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Samsung Galaxy S4 'less refined' than Apple's iPhone 5, not seen as a game changer

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Though it was heavily hyped, Samsung's largely iterative Galaxy S4 flagship handset is not seen by market watchers as a device that will shake up the smartphone market or have a significant effect on Apple.

After months of anticipation, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S4 in a glitzy, heavily polished primetime event in New York City's Radio City Music Hall on Thursday. The company's new premium handset is its response to Apple's iPhone 5, which debuted last September.

To analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, the Galaxy S4 represents a refresh for Samsung, but the new handset is not a game changer. He expects Apple's anticipated "iPhone 5S" to "handily outsell" the Galaxy S4 when it launches later this year."One would believe that Samsung is crushing Apple in the mobile phone market. We believe this is complete nonsense." - Brian White, Topeka Capital Markets

In his view, one of the strong points of the new Galaxy S4 is its Super AMOLED display, which has a pixel density of 441 per inch. That's a higher resolution screen than the 326 pixels-per-inch found on the iPhone 5.

As for the rest of the Galaxy S4, White characterized it as "heavier, fatter and less refined than the iPhone 5." He noted that the iPhone 5 is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, while Samsung only managed to trim 8 percent thickness and 2 percent of the weight from the Galaxy S III to the Galaxy S4.

In addition, White said the plastic casing on the Galaxy S4 is simply "no match" for the aluminum unibody enclosure Apple adopted on the iPhone 5.

Galaxy S4

"We are amazed by how analysts and the media have turned on Apple during the recent stock downdrafts with statements that Samsung is 'out-innovating' Apple," White said. "One would believe that Samsung is crushing Apple in the mobile phone market. We believe this is complete nonsense."

Also largely unimpressed by Samsung's latest offering was Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, who characterized the Galaxy S4 as an "evolutionary" update. He expects that Apple's iPhone will maintain its share of the high-end smartphone market in calendar year 2013.

Galaxy S4

Munster views the Galaxy S4 as comparable to Apple's own "S" models of the iPhone, such as the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4S. Both of those handsets were relatively minor hardware updates with the same design as their respective predecessors, the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 4.

"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," Munster said. "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."