The Samsung Galaxy S3 has been one of the premier Android smartphones for the last six months, accumulating millions in sales across the globe. However, every phone sees its time come to an end and it appears that the Galaxy S3’s time is almost up. Rumored to be replacing it is the Samsung Galaxy S4, a device that consumers are looking forward to buying and a device that Samsung is hoping will shatter the records of its predecessors.
Samsung’s Galaxy S series for the past several years, has been the company’s flagship smartphone model. Starting with the original Galaxy S which launched on the largest carriers in the U.S., followed by the then record-setting Galaxy S2 and then, last year, the launch of Samsung’s most successful smartphone to date, the Samsung Galaxy S3.
The Samsung Galaxy S3, on sale since May, has gone on to smash the records set by the Galaxy S2, as Samsung claims it has sold over 40 million units across planet. Those numbers, a slick marketing campaign aimed directly at the iPhone, and a high quality smartphone have all combined to propel the Galaxy S series to the forefront of Android devices.
Now, there is a serious battle between Samsung’s Galaxy series and Apple’s iPhone, the device that was once thought to be unrivaled. And because of this new found attention, this new pedestal, the Galaxy S line is in the spotlight now more than it ever has been in the past. And that popularity may have no better evidence than the rumored Samsung Galaxy S4, the device that is rumored to be replacing the Galaxy S3.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 popped up in rumors back in December and hasn’t looked back leaking out on an almost daily basis. And while Samsung has yet to confirm its plans for the fourth-generation Galaxy S, these past few weeks have armed us with an assortment of credible possibilities including information about its hardware, software, release date and more.
So, how does the Galaxy S4 match up versus the Galaxy S3? Let’s take a look.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 was announced back in May of 2012 to quite a bit of excitement. The Galaxy S2 was coming off a record breaking year and consumers were excited to see how Samsung might top it. Like the Galaxy S4, the Galaxy S3 leaked out many times in the weeks prior to its launch at a press event in London in May.
Samsung had originally been rumored to be announcing the phone at MWC 2012 in Barcelona but decided to use its own launch event instead, likely so it could launch the device closer to its release date in the United States. Typically, devices from foreign manufacturers hit the United States last and Samsung wanted to prevent a delayed launch like the Galaxy S2’s.
So, the company debuted the Galaxy S3 and announced that it would be out in Europe in late May and in the U.S. in late June. All five of the major U.S. service providers offered the Galaxy S3 by the end of July with the release dates taking a staggered approach as they typically do. Verizon, as usual, was one of the last to release its variant.
Since then, the carriers have offered the Galaxy S3, and since then, the device has remained near the top of our list in terms of the best Android smartphones available on the market.
Nothing gold can stay gold though and the Galaxy S3’s time in the limelight is almost over.
In December, the first Galaxy S4 rumors emerged, suggesting that Samsung may be planning a release of the Galaxy S4 at MWC 2013. Logic, said otherwise, but still, the rumors persisted.
Then, earlier this month, Samsung’s Vice President announced that the Galaxy Note 8.0 would arrive at Mobile World Congress next month but said that the Galaxy S4 would come “soon.” Many took that to believe that it would not arrive at MWC and instead would land later. Sure enough, rumors of a separate Unpacked event surfaced.
A report from Asiae claims that Samsung will be hosting an event on March 22nd where it will debut the Galaxy S4 smartphone for the first time. Samsung has not confirmed that date nor has it sent out invites.
As for a release date, the Galaxy S4 release is said to be taking place in April. This has been rumored several times and it seems plausible at this point.
Samsung harped about the Galaxy S3’s design at its launch event in May, saying that the design of its current generation Galaxy S model was inspired by nature. It’s hard to argue with it as the device features a slick curved design that is extremely nice to hold and is easy on the eyes to boot.
As for the specific measurements of the Galaxy S3, they include a design that is 8.6 mm thin and one that weighs 133 grams. Neither of those are top of the line as the iPhone 5 checks in with a design that measures a mere 7.6mm thin, a full millimeter thinner, and a weigh of 112 grams.
