The highly anticipated followup to last year’s Galaxy S3, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has some big shoes to fill. Samsung has spent their time honing a device built on that foundation, and the result is a powerful smartphone that looks to blow away the competition. So, did Samsung really craft “the next big thing,” or does the Galaxy S4 fall short of the hype? Read our full review to find out!
Quick Jump: Design | Hardware | Battery Life | Software | Camera | Conclusion
Galaxy S4 Design
In my week spent walking around with the phone, I was really hoping for more people to stop and say, “Wow, is that the Galaxy S4?” But not once did this happen, and that perhaps sums up the design of the phone succinctly. Without a closer inspection, the latest Galaxy simply fades into the hoard of GS3 handsets already floating around out there (side note: my time with the Galaxy S4 opened my eyes to just how popular, in fact, the Galaxy S3 already is).
But Samsung meant it this way. They didn’t set out to design a phone that re-imagined the look of their flagship, rather they set out to create a phone that was at once smaller, more powerful, and smarter than last year’s model while at the same time increasing the overall display size by 0.2 inches. The 5-inch display of the GS4 is noticeable, but the size in your hand is not so much.
The Galaxy S4 measures in at 5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches. Compare that to the Galaxy S3, which features a 4.8-inch display and measures measures 5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches, the iPhone 5, which features a 4-inch display and measures 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches, and the HTC One, which features a 4.7-inch display and measures 5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches. The Galaxy S4 weighs a paltry 4.59 ounces, a little over half an ounce heavier than the iPhone 5 and 0.10 ounces lighter than the GS3.
A removable backplate serves a two-fold purpose: access to a removable battery as well as SIM and microSD card slots and as a means to attach a variety of accessories, from wireless charging plates to flip covers and more. It’s nice to see a company thinking of the benefits of retaining a removable rear plate design, but with increasing battery life and the decreasing cost of internal storage, there is a reason why many manufacturers have moved on. In the end, we wouldn’t have faulted Samsung for keeping the Galaxy S4 sealed, but having the removable battery cover was a small plus.
But all of this beauty in design falls victim to one flaw, and it’s the same that Samsung has been dealing with for the past several years. Build quality and materials simply do not feel as premium as the phone really is. It’s a bit misleading. The Galaxy S4 definitely operates as a world-class smartphone, but in your hand and pocket it feels plastic-y and a bit cheap.
We would have loved to see Samsung take some initiative in this area and upgrade to aluminum casing or perhaps a more innovative material like ceramic or polycarbonate, but alas, maybe that will come with the Galaxy Note 3 or Galaxy S5. For now it seems Samsung is set in its current design language.
Galaxy S4 Hardware
The Galaxy S is Samsung’s bread-and-butter handset, so as expected it doesn’t lack in the hardware department. Just like the editions before it, the Galaxy S4 features a stellar hardware package that starts with its 5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display and goes all the way down to a beefy 2,600 mAh battery. In between you will find either Samsung’s octo-core Exynos 5 Octa 5410 or the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, 2GB of RAM, and a 13MP rear camera with 2MP front-facing camera.
We checked out the Snapdragon model clocked at 1.9GHz, specifically for Sprint’s network. This means the handset included full LTE support on top of standard CDMA connectivity, but Samsung has thrown in radios to support virtually every major wireless standard and service provider. The hardware gets a few nice touches with additions like an infrared blaster as well as NFC. The phone also sports Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.
Given the fact that the Galaxy S4 is crammed full of just about the nicest components you will find in the current generation of smartphones, you can expect the handset to be a monster of performance. The Galaxy S4 sizzles, and the hardware does what it should do: makes the experience simply about the user and the user interface. The hardware stays out of the way and handles just about anything you can throw at it.
Samsung has always put an emphasis on display quality, and with the Galaxy S4 things are no different. The GS4 is the first device to get a full 1080p HD Super AMOLED display, which features an eye-searing pixel density of 441ppi. That’s over 100 pixels better than the 326 pixels per inch found on the iPhone 5’s Retina display, but still shy of the HTC One’s 469 ppi. We doubt your retinas will miss the difference.
The 5-inch display is manufactured using Corning Gorilla Glass 3 technology, so it is plenty durable. It fits snugly into the design of the phone — bezels are kept at a minimum, providing a near edge-to-edge experience and an even greater emphasis on the beauty of the screen. It’s pretty amazing that Samsung was able to push the screen’s size beyond that of the Galaxy S3 while simultaneously decreasing overall device size.
Image quality is rich in color and contrast and plenty bright. Multiple times did I flip open the flip cover case adorning my GS4 to be almost quite literally blinded by the amount of light being emitted from the screen (and this was in broad daylight on a sunny afternoon). That’s right, the screen is almost too bright, if there is such a thing (but an easily accessible toggle in the notifications shade can make a quick adjustment of that).
Viewing angles are superb and there shouldn’t even be a question about picture quality. Given the 1080p resolution and high pixel density, it goes without saying that the Galaxy S4 features sharp and clear images. The Super AMOLED display is excessive in a good way. It gives us more than we probably need from a 5-inch screen, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to want it just a finger tips touch away.
