We have come a long way since the surreal feeling of the next best thing from Samsung last year. The Galaxy S III could comfortably be characterized as old by the Korean tech giant thanks to their newest intergalactic conquest, the Galaxy S 4.

Since their center stage aura in New York City which consumed the minds of millions worldwide a fortnight ago, I’m already in awe of their 2013 strategy. Much like how Apple brands a device with an "S" in between larger handset refreshes, the iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, and iPhone 5, Samsung did with the S 4. It's much more of an evolutionary step rather than revolutionary. Even so, the Galaxy S 4 presumably packs enough firepower to keep it in contention as one of the year's most desirable handsets. And from Apple's viewpoint, it should be cause for concern. Imitation is flattery.

I’ve written about Samsung on numerous occasions and outlined my concerns for the next Galaxy device many times. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 is the newest device out of Korea and it has everything you’d expect it to have. Literally. The device is nearly identical to the rumors. From its lineup of S features and 5-inch display, to it’s internal specifications including the infamous Octa-Core processor (for the international buyers). Samsung wasn’t able to keep it all a secret and I'm not at all surprised they relied on a list of software features to solidify it as the next big thing.

Samsung has considerably added to its ecosystem and app portfolio in the process. Maybe this is the reason the industrial design of the new Galaxy S 4 is so similar to the Galaxy S III it replaces - the software was the focus. Regardless, Samsung's creation of a list of marketable features and ecosystem put it on par with what the iPhone prides itself on. Samsung has been riding at breakneck speed to secure itself as the epitome of Android, and the antithesis to its competitors. The design of the Galaxy S 4 is presumably a reaction to what the company thinks it needs to be compared to the competition, rather than what it needs to obliterate them.

But back up a bit and you’ll see why. Samsung’s Galaxy S III is most notably recognized as the best selling Android smartphone to date, due in part to a combination of specifications that would put you to sleep if read aloud, and a build quality that still beckons the question: "How much did you say this thing costs?" From its eclectic array of software features and premium internal hardware specifications, Samsung delivered what Android needed at the perfect time, all the while in resolute fashion through every possible outlet. It is still a polycarbonate masterpiece in the eyes of any Android fan, and could remain one until the Galaxy S 5.

However, we’re not yet ready for the Galaxy S 5 as proven by Samsung’s latest offering. The Galaxy S 4 ticks the same boxes its predecessor did, and in similar fashion. It's a clear tribute to the mindset don't fix what's not broken. We may be looking at the best Samsung is willing to deliver this year, and I’m smitten. Granted, their successor had large shoes to fill, something I've said is cause for concern. But that's no excuse. The Galaxy S III was a gamechanger, and if you could look past its plastic exterior you'd quickly find that there was more to it than meets the eye.

"We've always been known as a hardware innovator," said Drew Blackard, director of product planning for Samsung Mobile in the U.S. "And now we have become a software innovator. And I think that's surprised people." 

S features have proven to be valuable marketing terms for the company, and they're showing no signs of shifting away from the strategy. I’ll give Samsung the benefit of the doubt and admit that they have packed the Galaxy S 4 to the gills with them: S Voice Drive, Dual Camera, S Health, S Translator, Smart Scrolling, Smart Pause, Group Play, and Samsung Knox. But most other devices also have hands-free capability for when you're behind the wheel. LG first boasted about Dual Camera which allows the front and rear camera to act simultaneously like the S 4. S Health is rather a reaction to FitBit and other active lifestyle applications that have been around for the better part of five years, instead of something new. S Translator is probably great if you have never used Google Translate. Smart Scrolling and Smart Pause let your eyes control what's on-screen, rather than your finger. Group Play is great if you only associate yourself with other Samsung Galaxy device owners and wish to share files, play music, and so on. This leaves Knox, Samsung's attempt at enterprise level security by creating business and personal profiles. The most noteworthy takeaway of software features center around Samsung’s Air View which is essentially a reason not to dirty your touch screen. Your finger acts as a stylus in the same way you'd use the stylus of the Galaxy Note II.

Then there’s the hardware. You’re getting a very similar shell that may demand a second take to differentiate it from the outgoing Galaxy S III. You’re looking at another home button. The same plastic outer bits. A similar shape with curved corners. The same capacitive button layout, camera placement, and so on. And again with 2GB of RAM. The most exciting feature is the bump to a 2,600mAH battery in that thin 7.9mm frame. There was a processor bump to Qualcomm's latest, and even a display bump to 5-inches with PenTile in tow. We won't be seeing an Octa-Core processor with big.LITTLE action stateside, which would be the biggest hardware improvement as compared to the S III. Yes, the specifications have gotten better, but for what reason?

