Samsung officially announced the Galaxy S4 at their Unpacked event in new York. The sequel to the top selling S3 will go on sale from 26 April.

The president of Samsung mobile, J K shin, described the S4 as more than a smartphone, it is a “life companion”. This doesn’t mean you have to marry the thing – it is in relation to the wealth of new features designed to work with the user.

As rumours suggested, the S4 is a monster in the specs department. It has a 1.6GHz octo-core processor (yes, 8 cores!), 2GB RAM, 13megapixel camera and 5-inch HD Super AMOLED screen.

Playing games, watching videos and multitasking will be a breeze thanks to the super fast processor. The 8-cores are designed to give maximum power when needed, but also conserve battery power.

The 2,600mAh battery in the S4 is an improvement over the S3’s 2,100mAh and it needs to be. In conjunction with the new processor, this phone ‘should’ last a whole day without screaming for a recharge.

Speaking of charging, Samsung have also included wireless charging on the S4 (like Google’s Nexus 4). It’s a cool feature which let’s you sit the S4 on a wireless pad to give it some juice (bear in mind that the the pad itself still needs to be plugged in).

The S4 is actually thinner and taller than the S3, but looks almost identical to it. Samsung definitely wanted to keep the design familiar to the millions of S3 users. The front has the instantly recognisable ‘home’ button beneath the screen, while the ‘menu’ and ‘back’ soft key buttons sit either side of it (as with all the previous Galaxy S models).

Samsung kept the familiar design but packed in a whole load of features (some of which are more gimmicky than practical).

Camera: The S4 has a 2megapixel front shooter which can be used simultaneously with the rear 13megapixel lens. This ‘dual camera’ feature let’s you take a picture with the back camera and places the image from the front camera directly on top of it. I’m struggling to think of practical uses for this, but I’m sure they exist. The camera also let’s you record up to 9 seconds of audio and save it with the picture.

S Translator: You can now type text in your native language and have the S4 read it back to you in one of nine other languages. This is actually very useful when travelling and trying to order dinner in Spanish.

Okay, there’s more practical uses but you get the gist.

Eye-control: The S4 is smart enough to know when you are not looking at the screen so it will pause a video if your attention is diverted during playback.

Air Gestures: Waving your hand a few millimetres over the screen will now allow you to skip music tracks, answer calls or scroll through your image gallery. This feature is one of the more gimmicky ones. It’s useful if the phone is in a dock on your car dashboard and you receive an incoming call. You can wave at the phone to answer the call without taking your eyes off the road.

Overall, the S4 feels more like an incremental upgrade rather than a whole new innovative smartphone. That won’t stop it being a top selling handset tho.

The question is whether or not the new features are actually useful or just gimmicks that Samsung tells us we need.

What do you think about the S4? Let me know in the comments below.