As the above results demonstrate, the quad-core Snapdragon CPU and Adreno 320 graphics can run with the best of them, if not absolutely obliterate the competition. We suspect the Galaxy S4 that outperformed our own in the AnTuTu benchmark was one possessing Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa chipset as opposed to the 1.9GHz Qualcomm chip found in our Sprint model.
This is all to say, expect big performance from the GS4. There were a few moments where the interface lagged (namely in launching larger applications), but for typical tasks you can forget about the frustration of an underpowered device.
Though many a manufacturer and consumer get caught up in the hype of hi-def displays and multi-core processors, it’s refreshing to see a renewed focus on improving battery life. A phone is nothing without power, but balancing battery size and portability has long been a struggle for manufacturers.
Luckily, Samsung was able to squeeze a 2,600 mAh battery into the Galaxy S4 without adding much to the overall size of the device. What’s more, they did it with a removable power cell. This means should the allotted capacity run dry, users with a spare battery can easily swap out the drained one.
But the good news is most won’t need to worry about that, as the Galaxy S4 on normal use is more than capable of surviving a full day on a single charge. After about 15 hours of messaging, web surfing, and taking some photos and videos at the ball game I was left with a 16 percent charge.
On days where I threw in a good chunk of gaming and media viewing, mileage varied. As you can see from the above screen grab, it’s possible to get close to 24 hours of use without the need to go hunting for a power outlet. On average, a single charge is all you will need to get you from sun up to sun down.
The Galaxy S4 ships with Android 4.2.2 and Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz user interface. The overall look and feel hasn’t changed much since the Galaxy S3, but the phone does come with a host of new features and experiences including Smart Scroll and Smart Pause, AirView, and TV remote control functionality.
Of course, older TouchWiz enhancements such as multi-window apps (long-press the back button) and Smart Stay are still present, as are Android Jelly Bean standards like Google Now (accessible by long-pressing the settings soft key) and multi-tasking (hold down the home button).
One interesting addition is a revamped Easy Mode. Samsung introduced this feature on older models, but it mostly consisted of simplified widgets laid out on a traditional Android homescreen. With the GS4, Easy Mode is a separate launcher designed to emulate a feature phone interface while giving access to basic smartphone functions. The idea is to ease older folks or first-time smartphone users into the new ecosystem. Easy Mode can be enabled at setup or easily toggled via the Settings menu.
While much of the hardware and software feels iterative compared to the Galaxy S3, Samsung did a great job in terms of enhancing the user experience. Better yet, many of the features debuting with Galaxy S4 will find their way to late model Samsung devices by way of over-the-air updates.
Smart Scroll and Smart Pause
In previous TouchWiz versions, Samsung introduced Smart Stay, an “eye tracking” technology that determined when a user was looking at the display and smartly prevented it from turning off automatically. WIth the Galaxy S4, two new features have been introduced based on the same concept, Smart Scroll and Smart Pause.
In reality, all three of the features function using the phone’s front-facing camera and rely more on facial recognition than eye tracking. With Smart Scroll, the GS4 determines the position of the users head and will scroll a web page or other content up and down accordingly. Smart Pause will automatically pause a video when a user looks away from the screen.
The concepts are novel, and when they work they create a fluid, intuitive way of interacting with your phone. The problem is, the new tech is not without its hangups. Sometimes it doesn’t react at all to eye or head movements. Other times it only works in certain lighting conditions. In general, the services were spotty at best. With some refinement, however, they could be killer.
AirView and Air Gesture
In addition to eye-tracking features, Samsung has introduced two other “hands-free” ways to interact with the Galaxy S4. The first takes AirView, first introduced with the Galaxy S4, and extends it beyond the S Pen. With the Galaxy S4, users can simply hover their finger over certain fields to access pop-out content. It’s especially apparent in the calendar app, where hovering over a date will provide a quick glance at scheduled events, no need to leave the main calendar view.
Air Gesture takes the touch-free concept a step further, using a dedicated sensor located near the Samsung logo above the display to detect hand movements corresponding to certain actions. For instance, waving your hand over the sensor when receiving a phone call will answer the phone in speaker mode, perfect for taking a hands-free call while driving. Air Gesture can also be used to scroll and navigate web pages in the browser.
But just like Smart Scroll and Smart Pause, responsiveness varies. The features are also hurt by a lack of integration into more services and applications, but hopefully Samsung will work with developers to allow others to take advantage of the features. FlipBoard is one third-party app featuring AirView support. The app comes pre-installed on the Galaxy S4.
Group Play is Samsung’s all-in-one service for sharing photos, document, and presentations with a group of other Galaxy handset owners. With the Galaxy S4, Samsung is touting a feature that allows you to you play a song across a group of phones (think back to the commercial Samsung launched showing a basketball team getting hyped up for a game by syncing an Icona Pop tune across their devices).
The feature allows you to either send a stereo stream of the song to all devices or the person initiating the Group Play session can assign each device to act as a left or right speaker. It works, but the feature seems a bit gimmicky. It’s main downfall is that it is limited to users with a Galaxy handset, which could create some awkward moments when someone in a group is left out because they don’t own a Samsung phone.
