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Samsung fires salvo in war for smartphone supremacy

AFP-JIJI

Samsung on Thursday unveiled a slim, feature-rich Galaxy S 4 as its new champion to take on Apple in the fiercely competitive smartphone arena.

The South Korean electronics giant introduced the Galaxy S 4 on the stage of New York City’s Radio City Music Hall and said the smartphones will roll out in 155 countries in late April. Pricing was not disclosed.

The S 4 features include a high-definition, 5-inch (12.5-cm) screen, enhanced photo capabilities and the capacity to translate to and from nine languages.

“It is now clearly Samsung’s flagship device, jam-packed with technology,” said Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg.

Samsung played up its online hub for music, books, and video and the ease with which the S 4 can share video with televisions made by the company.

Samsung is the biggest and most successful maker of smartphones powered by Android software that Google makes available for free.

Samsung has become the top smartphone maker worldwide with a 29 percent market share.

The Galaxy S 3 has sold more than 40 million worldwide since its launch last May and has some analysts debating which of the two firms is ahead in innovation.

Samsung stressed innovation as it continues to defend itself against charges made by Apple in public and in lawsuits that it copied Apple’s creations.

The S 4 is thinner than its predecessor and weighs just 130 grams despite the bigger screen and battery. It also boasts a “dual camera” function that allows use of the front and rear-facing cameras simultaneously for photos or videos that combine the images of the subjects with that of the photographer.

A group play function lets S 4 handsets in close proximity share music, photos, documents or games, or even work in unison as a sound system for a song.

The S Translator feature lets people speak or enter text in one tongue and have it instantly converted to another.

Its sensors detect when a person looks away from a video by pausing it until the distraction has passed and resuming play when their eyes are once again directed at the screen.

The sensors enable handsets to be used to track exercise, eating, heart rate and other fitness factors. They also can measure the temperature and humidity around the user.

Samsung also took aim at the trend of people using their own smartphones for work with the addition of a program that builds a secure wall between personal and business data on handsets.