It also sports a single home button on the bottom part of its body, much like the iPhone.
Just how the Galaxy S4 design will compare to the Galaxy S3 is unclear because as of yet, the Galaxy S4 itself has likely not leaked out. So far, we’ve seen two possible images of the Galaxy S4 emerge, the latest can be seen below, but both seem unlikely. The mockup below was created by a Samsung fan and it depicts a Galaxy S4 with a more rectangular shape and a longer body.
We imagine, given the thinness of devices right now, that Samsung will employ a thinner design on the Galaxy S4. It’s also unclear whether Samsung will use the same polycarbonate plastic that it uses for its smartphones or if it will break away from that trend with the Galaxy S4.
When the Galaxy S3 was released, it boasted one of the best displays that money could buy. Its beautiful 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD screen, which offers 1280 x 720 resolution and a 306 pixels-per-inch count, is still among the best on the market right now, but it will soon be replaced by new technology that will blow it out of the water.
One of those displays is said to be on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Anandtech unearthed a release pipe line for Samsung’s displays for 2013 at CES 2013 and it’s likely that one of them is the Galaxy S4’s.
The display that stood out from the rest was a 4.99-inch FHD display with 1080p resolution that Samsung has slated for arrival in the first half of 2013. Rumors about the Galaxy S4’s display indicate that it will have a 4.99-inch 1080p display with a high pixel-per-inch count. So, the CES display seems like a probable match.
It appears that the Galaxy S4 display may not just be keeping pace with its rivals either. According to a Digitimes report, Samsung may be working on new pixel layouts for its smartphones, specifically, hexagon and diamond-shaped pixel layouts that could bump the Galaxy S4′s pixels-per-inch beyond the 440 mark.
That would likely put it up there with the display of the HTC M7, a device that HTC is rumored to be announcing next month.
At the very least, the Galaxy S4 should have one of the best displays ever put into a smartphone, and one that will likely be fantastic for many years to come.
Maybe our least favorite thing about the Galaxy S3, in terms of hardware, was its camera which was good but not what we expected from a phone of the Galaxy S3’s caliber. In fact, the camera on the HTC One X easily bested the Galaxy S3’s, at least in our opinion.
Yes, the Galaxy S3′s camera can do all of the basic things like shoot 1080p video, and yes it is backed up by some fantastic software, but it’s an area where Samsung can definitely make some strides.
Luckily, it’s looking like that may be the case as rumors point to a 13MP camera in the rear of the Galaxy S4. As we’ve warned many times, megapixels don’t mean everything when it comes to picture quality but they certainly won’t hurt.
A quality camera is something that consumers want from a high-end smartphone and it would be odd to see Samsung not deliver it to them this time around.
Beyond those three features, there are going to be a host of other features for consumers to weigh. We should see some similarities given that Samsung makes both phones but there will very likely be some stark differecnes as well. Let’s dig into the specs of the Galaxy S3 and the rumored specs of the Galaxy S4.
First, the Galaxy S3.
- 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD display with 1280×720 resolution
- 1.5GHz Dual-core Snapdragon S4 Processor
- 16GB/32GB Storage (MicroSD card slot)
- 8MP Camera/1.9MP Front-Facing
- 2100mAh Battery (Removable)
- 2GB of RAM
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
Starting with the similarities, we should see Samsung include some familiar features with the Galaxy S4. Those include a removable battery and a microSD slot, both hallmarks of Galaxy S phones and Samsung phones in general. This will allow users to install their own battery and also expand storage beyond the base amount.
Speaking of storage, look for Samsung to offer a 16GB Galaxy S4 at the very least.
Now, to the differences. The Galaxy S4 will surely have a quad-core processor on board, and if benchmarks are correct, it could be the new Exynos 5 Octa processor that has eight cores but only uses four at a time.
