Samsung Unveils Its Galaxy S4

Mar 15, 2013
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a new smartphone.

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INSKEEP: Samsung unveiled its latest top of the line offering last night, the Galaxy S 4. The company worked overtime to transform its product launch into a cultural event. Samsung rented out Radio City Music Hall in New York - invited 6,000 guests.

And as NPR's Steve Henn reports, close to half a million watched live online.

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STEVE HENN, BYLINE: If this were a show, the reviews would have been brutal. It was less a press conference than a tongue in cheek Broadway Review. Samsung called the event Unpacked - but it was kind of Unhinged. It came complete with bad jokes, brassy music and child actors.

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UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Dad, tell me that's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm sorry, honey. I'll get the Galaxy S4 after the presentation.

HENN: Samsung spent more than $400 million on advertising last year. And the Galaxy S3 - its last top-of-the-line phone - briefly outsold Apple's iPhone. But it's impossible to imagine apple doing anything like this.

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CHARLES GOLVIN: It does the product a disservice.

HENN: That's Charles Golvin he's a tech analyst at Forrester Research.

GOLVIN: All of this stuff really, is a distraction - right from the great piece of hardware and really interesting software that they've developed.

HENN: Samsung's new phone actually does some pretty amazing stuff; it translates a handful of languages on the fly, you can control it with gestures; wave at it to answer the phone. And if you're watching a video and you look away, the video will pause. The phone has sensors the measure humidity and air pressure; it even works as a TV remote.

Prices haven't been announced, but Golvin says he's confident Samsung has a hit - just not one for Broadway.

Steve Henn, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.