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If you're an iPhone fan, you'd be excused for not noticing the rise of a new breed of smartphone. Samsung has been selling their Galaxy line of devices for a while now, but they've just announced the S4, a super-slim, feature-packed smartphone that some people think will give Apple a run for its money.
The S4, available in April on most carriers, is less about the form than the function.
At first glance, the Galaxy S4 isn't much different than any other smartphone. It's about the same thickness as the iPhone 5 and has a surprisingly large and bright screen. It runs Android -- an operating system made by Google -- but Samsung has taken the focus away from Gmail and placed it squarely on media creation.
The apps are what makes this device shine. For example, the camera app lets you take multiple pictures in a certain place -- on vacation, for example, or at a wedding -- and it will catalog those shots in one collection. Then you can create and share photo albums with others and even print a book and send it to loved ones.
The phone also has a special mode that allows you to scroll through web pages just by moving your head. It tracks your eyes and can even pause video when you look away, ensuring you don't miss a moment of your movie.
A gaming adapter adds a unique controller system for folks who want to play Angry Birds with a joystick, and a health-band attachment will track your steps and heart rate. In short, this phone is mostly about the hardware and accessories.
Can it beat the iPhone? Apple and Samsung are running a close race right now and iOS and Android are the dominant operating systems. One does not have to fail for the other to win. However, this new phone does point to an interesting future for the platform. Rather than focusing on speed, memory, and screen size, Samsung is focusing on features and, more importantly, features you and I would use. Manufacturers have been trying to sell the fastest cars possible at wild prices and now they're realizing people just want a nice station wagon.
Is the S4 for you? If you're tired of iOS or you're ready to try a smartphone, I'd say give it a closer look. It's definitely an interesting product and it's going to get a lot of support and attention over the next year. The S4 proves that Samsung is finally thinking about the users and not the gear heads, and that's definitely a step in the right direction. Price is yet unannounced, but expect it to be competitive with other smartphones on contract.
Would you trade in your iPhone for a Galaxy S4?