Samsung is working on a dust-proof and water-proof Galaxy S4, which will essentially resemble the S4 but with environmental superpowers, says the Wall Street Journal. The paper also reported that Samsung is launching its next-generation Galaxy tablet in June, as well as a compact S4 at “just” 4.3-inches in size (this still seems large to me, but maybe I’m just old). Samsung has always been keen on capitalizing on flagship branding by diversifying its line with a variety of offshoot devices, so the news should come as no surprise.
The ruggedized S4 will take the flagship phone in a brand new direction, however, and one that might actually cut off a key competitor at the knees – Google’s own Motorola. Google CEO Larry Page and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt have referenced Motorola’s upcoming hardware work, referring to how phones should not break when dropped, or die when submerged in water, suggesting that one of the key features of any Android hardware coming out of Motorola once its existing pre-Google product timeline runs out will be somewhat rugged, too.
Samsung and Google have a complex relationship, and much has been made about how the Korean smartphone OEM might make Google a little nervous, given how much control it has over the Android smartphone market. It’s a theory that Google itself has repeatedly and roundly denied, but Samsung recently went out of its way to highlight its own software and pretty much leave out any discussion of Android itself.
The Wall Street Journal also notes that a rugged version of the Galaxy S4 will help Samsung attract lucrative military and government contracts, something the OEM is trying to accomplish in order to steal share from Apple and BlackBerry. That would definitely be an advantage, but there’s also just a general trend towards building more rugged devices, thanks to smartphones like the Sony Xperia Z. Startups like Liquipel and HzO are also trying to make water-resistant consumer electronics common-place, both before- and after-market. At this point, it’s just a matter of who can do it first.