NEW YORK: Weeks of rumours and speculation came to an end Thursday when Samsung unveiled its long-awaited Galaxy S4 device to a huge crowd at Radio City Music Hall in New York, and V3 was live on the scene to take it all in.
It was a launch event with all the trappings of a Broadway musical - including set changes, a live orchestra and dance routines - and plenty of bombast from the executives on stage.
In fact, given the pomp and circumstance, it's surprising Samsung didn't reel in a bigger name than Will Chase (Ed - who?) to compere the event - especially given the raft of high-profile celebrities lining up to partner with tech firms in recent years.
Back to the event and the young boy featuring in the recent teaser ads made several appearances throughout the night and it soon became clear why young Jeremy was selected as the "Secret Messenger" - he's something of a tap dance phenomenon.
His on-stage routine was used to help demonstrate some of the S4's impressive video features like Stream On Video, which depicts multiple moments in the routine on screen at the same time.
He was also heard to coo, "It's my favourite colour!" off-stage, suggesting the device would come in a raft of shades and hues, but as it turns out it's only available in Black and White at launch, which will be 26 April in the UK.
After the somewhat nauseating presentation was over, crowd control barriers were set up to keep an increasingly antsy crowd at bay while we waited patiently (yeah right) to get our chance to play with the device.
Once the barrier was lifted, it was pandemonium - everyone wanted their hands on this thing and V3 managed to get a few precious minutes to try it out, before the baying crowd behind us was too much to bear.
Pre-show buzz about a 5in screen proved to be true - the S4 has a nice, big, bright screen, more tablet-like than phone. It's also very thin and lightweight in hand.
The presentation made a point of showing S4 with its S3 predecessor in a side-by-side on-screen comparison to demonstrate how sleek the S4 has become and the difference was noticeable.
Despite pre-launch reports the phone might be made of plastic and speculation it could feel cheap, it actually has a polycarbonate shell that doesn't feel at all inferior.
Plus, it scrolls extremely fast. And another suspected feature, Smart Pause, allows you to stop a video simply by looking away from the screen. In short, there are a lot of great features packed into this device and it'll be interesting to test them out more fully in a full review in the future.
Other cool features include the camera improvements Samsung has brought with the S4. These features include Dual Camera, which allows a user to simultaneously take photos with the 13MP rear and 2MP front cameras and blend them together.
In other words, never again will one person be missing because they had to stay behind the camera. S4 owners can add themselves to an image in something like a thought bubble.
Users can also play around with special effects for this bubble, such as turning it into a fish bowl or a postage stamp. We didn't get a chance to try these features out but they could well prove enticing to snap-happy creative types.
The S4 will also let you add sound to an image and even delete extraneous people and objects you don't want in your photos. But reports of a 3D camera were greatly exaggerated. And there was no mention of Samsung Orb, which allegedly allows users to take 360-degree panoramic images.
The in-car and translator features are also intriguing - they eliminate the need for maps, as well as learning nine languages. This also sees Samsung ramping up its fight against Apple by taking on its Siri voice control assistant.
In short, then, the S4 and its launch seems to have lived up to the hashtag #TheNextBigThing.
The device itself was received like a genuine star, and it could well be a defining moment in the 2013 smartphone market. No doubt Apple has plenty up its sleeve but for now the spotlight belongs to Samsung.
We can't wait to get our hands on the device away from a baying mob of other journalists and fans and get a chance to really put the device through its paces.
Author: Lisa Lacy
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