Right now, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the best Galaxy S smartphone that Samsung has to offer. Soon, it will be replaced with the Samsung Galaxy S5 in the coming months, it will still be an appealing option for budget-conscious smartphone shoppers well into 2014 and beyond. The Galaxy S4’s staying power means that while it won’t be the top challenger to next year’s iPhone, it will certainly be a device that buyers compare to the iPhone 6.
The smartphone forecast for 2014 is extremely bright right now, thanks to a number of rumors suggesting a number of different things. Over the past few weeks, we’ve gotten a glimpse at what we can expect from the highest-end smartphones from next year. From Samsung, a new Galaxy S5 that may come with an assortment of big time upgrades including, perhaps, a premium metal design.
From Apple. we should see an iPhone 6, a device that is heavily rumored to be coming with a larger display and is likely going to be the device that ushers in Apple’s iOS 8 era. The Galaxy S5 (or another Samsung flagship) and the iPhone 6 will battle it out for supremacy, there is little doubt about that. However, they will also have to battle the cream of the crop from this year’s smartphone harvest, one that includes the likes of the HTC One, Nexus 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4.
This year, the Samsung Galaxy S3 has remained a viable option, thanks to its hardware, its updated software and its price tag that continues to grow more attractive by the day. The Samsung Galaxy S4 appears destined for the same fate. It’s equipped with fantastic hardware, will get Android 4.4 KitKat early in the year and should get cheaper as time goes on, especially so once the Galaxy S5 rolls around.
So while much of the attention will be lavished on the Galaxy S5 and its place next to the rumored iPhone 6, the Galaxy S4 should be and we think, will be part of the conversation as well.
Well ahead of the iPhone 6 launch, we want to do our best to set expectations for consumers. And that means taking an early look at what we think will take place next year. Here, we take a look at how we think the iPhone 6 will stack up against Samsung’s current Galaxy S, the Samsung Galaxy S4, a device that is getting older, and better.
Obviously, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is already out on shelves. It has been since April when it first arrived in the United States on a host of major and minor carriers. It’s also clear that the Galaxy S4 is getting older and often times, we see carriers pull devices after a year in favor of another big name device. This is unlikely to happen with the Galaxy S4.
Instead, the device on the chopping block here in the United States is the Galaxy S3, a device that is almost two years old and has served as the budget alternative to the Galaxy S4. If any device is gone in 2014, after the Galaxy S5 launch, it’s the Galaxy S3. The Samsung Galaxy S4’s life is only just beginning.
Carriers will keep it around throughout 2014 as a solid, cheap option for those looking for one. In fact, if Samsung releases two versions of the Galaxy S5, as is rumored, we could see the Galaxy S4 become much cheaper than the Galaxy S3 is right now. Even if there are two Galaxy S5 variants, don’t expect the Galaxy S4 to get dropped.
We think the Galaxy S4 will be around long enough to challenge the iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6c is Apple releases one. Rumors suggest that the iPhone 6 will be out in either the summer or the fall. That more than likely means WWDC or at an event much like the iPhone 5s event that took place in September.
There is a slim chance that Apple shifts the iPhone 6 launch to March to better compete with Samsung’s new Galaxy S, but again, that’s slim to none. Summer or fall is more likely and that means that consumers are likely going to be starring the Galaxy S4 for quite awhile.
While companies like HTC and Apple have shifted to premium metal designs for their high-end smartphones, Samsung has kept its plastic designs around. Besides the perks of a microSD card slot, removable back and durability, Samsung also likes plastic because it allows it to keep production levels high in the face of steep demand. There’s a reason the Galaxy S4 never ran into supply issues despite the demand.
The Galaxy S4 design, unsurprisingly, is made of plastic though as we have suggested, it’s better plastic than the material found on the Galaxy S3. It’s easier to grip, it feels more premium than many of Samsung’s other phones and its durable. The Galaxy S4 design is also lightweight and thin, checking in with a form factor that weighs 130 grams and measures 7.9mm thin.
How it will compare to the iPhone 6 design is a bit of a mystery given how early it is. iPhone 6 rumors have indeed surfaced but they haven’t offered a glimpse into what to expect from Apple’s new smartphone. And we expect it to stay that way as we head into 2014 as Apple design rumors typically don’t arrive until we’re a few months away from a launch.
What we can say is this. Apple’s history virtually mandates that the iPhone 6 will have a design different from the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. Apple’s numbered iPhones always introduce a redesign. Given how good the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s designs are, it’s possible that Apple simply makes some tweaks, slimming things down while keeping it light.
There is simply no way that Apple backtracks and moves back to plastic after all this time. The iPhone 6 design will be premium. And buyers have now come to expect sleek form factors that are lightweight and thin and we don’t expect Apple to backtrack there either.
The iPhone 6 will more than likely feature a more premium build that the Galaxy S4’s plastic form factor. We don’t expect Apple to add a microSD card slot or a removable back, those never come with iPhones. And we expect it to be as thin and lightweight as Samsung’s current flagship. Anything other than these characteristics would be shocking.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features one of the best smartphone displays on the market. Its 5-inch display features 1080p screen resolution and a high pixel-per-inch count, both of which help to produce great looking content whether it’s a photo on the internet or a movie being watched on a flight from San Francisco to London.
This is an area where Samsung has arguably had an advantage over the iPhone. The Retina Display is still good but it’s certainly showing its age with the technology that we’ve seen come out this year. The Galaxy S4 also has a distinct size advantage over the iPhone. While some people love the size of the iPhone’s 4-inch display, others want a screen size bump.
