if a user’s eyes were still fixed on the screen so that it’ll know whether or not to go into sleep mode. The current Galaxy builds upon this by having tilt and motion recognition, as well as further broadening the eye detection functions. More than ever, the phone recognizes you.

Listed below are these touchless controls, along with some of the more awesome features that the Galaxy S4 has:

  • Air View – Imagine using your phone in the winter with your gloves on or eating French fries and not wanting to leave unsightly smudge marks on your phone. Now, without having to take off your gloves or wash your hands, the Galaxy S4 is still accessible. You don’t need to touch the phone’s screen anymore. You can just control it using hand swipes in the air.
  • Smart Pause – A direct spin-off of the Galaxy S III’s Smart Stay, Smart Pause pauses a video you’re watching when you’re not looking at the screen. This ensures that you don’t miss one second of Bilbo Baggins’s unexpected journey, even if someone needs to get your attention for a bit.
  • Smart Scroll – This feature uses both eye-tracking and tilt detection to scroll through pages. This could come in pretty handy when you’re, say, commuting to work on a crowded New York subway, and you have to use one hand to hold on to the overhead railing while using the other hand to read through an online article.
  • S Voice Drive – While S Voice (also featured on the Galaxy S III) takes a cue from both Siri and Google Now, the S Voice Drive is tailor-made for in-car use, combining the voice command feature with the phone’s navigation systems.
  • WatchON – Using the phone’s IR blaster, this feature allows you to do a number of things in conjunction with your television. For example, you could pull up a list of shows to watch on your TV. Once you’ve made your choice between Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, you can then use your Galaxy S4 as a remote control; and this is just on non-Samsung TVs.

With a Samsung TV, you can do even more nifty things like pulling a show from your TV onto your phone so you can continue watching even if you have to go to another room. Conversely, you can also check out if a movie is available on Netflix (or otherwise stored on the phone), and transfer it to the TV.

  • S Translator – This is a translator tool that translates your emails and chats in real time in any desired language. Language barriers (well, popular languages like Chinese and Spanish, at least) won’t be much of an issue anymore.
  • S Health – This is useful software that monitors things like your calorie intake and the number of steps you’ve taken. With S Health on, tracking your physical progress while jogging through Central Park will be easier.

Harbinger of Near-Future Trends

The above are just some of the programs that tie in heavily with the aforementioned “Life Companion” design philosophy. The phone also has more great features like Group Play (which allows multiple Galaxy S4 users to listen to a song or play multiplayer video games at the same time), the Eraser Shot (which has the ability to erase photobombers cleanly), and Cinema Photo (which can be used to create GIF animations).

Needless to say, all these apps strengthen Samsung’s software-focused approach. The company is riding the wave of a very probable near-future that’s dependent on cloud services and – more importantly – “human-intuitive” software that caters to our needs in semi-automatic fashion. With the Samsung Galaxy S4, that realization draws ever closer, and it would do you well to experience it with this latest clever smartphone.   


Hathem Brand has been writing about technology both professionally and freelance, dabbling in everything from laptops to e-recycling to future tech. He currently writes blogs, sales copies, and more for A Creative Writing graduate, he has a special affinity for anything involving pop culture.


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