It’s obvious that Samsung has developed the Galaxy S 4 as an evolutionary step from the outgoing model. From its software specifications down to its appearance, the Galaxy S 4 is very similar in fashion to the annual device refreshes we’ve seen out of Cupertino.

We’re staring directly at the new Samsung with dropped cojones in tow. The Galaxy S III was just the beginning of what the Korean tech manufacturer is capable of. 2012 proved that Samsung was serious in sending a simple message: we’re here to stay, and we’re calling the bed. It was less of an announcement than a bulldogging of the mobile arena. As the year wore on, the Galaxy S III remained the best of the rest, and proved a privileged companion to most consumers. It was the combination of solid hardware and software features that maimed the Galaxy S III desirable through a perverse amount of advertising and marketing.

The Galaxy S 4 is just that, too. Samsung’s last hoorah in marketing was nothing as compared to what is about to happen over the next few months. The Galaxy S 4 is the beginning in what has become a long battle to pitch marketable terms with only one desire in mind: securing mind share. Making us believe we need the hardware to backup the software features. Like Apple, Samsung has learned that securing a place in the consumer’s heart isn’t as much about the device’s abilities, but rather what happens if you can make us believe it’s more than what the competition offers. 

If the Galaxy S 4 is not exactly what you expected it to be, have a seat, because it’s about to break more records. The hoopla surrounding the device could be justified, but I’m more inclined to believe Samsung’s new marketing techniques prove consumers are getting played. From Samsung’s manufacturing expertise and sheer brute marketing, they’ve gone from the best of Android, to all of it, and only Apple’s loyal fans are watching as their beloved successor beckons from the backstage of what is to be a long, familiar battle of the world’s two favorite operating systems.

Do you think the Galaxy S 4 is a refresh of the outgoing S III, or something completely new?

Image via DigitalTrends.

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118 Reactions to this post

"Do you think the Samsung Galaxy S 4 is a refresh of the outgoing S III, or something completely new?"

