All the leaks point to the Galaxy S4 being a very fast device, if not the fastest on the market, whether it's the US version with its quad core 1.9 Ghz S600 chip, or the international version with its 8-core 1.8 Ghz Cortex A15/A7-based Exynos 5 Octa. But the question is, for all that premium performance, will the Galaxy S4 look like it's a premium device, too, or will Samsung keep making the same plastic bodies for their phones?
I've talked before about how the HTC One is probably the phone with the most premium feel on the market today, thanks to its full aluminum body (not even the iPhone 5 has that). It's the first phone to have that, and metal always gives devices a very premium feel compared to most other devices that are being made of plastic, or even machined polycarbonate plastic (like the One X) or glass (Nexus 4, Xperia Z).
I think that for all the quality specs Samsung is putting into their Galaxy S devices, the build material always seems to be seriously lacking, and tend to make the device feel cheaper than it really is. If it were not for all the marketing dollars Samsung puts into the launch of Galaxy S4, I'm not sure they would sell so well. People would simply choose the better looking devices.
Speaking of looks, I didn't think the Galaxy S3 was particularly beautiful either. It's quite surprising Samsung got where they are today in the smartphone market (#1 smartphone maker), by not making any iconic designs for their devices. And yet, they are probably the ones who make their products look alike the most. For a company that employs that kind of strategy for their products, so they can benefit from the halo effect they get from each other, you'd think Samsung would work that much harder on creating a unique and beautiful design to give to its products.
It doesn't look like Samsung will be easy to beat on specs anytime soon, but why are they making it so easy for others to beat them on how good their devices look or feel? If they want to keep their domination (not saying that would necessarily be a good thing for us), they need to do something about that. And they also need to come up with new innovations, preferably in hardware rather than software, as I'd prefer Google handle the software part. But there's plenty of places to innovate in hardware, too, such as adding a much better camera to their devices.