I figured that Samsung’s Galaxy S IV was going to wow the masses, much like the iPhone 4 did for Apple fans in 2010. Instead, it sounds like Samsung went the conservative route and released their own version of the iPhone 4S.

I’m not saying that this is bad. The Samsung Galaxy S III became the first smartphone that really took on the iPhone, so releasing an incremental update makes some sense. Still, I’m not sure that it will change the playing field all that much in 2013, which comes as a relief to this Apple fan.

I’m not the only one with this opinion. Two analysts also hold this view, according to AppleInsider.

Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, for example, says that Samsung’s new handset isn’t a game changer. As such, he expects that Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5S” will “handily outsell” the Galaxy S IV when it is released later this year.

Meanwhile, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray calls Samsung’s phone “evolutionary,” and not one that will trip up Apple in the high-end smartphone market.

White’s most critical comments are reserved for his comparison between the Galaxy S IV and the iPhone 5. He calls Samsung’s model “heavier, fatter and less refined than the iPhone 5.” He notes that the Galaxy S IV is only 8 percent thinner than the previous model, and 2 percent less in weight. This change is modest compared to the differences between the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.

The end result: White says that the Galaxy S IV is “no match” for the aluminum unibody that Apple brought forward with the iPhone 5.

Given this, Apple seems to have an opening here — assuming that they play their cards right, which I believe that they will.

For one, it probably won’t hurt Apple now were they to release an evolutionary product in the iPhone 5S, as has been suggested. If Samsung would have released a much more innovative product, this fact could have been a problem.

The key for Apple will be to release a device with internals that better match the Galaxy S IV versus the iPhone 5. This means that Cupertino would be wise to release an iPhone 5S with a better camera, more onboard RAM, and, of course, a better processor.

I don’t believe that the Galaxy S IV’s larger screen versus the iPhone 5/5S will make that much of a difference. The iPad mini gave Apple some breathing room on this point. For now, it looks like holding off on a larger screen until the iPhone 6 model makes a lot of sense.

The iPhone 5S in different colors could prove exciting

The iPhone 5S in different colors could prove exciting

Something else that could prove significant is the likelihood that the iPhone 5S will be the first Apple handset that comes in more than two colors. This may not sound like a big deal, but I know many folks that are holding off buying a new iPhone exactly for this reason. They want their handset in blue, red, and even green, and can’t wait to stand in line to get one.

We now know that Samsung isn’t going down the multiple colors route, at least for this year. The Galaxy S IV only comes in two colors: Black Mist and White Frost.

I also think that Samsung’s conservative approach taken with the Galaxy S IV could make the release of the long-rumored iPhone mini even more of a “special” event.

This budget phone is now likely to be the only smartphone model released this year by either company that is significantly different than what is already on the market. Because of this, and its less expensive price, of course, the iPhone mini could prove to be the real game changer of 2013.

I’m not saying that the Galaxy S IV won’t be successful, because it will be. What I am saying, however, is that Samsung missed an opportunity here in their quest to unseat Apple. For Samsung to pickoff long-time iPhone owners, they needed to throw a touchdown with the Galaxy S IV. Instead, I’m pretty sure that they simply got a first down in a game that has just begun.

For more information on the Galaxy S IV, be sure to check out Aldrin Calimlim’s‘ post from earlier in the day. Samsung’s new handset goes on sale in April.

See also: Report: The iPhone 5S Will Sport Both A Fingerprint Sensor And NFC Technology, and The Budget iPhone To Come In Multiple Colors And Have A 4-Inch Screen Says Analyst.