The Samsung Galaxy S4 is officially upon us. The Korean phone giant took the wraps off its new 5-inch smartphone at a high-profile event in New York City tonight, and will release the Galaxy S4 in the second quarter on all four major U.S. carriers.
PCMag spoke with Nick DiCarlo, Samsung’s vice president of portfolio planning, at tonight’s event, and he said that many of the software improvements in the Samsung Galaxy S4 could make their way into existing Samsung Galaxy S3 phones.
“Anything that we can do that’s not dependent on hardware like infrared, we’ll definitely bring to all the flagship devices,” he said.
That may include the Galaxy S4′s new camera features, which DiCarlo said several times were a highlight of the new phone. When asked why Samsung picked a 13-megapixel camera sensor rather than going for bigger pixels like HTC did, he said the new UI was more important.
“The key thing you’ve got to think about in this debate is, how easy is a camera to use and what cool things can you do with it?” he said. “Photo quality is great, and has been great; for the average person the day-to-day person you’re not having a quality argument about photography. For your everyday use case, the ability to remove photobombers and that kind of stuff is really what’s going to have people talking.”
When asked about what he considers the “wow” features on the S4, DiCarlo called out the camera UI, the WatchNow TV remote and gesture control, but also how Samsung made the device’s screen bigger while the phone is physically smaller than the Galaxy S3.
“I think that the Galaxy S3 was considered a big screen device and we made it smaller this year. That’s an amazing feat and I think it’s something that Samsung is able to do that really helps us stand out,” he said. Will phone screens keep getting bigger? “We’re going to find out at some point, but we haven’t found out yet.”
With so much new software in the Galaxy S4, I raised questions about fragmenting Android into multiple platforms. DiCarlo shot me down pretty quickly, saying he doesn’t know of any incompatibilities Samsung has introduced for third-party developers, and that Samsung has dramatically sped up its rate of delivering Android upgrades. There’s no problem with the Android ecosystem as-is, he said.
“I think that the brilliance of the Android strategy from the beginning was that you have this baseline that was real standard, and we’ve been huge advocates and defenders of that, but that allow you to do creative things on the top of that,” he said. “I give Andy Rubin and those guys a lot of credit for having that insight. The model works great, right? You can have all of these cool services from Google while also having companies like Samsung also build all of these things on top of it without breaking it.”
For more, tune in to PCMag’s live coverage of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 event.
By Sascha Segan, PCMag