The dust of 2012 has barely settled and already, we are hearing quite a bit about what to expect from several companies in terms of their 2013 smartphones. And two of the biggest smartphone names have already emerged from the shadows in the form of the iPhone 5S from Apple and the Galaxy S4 from Samsung. And while there might still be dust in our eyes, the pictures of the devices both seem to get clearer week by week.
2012 was a year chock full of smartphones releases but maybe none were bigger than the releases of Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s current-generation Galaxy S device, the Samsung Galaxy S3.
In September, after months and months of rumors, Apple launched the new iPhone 5, the first iPhone to feature a larger display and the first iPhone to offer 4G LTE data speeds. The iPhone 5 also sported several hardware upgrades including a new design that ditched the plastic and glass back for metal, glass and an anodized aluminum back.
Consumers quickly snatched the iPhone 5 up, it sold out almost instantly, and Apple dealt with supply issues all the way up until the beginning of December when the company finally got its supply issues under control. Apple has sold millions of iPhone 5’s since launch but thus far, the company has remained coy about any kind of specifics.
There is little doubt that the iPhone 5 will be replaced by a new model this year and thus far, rumors suggest that that phone will be called iPhone 5S, following in the footsteps of past iPhone releases.
Samsung, on the other hand, has not been bashful when it comes to its recent successes. The company recently announced that its Galaxy S3, maybe the iPhone 5’s biggest rival, has sold over 40 million across the globe. That number shatters the previous records set by the Galaxy S2, and it has helped place both Samsung and the Galaxy S series on the same pedestal as the iPhone.
It’s no surprise then that the anticipation for a Galaxy S3 is through the roof. Thanks to the Galaxy S3, its successful marketing campaign and a host of rumors, the Galaxy S4 is one of the most talked about smartphones amongst power users and average smartphone users alike. And the anticipation will likely only get stronger as we get closer to the Galaxy S4’s launch date.
So how does Samsung’s Galaxy S4 match up against its rivals rumored next-generation smartphone, the iPhone 5S? Here, we take a look at everything we know thus far about both phones as we pit the Galaxy S4 versus the iPhone 5 in terms of their features, release date and more.
The last two iPhones have come during the fall with the iPhone 4S arriving in October and the iPhone 5 being released in September. And while early iPhone 5 rumors suggested that Apple would be releasing last year’s iPhone in the fall, this year’s iPhone 5S has been heavily rumored to be coming at some point this summer.
Recent rumors indicate that Apple may be targeting July as a release month for the new iPhone 5S. If true, that could mean that Apple will return to the WWDC stage to announce the next iPhone.
Prior to the launch of the iPhone 4S, Apple used WWDC, its annual developers conference, to announce the next-generation iPhone model. The company is known for giving out product release dates at its launch events so if the iPhone 5S did arrive at WWDC in June, it would more than likely be out a few weeks afterward.
That means that June and July are both distinct possibilities for an iPhone 5S release date at this point. It’s also entirely possible that Apple will stick to its guns and keep the release of its iPhone in the fall, just ahead of the holiday shopping, but thus far, all signs are pointing to the summer.
If those rumors do hold up, it could mean that the iPhone 5S and Galaxy S4 will be launched extremely close to each other, at least in the United States.
Early Galaxy S4 rumors suggested that the next-generation Galaxy S smartphone would arrive at Mobile World Congress 2013 at the end of February. Those rumors have since been debunked as Samsung won’t be holding a massive press conference at MWC. It will be present at the show but the Galaxy S4 isn’t likely to be part of its announcements.
Instead, it’s looking like the Galaxy S4 is slated for a launch in March, potentially at an Unpacked event on March 22nd. Samsung has not set that date in stone, and it’s possible that March will come to pass without a Galaxy S4 release but so far, it’s as good of a month as any.
Helping is the fact that several reports have pegged the Galaxy S4 release date for April. No specific date is known yet but we’ve seen April pop up more than a handful of times, a sign that it could be accurate.
If true, it could be that the U.S. doesn’t see the device land until late April or potentially, in May. Last year’s Galaxy S3 launched in June in the U.S. while the iPhone arrived in September, a difference of three months.
So far, rumors suggest that Apple won’t be straying too far from the tree with the design of the iPhone 5S. Currently, the device is thought to incorporate a similar design to the iPhone 5. One of the earliest iPhone 5S rumors suggested this to be the case, complete with photo evidence, and so far, there is no reason not to believe that this will be the case.
Apple typically uses a design twice. We saw it with the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS and we saw it with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. So, it’s plausible that we could see an iPhone 5S with only minimal changes, a majority of them coming underneath the hood.
Should the iPhone 5S employ a similar design, it will likely till be on par with top of the line smartphones in terms of thinness and weight. As it stands, the iPhone 5 is one of the thinnest and lightest devices on the market with a 7.6mm frame that only weighs 112 grams.
