Samsung Refreshes iPhone-Challenging Galaxy Line

JK Shin, president and head of IT and mobile communications for Samsung Electronics, presents the new Samsung Galaxy S 4 during the Samsung Unpacked event at Radio City Music Hall, Thursday, March 14, 2013, in New York.
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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 email 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.

The Galaxy 4 S also will include a tool that enables users to create a dividing line so part of the phone is devoted exclusively to work while the other part is filled with personal information and photos. The feature is similar to a function on the latest BlackBerry — an indication that Samsung is going after other smartphone makers besides Apple with its latest model.

The new features illustrate Samsung's drive to make its phones stand out from the crowd of Android smartphones. Jan Dawson, an analyst with Ovum, said they could be seen as "gimmicks rather than game changers."

"At this point, Samsung appears to be trying to kill the competition with sheer volume of new features — there should be something here for everyone, even if most of these new features won't be used by most users," he said.

While the event in New York was going on, Samsung Electronics Co. kicked off its annual meeting in Seoul. CEO, Kwon Oh-Hyun, told the audience that he expects slow growth in the global consumer electronics market, except in smartphones, where sales are still zooming.

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AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this report from San Francisco. AP Business Writer Youkyung Lee contributed from Seoul.

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