Will you pay more for the Galaxy S 4's laundry list of software features?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Late last night, the tidal wave crashed. If you were awake and watching your Twitter feed, then I'm sure you saw it. All at once, and quite unexpectedly if you missed the signs, reviews for Samsung's next big thing made themselves known. The publish button was hit, and a wide range of views on the Galaxy S 4 became available for anyone and everyone.
As you've noticed by now, our own Aaron Baker has already put up a plethora of content on the Galaxy S 4. We've got a review (in two parts!), along with a nice gallery for you to look at if you just can't stop yourself from looking at Samsung's newest plastic shell. You can check it all out in our fancy new Galaxy S 4 Hub.
I spent the better part of the rest of my night last night reading reviews, watching reviews, and taking in all of the different outlooks on the Galaxy S 4. There are plenty of opinions, to be sure, and there are plenty of avenues that connect down the road. People agree here, disagree there. In the end, though, I can't quite put together my own opinion on the new smartphone quite yet, simply because I haven't gotten my hands on one. So, that has to wait.
For now, I want to touch on something that many of the reviews put some focus on, too. Right now, let's talk about software. Because this is something that Samsung is obviously banking on. Well, that and the simple fact that the Galaxy S III was such a huge success, that keeping the same physical design aesthetics will work out this time around, too.
Actually, it really is all about the software, and Samsung's decision to keep with the same design as the Galaxy S III shows that. There's been much said about Samsung's plastic phone, and I'm sure it's something we'll hear about even more in the weeks to come, but that's for good reason.
Samsung wants you to pay a premium for the Galaxy S 4. As I've asked in the past, there's a chance that it could be too expensive when it finally does land on your favorite carrier's network. But obviously Samsung's not worried about that. They've got the marketing muscle to make sure that the Galaxy S 4 is in everyone's eye at one point or another, so more than likely a few people out there will buy it.
I heard yesterday that Samsung has a reality distortion field. That may sound familiar to you, if you're hip to Apple's presentation history for devices like the iPhone. It's a sense that the company in question lives in a world where only their truth is the actual truth, and nothing else matters. Or exists. Samsung is launching a plastic smartphone in the year 2013, against competitors like Apple's iPhone 5 (*and* whatever comes next), and also HTC's One.
And they want you to pay a premium for it.
So now we're back to software, because this is where Samsung's premium expectations come from. Yeah, there's a 13MP camera on the back, and yes, the 1080p HD display is 5-inches with a pixel per inch count of 441. These are just extra features to Samsung. Their real focus is the software, and all of the goodies they can pack into it.
I understand the idea, of course. You get what you pay for and all that. The thing is, and I got this same feeling from every single review I read or watched, it sounds like Samsung may have went overboard this time around. The features that Samsung has included in TouchWiz are numerous, and to be honest with you, I think it might take too long to list in this article.
Just look at the image at the top of this article. That's a lot of icons. And, just as we've seen in previous Samsung-branded devices, the notification shade is littered with options. Features like being able to navigate your phone without touching the screen, or eye tracking technology. Do you want to stack applications on top of each other? You can do that, too.
And here's the thing: Samsung absolutely knows they're shoving a lot into this phone. They knew it when they launched the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy Note II, I think, because they included something called "Easy Mode." And it does exactly what the name implies: Makes everything stark, simple, and "easy." Unfortunately, it also makes the Galaxy S 4 look even more like a kid's toy, which is just strange.
In any event, Samsung's shoved a lot of software stuff into the phone, and as I've said above, it may be too much for many people to handle. So the logical conclusion is that many of those people who buy the Galaxy S 4 are going to just ignore those features, and forget they exist at all. It isn't that big of a stretch of the imagination to assume that they are, then, paying a premium for services that they'll never use.
Is that a bad thing, though? After all, they'll have them, even if they don't want to use them "right now," they could use them later if they so desired. And doesn't having them in general count for more than not having the features at all? You're paying a higher price than, say, the HTC One, which offers 32GB of storage for $200, along with a second-to-none industrial build.
But there's no doubt that Samsung's included way more on the software side than HTC has in Sense. No one's disputing that.
So what I want to know from you, is if you're willing to pay that premium. The 16GB Galaxy S 4 will run you $200 (with a new, two-year contract, of course), which is the same price as HTC's One. Are you willing to pay more for your Galaxy S 4? Or are you already planning to get another phone, to avoid that premium for software you may never use? Let me know!