Galaxy S4, first with a new Broadcom nfc controller chip?
Samsung’s “traditional” plastic body design and very nice hardware specifications. As every new high-end device, it’s a bit bigger and faster. The Samsung GS4 is especially more. More features, more apps, more options. Enough to sell tens of millions of it? Well, Samsung is a good salesman …
Let’s talk NFC first
No surprise, Samsung’s NFC enabled Galaxy S4 is the first device with Visa’s payWave app preloaded. The app is stored on an embedded secure element with a lot of memory. The SE is available for mobile payment services from local and global network operators, banks and others.
“More payment apps from multiple brands are planned to be preloaded into the embedded secure element in the coming months” (Mastercard app would be quite logical).
Using the embedded secure element, NFC payments will be available globaly, and in addition to services on the SIM-based secure element. Broadcom chips do support multiple Secure Elements simultaneous. Many nfc phone designs don’t have this feature, and you can’t add it with a software update.
AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon block “embedded SE-based” Google Wallet in the USA. Will USA, French, Turkish and every other subsidized phones selling carrier with SIM-based wallet, allow this competition?
The NFC antenna is not near the camera, it’s located further downwards on the back of the phone!
NFC controller chip
A few websites report a Broadcom nfc controller chip in the Galaxy S4. And the S4 isn’t Samsung’s first design with a Broadcom nfc chip. Some of Samsung’s latest devices; the Galaxy Grand (duos?), Galaxy S2+ and Galaxy Fame also have Broadcom nfc chips.
This info isn’t first-hand from Samsung or Broadcom, manufacturers don’t give info about suppliers.
Google’s (LG) Nexus 4 also has a Broadcom chip, that was instantly world news due to Anandtech. Probably all these devices have an embedded Secure Element from STMicroelectronics connected to the nfc chip.
Chinese IT168 website grabbed a screwdriver and took a look inside a Galaxy S4 for chinese market. I’ve studied the pictures and I found a chip “20794“, very similar with the Broadcom “20793” in the Nexus 4 device.
It seems that Samsung’s Galaxy S4 has a newer nfc controller chip from Broadcom. Disclaimer, I’m not an IC expert and on Broadcom’s nfc product page just info about the 20791, 20792 and 20793, nowhere a word about the 20794.
So what, other chip?
1. Not an NXP nfc controller means, maybe the mifare classic tags are not supported. Maybe, because the mifare technology can be licensed from NXP, support can be “added”. Feedback from above mentioned phone models owners would be very welcome.
2. A newer chip means new features? The 20794 chip probably adds the Group Play feature. It allows you to connect up to 8 Galaxy S4 devices through NFC to share music, photos and you can use it in a few local multiplayer games. Gun Bros 2 and Asphalt 7 are 2 preloaded games supporting this new feature. You “just” need some friends with a compatible handset.
NFC technology itself is a standard, but Samsung’s developed several proprietary nfc apps (S-Beam and Group play). Not all NFC handsets are compatible, not even all android or all Samsung phones with nfc. This limits what consumers are actually able to do with their nfc phones.
Much more on the Galaxy S4
Of course, nfc is just 1 small thing on a great phone.
Download the manual for a complete list .
– WatchON transforms the smartphone into an IR remote control for your home entertainment system including TV, set-top box, DVD player and even air conditioner. (HTC ONE and LG Optimus G PRO have this also)
– Samsung Optical Reader; automatic text recognizing using the camera tech for business cards, QR codes and other.
– Many camera features; The Dual Camera feature allows rear and front cameras to take simultaneous photos and videos (LG Optimus G Pro has it also). Share both images during a video call. Dual and 3-way video call option. 8 different ways to combine the two photos taken by the front camera and the rear camera.
Eraser Shot deletes a person in the background. Drama Shot to see all the action in one continuous time-lapse. Sound Shot to record sound and voice with a photo.
– Air View allows users to hover with their fingers above the display to preview the content of an email, S Planner, image gallery or video without having to open it.
– With Air Gesture you can change the music track, scroll up and down a web page, or accept a call with a wave of your hand, without touching the screen.
– Smart Scroll allows you to scroll the browser or emails without touching the screen. It recognizes your face looking at the screen and movement of your wrist and then scroll the pages up or down accordingly.
– Smart Pause enables you to control the screen by where you look. When watching a video, the video pauses when you look away then it continues when you look at the screen again.
– S Translator supports 10 languages and is available in apps like chaton, email and SMS.
– S Health; use the handset as a pedometer or calorie counter. Additional accessories including an S Band bracelet, body scale and real-time heart rate monitor are sold seperately for the Galaxy S4, they use Bluetooth to communicate with the phone app.
Colors; Black and White.
Available; In Q2 ’13 at about 327 carriers in 155 countries.
US; AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, US Cellular and Cricket
Canada; Bell, Eastlink, Fido, Koodo, Mobilicity, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Videotron, Virgin and Wind.
UK; EE pre-order will commence from the 28th March, with handset available from 26th April.
Samsung didn’t publish a big complete list yet.
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm (5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inch)
130g (4.59 ounces) The S4 is a bit thinner and lighter than the Galaxy S3
5 inch 1,920 x 1,080 Super AMOLED 441 ppi display
CPU; 1.6 GHz Exynos Octa-core chip or a 1.9 GHz quad-core snapdragon xxx Qualcomm, depend on market.
Memory; 2GB RAM
13 Mp rear camera, 2º 2 Mp camera
Battery capacity 2.600 mAh (S3; 2.100 mAh), has an embedded nfc antenna.
OS; Android 4.2.2
wireless charging for some markets
a gamepad is an optional accessory
Sources; Samsung Galaxy S4 live unpacked and press releases, anandtech.com, it168.com, engadget.com, online.barrons.com, nfctimes.com