In later 2012, rumors about the Samsung Galaxy S4, the probably successor for the wildly successful Galaxy S3 started to emerge, painting a faint image of what Samsung might have up its sleeve in terms of its flagship device for 2013. Those rumors though were just a small ripple compared to the cascade of Galaxy S4 rumors that have emerged through the open flood gates over the past few weeks.
It’s no secret that Samsung’s new flagship has some big shoes to fill. Samsung has sold over 30 million Galaxy S3 units worldwide and it’s showing no signs of slowing down with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Android 4.1.2 just recently rolled out and prices staying low and attractive. Sales and the company’s successful marketing in the U.S. and abroad has pushed the Galaxy series to new heights and placed it on a pedestal next to Apple’s iPhone as one of the most recognized and sought after smartphones on the market.
Needless to say, the excitement around the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 is mounting. And so are the Galaxy S4 rumors.
Since the first Galaxy S4 rumor emerged at the end of last year, there has been no shortage of whispering in regards to Samsung’s upcoming flagship smartphone, rumored to be replacing the Galaxy S3, the smartphone that Samsung launched back in May of 2012. We’ve heard about features big and small and launch dates close and far off in the distance.
And while some may be true and others may turn out to be fantasy, what’s clear is that there is a huge pile of Galaxy S4 rumors that potential customers are having to sift through on a daily basis.
Here, we want to take a look at what’s been said about the Samsung Galaxy S4 thus far, including rumors about its upcoming launch, its features, and what consumers shouldn’t expect from this year’s Samsung flagship smartphone.
Galaxy S4 Release Date
One of the most sought after aspects of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is its launch date. Here at GBM, we treat a launch date as an announcement date and a release date like a release date. That being said, the Galaxy S4’s launch date has been heavily rumored while its release date still remains a bit of a mystery.
In the buildup to the Galaxy S4’s eventual launch in 2013, rumors have been swirling around about a potential announcement at Mobile World Congress. In fact, we’ve seen a February launch date reported more than five times. The latest speculation came from comments an accessory maker made to Gotta Be Mobile saying that it expects the Galaxy S4 to arrive in the first quarter of this year.
The first quarter of course is comprised of January, February, and March and Mobile World Congress starts at the end of February, making it a prime candidate for launch.
We’ve also heard April rumored a couple of times as a potential launch month for the Galaxy S4 with a report from Korean site Enuri claiming that the Galaxy S4 will launch in April instead of May like the Galaxy S3.
As for its release date, April remains a possibility, especially if it’s announced at Mobile World Congress next month though Samsung itself doesn’t seem to think that it will arrive before May. In an odd comment made by the Samsung Lebanon arm of the company, it appears that at least some Samsung employees don’t think the Galaxy S4 release date will arrive before May.
Both the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy S2 were released in May so it’s certainly possible that this might be the case as we’ve only heard April and the first of 2013 mentioned as possibilities for its release date.
One thing that we did bring up during CES was the fact that Corning’s new Gorilla Glass, Gorilla Glass 3, isn’t due until mid-2013. Samsung has used Gorilla Glass technology on the displays of all of its previous Galaxy S devices so it’s possible that the Gorilla Glass 3 release date could dictate the Galaxy S4 release date.
If that’s the case, it could be mid-2013 before we see it.
Galaxy S4 Display
Prior to CES, there were claims made by analysts speaking to Reuters that the Galaxy S4 could feature an unbreakable flexible display. Speculation then suggested that Samsung might introduce such a display at CES 2013. Lo and behold, Samsung did re-introduce its Samsung ‘Youm’ flexible display technology only this time it was on a prototype of a smartphone.
That hasn’t fueled new rumors of a flexible display on the Galaxy S4 however. Instead, it’s looking very unlikely that Samsung will use ‘Youm’ on its Galaxy S4 as it seems to be far too soon given that we’ve only just seen it emerge on a prototype.
More plausible however is another discovery made at CES 2013 in the form of a 4.99-inch FHD display that Samsung was showing off behind closed doors, and one that seems to measure up much better with the timing and rumors regarding the Galaxy S4.
Anandtech caught wind of Samsung’s display road map for the future and in it, is a 4.99-inch FHD display with 440 pixels-per-inch and full HD 1080p resolution. Samsung is apparently slated to be releasing this display at some point in the first half of 2013.
The size, resolution, PPI and release date all seem to point to it being on the Galaxy S4 and they measure up with previous rumors that suggested that the Galaxy S4 would have a display around 5-inches with 1080p resolution. And we know that it’s looking like the new Galaxy S will be out in the first half of 2013.
So, while not confirmed, this is looking very much like it will be the Galaxy S4 display.
Galaxy S4 Design
While Samsung may not have been very secretive about the Galaxy S4’s display technology, one thing that it will be secretive about is the Galaxy S4 design. With the Galaxy S3, we saw numerous potential images of the Galaxy S3 leak out but many of those turned out to be bogus and potentially part of Samsung’s tight security surrounding the device.
Security measures for the Galaxy S4 are likely as strict as they were for last year’s flagship and because of that, we don’t expect to know much about the design of the Galaxy S4 until much closer to its launch event, potentially even on the same day.
