The Galaxy S4 launched with much fanfare and tap dancing.
You heard me – Samsung themed their launch as a Broadway musical type event at Radio City, with Jeremy, the child entrusted with caretaking the S4 prior to the launch in the company’s teaser videos, taking a starring role as one tap dancer you don’t wanna mess with.
It was quite a spectacle, but whether it was spectacular was another matter; the general consensus after the show was that it was too Broadway. There were various belaboured jokes (which, to be fair, were mostly fine, it was just a difficult setting and crowd to pull off stand up comedy based on mobile phones) and fairly nonsensical choices of demo, like a woman who could use the Galaxy S4 while wearing her opera gloves (because texting at the opera is a common issue).
You’ve got to give the company props for doing something different and engaging with their launch though, and mixing up the demo format so that it wasn’t just execs talking on a stage, but a mix of jokes, dances, acting and speeches about the features. Whether it was five star worthy or not, it was more interesting than the VP holding a phone on a backlit stage.
What’s Samsung bringing to the table?
As for the device itself, a common theme was whether Samsung had actually brought anything mind blowing to the market with the new S4. The S4 runs the same hardware as many of its recently launched rivals such as the Xperia Z or HTC One; same RAM and slightly differing processors. It will be interesting to run the S4 against these two phones and see which of the prospective processors in the S4 performs better.
The camera is impressive megapixel-wise and I liked the screen on the S4, although someone mentioned they didn’t think it was as impressive as other devices out there; the resolution again matches the Xperia Z.
In general, the feeling from people I spoke with was that while it was an impressive piece of hardware, it was nothing particularly new.
Samsung was pushing its native apps and capabilities and to be fair, they were an interesting offering. While much of it felt like it could be a first iteration, which maybe the S5 (I went there) would perfect, several of the capabilities of the S4 seemed genuinely useful, such as the Air Gestures to perform actions when your hands are full (or wet) and S translator; the point was made that there’s always Google translate, but the fact that S Translator is built-in to a lot of the device’s apps with 3000 phrases in its memory, seems like a differentiating factor and there were favourable comments on this development.
Smart Scroll and Pause, while neat, didn’t seem to convince many people of its practicality; handy but not particularly mind blowing (just try rewinding?)
S Health also didn’t seem to strike a chord, due to the plethora of fitness apps and gadgets out there and the newness of Samsung’s offering.
However the capability developments and Samsung’s focus in general did seem to impress people and there was the feeling that Samsung was on the right track with app innovation.
Thanks to Samsung for flying press including What Mobile over to cover the launch.