Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung will have the eyes of the technology world on Thursday when the company unveils its highly anticipated Galaxy S4 smartphone at a glitzy event in New York City.
The previous iteration of the Galaxy is the device that helped Samsung wrest the title of world's largest smartphone maker away from Apple and its ubiquitous iPhone. The Korean company has sold more than 100 million Galaxy-branded smartphones worldwide. But Samsung could learn that it's lonely at the top, as rivals are always ready to pounce and try to steal the crown away.
Beyond some leaked photos of the device, many of the details on specifications will remain under wraps until the launch, but rumours abound about what features Samsung has up its sleeve. Here are three of the more intriguing possibilities:
It may seem like science fiction, but like only a handful of other features over the years, this is one with the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with our mobile devices. If patent applications filed in Europe and the U.S. are to be believed, the Galaxy could feature eye-scrolling and other gesture-controlling technology.
That means instead of having to touch the screen with your finger, the phone could be able to detect what you're trying to do based on tracking your eye movements from a dedicated, front-facing camera. If reading an article online, for example, the device would automatically scroll down or flip to the next page when the users eye reaches the bottom. Or, if you look away while watching a video, it would automatically pause play if you look away.
It sounds hard to believe, but really is only an incremental step beyond existing technology. Current versions of the Galaxy already have the ability to stop the screen from dimming if the camera detects a user is looking at it.
Other rumoured features include the ability to answer a call simply by lifting the phone to your ear. Or open apps and other functions simply by looking at them or hovering a finger over the icon.
This is a feature that almost all devices released in the past two years claim to have perfected, yet none have done so successfully enough to have it become widespread. Samsung has developed something they're calling the "Samsung Wallet" which uses Near Field Communication technology to turn the device into a machine that stores personal financial information and allows the user to pay for things simply by swiping their phone over a reader.
NFC is something other devices like BlackBerrys and iPhones have toyed with for years, but with limited success as retailers and financial institutions have been slow to sign up.
Indeed, Samsung's offering is unlikely to go beyond what's already on the market. But as more and more handsets start offering similar features, the day that everyone starts using their cellphones to store concert tickets, membership cards and even boarding passes for planes, trains and buses draws nearer.
As smartphones become loaded with more and more features, so too does their need for more power. Early smartphone acolytes raving about their workmanlike devices being able to go days without being recharged are becoming a thing of the past.
It's something every smartphone claims to have fixed, but as anyone who's ever tried to use power-hungry video and audio features on their phone can attest to, so far nobody has.
Samsung's latest battery is rumoured to be 2,600 mAh. That's a monster by current standards — the iPhone 5 comes shipped with a battery packing roughly 1,400 mAh, and the previous Galaxy, the S3, has 2,100 mAh. (Despite the smaller payload, Apple claims the iPhone 5 can be on standby for 225 hours — almost 10 days — without needing a recharge.)