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Samsung Galaxy S4 launch guide

Samsung will officially launch the Galaxy S4 Android phone in Australia this week. Here's what we know so far.

What is it?

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The Galaxy S4 is Samsung's flagship Android phone for 2013, and the successor to one of the most popular Android phones in Australia, the Galaxy S III.

The Galaxy S4 actually retains a very similar look and feel to the Galaxy S III but it includes a 4.99in full HD display, a 13-megapixel camera and comes with a number of Samsung-exclusive software features.

But it looks the same?

It does look similar but there are plenty of new features. Samsung says it has used a new moulding technology to design the plastic case. At 7.7mm thick and weighing 130g, the Galaxy S4 is slimmer and lighter than the Galaxy S III.

The pattern etched into the glossy plastic that adorns the front and back is new, as is the brushed aluminium-style finish on the sides. The Galaxy S4 will be available in 'black mist' and 'white frost' colour variants.

So, what does it do that my Galaxy S III can't?

Quite a few things. For starters, it works on Telstra and Optus' 4G LTE networks, and will also be compatible with the Vodafone 4G network when it launches in the coming months. The Galaxy S4 also supports the fastest download speeds available, up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps).

Most new capabilities are software related. The camera has a 'Dual Shot' feature that allows you to take a photo with the front and rear cameras simultaneously using selected templates. There's also a 'Drama Shot' mode takes 100 shots in four seconds, a 'Cinema Photo' mode that will create an animated GIF, a "Sound & Shot' mode which takes a picture and captures up to nine seconds of audio, and a 'Story Album' feature that groups photos together somewhat like a timeline. These are all new features that aren't currently available on the Galaxy S III.

It's not just the camera that gets new capabilities, either. New TouchWiz features include 'Smart Scroll', which allows you to scroll up and down with eye movement, 'Smart Pause', which will pause video when you look away from the screen, 'Air Gesture' which allows you to swipe through photos or scroll without touching the phone, and 'Air View, which enables you to hover your finger over the screen to preview selected information on the phone.

There's also an S Translator app that can translate nine different languages using both text to speech and speech to text, 'Group Play' which can send music photos and documents to multiple devices and an 'S Health' app which aims to replace fitness tracking accessories like Fitbit. Finally, the Galaxy S4 also has a built in pedometer to track your steps.

When is it being launched in Australia?

Samsung will officially launch the Galaxy S4 in Australia on Tuesday 23 April. The company sent an invitation to Australian media two weeks ago detailing the evening launch event in Sydney, which is titled "Set 4 launch".

So when can I walk into a shop and buy it?

This is something we won't find out until Tuesday's launch. Samsung Australia hasn't yet revealed an exact release date but it is expected to go on sale in either late April or early May.

Where will I be able to buy it from?

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will be sold through all major Australian carriers -- Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile. The four major Australian networks were confirmed among a total of 327 global carriers that will sell the device.

None of the telcos have confirmed an official release date or pricing, only saying they will sell the Galaxy S4 "soon". Again, we'll find out more at next week's launch event.

Are there different models of the Galaxy S4 available?

Yes. However, Samsung has already confirmed that the Australian model of the Galaxy S4 will be powered by a Qualcomm manufactured Snapdragon 600 processor. Other models around the world will use Samsung's own Exynos 5410 Octa processor.

Globally, the majority of 4G Galaxy S4 models will come with Qualcomm's Snapdragon while 3G versions will be equipped with the Samsung Exynos chip.

Galaxy S4 models using the 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 chip will have the model number GT-I9505, while the GT-I9500 model signifies the Exynos processor.

What accessories will be available?

The Galaxy S4 global microsite a total of 11 accessories, but no pricing or availability details have been revealed. A full list of the accessories can be found here.

It's not yet known whether all of these accessories will be available in Australia but we'll know more after Tuesday's launch event.


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