Samsung takes aim at Apple

The new Galaxy S4, unveiled in New York this week, lacks a "Wow factor," one analyst said.
The new Galaxy S4, unveiled in New York this week, lacks a "Wow factor," one analyst said. (AP)

A bigger, faster Galaxy S4 goes on sale here in April.

Posted: March 17, 2013

Samsung Electronics Co. fired the first of three smartphone salvos this year aimed at hurting Apple Inc. in its home market, releasing a bigger and faster Galaxy S4 that reviewers said may only glance its target.

The device announced Thursday night is lighter than predecessor S3 and has software to track movement of the eyes and waves of the hands. The Galaxy S4 will be able to take photos in two directions, monitor sleeping habits, and translate commands into different languages as the South Korean company tries to lure customers in a slowing global smartphone market.

The handset, with a 5-inch screen and 13-megapixel camera, goes on sale in the United States on April 26 with carriers including AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp., and T-Mobile USA Inc.

"There was no 'Wow' factor," said Kwon Sung Ryul, an analyst at Dongbu Securities. "It only proved to the world that it's getting harder to make a difference on the hardware side."

Samsung's other phones this year will include a new model of its Galaxy Note and a device using the Intel Corp.-backed Tizen operating system. The latter device will be released in August or September, Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business, said during an interview in Seoul.

"The Galaxy S4 may not offer the dramatic leaps we've come to expect from each new generation of Samsung smartphone," said Mike Gikas of Consumer Reports. "It does, however, cram a remarkable number of tech-forward features into a relatively svelte package."

Tong Yang Securities in Seoul expects Samsung to sell at least 60 million Galaxy S4 devices this year, bringing its total smartphone shipments to about 303 million.

Apple's sales growth last quarter was the slowest in more than two years, a sign the iPhone is losing its edge over other smartphones, said Park Hyun, an analyst at Tong Yang Securities who does not expect a new iPhone until midyear at the earliest.

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