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Ilija Jovanovic its not a refresh and its not something completely new its somewhere between
Matthew Clous Why the line up of cloned phones? the S3/S3 and Note2 all look the same.... I guess they are test driving Apples way of things or they have something bigger planned for the S5
Gaz Saint it could be better
Deb Casper Would really like to see the S4 head to head with the new BB Z10
Gareth Ridout Apple fanboy here. I. WANT. Unless Apple provides a product that competes with this product - I. AM. GONE.
Anthony Bailey I'm really not sure what some of you morons are trying to suggest... so if the S4 looked like the HTC One, would it still be a "refreshed" S III or would you idiots be talking about how different and upgraded the phone is??? This question coming from someone who really isn't too happy the S4 looks so much like the S III. Are you idiots suggestion that "design" equals "features and functions"???
Alberto Garcia Flores Galaxy S III Plus
Mark Belkowski Lmao...it's a gimmick phone and a refresh.
Anthony Bailey At least its not nearly as ugly as the S III... and this is coming from a Note I and II owner so I'm not a Samsung hater. The S4 is actually attractive for the most part... but there are significantly more attractive phones coming out. Fortunately, this isn't a 1-to-1 iPhone 4/4S comparison. The iPhone 4S only provided marginal, almost negligible improvements over the iPhone 4. The S4 may look very similar to the SIII, but it has a substantial amount of hardware and software enhancements.
Vicki Figueroa Are you ppl blind or did u just not read up on all the new features & specs of the s4? It does more than the s3 & it looks better too. I think u just want to believe its no better than your s3 because you're stuck with your s3 on contact & can't get an s4.
Kong Yang Just a refresh. But unlike Apple, there are a lot of improvements. I think my GS3 will be able to last until the GS5 comes out.
Jawon Chance Face it companies are starting to dig in design wise with their flagship phones versus severely altering them from one year to the next. Motorola has pretty much kept the same design for the Razr line, same with LG Optimus G line, and now Samsung. HTC decided to take a swing toward the fences because their marketing strategy was skewed why offer the One X on basically two carriers? This basically puts them on the same level playing field Samsung was on last year with the S3 now that it will be on multiple carrier. Should be interesting to see thesr devices go head to head.
Rachit Kakkar most of the Samsung devices look tooo similar to me...
Huey Liggins You can't please everyone can you? I'd agree with everyone that it's the same phone but the only thing that's the same about the s4 when compared to the s3 is just the design. The only reason htc seems so big is because their latest phones have failed. Oh and the camera which I'm interested in since it's new. And the look. Wow its pretty but wait til the drop test to say it's more durable. I dropped my note so I know this plastic is durable
Vicente Reyes Nothing new
Eric J. Powers A simple little refresh, that's it
Henry Van What else could you want? maybe something other than plastic for the body. my contract is up around the same time the s4 is launching. but after being underwhelmed by that presentation... i think i'll pass
Jason Vargas And I think I would hate if they dramatically changed the Design EVERY single time
Jason Vargas Well they upgraded everything. What else could you want. Processor=better Screen=Better Camera=Awesome Battery life=Better Connectivity=Better Software=WAY Better What else do u want? Not every will amaze you. Especially when your job is to find out everything this device can do before they announce it. Apple doesn't Wow me and I have no Idea what's coming
Lopez Joe S4 is just a Refresh of the S3
Lopez Joe Look like Note II ... i hope. Apple can do better job than Samsung
Matt Pankey Not everyone puts a case on their phone. I have not used a case since the T-Mobile Dash and that many years ago.
CalvEen Yaam Most of you folks probably don't even use most of the features of either phones anyway, so who cares. Lol.
Sam Rick Same crap different name
Steven Benham Its hard to imagine a phone can be better than the S3 ! The only one weakness are the networks, other than that I cannot fault this device at all
Luis Robles Figueroa The SG4 is a SG3 bigger screen size and some software improvements. Nothing to brag about not impress at all.
Javier Pineda if the s3 receive the same software update it could do exactly the same so.....whats the real big diference?
Emily Maitz I'll stay with my s3
David DiPilla The s4 looks very similar to the s3 and everyone and including my self wanted a different design but the back and sides of the phone are different and the phone has better features then the s3 and note 2 they are not going to do major upgrades every year on a phone
Chadd Walker I have a GS2 and I passed on a GS3. Think about it they both had 8meg. Cameras and duel core processors. My reason for going with Samsung again is simple. It brings more flexibility. And is packing every single key element I am looking for in a new device at this time. Up to 64 GB of internal storage plus a SD card slot for another 64gb and I will put it all to very good use.Interchangeable bateries are a must. Just 2 main features that HTC misses each and every time.
Daniel Skulason Nystad Still waiting for Note III....
Charlie Ebner A refresh. It's got good specs, but zero innovation on design and I think that's gonna turn off a lot of GS3 and Note 2 owners. Plus, the screen size is charting into Note territory, and if Samsung is gonna do that, they should at least make the design distinguishable.
