Sunday, June 23, 2013

Imagining the next handsets in Samsung's Galaxy S4 series

Cellphone enthusiasts will remember the birth of the Galaxy series of smartphones with the Samsung Galaxy i7500 back in 2009. But for the rest, the Galaxy S i9000 will be better remembered, as it fought toe-to-toe with Apple's iPhone 4 in 2010. Since then, Samsung has followed in Apple's footsteps; releasing one flagship model every year. The follow-up to the Galaxy S was the Galaxy S II in 2011 and the Galaxy S III in 2012. This year, like clockwork, we saw the Galaxy S4 taking up that mantle. 
But something changed this year - the Galaxy S4 is no longer a single handset. Launching a series of phones, Samsung has chosen to diversify (even dilute, some might say) the 'Galaxy S4' brand. Although the S4 still stays at the top of the food chain, we saw the launch of the water and dust proof Galaxy S4 Active. It was recently followed by the Galaxy S4 Zoom - an amalgamation of a smartphone and a point-and-shoot camera. This is not to be confused with the Galaxy Camera; which is a camera first, smartphone later. Lastly, let us not forget the S4 'mini', which positions itself as a solid mid-range handset (although 'mini' might be a deceitful tag for a phone with a 4.3-inch screen).
If this is the way Samsung's gonna go this year, we have imagined five handsets that could branch out of the Galaxy S4 Family.

Galaxy S4 Beam
Projector phones are not a new concept to Samsung. They built their first one almost half a decade ago (the i7410). Samsung's recent attempts with this concept were in 2010 and 2012 respectively, with the Galaxy 'Beam' range of Android-based smartphones.

Projector phones are a novel idea that could appeal to the professional folk, maybe even average consumers. The last Galaxy Beam handset was said to project a 50-inch image when the phone's kept at a distance of 2 meters. Such a handset would be a unique addition to the Galaxy S4 line-up.

Galaxy S4 Max
Samsung is also not a stranger to phones with mammoth batteries. The Galaxy Note II still remains one of the highest deliverers of battery life with its 3300 mAh battery.

Motorola's RAZR MAXX smartphones targeted this pain-point that almost every smartphone user can sympathise with. The MAXX HD, with its 3300 mAh battery (and comparatively compact size), let people use power-hogging features like 4G LTE or intensive 3D gaming, without having to run towards a charging point in the middle of the day.

Most recently, Lenovo showed off its P780 with a 4000 mAh battery. It almost mockingly also includes USB-on-the-go support, which can be used to provide power to other phones! Samsung surely will win over many hearts with an S4 'Max' of their own.

Galaxy S4 Beat DJ
As annoying as the side-effects of this phone may be, having a phone with booming stereo speakers can be appealing to a certain type of crowd. The HTC One is already known to run circles around the Galaxy S4 when it comes to a speaker test. The cleverly front-facing stereo speakers on the One makes it less of a headache when you have to watch a random YouTube video that irritatingly has low volume by default. There's no need to cup the speaker at the back.

'Beat DJ' was Samsung's odd-shaped music phone from 2009 with speakers made by Bang & Olufsen. A Galaxy S4 Beat DJ will rejoice those annoying people who like to blare music in public places, but on the bright side it might also be useful to those with the slightest hearing impairment.

Galaxy S4 Play
Smartphones have done a great job of doubling up as portable game consoles. The multi-touch interface opened up the possibility for new interactions and a big reason for games like Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds to become famous. Sony tried to combine the smartphone and game console with the Xperia Play. But the lack of games that used its hardware controls put this idea out of the spotlight.
With iOS 7, Apple has introduced support for 3rd party game controllers. This shows that manufacturers aren't giving up the idea of using good old fashioned buttons to play a game on a phone. And that's a good thing - although touch-screens are fun, the precision and feedback offered by a hardware controller is second to none. Thus, a Galaxy S4 'Play' could potentially bring back the idea that Sony failed to execute, to the delight of gamers all around the world.

Galaxy S4 Al
We were originally going to humour you guys with the Galaxy S4 'Al' (Aluminium), but looking at how the S4's plastic body is criticised by every critic on the planet, this wouldn't be such a bad idea now, would it? Competition like the iPhone 5 or the HTC One do give you that sense of 'physical satisfaction' when you spend Rs. 40,000 on a phone. Even Nokia rehashed the Lumia 920 with an aluminium shell, calling it the Lumia 925, within a year of its launch. Imagine a Galaxy S4 in a unibody aluminium shell; machined to impress. Would that change your mind?

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