Samsung Takes on Apple With New Galaxy S4

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Samsung unveiled its latest smartphone at the iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Thursday, with software features aimed at helping the electronics giant win the smartphone battle.

The launch of the flagship Galaxy S4 is not significantly different design-wise from its predecessor, the Galaxy S3, but its new software sets the bar high for its rival Apple to beat.

One new function is called 'Air Gesture,' which allows users to navigate their phone without actually touching the device.

The phone also features a function called Samsung 'Smart Scroll', which enables users to scroll without touching the screen. It tracks the users' face to tell where they are looking.

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'Smart Pause' is a similar feature that tracks when a user is watching something on their phone so that it can pause the media when a user looks away.

Samsung did not reveal a price for the new handset, but carriers confirm that it will become available in the coming weeks. The device, which has a 5-inch display, will come in both black and white models.

Samsung shares fell more than 2 percent in Asian trade in a sign of disappointment by investors after months of speculation about new features.

"The Galaxy S4 is not revolutionary but a number of incremental steps together that lead to a far better user experience," Mark Newman, senior analyst for global memory and consumer electronics at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong told CNBC Asia's "The Call."

"The smart scroll and the smart pull when you look away and it pauses the video is pretty cool. I could find that very useful," he added.

Samsung also introduced several new features related to photos on its new handset, which boasts a 13-mega pixel rear camera and a 2-mega pixel front facing camera.

A function called 'Sound and Shot' will allow users to send still images with voice messages and the 'Drama Shot' feature lets users take up to 100 shots in four seconds. There is also a function that enables users to create photo albums automatically based on geo-tagging information and their timeline.

The 'Dual Camera' function allows users to take pictures with both the rear camera and the front facing camera at the same time. This enables the person taking the picture to be in the image they are shooting.

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Samsung also highlighted a language translating app built into the phone that features nine languages. Users can type a sentence into the phone and select the language they want to translate it to and the device will speak the translation.

Taking on Apple

A Samsung employee displays the Samsung Galaxy S IV for a photo March 14, 2013 in New York City.
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A Samsung employee displays the Samsung Galaxy S IV for a photo March 14, 2013 in New York City.

The new phone marks the latest bid by the South Korean electronics giant to take on Apple and its popular iPhone.

The launch of the new phone in New York was the first time the company has launched a Galaxy device in the U.S. in three years, a move that shows Samsung has a growing influence over carriers.

Samsung's latest launch also shows that the smartphone space is changing. Smartphones aren't just for early technology adopters or for consumers with big wallets, the mobile devices are now more accessible for all in the U.S.

More than half the people in the U.S. own smartphones and in five years almost 90 percent of the U.S. population will have smartphones, according to research from Forrester.

"One of the issues right now in the smart phone market, the very very high end, is screen size. Customers want a bigger screen," said Newman.

"Apple doesn't have a big enough screen. At the moment, Samsung is gaining share over Apple in the premium end of the market and until Apple can fill that gap with a larger screen, I think Samsung is going to continue to gain share over apple," he said.

In tackling the enterprise market, Samsung showed off its function called 'Samsung Knox,' which is similar to Blackberry's Balance feature, allowing users to keep their personal and work profiles separate.

The Galaxy S4 supports 4G LTE—the fastest available network—has built in near-field communication (NFC) technology and supports WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.