Samsung kicks up competition with Apple with new smartphone

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NEW YORK — Samsung Electronics is kicking up its competition with Apple with its new Galaxy S 4 smartphone, which has a larger, sharper screen than its predecessor, the best-selling S III.

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JK Shin, the president and head of IT and Mobile Communications for Samsung Electronics, presents the Samsung Galaxy S 4 during the Samsung Unpacked event.  JASON DECROW/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JASON DECROW/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JK Shin, the president and head of IT and Mobile Communications for Samsung Electronics, presents the Samsung Galaxy S 4 during the Samsung Unpacked event.

Samsung revealed the phone Thursday at an event at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. The Galaxy S 4, which crams a 5-inch screen into body slightly smaller than the S III’s, will go on sale globally in the April-to-June period.

In the U.S., it will be sold by all four national carriers – Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA – and by smaller ones US Cellular and Cricket.

Samsung didn’t say what the phone will cost, but it can be expected to start at $200 with a two-year contract in the U.S.

In the past two years, Samsung has emerged as Apple’s main competitor in the high-end smartphone market.

The Galaxy line has been Samsung’s chief weapon in the smartphone fight, and it has succeeded in making it a recognizable brand while competitors such as Taiwan’s HTC Corp. and Korean rival LG have stumbled. Samsung has sold 100 million Galaxy S phones since they first came out in 2010. That’s still well below the 268 million iPhones that Apple has sold in the same period, but Samsung’s sales rate is catching up.

Research firm Strategy Analytics said the Galaxy S III overtook Apple’s iPhone 4S as the world’s best-selling smartphone for the first time in the third quarter of last year, as Apple fans were holding off for the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 took back the crown in the fourth quarter.

One way Samsung and other makers of Android phones have been one-upping Apple is by increasing the screen size. The S III sported a screen that measures 4.8 inches on the diagonal, already substantially larger than the iPhone 5’s 4-inch screen. The S 4’s screen is 56 percent larger than the iPhone’s.

In a Wednesday interview, Apple Phil Schiller declined to discuss whether Apple is considering enlarging the screen on the next model of the iPhone, which is expected to be released later this year. He said Apple remains confident the iPhone 5 is the most useful, elegant phone.

Samsung believes the S 4 will set the new standard.

Apart from the larger screen and upgraded processor, the S 4 has a battery that’s 20 percent larger than that of the S III. Samsung didn’t say if that translates into a longer battery life – the added capacity might be gobbled up by the bigger screen or other internal changes.

The S 4 comes with a built-in infra-red diode, so it can control an entertainment center as a universal remote. This is a feature that has showed up in Android tablets before.

The S 4 comes with several new technologies intended to help users interact with the phone. For instance, the screen now senses fingers hovering just above the screen, and some applications react. The Mail application shows the first few lines of an e-mail when a finger hovers above it in the list, and the Gallery application shows an expanded thumbnail.

Users can control some other applications by making gestures in the air above the phone. In the browser, you can command the screen to scroll up by swiping from top to bottom a few inches from the phone.

The Camera application can now use both the front and rear cameras simultaneously, inserting a small picture of the user even as he’s capturing the scene in front of him.

When several S 4s are in close proximity, they can link up to play the same music, simultaneously – perfect for headphone dance parties.

AT&T UPGRADES AREA NETWORK

AT&T announced Thurs­day that its network in the Augusta area has been upgraded to 4G speed.

The high-speed network was rolled out in Atlanta and Athens in 2011, said Ann Elsas, a communications manager for AT&T Strategic Communications. The upgrade was made in Macon, Savannah and Brunswick in the past few weeks, she said.

Elas said 4G is capable of speeds 10 times faster than the 3G network. AT&T should be finished deploying 4G nationwide by year’s end.

Elas said she did not have a specific number of devices in the area that can take advantage of 4G.

– Tim Rausch, business editor

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/15/13 - 03:10 pm
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After a few beers, I have to

After a few beers, I have to pull out my old cell phone to make a call with. These things all look alike and are too complicated.

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