With an aura of expectation usually reserved only for shiny new Apple products, Samsung is set to announce its latest smartphone on Thursday in the opening salvo of a new war between the Korean electronics giant and the iconic iPhone manufacturer.

A series of titillating leaks have stoked excitement that the new phone, to be called the Galaxy S4, will mark the first time since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 that another phone could emerge as the market leader.

While gadget freaks are poring over every new rumour, Michael Gartenberg, research director of Gartner, is a little more sceptical.

“The iPhone 5 is considered to be the gold standard for smartphones, so the bar is very high for Samsung at this point,” he told DPA.

If the rumours on numerous gadget websites turn out to be true, Apple will have a fight on its hands. The Galaxy S4 is expected to boast a bigger screen, stretching 5 inches, than the iPhone 5’s 4-inch display.

Samsung has indicated that it will eschew the sleek aluminium case favoured by Apple in favour of a plastic case that it says is cheaper and easier to manufacture. The design is expected to feature squarer edges than both its predecessor, the bestselling Galaxy S3, and the iPhone line.

Other leaked images have shown the S4’s screen to stretch from bezel to bezel, with no physical home button. The phone is widely expected to be powered by an eight-core processor — and will be “ridiculously fast,” according to Business Insider.

An even bigger attraction could be eye-tracking software that can detect when a user has finished reading to the bottom of the screen and automatically scroll down, according to The New York Times.

Called Eye Scroll, the new feature will be paired with something called Eye Pause, which will automatically pause videos if it detects you are no longer looking at them.

Put those features together with rumours about wireless charging, a 13MP camera and the continuous improvement of the Google Android operating system, and it’s clear that Samsung has its best chance yet to take the smartphone crown from Apple.