The launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 smartphone has been one of the most anticipated releases of a consumer technology device ever – right up there with Google Glass, the HTC One, Sony’s PlayStation 4 and just about every version of the iPhone. As eager as some consumers were to get their hands on the device, there were also plenty of tech enthusiasts who were just as eager to peek under-the-hood and get a look at the technologies that make the Galaxy S4, available for preorders next month, one to watch.
At Broadcom, we find that the thing that helps this device rise above the competition is the top-of-the-line connectivity that’s built into it, from turbocharged Wi-Fi to Near Field Communication.
5G WiFi in the Galaxy S4
Certainly, Wi-Fi connectivity in a smartphone is nothing new. Like the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4 supports 802.11ac technology, the next generation wireless standard that promises gigabit speeds. Samsung’s inclusion of 802.11ac – or 5G WiFi – signals the start of a more widespread wireless upgrade for smartphones. Indeed, ABI Research predicts that 802.11ac will account for 70% of mobile handset shipments by 2015.
The next-generation Wi-Fi technology, which opens doors for new mobile experiences, is a must for data-hungry consumers who increasingly watch video on their mobile devices and have multiple wireless gadgets competing for connectivity at home and on-the-go.
In addition to speeds as fast as 1.3 gigabits per second, 5G WiFi can also “download information three times faster than handsets available today can,” according to the Wall Street Journal’s tech blog. The WSJ report also pointed out that “the new Wi-Fi sits on a less-crowded slice of the wireless spectrum, avoiding interference from devices like Bluetooth headsets and microwave ovens that share space with existing Wi-Fi devices” – a plus for multi-device homes.
It’s also a boon to other new emerging technologies — such as Miracast – by enabling wireless streaming of content between devices without any buffering or lag time.
By supporting 5G WiFi, Samsung is allowing its customers to be among the first to take advantage of the speed and range benefits when used with other 802.11ac products on the market today, including routers from NETGEAR, Belkin, Buffalo and Cisco and notebooks from Asus. LG also joined the 5G WiFi party recently announcing its plans to incorporate 5G WiFi into Smart TVs this year.
NFC on Tap
Samsung also announced that the Galaxy S 4 includes Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which Samsung has dubbed “S Beam.” Like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, NFC has the potential to transform how people connect, starting with an easier way to make mobile transactions happen with the tap of a phone to a specially-enabled reader.
Samsung made headlines earlier this year when it said it inked a deal with Visa for a large-scale launch of a mobile payment service. Visa’s new “Mobile Provisioning Service” allows consumers to securely download payment account information to NFC-enabled Samsung devices. And Samsung, in turn, will preload Visa’s payWave app on its NFC-equipped smartphones and tablets.
Samsung’s use of the technology could be a springboard for its greater adoption of mobile payments adoption. Visa and Samsung project that this agreement will cover 100 million NFC-enabled devices made and sold by Samsung in the next year.
Although using NFC for mobile transactions is a hot topic, Broadcom envisions a much brighter and broader future for this short-range technology. By incorporating NFC in more places, consumers can seamlessly tap-to-share playlists from one smartphone to another, instantly view a video taken on a tablet up on a big screen TV, and tap-to-print documents directly from their personal mobile devices. These are only a small sample of possibilities that Broadcom sees NFC taking off in the next few years.
We are at an inflection point for mass market adoption of both 802.11ac Wi-Fi and NFC, and Samsung is among the leading-edge smartphone companies bringing the best connectivity of the future to today’s tech-savvy consumers.