Home Your IT Mobility Samsung S4 - most expensive smartphone made yet

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IHS estimates that Samsung’s cost of materials for a 32GB S4 is US$237, about $20 more than an iPhone 5.

Component comparisons are not really valid with an iPhone as it has a smaller screen but it shows that Samsung is serious about building a premium handset.

More interesting however is that Samsung is a manufacturer and a very large proportion of its parts are made by it. Apple is a designer and Foxconn assembles for it, ergo Samsung has more ability to play with pricing and even look at subsidising costs to gain market share whereas Apple has to pay Foxconn for each handset.

About the only major part it did not make was the Qualcomm processor required for its 4G LTE handsets. It is only a matter of time before Samsung develops its own Exynos series eight core chip that supports LTE as well. Once done (and maybe it will be part of the S5) it gives Samsung enormous cost advantages.

So what do I think of the S4?

It’s a fabulous phone. I love it (and I don’t usually get emotionally attached to hardware).

The 5” screen size is perfect, brilliantly clear and colourful. It’s ‘pocketability’ is about at the comfortable limit and so far everything works as promised. It’s a polished product that has benefited from the development of the S1, S2 and S3 (and they have all contributed to raising the bar for Samsung in terms of quality and reliability).

SamDroid (Samsung’s Android skin and its customisation) is very good and a delight to use. Gesture, eye tracking and other Samsung only features make vanilla Android smartphones seem a bit bland.

The only negative is Android’s danger on corporate networks (that I have to use) so it is not for me (but the wife will enjoy it for sure). Frankly the sooner Samsung develop Knox protection (separate work and home personas), Mobile Device Management systems and address the Malware issues dogging Android it is back in enterprise contention.

I will miss its impressive functionality but for now my choice must be Windows Phone 8 (the Nokia 820 and 920 are my pick). But the BlackBerry (I like the Z10 but perhaps a Q10 with keyboard will also do it for me) or Apple iPhone (totally polished ecosystem in order to keep company data really secure) are other serious contenders. There has never been such great choice at the top end of the market.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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