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Samsung's Galaxy S4 no Apple iPhone killer, analysts say

Analysts wondered whether Samsung's Galaxy S4 was more like the S3 "S," an evolutionary smartphone that wouldn't put much of a dent in Apple's iPhone franchise. The Samsung-Apple duel is closely watched in both the consumer and business tech space.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Samsung's Galaxy S4 debut went off largely as expected and yielded an evolutionary device that won't dent Apple or its iPhone franchise too much, say analysts.


Indeed, Morgan Stanley analysts in a research note asked whether the Galaxy S4 was more like the S3S in a reference that swiped Apple's iPhone 4S device, which was more evolutionary.

The impact of the Galaxy S4 on Apple is closely watched in both the consumer and business tech space. Samsung and Android have a commanding lead in the consumer market, but lag in business tech, where Apple has shined courtesy of bring your own device, consumerization and one flavor of mobile operating system to secure. 

Earlier:  Samsung's Galaxy S4 launch makes Google's Nexus smartphones more critical |  Amid great expectations, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has arrived| Samsung reveals the Galaxy S4 (photos)Samsung's Galaxy S4 first to launch with B2B tool Knox | Samsung's Galaxy S4 focuses on differentiation but reveals growing problem for handset makers On CNETFull coverage of Samsung Galaxy S4 launch

Here's a roundup of what analysts are saying about the Samsung launch and its impact on Apple.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said:

We believe the S4 will certainly sell well and it is incrementally negative for Apple; however, the device is not revolutionary, in our view. Aside from the large screen size, which we believe gives Samsung a large advantage over Apple, we believe many of the features can easily be replicated. Additionally, a major complaint amongst Galaxy users is that they do not like Samsung's customized software, especially when it is a downgrade in performance from stock Android features. We wait to see the real world performance for the many new features.

Misek did wonder if an iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 would be enough to hold Apple's fort against the phablet craze.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers said:

Samsung released the Galaxy S4 at a polished event in New York on Thursday evening. We believe that the display, the camera, the software and several unique features ups the ante in the smartphone market.

Specifically, Rakers noted that Samsung's screen size over the iPhone 5---5 inches to 4 inches, respectively---is critical.

Topeka analyst Brian White said:

Samsung introduced some interesting new features in the Galaxy S 4 many of which we expect newer smartphones to include as the year unfolds. As such, we view the Galaxy S 4 as a refresh but NOT a game changer. We believe the iPhone 5S will handily outsell Samsung's new flagship smartphone in the second-half of the year, while we believe Apple will expand its world with a lower-priced iPhone in 2013.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said:

While there was hype around the event approaching that of an iPhone launch, the device launched was very similar to an Apple "S" model update. While the S4 is likely to be the iPhone's biggest competitor this year at the high-end of the market, we remain confident in our iPhone estimate for this year of 177.5 million, which includes a cheaper phone in the September quarter. We view the S4 as unlikely to meaningfully impact iPhone share of the high-end over the full year, but do expect it to take share from other Android phones...

The Galaxy S4 appears to be largely an incremental update to the S3 including a slightly larger screen (4% larger on diagonal), better camera and processor, and updated software, but largely the same body style and casing. We believe some of the software features are unique, including the tilt to scroll, video pausing based on facial recognition, and hand gesture based interactions, but view these software improvements as minor compared with what Siri was to the iPhone 4S or even Google Now to Android.

Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes said:

In terms of competition vs. Apple, the GS4 seems largely as expected – and there could be some relief for Apple. However, as we stated recently in a recent report – we believe that Samsung’s momentum is a major issue for Apple. As a result, we need to see Apple expand its iPhone market this year in a big way – and improve its platform. However, Apple seems rather silent of late – and could be waiting until C3Q to make any competitive response outside of potential adjustments to pricing.

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