Samsung will unwrap its latest blockbuster smartphone, the Galaxy S4, at the Radio City music hall in New York on Thursday evening as the South Korean phonemaker tries to bring the fight to Apple’s home market.
With Samsung rumoured to have ordered a production run of 100m handsets and research firm Strategy Analytics predicting the S4 will ship 60m units by Christmas, Seoul is going head to head with Silicon Valley for dominance of smartphone sales.
The Guardian will be reporting live from the unveiling of Samsung’s most hyped handset yet when proceedings begin at 11pm GMT (7pm EST). Expected big features include wireless charging to a screen controlled not just by touch but by eye movements.
The Galaxy S4 should outdo the latest iPhone in areas such as photography and processing power, if the leaks are correct, but will still lag behind Apple on the quality of materials and the selection of apps available to the Google Android operating system it uses.
Every leaked screenshot so far suggests Samsung will retain the Galaxy’s shiny plastic case, leaving Apple, which prefers aluminium, steel and glass, in its own category when it comes to external appearances.
The most eyecatching new feature is likely to be an extension of the ability to control the touchscreen using eye movements. A front-facing camera tracks the gaze, which in existing Galaxy phones is already used to stop the screen going dark while pages are being read, and to adjust the picture to the viewer’s line of sight.
Trademarks called “eye scroll” and “eye pause” were registered by Samsung in Europe in January, suggesting two new functions, and these appeared to be confirmed by screenshots posted to specialist website SamMobile on 6 March.
The shots showed a menu of options, including one to “select the speed of scrolling when the device detects that your head is moving up and down”, and suggested it would apply to emails and web pages. The menu also stated: “The device pauses videos when it detects your head moving away from the screen.”
The rear facing camera is reported to be 13 megapixels, compared with the iPhone 5′s 8, while the front-facing camera is also higher at 2 megapixels, which should improve the quality of video calls and self-portraits.
The S4′s screen should be larger too, at nearly 5in (12.7cm) on the diagonal, an inch more than the iPhone 5. Processors with two cores are enough to make Apple’s latest phone one of the fastest in the world but the S4 is understood to feature Samsung’s eight-core Exynos 5 processor.
Like Nokia’s flagship Lumia handset, the S4 will, according to South Korean publication DDaily, have the option of being charged wirelessly. Rather than using leads the phone is placed on a charging mat, which is itself is plugged into the mains.
The wildest rumour so far, put forward by Patently Apple, which monitors intellectual property filings, is that of a 3D camera for still shots and videos. The US Patent and Trademark Office published a filing last week by Samsung that shows a logo for such a feature. Doubters say 3D images make uncomfortable viewing and have not been popular with buyers of television sets or in the few smartphones that already feature them.
Where Apple retains a lead over Samsung is in its apps store. Google’s Android software platform, which Samsung uses for the Galaxy devices, has attracted a large number of developers and its store is predicted to be the first to reach 1m apps. But content creators still reserve their best products, such as new games, for iOS software because Apple’s customers spend more than Android’s.