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Smartphone Sector Heats Up with Big Launches

Posted by: David Vales on March 22, 2013

Samsung S4

Apple earned the number two spot on Interbrand's Best Global Brands 2012 report and the power of Apple's brand value has made the iPhone the top-selling smartphone in the world. The iPhone 5 is facing some competition this week, though.

Today the BlackBerry Z10 is officially available in the US from AT&T. The new phone, garnering positive reviews, becomes available from T-Mobile and Verizon next week. 

Samsung's S4 promises to be a competitor in the smartphone space. Shortly after Samsung's recent launch event for the new phone, Apple responded with marketing on its website claiming, "There's iPhone. And then there's everything else."

I had the pleasure of attending the S4 launch event at Radio City Music Hall in New York, which started with a Broadway-inspired performance demonstrating how the phone's features relate to everyday life. Some in attendance panned the performance as "cheesy," but I found the actual phone to be very impressive.

SamsungThe screen size is a bit larger than any phone currently on the market with a great resolution at 1920 x 1080, making it a great HD streaming handheld device. The event's emcee, Will Chase, noted there is less to hold on the new phone, but much more to see, a great way to justify the large size of the screen.

Adding "group" features such as group play is a smart move. Group play allows multiple phones that are within a reasonable distance to share and stream music simultaneously in different speaker arrangements depending on how many phones are linked up. 

What I find so cool about this feature is that it does not require any kind of Wifi or hotspot; this can be done anywhere at any time as long as you have your phone charged. I can see this feature being a hit with the youth market. 

Another great feature, but also raises some questions, is the Samsung smart pause. This feature pauses the phone when you aren’t looking at it and then unpauses when you are looking again, all automated. Is it just tracking eye movement or does it look for a full head turning motion?

One of the coolest features presented at the event was "Air Gesture." The name truly expresses what it does. Move your finger in front of the screen and it recognizes this as a swipe on the screen. 

This feature utilizes an infra-red heat sensor. This device can measure temperature changes and act off of heat movements. I believe this is the first phone for consumers to have this type of sensor in it and it will be interesting to see what the hacker community comes up with for this handy sensor. 

Samsung S4 Launch

The built-in rear camera has 13 megapixels, which is also the highest megapixels on any phone released to date. The associated features with the camera are quite useful and unique.  When recording video you can use both cameras on the front and back, enabling you to add the camera man to the video. This dual camera feature is also available for video chat. 

On the business side, the phone supports Microsoft Active Sync and in addition to supporting the widely used business mail systems, Samsung has added a very useful application called Samsung KNOX. This KNOX software can separate your applications securely so they can only be accessed via password. 

The Samsung software truly makes this device capable of supporting business and personal use at the same time with one smartphone. The hardware is superior to any other phone on the market right now and the camera features invite all kinds of creativeness to the table. The group features add a new dimension to social networking, allowing connectivity without requiring an internet connection. 

The "7 sensor innovation" is only the beginning for Samsung. These sensors can be applied to many facets for many industries. 

The smartphone sector is definitely heating up.

David Vales is a Senior Systems Engineer for Interbrand.

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