Samsung unveils Galaxy S4 phone in New York

Intensifying its battle with Apple, South Korean electronics giant launches new device with eye-tracking technology.

    Samsung unveils Galaxy S4 phone in New York
    The success or failure of Samsung's latest feature-rich smartphone will be pivotal in its battle against Apple [AFP]

    Samsung has unveiled its latest and most-hyped smartphone, the Galaxy S4, which allows users to control its 5in (12.5cm) screen using only their eyes.

    The phone, the first in the highly successful Galaxy S-series to make its global debut on US soil, was showcased in New York on Thursday, with the South Korean electronics giant challenging US rival Apple on its home turf.

    The S4 can stop and start videos depending on whether someone is looking at the screen, flip between songs and photos at the wave of a hand, and record sound to run alongside snapped still pictures.

    'Gimmicks'

    The vast selection of new features "are good steps in this direction, but they can be seen as gimmicks rather than game changers," said Jan Dawson, chief telecom analyst at IT research outfit Ovum.

    "At this point, Samsung appears to be trying to kill the competition with sheer volume of new features.

    Apple alleges that the South Korean company
    has copied its designs of the iPhone and iPad

    "For now, Samsung can likely rely on its vastly superior marketing budget and the relatively weak efforts of its
    competitors in software to keep it ahead."

    The success or failure of Samsung's latest flagship phone - the fourth in a brand launched in 2010 - will be pivotal in the
    world's biggest smartphone maker's battle against Apple and smaller competitors.

    A day before the launch, Apple's vice-president of marketing Phil Schiller criticised Samsung and Google Android software, underscoring the pressure that the iPhone maker is feeling from its Korean mobile-phone rival.

    "Android is often given as a free replacement for a feature phone and the experience isn't as good as an iPhone," Schiller told the Wall Street Journal.

    The S4, which Samsung preceded with a marketing launch that drummed up industry speculation reminiscent of some of Apple's past launches, will be available by the end of April.

    The device will be rolled out to 327 carriers in 155 countries, including US service providers Verizon Wireless , AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA.

    "Samsung has fulfilled the promise of their marketing that they are the tech innovators," said Forrester analyst Charles Golvin.

    "It remains to be seen whether it's overload for customers, whether they can really take advantage of all these features."

    The S4 will use either Samsung's own applications processor or Qualcomm's Snapdragon central processing chip,
    depending on the country. But the exact dates and prices have yet to be released by the company.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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