Initialy users may become fascinated by the huge screen with magnificent quality, as well as with the amazing battery life of the S IV, of course joining this with a body with great thin design and being lighter than its predecessor makes the S IV a device to be reckoned. In reality it is when you take into account the new sensors and technology that you start to realize that the S IV is a big contender for Android smartphone of the year.
When you try the S IV you quickly understand that you are holding more than a smartphone, you’re holding a device that has combined several sensors and reconnaissance technologies in order to understand the users usual behaviour and takes that into account in order to offer the user a seamless user experience.
We had the pleasure of trying out the S IV in the Portuguese presentation back in April, and we were surprised with the new functionalities since we though, as many do, that they were just tales and wouldn’t work properly.
First we will introduce to you the new functionalities available in the S IV and then you will be able to see why we liked the S IV and see the functionalities in action in our short hands on review video.
We will skip through the specifications since we’ve all known the specs since the first time it came out, beware though that only the Quad Core version will be available in Portugal. If you want you can check out the S IV specifications: I9505 and I9500.
Design and Ergonomics
The first thing you will notice when you grab onto the S IV is the massive 5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen. And believe me, you will notice it for all the right reasons.
It is true that the S IV is smaller, thinner and lighter than its predecessor, which still seems to amaze many people. When it comes to design, the S IV is very similar to the S III, so we won’t dwell on this.
The screen is one of the greatest features of the new flagship. The colors, contrast and brightness it portrays are amazing and I can see many people viewing movies and TV series on it without effort, although you may think that it is a little bit small to watch a full movie on it, you will be amazed with the quality of the picture. I can only imagine what it would be like to play some games on the S IV just to enjoy the images portrayed.
This was where Samsung innovated and took smartphone to a whole new level. Lets take you through the several sensors added to the S IV:
This sensor is located near the frontal camera and captures hand gestures through infrared rays that are projected and then reflected by the user’s hand. The Gesture sensor is what makes Air Gesture possible (more on this in a bit).
The majority of smartphones already brings a proximity sensor that is what allows the screen to turn off when you are making/receiving a call, blocking the touch functionality and avoiding unwanted interactions. Nothing new here…
Temperature and Humidity Sensor:
This sensor registers the moisture and temperature levels of the environment through a small hole on the bottom of the S IV. The captured levels are then used by the S Health application in order to show the user the optimum comfort levels.
This measures the device movement and is used also by the S Health in order to calculate how far the user has walked/run.
It detects the magnetic field intensity based on three axes. This is used by the S Voice Drive activated GPS in order to precisely calculate the route that the user needs to take in order to reach a destiny.
Identifies the atmospheric pressure at the user’s current location. This is particularly useful in the S Health in order to precisely calculate how many calories are being burned taking into account the atmospheric pressure and altitude of the current location.
This sensor is located on the top left side of the screen and it measures the light intensity, which is then used by the Samsung Adapt Display that optimized the luminosity and detail levels of the screen. This diminishes the tiredness of the user’s eyes while reading and e-book, for example.
One might think that with this many sensors active the S IV’s battery would last about five minutes, but you’re wrong. Samsung was smart enough to incorporate an MCU (Micro Controller Unit) that activates the AP (Application Processor) only when it is needed and as such the battery consumption drops significantly.
When it comes to using the information provided by the sensors described sensors Samsung created a facial recognition software, improved upon the already known voice recognition software previously used by S Voice, and also used a OCR recognition technology.
The facial recognition technology, used by the camera, allows the device to detect when the user looks away from the screen or when he/she looks at the top or bottom of the screen.
This is used by the Smart Pause functionality, which stops a movie when the user looks away from the screen and then continues playback when the user looks at the screen again.
It is also used by the Smart Scroll feature that allows the user to browse a web site and scroll without ever needing to touch the screen, just by looking at the bottom or top of the screen. The user can also scroll the screen content by leaning the S IV back or forward.
Air View allows the user to preview the content of an email, S Planner, a text message, a movie and even the image gallery without ever having to open them. This is possible due to the Finger Hovering technology that was first used on the Note II (with the S Pen), which is activated by the disparity of electrical currents that occurs when the user’s hand approaches the screen.
The Air Gesture functionality allows the user to change the song playing as well as navigate through web pages or take an incoming call just by waving his/her hand near the S IV.
Samsung’s Optical Reader relies on the OCR recognition technology to understand what is displayed on emails, web addresses, phone numbers and QR codes in order to suggest useful features like translation, search, text message, email or call.
WatchON transforms your S IV in a remote control, via infrared, capable of controlling your TV, sound system or dvd player, as well as allowing you access to several contents such as live TV and VOD (Video on Demand) based on the information retrieved by the Electronic Program Guide.
Then you have the sharing applications such as Group Play and Share Music. Group Play will allow you to hear songs, watch photos or play with whoever is around you even with Wi-Fi access.
Share Music allows for the same song to the played across several devices in order to create a party environment.
S Voice Drive allows the user to command the S IV through voice commands alone in order to enjoy an uninterrupted driving experience. As soon as the S IV pairs up with a Bluetooth car device, it automatically turns on the driving mode which converts text to voice in order to access messages without ever having to take your eyes of the road.
There are loads of new functionalities available on the S IV, which we will further inspect once we have the device in our hands for testing, so it is up to you to hand on to your seat and wait.
The S IV has a 13MP rear camera and a 2MP frontal camera. As if this wasn’t enough, Samsung also provided loads of new functionalities for the users to be able to record their memorable moments.
The users have Dual Camera, Drama Shot and Sound & Shoot in order to entertain themselves.
Dual Camera enables the users to take two pictures or record two videos simultaneously with both the frontal and rear cameras giving a different perspective of the moment. There are eight available modes in order for the users to meld the two pictures or videos together.
Drama Shot allows the users to see the action in a continuous time lapse and last but not least Sound & Shoot enables the users to take a picture and record sound while the picture is taken. This makes for interesting Christmas interactive cards.
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Last but not least you have the Story Album functionality that groups your photos according to specific categories such as timeline, location or specific event.
- New Smart functions: Smart Scroll, Smart Pause, Air Gesture.
- Dual Camera
- Space occupied by all the new functionalities
We tried some features of the S IV after the presentation and we weren’t disappointed by any of them. I’ll admit the Smart Scroll takes some getting used to, but that is to be expected by anything innovative.
Smart paused worked wonderfully, our only doubt is about what happens when more than one person is watching the screen, like when you are showing a video to a friend, but we will try that when we have the device to review and we’ll update you on that.
Like you’ve probably have heard these new features and technologies end up occupying a lot of memory that should be available for the user, the 16GB version only has 8GB free for the user. It is up to each one of us if the space occupied by the innovative features, brought by Samsung, are worth having less space available for regular use.
At a first glance the S IV is a very good contender for smartphone of the year, not because of its specifications or design, but because of the innovative features it offers.
We hope to be able to bring you a full review of the S IV soon enough, so hold on to your seats.
Preview by: Cátia Sofia @ Android Emotions