Samsung says that the Exynos 5 Octa will use 70-percent less power than a typical quad-core Cortex A15 processor, including Samsung’s own Exynos 5 processor found in the Nexus 10. Even if the Exynos 5 Octa isn’t on board, expect much better battery life from the Galaxy S4. I
In addition, the Galaxy S4 is, according to rumor, going to have wireless charging from the start. Wireless charging was something that Samsung promised and failed to deliver with the Galaxy S3 so it’s likely that it will try again with the Galaxy S4.
It’s unclear if the wireless charging will be built-in. Rumors suggest that it won’t be but because the Nexus 4 and Droid DNA both feature built-in wireless charging, it’s not out of the question that Samsung will use the same type of technology with its device as well.
When the Samsung Galaxy S3 first launched, it was running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with Samsung’s Nature UX over the top. At the time, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was the most recent version of Android.
Then Google announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Galaxy S3 owners started to panic. Samsung promised that the update would come soon to the device and fortunately, it sort of, kind of did.
In September, two months after the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean roll out started, the Galaxy S3 started to receive its update to Android 4.1 which can be seen in the video below.
Now, all Galaxy S3 models have Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and it many others are currently sporting the Premium Suite from Samsung which enhances Nature UX features and brings the Galaxy Note 2’s Multi Window View to the table. Galaxy S3 owners in the U.S. still don’t have the update.
Android 4.1 of course isn’t the most current version of Android, that title belongs to Android 4.2, but we imagine that the Galaxy S3 will get Android 4.2 Jelly Bean at some point this year.
The Galaxy S4 on the other hand should launch with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean right out of the box. Rumors suggest that and it makes sense given that it has been out since November.
Android 4.2 brings a new 360 photography feature called Photo Sphere to the table in addition to a new native gesture keyboard and new functionality for Google Now, Google’s predictive software.
With the Galaxy S4, we could also see the latest version Nature UX emerge though as of yet, details are unknown. Two potential features popped up in trademark filings the other day including 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.
It’s possible that neither will arrive with the Galaxy S4 and instead land with the Galaxy Note 3 later on this year.
As we mentioned, the Galaxy S3 launched on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and U.S. Cellular right off the bat, giving consumers quite a bit of choice, choice that often isn’t found with Android smartphones.
Besides T-Mobile, the other four hosted the Galaxy S3 on their 4G LTE networks offering data speeds that can reach up to 10 times faster than typical 3G data speeds. T-Mobile originally offered the phone on its HSPA+ network but it has plans to introduce a Galaxy S3 with LTE capabilities in the near future.
Indeed, T-Mobile will be launching its 4G LTE network in the near future, starting with Las Vegas, and that could mean a launch of the Galaxy S4 on the 4G LTE networks of the five largest service providers in the U.S.
So far, the only hint of a Galaxy S4 U.S. carriers has been a user string pointing to AT&T. It could be that it’s for another device, but it’d be strange not to see the Galaxy S4 land on AT&T, at the very least. We’d be surprised to see Samsung stray far from its multi-carrier approach after it worked so well for the Galaxy S3.
So at this point, expect all five for the Galaxy S4.
The Galaxy S3 launched for $199.99 on-contract everywhere but T-Mobile (which offers it for much more) putting it on par with the iPhone 5’s price tag. Fortunately, the Galaxy S3 is and was an Android phone and that means deep discounts right off the bat. In fact, the Galaxy S3 price dropped for several carriers just days after its launch.
Right now, the Galaxy S3 is available for dirt cheap on-contract through retailers like Amazon, making it a solid option for those that aren’t looking to break the bank.
Keep in mind, the Galaxy S4 will likely follow in its footsteps though. $199.99 seems to be the sweet spot for high-end smartphones and while no rumors have popped up, we imagine that the Galaxy S4 will land for this amount across the board except for at T-Mobile where it will likely only be offered off-contract.
It should also see a price drop shortly after launch, like the Galaxy S3, through retailers like Wirefly and Amazon. How deep will those cuts be? We aren’t sure, but expect them to be much lower than the carrier pricing.