The Galaxy S IV's features will win the day

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: March 4, 2013

As we inch inexorably closer to March 14, when Samsung hopes we’ve all been getting ready “4” the next Galaxy, the leaks are starting to pick up the pace. We’ve been eagerly awaiting the Galaxy S IV for a few months now, and now that we’re finally just ten days away, things are starting to heat up. Here soon we should be able to paint a pretty clear picture of our expectations for what Samsung is going to announce, even if that does mean we may be let down by the lofty device we all design in our heads.

And that’s going to happen to a few people out there. It’s unavoidable. Someone, somewhere, is going to say that the Galaxy S IV isn’t that great. It’s a “letdown,” even. It could even be someone who currently owns a Galaxy S III, in fact. But, for the most part, I fully expect the next Galaxy S device to blow the socks off most people. They’ll probably have another winner on their hands.

Samsung’s dominance in the Android market will continue. The gears keep turning.

Not too long ago, I wrote a piece on why software is starting to interest me a lot more than hardware. I pointed out that I think Samsung has to take the opportunity to focus more on the features they embed within the Galaxy S IV, rather than focus too much on the hardware. We’ve all talked at length how the hardware side of things is starting to plateau, if it already hasn’t already. That’s why software needs to speak louder than ever. It needs to sell the show, all on its own, and just be aided in key areas.

In the later hours of Monday, a leaked image showcased what the Galaxy S IV might look like. The device is positioned in front of the preceding devices, all the way back to the original Galaxy S. We’re shown a nice evolution of size, overall design aesthetic, and an evolutionary look of Samsung’s proprietary software. It’s a telling image. It shows the phone getting bigger, more refined, and something admittedly worth looking at.

And, therefore, worth using.

Earlier Monday, a report from The New York Times suggested that one new thing Samsung could unveil with the Galaxy S IV is called “eye scrolling functionality.” It does exactly what it sounds like it does, if the rumors are true. You won’t have to touch the screen to scroll down a page. The phone will track your eyes, and will scroll in real-time to where your eyes are. Sure, at first glance (see what I did there?) it sounds like something straight out of a science fiction story, but this is honestly right up Samsung’s alley.

If you’ll recall, one of the more noteworthy software features on the Galaxy S III was the Smart Stay functionality. As long as you had the feature turned on, the phone’s display would stay bright while you were looking at it. When I had the Galaxy S III I tried it out, and it worked okay for the most part. I know people that love it, though.

On top of that, with the S Pen and the Galaxy Note II, you don’t have to touch the screen to scroll through lists or pages. Just put the S Pen near the bottom or top of the screen, and it will scroll. So this eye tracking functionality is right up Samsung’s alley. It seems like it’s a natural evolutionary step from one device to its successor.

And that is why Samsung is going to win. They are going to win because they’re going to throw features into this phone that make the user experience worthwhile. And not just because they’re going to have some tweaks to TouchWiz to make it look slightly different, even just aesthetically, but by providing new ways to use the phone itself. No need to touch the screen to scroll? That’s awesome.

That, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is a feature you show off to your friends. To everyone! At a restaurant? Sure, the server would absolutely love to see all the cool things you can do with your brand new phone. What? You can scroll without touching the screen? That’s awesome!

How much is it again?

And that’s how you have an owner sell a phone. Just showing off the cool features. Yes, hardware counts for something right at the start, but I think if the Galaxy Note II has shown us anything, features can win over hardware. (I have people tell me the display is too big. I show them the S Pen and its functionality, and they suddenly want to use a phone with that big of a display.)

Samsung’s going to surprise a lot of people with their software features, I think. As our own Chase Bonar put it, they need to have a distinct feature. I agree with that, and I think Samsung is well aware of this truth. I think that’s why they’re going to put more than one in there. I think they’re going to try and wow us in a big way.

More features that provide a new, or unique way for the owner to use their phone is a perfect way to do that.

Do you think a feature like “eye scrolling functionality” will sell Galaxy S IVs? Or is it just a gimmick? When is a gimmick a real feature, or vice versa? Would you buy a Galaxy S IV for the right price and with features like that? Let me know!