The Galaxy S4 design is a bit of a mystery as well, maybe even more so than the iPhone 5S. That’s because Samsung isn’t prone to keeping designs around for two years.
So far, we haven’t seen any specifics about the Galaxy S4 design leak and thus far, our best look has been the emergence of two photos, including the one below, a mock up from a fan of Samsung.
Samsung kept the design of the Galaxy S3 secret up until the day of its unveiling and we expect the same from the Galaxy S4. Design possibilities though include polycarbonate plastic, a material that Samsung often uses with its high-end devices, and a slim design given the current state of smartphones.
The iPhone 5 was a big leap for the iPhone as it was the first iPhone to feature a larger display. Previous iPhones all had a 3.5-inch display. With the iPhone 5, Apple upped the size to 4-inches. The screen is a Retina Display with 1136 x 640 and sports 326 pixels-per-inch. It’s a good display, but one that will surpassed by 2013’s display technology.
So far, there are no concrete signs that indicate that Apple is planning to upgrade the iPhone 5S’ display in any way. So far, we’ve heard that it will remain at 4-inches though there have been rumors that it might utilize Sharp’s new IGZO display technology.
Sharp showed off this screen technology at CES 2013 and if Apple were to use it, it could potentially mean an iPhone 5S with better battery life and a display with more pixels-per-inch.
This would make the display better capable of competing with the new screen tech that will be a fixture on Android smartphones in 2013, including the Galaxy S4.
Even before CES 2013, there were rumors that the Galaxy S4 would include a large display with 1080p resolution, both of which are staples of this year’s rumored Android crop. At CES though, the Galaxy S4’s likely display emerged for the world to see. But only for a second.
In a private room, Samsung showed off the time line of its displays, complete with a listing for a 4.99-inch FHD display with 1080p resolution, due out in the first half of 2013. Rumors surrounding the Galaxy S4 display pegged it as being either 4.99-inches or 5-inches with 1080p resolution.
One thing that isn’t clear though is the pixels-per-inch. Samsung has been rumored to be working on new display technology that would allow it to bump the PPI to heights that are, even now, mind boggling.
Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 5S is rumored to have an upgraded rear camera. Apple typically upgrades the rear camera from one model to the next and so it’s not surprising to hear that Apple has something up its sleeve for the next-generation iPhone.
Rumors suggest that the camera could be Sony’s 13 megapixel sensor, a sensor that would be an upgrade over the company’s 8MP iSight camera in the iPhone 5.
Android phones rumored for 2013 have all been rumored to have 13MP cameras or similar, the HTC M7 is rumored to have three 4.3MP sensors, and the Galaxy S4 is one of those phones.
The Galaxy S4 is rumored to have a 13MP camera though specific details are as of yet, unknown. One of the disappointments of the Galaxy S3 was its camera and fans of the series are hoping that Samsung decides to release something much better with the Galaxy S4.
As we’ve said many, many times, there are specifications beyond that the display, design and camera that are important to take note of. And while specifics about both of these phones are scarce, here, we take a look at what to expect.
Here are the rumored specs of the Galaxy S4.
- 4.99-inch/5-inch FHD Display with 1080p Resolution
- Quad-Core Processor
- 13MP Rear Camera
- Wireless Charging
- 2600 mAh Battery
Again, things are pretty scarce. There are a few big things to think about here though.
One, Apple tends not to offer a removable battery in the iPhone. The iPhone 5 doesn’t have one. If the iPhone 5S keeps the same design, expect nothing different. Samsung tends to offer a removable battery in its devices which means that owners of the Galaxy S4 might be able to easily tack on an extendable battery.
Two, the Galaxy S4 is rumored to have wireless charging. It’s unclear if it will be built-in like it is with the Nexus 4 or Droid DNA or if it will require a special back to operate. Given that Samsung promised wireless charging with the Galaxy S3 and didn’t deliver, a wise man would bet on wireless charging of some kind with the Galaxy S4.
The iPhone 5 does not feature built-in wireless charging so unless Apple does switch something up from a design standpoint, don’t look for the iPhone 5S to have it.
Three, Samsung’s Galaxy S series typically have a microSD card slot for expanded storage. This might be true for the Galaxy S4. The iPhone on the other hand doesn’t come with expanded storage and that doesn’t bode well for the iPhone 5S.
Four, expect Samsung to offer improved battery life with the Galaxy S4. Benchmarks suggest that the Galaxy S4 could feature a Exynos 5 Octa processor, the processor the company announced at CES 2013, which would translate into some incredible performance and battery life.
Apple of course is well known for installing fantastic battery life in its devices, the 4G LTE iPhone 5 is a prime example, so there is no reason to believe that battery life on the iPhone 5S won’t be superb.
