Just a week after doing the African launch , Samsung finally unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S4 in Kenya. I will do a detailed review later, but for now let talk about what we know about the phone so far. According to Samsung the phone is designed to get you closer to what matters in life and brings your world together. That is an interesting tag line which has made me think about how the mobile phone has changed how people do things.
In a way, I understand why they chose the phrase “brings your world together”. It perfectly makes sense in the world of highly connected people. One device for everything (communication, computer, camera, Social Media, storage and bla bla bla). Within the limited time I have had with the Galaxy S4, I could see why many people think that Samsung has delivered on the impossible promise which they made. I have argued before that the phone companies are taking consumers for a ride and that not much changes in each of the new phones being launched like every month. I must say that although Samsung Galaxy S4 looks like Galaxy S3 to the extent that from a distance one would mistake them for being the same phone, Galaxy S4 is an improvement over its predecessor in every way .
Samsung Electronics East Africa Chief Operating Officer, Robert Ngeru thinks that the beauty of the phone is on the design. During the launch he explained that the beauty of the phone lies in the highly crafted design encompassing a larger screen size and battery, minimized bezel; all housed in a light (130g) and slim (7.9mm) shape. A number of people would still disagree with some parts of that statement purely on a design perspective. The bone of contention here is Samsung use of polycarbonate (plastic ) materials for the cover and especially when compared to iPhone 5 and HTC One. You might not be impressed by the cover but the moment the phone is turned on, the display is amazing. My take is , the phone has among the best displays seen so far.
I think it is a bit ironic in that around here most people get to witness the full display of HD on a phone and not on the normal TV . But at the same time it clearly explains why many tech writers are fond of saying that Africa is poised to leapfrog the developed world in technology adoption. The Galaxy S4 has the world’s first Full HD Super AMOLED display to showcase images at their very best. Its 5-inch large screen has 441ppi for stunning viewing quality. The Samsung GALAXY S4 also utilizes Corning’s new Gorilla® Glass 3. With it comes the Adapt Display feature, which help to optimise colours according to ambient light conditions. The user of the phone can choose between four manual modes (Dynamic, Standard, Professional Photo and Movie) and automatic modes if you select the Adapt Display option.
Next we move to the favorite part for the photographers like Mutua Matheka in the name of 13-megapixel rear camera. One would argue that the Samsung’s experience in manufacturing cameras has helped them make better camera phones and the S4 is not an exception. Shooting photos with the GS4 is something one looks forward to, a fact confirmed by renowned photographer Mutua Matheka during the launch. But for the people who really love themselves (pics), Galaxy S4 has a feature called ‘Dual Camera’ function, that allows simultaneous use of both front and rear cameras.When capturing moments, users can choose from a variety of frame effects, which blend the two pictures naturally and adjust the size of the small picture inside the big one. Users can select eight different ways to combine the two photos taken by the front camera and the rear camera. At the same time, the ‘Dual Video Call’ function enables you to make and receive a video call while showing what you are looking at during the call.
I have talked a number of people especially developers who have never been impressed by the Samsung UI TouchWiz ,although the normal users(the people who really matter) usually love it. In the case of Galaxy S4 ,Samsung has outdone itself with recent iteration of TouchWiz UI software. Samsung has paired Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with the new TouchWiz UI, creating one of its kind experience. I would love to talk again with those developers who have issues with the TouchWiz to hear what they say about S4 interface
I just have to mention ‘Group Play’ function. The feature which enable the users to enjoy music, photos, documents and games with those around them without even requiring a Wi-Fi AP or cellular signal. Basically the feature enables users to connect directly with others to share, play and co-create content and entertainment instantly. Better still is the ‘Share Music’ option, which allows users to have the same song playing on multiple phones in sync to create the best party atmosphere. The audience at S4 launch was entertained by Wyre using the feature and connecting with his friends to share his music. …
Before I go, I have to go back to the discussion I had before and it came back recently because what Robert Ngeru said during the S4 launch in Kenya. According to Mr. Ngeru Africa is now the fastest growing smartphone market in the world. I mentioned that online and it brought back our never ending “Dumb phone vs The Smartphones” argument with Linet Kwamboka (g33kmate). Linet has got a friend on her side from Nigeria Mr.Emeka Okoye (@Emekaokoye) , who recently gave some interesting stats about the feature phones use in Africa.
— Emeka Azuka Okoye (@EmekaOkoye) May 7, 2013
Before that, Mr. Emeka had tweeted that almost every person with smartphone in Nigeria also own a feature on the side. The feature phones in this case are all for the backup purposes in case the smartphones run out of charge. You know Nigeria has issues with Power just like Kenya. I believe it is time for developers in Kenya and Africa to move on start developing exclusively for the smartphones. Sms and USSD developers (for feature phones) all sound like NGOs. Their target is to save the world instead of making the money to survive. The NGOs around here covers humanitarian kind of functions quite well, and therefore, developers who want to make money, should switch to creating smartphone apps.
For instance the interest on Galaxy S4 in Kenya is at record high with official distributors of the Samsung Phones running out of the phone within a few days of its arrival. Safariom setup the pre-order for the Galaxy S4 and Maryann Michuki, Digital & Social Media Manager at Safaricom Limited, is excited about the number of people who placed the order for the phone. It is worth noting that this was the first time that Kenyans had the choice to place the orders for the Samsung flagship phones in advance.