Samsung Galaxy S4; the most awaited Android smartphone for 2013 is set to be unveiled this week (14th March, 2013). All the other competitors have either announced or started shipping their flagship smartphones for the year of 2013, except Apple. Sony has released ‘The Best Of Sony’ in the form of Sony Xperia Z, HTC has announced the ‘One’ flagship phone; HTC One and Asus has announced their best tablet-smartphone hybrid for the year; Asus PadFone Infinity. Other flagship smartphone releases include LG Optimus G Pro, Nokia Lumia 920 and Blackberry Z10. Almost all these smartphones include very similar specifications or performance levels depending on their operating system or screen resolution. But what would it take for Samsung Galaxy S4 the best smartphone of 2013? Let us have a look at some the features where Samsung Galaxy S4 can shine more than other flagship smartphones.
Processing Power & Graphical Performance
First, you need to know about ARM, which is a small UK based firm, which designs processor architecture for almost all the mobile devices these days. Mobile processors from all the major brands such as Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, NVidia, Texas Instruments, MediaTek, Broadcom and RockChip are based on the reference designs laid out by ARM. ARM licenses these designs to mobile chip manufacturing firms which are used in smartphones, tablet PCs, televisions, home theater systems, music players and laptops. Only the chips designed by Intel and AMD are not based on ARM reference designs. Qualcomm and Apple are the only chip manufacturers who have special license, which gives them the independence to heavily modify their design for better performance and efficiency.
Almost all the flagship Android smartphones, which were released in late 2012 or early 2013, come with Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro or Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processors. Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro is a quad-core processor whose CPU cores are very identical to the ARM Cortex A15 architecture. There is only 10-15% performance difference between Krait CPU cores and real ARM Cortex A15 based CPU cores. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 is only a slightly modified version of Snapdragon S4 Pro. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will use an “Octa Core” processor, which has 4 CPU cores, based on ARM Cortex A15 and the remaining 4 CPU cores are based on ARM Cortex A7. Allegedly, the ARM Cortex A15 is very high performance but it needs a lot of power too. So what Samsung has done is, it has paired them with very low power sipping ARM Cortex A7 cores. When the phone needs high performance, the Cortex A15 cores are used and when the phone needs low to very little processing (such as in sleep mode or lock screen mode), the Cortex A7 cores are switched on and Cortex A15 cores are switched off to save power. So it could provide awesome processing power without sucking a lot of battery when not needed.
It also comes with PowerVR SGX544MP GPU which is as powerful as the one used in the iPad 3rd generation. Which is to say, a lot of power and it could be higher than the Adreno 320 GPU used in the other flagship smartphones of 2013. So, all in all, this phone could surpass the processing and graphical performance of its competitors. As they say, if you buy a device with very good processing performance is bound to get most software updates (which is the most important point of a smartphone).
Overall, the difference between the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro/600 and Exynos Octa will not be more than 10% as per guesstimates.
Performance & Power Need Metrics: ARM Cortex A5 < ARM Cortex A7 < ARM Cortex A8 < ARM Cortex A9 < ARM Cortex A15
|Processor Architecture||Year||Performance||Power Needs|
|ARM Cortex A5||2011||Better Than Cortex A8||Very Low Power|
|ARM Cortex A7||2011||Low Performance||Low Power|
|ARM Cortex A8||2010||Normal Performance||Normal|
|ARM Cortex A9||2011/Early 2012||High Performance||Normal|
|ARM Cortex A15||Late 2012/Early 2013||Very High Performance||Power Hungry|
Screen & Battery Efficiency
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will probably use a “Green PHOLED” display, which allegedly, consumer 25% less battery for its operation. It will use a 4.99-inch full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which takes its pixel density to 441 ppi. At once, the provider of the best displays, is no longer the best in performance as its Super AMOLED displays over saturates the colors and are not as bright as LCD displays. But it wins in black levels and viewing angles. Right now, the HTC One has the best mobile display in the world. If Samsung wants the crown back for the best mobile display, it should improve its color reproduction accuracy and brightness levels as well.
If its Green PHOLED displays are remotely close to what rumors say, it can reduce the power needs and improve the battery life of the phone. Also, among all the Android flagship phones, it will have one of the largest capacity batteries (Sony Xperia Z = 2330 mAh, HTC One = 2100 mAh). So it can beat all others in terms of battery life, which would be a huge differentiator.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will most probably use a 13 MP autofocus camera sensor with LED flash and full HD video recording @ 30 frames per second. The camera features such as HDR Photos, HDR Videos, Panorama Images, 360 Panorama Images and simultaneous video and image clicking will be present in it. The Sony Xperia Z uses the new EXMOR RS sensor which they say have the ‘stacked sensor’ but the initial reviews have come in marking it is not that great and it matches the quality of only last year flagships such as iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3. The HTC One on the other hand has a 4MP autofocus camera with LED flash and full HD video recording. It is using a new camera technology, which they are calling it as ‘Ultrapixel’ sensor.
What it actually means is, it has larger camera sensor used and as the number of pixels are low, they are of larger sized. It means that the per-pixel quality of the images will be much better, especially in low-light conditions
It also has the Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) like the Lumia 920 and only the second phone in the world to have that feature. But when the images from other ‘high megapixel‘ cameras are shrunken down and resized to 4 MP resolution, the HTC One does not have an advantage except low-light condition performance. So Samsung has a chance here to beat others out in the camera performance. The Samsung Galaxy S3 was one of the best camera performing phones last year and it could do the same thing this year.
Pricing & Other Stuff
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is supposed to come with Android 4.2 JellyBean pre-installed with the newer version of TouchWiz Nature UX. If it is true, it will be the first smartphone apart from the Google Nexus devices to have the latest operating system on board. This will be one of the things where it can out-do others. Generally, the flagship smartphones receive 2-3 major upgrades in a course of 18 months so Galaxy S4 is bound to get next 3 major upgrades. The pricing is another major area where they need to focus. The Sony Xperia Z is priced at a very attractive figure of INR 38K in India. The HTC One India pricing is not out yet but in the European countries, it is priced below the Xperia Z. So it is possible that Samsung Galaxy S4 price in India could be under the INR 40K range.