Josue Landaverde its a refresh but with some new stuff. bthe only thing different i see is the flash light. Samsung pulled an apple on this one.
Ilija Jovanovic @Shawn Gergler you are totally right :D
John Edward Santos Totah The presentation was stupid and way too corny
Irene Garza Love my S3 no need to look any further at any new phones for a year or so!
Jacob Grumbles Yeah just a refresh of the s3 kinda like the one x+ was to the onex
Audrey O'Donnell Aren't all of Samsungs phones a refresh? Nothing creative at all. Too boring.
Otis Moses All samsung new phones look alike, from their low, mid range and flagship phones. This is why people dnt care to much about the S4, especially when they attack apple for the same thing their doing now.
Jesse Ling notice how the comment above mine only got ONE like.i think not,bro.
Ryan Carter The point of the S4 is being a big update to the S3. People are funny they think that a company is going to change the design of a phone that is one if the best selling phones in the history of smartphones. Why would they do that? Name me another phone that has more innovation than the S4. You can not do it. The new blackberry and the new HTC are great phones but they still are not even close to the S4 as far as features. The S4 is one of those phones that you are going to have to have in your hands and play with it for a week to see how great it really is.
Dounutz Sesar Well samsung wen whit same design because if it went rectangle apple would of sue
Ravi Chandra I think it is note 2 mini .. Lol
Rey Gonzalez Yes its just s big update
Shawn Gergler S4 is for the people who think the Note 2 is too big.
Dave Bourque @jude if screen size matters, samsung should go ahead and make a 10inch screen for the S5 rofl.
Sean McCollum If you think about it, every device is a refresh of another.
Larry Lambert Everybody talks about samsung phones being just plastic, but everybody puts a case on their phone anyway, just like they will the HTC One so it really doesn't matter. I had an EVO and still to this day its the 2nd best phone I've ever had. I upgraded to the EVO 3d, and that was a bad experience. I left HTC for the s3 and love the s3. Its hard for me to go back to HTC. Not saying I won't, but it will be a while before I upgrade from the s3 anyway.
David Moreno Although not a huge change in design pretty much everything else did change, including new software features. So why is everyone so "disappointed"? People are still buying the S3 like hotcakes so I guarantee the S4 will sell just as well!
Eusebio Perez The HTC One is a better Phone, i just cant deal with the plastic casing of the galaxy's. The s4 isnt a bad Phone at all but is not innovative. I owned a s3 and a Lumia 920 and I either wait for the lumia catwalk or get the HTC One, Im mostly a WP8 user but like android as well, and the s3 was a great device and wowed me when it came out, not the S4.
Steve Swiger Same old phone, updated software.
Fonzy Paniagua The Note 2 looks like the S3. Nobody was complaining?
Carlos Roman Its the same thing ... im getting me a HTC ONE .. I have a note 2 and I dont like the plastic feeling ...
Syedul Islam People just get the nexus 4 it's cheaper it gets the latest updates it had got the specs
Wayne Bordoy This phone will sell well no doubt about it but only because the S sheep won't look at anything else, HTC one gets my vote
Raymond De Jesus I think samsung is going to the point that it is running out of ideas, octa core is just a marketing, saw the performance on few videos not shocking because it is not really optimized, air controls not that ease of use even a guy demoing the device is having a hard presenting such, a big disappointment.
Tariq Suharto People mentioning about iPhone being same for years. True but no doubt iPhone has the best design. To me, HTC One is now the most beautiful phone. Samsung never had an eye-catchy design.
Jude Fils-Aime it's STILL BETTER THAN THE IPHONE and it's bout whats underneath the hood not wants out side also the SCREEN SIZE MATTERS
Lanh Nguyen It's better than the S3 in every way so I don't see what the big compliant is about. I think the only reason people don't like it because it looks similar to the S3 and note II but you have to remember most consumers like familiarity and if it ain't broke don't fix it. This phone is going to sell there is no denying that.
Michael Walsh If it looks the same and lags the same?
Abram Wenevermet Dennis It's the same.Damn phone
Marlon Milligan I'm getting the HTC One. I like how Samsung is the King of Android & took Apple down a couple of pegs. But all that S-stuff is a slight apple to me. I like the added features but I'm never gonna use them. Just like on my Note 2. It has a lot of features but I don't use them. HTC all day for me
Reese Woodson It's more of a refresh to me.......,
Jon Beuerle Refinement of the S III. They pulled an Apple. Larger screen, S Ware instead of iWare and the exact same look. Kody Griffith
Brayson Jenner I'll stick with my powerhouse: IPHONE 5!
James Frazier Same plastic crap.
Itsok Imawelder come on samsung! ok theres the Note, NoteII, S3, S4. but yet they all look alike! come on. build a phone with a little higher quality! i dont loke the s3 or the s4. ill wait for note 3 even tho it will look like a note
Al DeMauro Refresh. People will still jump on it, 5 inch screen may be the sweet spot. I like my Note 2. Should stick with me for greater than 12 months which is a lot
Mike Nance It's a refresh. After watching Unpacked, Samsung obviously put more effort into software and features with this Galaxy S. But to keep people from complaining too much about it being a refresh, they threw in the Octa Core processor because that it what the public really wanted to see in it. I do believe Samsung is ready to move on to their new Youm Phones later this year.