Nothing is set in stone but 2014 appears to be the year that Apple finally releases an iPhone with better resolution and a larger screen size. As we’ve pointed out known Apple mouthpieces including The Wall Street Journal, have claimed that the iPhone 6 will finally introduce the big screen that shoppers have been looking for. Rumors have centered around a 4.5-inch to 5-inch display with a recent report from Taiwan Industrial and Commercial Times claiming that the iPhone 6 could come with a 4.8-inch display. This echoes past rumors that suggested the same thing.
Furthermore, NPD DisplaySearch, which accurately predicted the iPad 3′s Retina Display, claims that Apple is working on two different display sizes including a 4.7-inch 1280 × 720 display and a 5.7-inch 1920 × 1080 display. And respected KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo believes Apple is planning an iPhone 6 with a 4.5-inch to 5-inch display in 2014. It was Kuo who accurately predicted many of the iPhone 5s features ahead of the launch.
A screen size hasn’t been settled on but the fact that all of these outlets are proclaiming a larger display means that an iPhone 6 with a larger display is entirely within the realm of possibility. As we’ve pointed out, if Apple does do this, it would likely introduce thinner bezels so that it can extend the height of the phone rather than drastically alter the width.
We aren’t hearing about a 4-inch screen at this point so it’s safe to expect a screen that is close to the Galaxy S4’s display size and perhaps, close to it in terms of quality as well.
One of the reasons the Galaxy S4 will last as long as it will is due to the specifications that are on board. The design and display will certainly measure up but so will the other hardware features on board. The 13MP camera isn’t going to win any best smartphone camera awards, but it still takes solid photos and video and benefits from one of the best camera applications on the market.
The device features a Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor in the United States, a processor that supplies more than enough power to average smartphone users. It also comes with a solid 2GB of RAM to back that chip up. It comes with a massive 2,600 mAh battery as well, a battery that gives it some of the best battery life on the market. The Galaxy S4 is going on a year old but its specifications are still among the best out there.
Apple’s iPhone 6 though, being the 2014 flagship that it is, will likely counter everything the Galaxy S4 has to offer. We expect it to have a 64-bit processor like the iPhone 5s, something that will enhance performance going forward. We expect it to continue Apple’s trend of improving the camera, year-after-year. The iPhone 5s camera is one of the best around and we should see improvements with the iPhone 6 camera as well.
We’ve seen patents hint at what might be on the way, but patents are far from conclusive. At the very least, expect some minor tweaks and changes from Apple.
The iPhone always offers some of the best battery life in the business and we don’t expect that to change with the iPhone 6. Expect its battery life to be better or at least comparable to the Galaxy S4’s. We should also see the same TouchID fingerprint reader inside the iPhone 6’s home button. The Galaxy S4 doesn’t have anything comparable though it’s possible that Samsung could produce something comparable, perhaps through the use of the device’s camera.
It’s no secret that 2014 smartphones are likely going to feature better technology than the phones from 2013. So if the iPhone 5s is comparable to the Galaxy S4 right now, imagine where the iPhone 6 will stand. We’re expecting the iPhone 6 to deliver better performance than the Galaxy S4.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, an update that it just received. Next year, the Galaxy S4 will get updated to Android 4.4 KitKat, Google’s latest firmware and and a piece of software that builds on what Android Jelly Bean left behind. Future Galaxy S4 software won’t only build on Android software but it will build on Samsung’s TouchWiz software as well.
Samsung’s Galaxy S4 features TouchWiz, Samsung’s UI, and a piece of software that offers a number of different features, many of which can be seen in the video below.
Google recommends 18 months of software support for Android devices. For the Galaxy S4, that means it has in and around 10 months left before it’s pushed to the curb. Samsung usually keeps devices around for about two years which means that despite being close to a year old, the Galaxy S4 is still a solid buy going forward.
The iPhone 6 will run iOS 8. Apple always releases new iOS software with its new iPhone. Not much is known about iOS 8 but here is what we expect. We expect it to build off of iOS 7. That means enhancements to current features and a look that is nearly identical to the one now. No way Apple ditches the look with iOS 8. We also expect it to deliver new features as well. iOS updates always do.
Apple tends to offer three years of support to its iPhone which means that the iPhone 6 is in line for iOS 9, iOS 10 and iOS 11. It will certainly last longer than the Galaxy S4.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is not only available on the five largest carriers in the United States but it’s also available on a number of smaller, regional carriers, giving consumers a ton of options with which to work. The iPhone 5s is also available on those same five carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon, in addition to several smaller carriers.
This will not change with the iPhone 6, we’d be willing to bet the house on it. Apple finally has all five major carriers in its fold and there is no backtracking. The Galaxy S4 and iPhone 6 will likely be housed on many of the same carriers, giving consumers a ton of options when it comes to data plans, network size, and more.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 started at $199.99 for the 16GB model and it remains there at most carriers, for now. When the Galaxy S5 starts getting close though, we expect carriers to start slashing their price tags. We can’t be certain of price, but we fully expect the Galaxy S4 to be cheaper than the iPhone 6. Whether that’s through a carrier or through a third party retailer like Amazon.
We’ve seen an analyst predict a price jump for the iPhone 6 thanks to the changes in technology. Chris Caso, analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group told Investors Business Daily that “the potential for the iPhone 6 price point to move higher, to avoid the (profit) margin erosion that occurred when iPhone 5 launched,” adding, “we think Apple could get away with a $50 to $100 premium for a larger screen size iPhone 6.”
Apple has shown that it’s not afraid to bump its price points. It did so with this years iPad Mini with Retina Display. However, it’s hard to imagine Apple moving away from the familiar $199.99 price point altogether. Apple hasn’t changed up its price point in years, despite the advancements in technology, and we don’t expect it to in 2014. At least not yet.
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