Ever since Apple launched the iPhone back in 2007 (yes, the ancient, 3G-less iPhone, with its 412 MHz processor and its HVGA display), the term “iPhone killer” has been used almost a million times. I’m not kidding: at the moment there are about 800,000 results for “iPhone killer” on Google Search alone.
Many – from Samsung and Nokia, to shady Chinese manufacturers – have tried to make a smartphone which would convince the world that the iPhone doesn’t deserve to be bought, but their product does. Samsung is the only one to have actually succeeded here – thanks to its Galaxy S line, and culminating with the Galaxy S III, sold in 40 million units across the globe as of now (seven months from launch).
Meanwhile, Apple may have sold about 48 million iPhones in Q4 2012 (older models included). By the looks of it, the Cupertino company probably managed to sell around 30 million new smartphones (hence iPhone 5 units) in just three months. So the iPhone 5 is likely still selling better than the S III, despite a rumored weak demand.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not eulogizing Apple, and neither the iPhone. I am an Android user. From where I’m standing, if all the iPhones in the world would suddenly disappear (and Apple wouldn’t make new ones), I wouldn’t care. But then again, competition wouldn’t be as fierce in this case, and, as a result, maybe innovation would stagnate. So things are what they are: Apple has managed to put together a smartphone that simply lures throngs of customers, generation after generation. And, thus far, it has been really hard for other companies to challenge its supremacy.
Still, looking at the Galaxy S series’ success, I’m confident that Samsung’s next Android flagship smartphone – possibly called Galaxy S4, or S IV – can do way better than the S III, and truly become what you’d call an iPhone killer. The best part is that, to achieve this, Samsung doesn’t have to stray too much from what the S III already is. It just has to improve on that.
One of the things Samsung needs to do is take a hint from Sony’s latest flagship, the Xperia Z, and make the S4 waterproof. This could be a major selling point for the device – and, if the next-generation iPhone won’t be waterproof, it would also give Samsung a new reason to bash Apple. The S4 should be also more durable (drop tests have showed that the S III breaks easier than the iPhone 5). That rumored “unbreakable screen” would be downright awesome.
The Galaxy S4 must come with a Full HD (1920 x 1080) display. Anything lower than that doesn’t make sense. I’m not expecting Apple to go beyond Full HD with its 2013 smartphone (probably called iPhone 6, or iPhone 5S), so the Cupertino giant will have little to brag about here.
A quad-core Exynos processor is a no brainer for the S4 – although it remains to be seen if it’s going to be a 2GHz one. In the RAM department, I don’t think more than 2GB is needed. In any case, Sammy’s next flagship will be a speedy device, capable of standing next to any other high-end smartphone.
Unlike the iPhone 5, the current Galaxy S III offers stuff like NFC, micro USB port, MicroSD card slot. I don’t believe Samsung will give up on any of these with the S4, but it remains to be seen if Apple’s iPhone 6 is going to have them.
Photography-wise, Samsung knows how to make users happy, and we will definitely see a top-notch rear camera on the S4. It would be good for Samsung to try and develop a technology similar to Nokia’s PureView, but I don’t see how this can happen any time soon. Or ever.
On the software side, the new Galaxy is probably going to run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean at launch, since it’s unlikely that Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie will be out before the handset. Paired with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, Jelly Bean has already proved itself to be a great OS.
Rumors have it that the S4 will be available for purchase starting May. Some analysts expect Apple to introduce its 2013 iPhone as early as June, so the S4 would still have a considerable advantage. If Samsung manages to launch the S4 on all major US carriers a month ahead of Apple, it will undoubtedly eat up iPhone sales.
To recap, the Samsung Galaxy S4 needs to:
- be similar to the S III, but improved at the same time
- be waterproof, and have a more solid construction than the S III
- be launched as soon as possible (earlier than May would do wonders sales-wise)
- feature a 1080p display (not larger than 5 inches)
- come with all the standards the S III has – micro USB port, MicroSD card slot, removable battery
If all the things listed above become reality, Samsung should have nothing to fear when Apple’s new iPhone is released – even if we’ll see two new iPhones, including a QWERTY one (although I seriously doubt this will happen).
Needless to say, the Galaxy S4 will also have to compete with all the current and upcoming 1080p Android smartphones, as well as with Windows Phone 8 flagship devices. RIM’s BlackBerry 10 handsets could be a threat, too.
It’s definitely going to be an interesting year, and only January 2014 will allow us to confidently point out the winners and the losers. While neither Samsung, nor Apple is going to be in the latter category, Apple really needs to be careful with the new iPhone(s), because its glory days may be over soon.
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