Charles W. Y. Wong Its just a phone. Every year theres going to be a new model, except for ishit. Stop complaining
Sean Bolson Heck no. I can already foresee this phone as the device of 2013.
Camar Green Nice phone but apple iPhone 4S to 5. S3 to S4. Gimme a note 3 .. Was gonna buy note 2 but I can wait
Joseph James Gabo NEITHER, HTC ONE beats them all
Chuk Anyanetu Refresh, which isn't bad the S3 was solid and they built on it. No one buys Galaxies for their smooth OS. And for people complaining about the "plastic feel" you have been drinking too much Apple Juice. Polycarbonate material is more resistant to shock and bending than Apples phones. I'm not sure why people put so much interest into a premium look and feel when it doesn't hold up like a premium device.
Arturo Atherly That "S" moniker should be left to the Apple clowns......since they want to "BE" "S"o different!! I like the changes Samsung has applied to the plastic shell of the S3, but in actuality...I think Im going back to the "SOLID" feel I get from HTC's devices. The "ONE" is probably gonna be my first and Ill b purchasing the N4 as a back up until whenever.....Samsung has a good product, BUT I just cant get past the complete plastic casing of their product line...especially with the steress cracks their cases experience.
Maduka Suraweera Bad design. I love galaxy sll. That s the phone.but im using motorola atrix 2
Juwon Donte Not wasting my time getting an s4 I'll stick with my s3...it looks exactly like the s3 just a slight bigger screen with a couple of new gimmicks I'm starting to think Samsung is running out of ideas... HTC on here I come
Oscar Rubi Jr. Same thing jus bigger the htc one won my vote because the S4 didnt have nothin that wowed me.
Brandon Holley Lol Samsung fans are now exactly like apple fans..... you'll learn kids..... you shall learn.....
Derik Costa Samsung's goofy bloatware never work as advertised
Alex Williams Need to get rid of PenTile.
Joseph Alan Richardson The phone may look the same but there are some quite distinct differences in terms of hardware and software. Hardware being the different processor, Full HD screen etc. I'd list software but i'd be here forever. I had my doubts with the S4 but Samsung was right to call it the S4, its amazing!
James Matthews It's a refresh. Some one on The Verge sad it best. It's the Galaxy S IIIs.
Fabian Toti I will stay with my s3
Susan Hugus It will be interesting to see changes will come to the Note III. If the size feels right in your hand, why change it since the software and battery life are more important.
Kevin Hart Simply a refresh. I prefer well made phones that dont feel plasticy. The new features are nice but gimmicky and it feels like its a feature race between samsung and the rest of the mobile phone world.
Jesse Ling Android/Samsung are by no means on their way out nor is crapple on its back in ANY time soon at the very least.Samsung DOES however need to break out of its mold and start giving us real surprises again.HTC brought a few potentially innovative features to the table and now the hype is all on them.Crapple will do as it has done until it dies because thats apple.
Anthony Evans Jr people are stupid as this proves. Iphone's have be basically the same for years no much changes internally or externally and people where okay. Samsung keeps the physical design the same and people cry. Gotta love isheep
Ed Plnia I'm not getting that phone because Samsung and Verizon didn't bring multi-windows to the SG3. Like i told Samsung the galaxy s3 it was my last Samsung phone.
Jason Kilgore It's like deja deja deja vu
Tony Abiama Significant upgrade in near every category, I think people are just stuck on the fact that it still looks similar to the S3
Joe Parenteau Htc one,...sorry Samy
Marti Ruiz Refresh.i dont hve the s3 so ill get this
Rashaud Cook Oh yea no one has a problem with it looking the same, but when the iPhone looks the same everyone talks bad about it.
Dominique D. Sneh I'm waiting til the Nexus 5 comes out.
Jan Michael Cruz Quantum leaped every phones out there
Xavier Hubbard Anderson i thought the same thing. tahnk you,.
Walter Manuel Bonilla Not a biggie. I'm staying with s3 until next Google phone or s5.
Roberto Burgos Why would you downgrade from a note 2 to an S4?
Jesse Ling Lets put it like this,I'm not buying one.
Tejasva Malhotra I go for Xperia Z
Gary Anthony Ormond Yup, that's pretty much it's handle now. It's so similar, design-wise, that it's ludicrous!
Maelo Acosta Im going to change my note 2 for this baby!
Sky Baun now we wait for motos xphone
Ernest Marvin Esteban @ian baylon I don't see any problem with that.
Anthony Evans Jr i am not sure what else they could do to change how it looks.. make it a circle? a triangle? come on
Jose Be Julme If ain't broken don't fix it from the GS3. Too much of a drastic change will ruin it. I love the improvements (CPU, screen, battery) and new features. I will be upgrading as soon as T-Mobile announces.
Tiger Panomthonichakul new inside , same outside look&feel, fair enough as i hold s3 at first i thought ss could strech the 4.8screen a little bit, and they do it this year.
Ernest Marvin Esteban It's an improvement over the S3. Really great phone
Ian Baylon You do realize since the S4 looks the same as the S3 the Note 3 will be the same as the Note 2.
Amr Marzooq Not gonna bring one.
Leo Baxter It's a mild yawn when the market was anticipating a yell.
Kyrie Johnson Not all that different just a few upgrades. I am keeping my SIII Til the note 3 comes out.
Christopher Hilliard Not that exciting
Anthony Evans Jr better processor more memory bigger screen more camera features better camera its better in all catergories and looks like a note 2.

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