Galaxy of stars

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gaming -

SMART­PHONE al­le­giances are split­ting in two. On one side is Ap­ple, the world’s rich­est tech­nol­ogy com­pany and long­time smart­phone leader.

On the other is Sam­sung, the world’s big­gest mo­bile phone maker and fast-ris­ing smart­phone star.

Be­tween them, the com­pa­nies con­trolled 52 per cent of all smart­phone sales at the end of last year, ac­cord­ing to tech­nol­ogy re­search com­pany Gart­ner, mean­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of users are pick­ing a side.

Into this two-sided, mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar bat­tle, Sam­sung fired a new at­tack late last week. It un­veiled its flag­ship Galaxy S IV smart­phone in New York, with the launch tak­ing over Times Square, Ra­dio City Mu­sic Hall and many of the city’s prom­i­nent bill­boards.

But rather than em­pha­size a new look or new phone hard­ware, the South Korean com­pany switched its fo­cus to soft­ware ad­di­tions that will see the new Galaxy phone watch your ges­tures, track your eye­balls, and take pho­tos with both cam­eras at once.

An­a­lysts ar­gue that con­sumers are likely to see more of this in­ter­nal in­no­va­tion as smart­phone mak­ers seek to make their own stamp on de­vices that boast few hard­ware fail­ings.

De­spite the com­pany’s em- pha­sis on soft­ware, Sam­sung’s Galaxy S IV does fea­ture sig­nif­i­cant hard­ware up­grades. Its Su­per AMOLED screen is now larger (5 inches) and sharper (full HD), its cam­era takes 13-megapixel pho­to­graphs, and its Google An­droid soft­ware is pow­ered by an eight-core pro­ces­sor – a smart­phone first.

But when Sam­sung mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions head JK Shin re­vealed the new smart­phone, he spoke of the com­pany’s ‘‘ in­no­va­tion’’ in cre­at­ing new soft­ware for the phone’s cam­era, touch-free ges­tures for its screen, as well as lan­guage trans­la­tion and health-track­ing apps.

Ovum chief tech­nol­ogy an­a­lyst Jan Daw­son says de­spite Ap­ple and Sam­sung go­ing head-to-head, the lead­ing smart­phone mak­ers now find them­selves in sim­i­lar po­si­tions. Both have to cre­ate and add new soft­ware to their phones to hook users on one sys­tem. Star power: Prince (above), Liam Hemsworth and Christina Aguil­era at the launch.

‘‘ Hav­ing in­no­vated rapidly over the last sev­eral years to vaunt it­self into top spot in the world smart­phone rank­ings, Sam­sung now faces es­sen­tially the same chal­lenge as Ap­ple: how to con­tinue to im­prove its de­vices year on year when ex­ist­ing phones are al­ready top of their class and there aren’t ob­vi­ous short­com­ings,’’ Daw­son says.

Tel­syte re­search di­rec­tor Foad Fadaghi says the new em­pha­sis on what’s in­side the phone, rather than its ex­te­rior, could also serve to dif­fer­en­ti­ate Sam­sung from its Google An­droid ri­vals.

Though Sam­sung has emerged as a clear leader in An­droid phones, both HTC and Sony are plan­ning to re­lease at­trac­tive, high-end smart­phones in the coming months, pro­vid­ing greater com­pe­ti­tion.

De­spite the in­creased fo­cus on what’s in­side the phone, Fadaghi says Sam­sung has won it­self a long lead over ri­val Ap­ple in re­veal­ing the Galaxy S IV now, and they may not even have to re­cruit new users to suc­ceed.

‘‘ Be­cause Sam­sung has got such a large ex­ist­ing base of Galaxy S II and S III cus­tomers, they can ef­fec­tively mar­ket to them for re­peat pur­chases, much like Ap­ple has done for

iPhone cus­tomers,’’ he said. Jen­nifer Dud­leyNi­chol­son trav­elled to NewYork as a guest of Sam­sung Aus­tralia. In this cam­era mode, users can pho­to­graph the scene be­fore them and their face as they cap­ture the photo. Dif­fer­ent frames can be added to the smaller im­age.


Phones paired with NFC (by tap­ping them to­gether) can share pho­tos, songs and games us­ing this fea­ture.


Watch a video when this mode is turned on, and the video will au­to­mat­i­cally pause if your eyes leave the screen. The video be­gins to play again when they re­turn.


This new health-track­ing app can count your steps taken with the phone and can scan bar­codes to track calo­ries. It can also col­lect in­for­ma­tion from a forth­com­ing fit­ness wrist­band, the S Band.

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