Every year, Apple announces a new iPhone, and with it, a new version of iOS, its mobile operating system. So far, we’ve seen signs that Apple is hard at work on another mobile operating system with iOS 7 already pegged as its name.
We aren’t exactly sure what iOS 7 will entail though from past releases we know that Apple tends to incorporate hundreds of new features into its new software. Some of those features are extremely small while others, like Apple Maps or Do Not Disturb, are big additions.
It could be that the iPhone 5S launches with some type of unique software, like Siri did with the iPhone 4S, and it could be that we see some design changes made to iOS.
Scott Forstall, the Apple executive responsible for much of the design interface with iOS, is no longer in charge and the new regime which includes Jony Ive, could see it fit to make some big UI changes. Whatever those changes are though, remain to be seen.
New versions of iOS in years past have been introduced at WWDC in the summer and all bets are on an iOS 7 debut at WWDC this year. Look for it to be the stock operating system of the iPhone 5S.
As for the Galaxy S4, it’s rumored to have Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on board. If true, it would likely be one of the first non-Nexus smartphones to run the most current version of Android, which can be seen in the video below.
Samsung will almost certainly put its own touches on the Galaxy S4 in the form of some version of TouchWiz, its user interface. With the Galaxy S3, it introduced Nature UX and while rumors haven’t sprouted just yet, we could see some new software arrive with the Galaxy S4.
Two possibilities have been discovered through trademarks and they include a feature called ‘Eye Scroll’ which could use the front-facing camera to track eye movement and automatically scroll content and a feature called Eye Pause which could pause movies when the eyes look away.
Whether those are a part of Nature UX 2.0, the Galaxy S4 or some future device remains unclear though.
Apple has followed a trend in recent years with the naming of its iPhones. The iPhone 3GS followed the iPhone 3G. The iPhone 4S followed the iPhone 4. And now, many believe the iPhone 5S will follow the iPhone 5 instead of the iPhone 6.
The ‘S’ isn’t just for show though. It stands for something. With the iPhone 3GS, it stood for speed. With the iPhone 4S, it stood for Siri. This doesn’t mean Apple has to give it a name, but it just might.
As we’ve pointed out in the past, one of the missing features of the iPhone is NFC, Near-Field Communication. NFC support allows phones to act as mobile wallets. If Apple does add NFC with the iPhone 5S, the ‘S’ could stand for sales.
Another possibility is ‘Security.’ Apple has long been rumored to be including a fingerprint scanner with its iPhone and it’s possible that the iPhone 5 will include such technology.
The Galaxy S4 name isn’t set in stone either though it seems likely given Samsung’s past naming convention. The first Galaxy S smartphone was simply the Galaxy S. It was then followed by the Galaxy S2 or Galaxy S II, and it was followed by the Galaxy S3 or Galaxy S III.
Samsung and its marketing machine have established this Galaxy name amongst consumers so it would be odd to see it ditch the name with the Galaxy S4. Expect Galaxy S4 or Galaxy S IV to be the name of the upcoming addition to the Galaxy S series.
The iPhone has, in the past, launched on the three largest mobile service providers in the U.S.. That means AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Last year’s iPhone, iPhone 5 launched on the 4G LTE networks of all three.
Expect the same from the iPhone 5S though look for it to have company this time around in the form of T-Mobile which will have its 4G LTE network live by the time the device arrives.
T-Mobile has confirmed the iPhone for its network though it has not said which model it will launch or if it will launch both.
Apple also likes to launch the device on a host of smaller carriers including regional carriers so look for the iPhone 5S to potentially arrive on more than just the big four soon after it arrives.
The Galaxy S3 landed on the five largest carriers in the U.S. last year, including U.S. Cellular. The only rumor thus far suggests that it will hit AT&T but the evidence seems flimsy at best.
Even so, we expect a repeat with the Galaxy S4 with all five carriers launching the device on their networks. Only, this time around, expect T-Mobile to run it on its 4G LTE network.
Apple has really set the bar when it comes to pricing of high-end smartphones. The iPhone 5, like its predecessors, arrived for the same $199.99 starting price for the 16GB model. Its a price model companies like Samsung have emulated and its a price model that the Galaxy S4 will more than likely follow in an effort to say competitive.
As we mentioned, if the iPhone 5S comes to T-Mobile, expect the pricing to be much more expensive up front. It could find itself aligned with Apple’s $649 unlocked iPhone pricing but nothing it set in stone. AT&T, Sprint and Verizon will almost assuredly offer it at $199.99 on-contract.
The Galaxy S4 has seen no pricing rumors emerge but we believe it will be priced at the same $199.99 price point as the iPhone and, the Galaxy S3. Once again, expect T-Mobile to offer it for more up front due to it killing off subsidized pricing later this year.
Unlike the iPhone 5S though, expect price discounts right off the bat for the Galaxy S4 at places like Amazon.