So far, we’ve seen one possible image leak out. The image, brought to the surface by the reliable SamMobile, showed a device that had no physical button, unlike the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2, with a design similar to the Samsung Galaxy S3.
The bezel of the device was thinner and the screen appeared to be large, something that again is likely the case with the next Galaxy. All of these features seem feasible but given Samsung’s security and how early it is, we’re skeptical.
Galaxy S4 Camera
One upgrade owners of the Galaxy S3 have been hoping for is an overhauled camera. The Galaxy S3 camera, while backed by some nifty software, wasn’t the gold standard, even on Android smartphones. So far, the rumors point to the Galaxy S4 as having a 13MP camera. That would be an upgrade, at least mega-pixel wise, over the 8MP rear camera found on the Galaxy S3.
Keep in mind, we often hear rumors of a spec bump for cameras prior to a phone’s release. However, with HTC preparing its own HTC M7 flagship for launch, Sony announcing an Xperia Z with a fantastic camera, and the iPhone 6 rumored to have a quality camera, there is some pressure on Samsung to deliver an excellent camera with the Galaxy S4.
Galaxy S4 Specs
We’ve seen other Galaxy S4 specifications leak out over the past few weeks as well. One of the biggest rumors, and one that has been there since the beginning, is the Galaxy S4’s rumored quad-core processor. With just about every flagship Android device launching with a quad-core processor, it would be strange to see Samsung skimp the Galaxy S4.
And what’s more, Samsung just recently announced a new processor at CES called the Exynos 5 Octa, a new dual-core processor that could very well find its way inside of the new Galaxy. The new chip will use four Cortex A7 cores and four Cortex A15 cores compared to the Exynos 4 which uses four A9 cores. High performance, as we’ve told you, will be handled by the more powerful Cortex A15 cores while the low-level usage will be tackled by the Cortex A7.
Samsung has said that the Exynos 5 Octa will use 70-percent less power than a typical quad-core Cortex A15 processor and that it also supplies better battery life than its own Exynos 5 processor which can be found in the company’s Nexus 10 tablet.
So far, no reports have suggested that this will be the Galaxy S4’s processor, instead we’ve heard that it might be found in the Galaxy Note 3, but it still remains a distinct possibility. At the very least, expect a quad-core Exynos processor of some type from Samsung.
We also heard that the Samsung Galaxy S4 may feature an S-Pen similar to the Galaxy Note, though that remains unlikely and unconfirmed and more recently, we’ve heard that the Galaxy S4 will support the Qi standard of wireless charging.
According to a report from DDaily, Samsung will equip the Galaxy S4 with wireless charging though users will need to buy a back plate for the device along with a wireless charger. Neither will be bundled and it appears that a price for both remains undetermined.
Battery size, RAM and storage all remain mysteries at this point though we imagine Samsung will offer ample battery life to keep pace with the competition, at least 2GB RAM since that is the standard, and several storage options.
Galaxy S4 Software
Early on, the Galaxy S4 was rumored to potentially be running Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, Google’s rumored replacement for Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. With Google I/O kicking off in May, and earlier month than usual, it seemed like a possibility. And it still is, though, it’s probably unlikely.
Several rumors have pegged the Galaxy S4 as having Android Jelly Bean on board. No version has been noted but we assume that it could be Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the latest version of Jelly Bean that Google rolled out in November of 2012. And given that Sony says it will roll out Android 4.2 shortly after launch to its Android 4.1-toting Xperia Z, it would be strange to see Samsung not offer Android 4.2 from the start.
It’s a small update, but a useful one and our favorite features can be seen below.
Whether it’s Android 5.0 or Android 4.2, there will almost assuredly be Samsung’s fingerprints on it as the company as a knack for delivering powerful software to its smartphones. With the Galaxy S3, we saw the addition of new camera and sharing functionality and with the Galaxy Note 2, the introduction of some new multitasking features including Multi-Window View.
Thus far, nothing has been said of the Galaxy S4 but we imagine that Samsung won’t release it without one or two unique software features. What those might be though remain unclear.
Galaxy S4 Name
At CES 2013, Samsung Mobile’s Director of Product Marketing Ryan Biden confirmed that the company is working on better product names for devices in the U.S. Don’t expect that to trend to the Galaxy S4 though.
The Galaxy S name is already firmly established in the United States and while many might be unhappy with the name ‘Galaxy S4 or Galaxy S IV’, it will almost certainly be the name that Samsung uses.
Galaxy S4 Carriers
So far, no carriers have been rumored for the Galaxy S4 though we imagine that the usual suspects will be there at launch including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon. All five either carry, or will carry, the Galaxy S3 on their 4G LTE networks.
One thing consumers should expect is a staggered launch in the United States, one that possibly causes some controversy and a release on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network if the device comes to T-Mobile. The carrier will be upgrading its Galaxy S3 with LTE in the near future so it would be strange to see its replacement lack the tools to connect to its upcoming high-speed network.
Galaxy S4 Price
Rumored pricing on big name smartphones generally doesn’t emerge until much closer to the device’s actual launch date and it could be that we don’t even hear about it at launch.
Given the sweet spot that was the Galaxy S3’s $199.99 starting on-contract price, it could be that the Samsung Galaxy S4 doesn’t stray too far from what worked with its predecessor and arrives with that price across the board.