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Will Samsung Galaxy S 4 features trickle down to the S III?

Consumer Reports News: March 22, 2013 09:08 AM

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The Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be loaded with cool features—but I predict that some of the coolest will trickle down to the older S III, which is currently one of the most highly-rated smart phones in our Ratings. And currently, the S III costs just $100, while you can expect the contract-subsidized Galaxy S 4 to cost $200 to $300 when it hits the market in a few months.

Geeks are drooling over the S 4's large, very sharp display, faster processor, higher-megapixel camera, IR blaster, and built-in weather sensors (see our table below for details on features). And they'll go ga-ga over the new Galaxy's new gesture controls, as well at its ability to snap a picture or shoot video using both front and rear cameras simultaneously, so that your face appears in the corner of the frame.

But less-passionate shoppers will notice how close the S III and S4 seem to be in terms of hardware and physical appearance. (At the recent Samsung S4 preview, I often mistook the Galaxy S 4 for the S III that I'd brought along for comparison.) And consumer may want to save money by sticking with the still relatively advanced S III.

The good news for S III loyalists is that Samsung has a good track record for trickling down newer, software-driven features to older models. So here are my predictions for which S 4 features may make it to the Galaxy S III:

Smart Video. This feature pauses a video if you should momentarily look away from the screen. But it's just a tweak to the Smart Stay feature (which keeps the screen from timing out when you're staring at it) already on the Galaxy S III. It won't be hard for Samsung to add this convenience to the Galaxy S III.

Smart Scroll. This is the Galaxy S4's ability to scroll by tilting a phone. The Galaxy S III already has the ability to zoom in and out of Web pages when you tilted it, so it's not a stretch for Samsung to add the option to scroll using the same technique.

Find the best smart phone for your needs and budget: Check our cell phone buying guide and Ratings.

Gesture controls. As I covered in my First Looks blog and video, the Galaxy S 4 lets you accept or turn down a phone call, or skip to the next song on your playlist just by waving your hand in front of the screen. The Galaxy S III already allowed you to pause a video by holding your palm in front of the screen, is it's imaginable that these capabilities will migrate to the S III. The S4 gesture controls the S III probably won't get are those that allow you to preview e-mails, calendar appointments, videos, and more by just hovering your finger about an inch above them.

Smart camera. S3 owners shouldn't expect the Galaxy S 4's ability to simultaneously front and rear cameras, the new camera interface comes with 12 effects in all, many of them software-driven. One feature we'd like to see make the migration is Erase Shot, which lets you delete a person or any other undesirable object that may stray into your otherwise perfect photo.

Bottom line. The Galaxy S 4 many high-tech goodies may be too much for many early adapters to resist, but frugal-minded techies who stick with the SIII can probably count on enjoying at least some of the S4's advantages—though when is anybody's guess.

Galaxy S III Galaxy S 4
Display (inches) 4.8 5
Resolution 1280x720 1280x1080
Pixels per inch (ppi) 306 441
Processor 1.5 GHz dual-core 1.9 GHz quad-core
Height (inches) 5.4 5.4
Width (inches) 2.8 2.75
Depth (inches) 0.3 0.3
Weight (ounces) 4.7 4.6
Battery capacity (mAh LiIon) 2100 2600
Main camera (megapixels) 8 13
Front camera (megapixels) 1.9 2
Front camera (video resolution) 720p 1080p
Weather sensors None Barometer, temperature, and humidity
IR blaster No Yes

Mike Gikas

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