Group Play, though, is probably best served for sharing a PowerPoint presentation or something along those lines (though again, the platform limitation detracts here).
The Galaxy S4 is the first Galaxy handset to feature a built-in infrared blaster, and Samsung puts it to good use. We have seen the functionality offered in previous Samsung tablets, alongside a combination of Samsung’s WatchOn app and the third-party Peel. With the GS4, the experience is refined to create a single service that allows users to navigate their TV guide and control a television or set-top box all from within a single app.
Setup is extremely simple. Enter some information about where you live and what TV service provider you use, go through a simple dialog to pair the Galaxy S4 with your home entertainment hardware, and you’re ready to go.
The app allows you to find currently playing shows based on a recommendation system or through a full TV guide. You can also search directly for content, and anything that isn’t available via your cable provider can be rented or purchased as part of Samsung’s video on demand service. This also includes tying into your Netflix account. If you have a newer Samsung TV, you can even bounce video back and forth between your phone and television.
If the service suffers at all, it has more to do with the amount of control it provides over TV hardware. Remote functionality is a bit limited. You can’t set up DVR recordings via the WatchOn app, and it’s a bit disappointing that streaming between devices is limited to Samsung’s WatchOn-enabled line of devices. But for folks without a dedicated smart TV solution already in the living room, WatchOn offers a similar experience using the hardware users already own.
Galaxy S4 Camera
Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the Galaxy S4 is its camera. Not only did Samsung up the ante with a 13MP camera capable of capturing some gorgeous shots, but they also fleshed out the phone’s camera software further, adding new shooting modes that create some interesting photo possibilities.
The camera isn’t perfect in all situations, but those situations are few and far between. Not only does it provide 13MP of clarity and 1080p video capture, but functions like Eraser Mode might just make you look like a better photographer than you really are. Samsung based the camera interface off of their Galaxy Camera, and it’s clear that things have taken a big step forward.
The Galaxy S4’s camera offer 13 shooting modes to match its 13 megapixels. You get everything from HDR photo capture to a new Drama shot, which takes sequential photos and stitches together a compelling action shot. If still photos aren’t cutting it, there is also a new animated photo mode that allows you to selectively choose a portion of the shot to feature live movement.
While Samsung left out the 360 PhotoSphere functionality of the most recent Android version, you do get a 360 panorama mode to make up for it, and it works quite spectacularly. Sound shot can also spice up a photo by adding an audio element to your picture. A personal favorite is the aforementioned Eraser mode, which will delete unwanted subject moving through your frame. Let’s call it anti-photobomb mode.
Then, of course, is dual camera mode, which allows you to simultaneously capture photo or video using both the front and rear cameras. It’s useful for adding yourself to a shot, and there are several methods of doing so (all of which can be resized, moved, and adjusted), but other than being a neat trick, we wonder how much purpose it will serve.
The Samsung Galaxy S4’s 13MP camera left me feeling nothing but impressed. Colors were vibrant even in poorer lighting conditions and resolution and clarity were outstanding. Spending enough time, the Galaxy S4 is definitely capable of some truly professional results.
Samsung has been spotty on cameras in the past, often falling behind HTC and Apple when it comes to pure image quality, but that isn’t the case with the Galaxy S4. Video was equally pleasing, but we’ll let the results speak for themselves.
- The 1080p Super AMOLED display is simply gorgeous.
- Battery life is one of the most impressive we have seen from a top-tier smartphone.
- Upgrades the Galaxy S3 in every way imaginable while managing to get smaller.
- 13MP camera could give the standard point-and-shoot a run for its money.
- New features like AirView, Smart Scroll, and Air Gesture really add to the user experience.
- Samsung continues to go with plastic as the main build material, resulting in a device that feels less premium than it really is.
- Though proprietary TouchWiz features add to the phone, some kinks still need to be worked out.
- Compared to the Galaxy S3, feels like an iterative release.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is everything we expected it to be: a stellar combination of hardware and software that builds upon the already framework built by previous entries in the Galaxy lineup. For those already owning the Galaxy S3, however, the changes and enhancements really don’t warrant an upgrade at this time. For those that don’t fall into that category, the Galaxy S4 is a fine choice if you are looking for a brilliant display and excellent photo capture capabilities. For many it will come down to a decision between the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, and you really can’t make a bad choice between the two.
Be decisive! Tell everyone how you like the One better ;).
The One IS better.
Oh… This means that HTC is really coming back. =.D
*hopes HTC makes the next Nexus*
couldn’t agree with you more… I do however need a removable SD card, they need to stop embedded memory.
its one thing with the battery because in all honestly a VERY small portion of people swap batteries… but an SD card needs to be removable and in my control so i can swap out cards and have “unlimited” storage space
Yea. I mean, if you have a 64GB MicroSD card, that means in order for you to have the cloud storage equivalent, you’d have to pay for that amount. And it’s a subscription. MicroSD cards allow you to pay a one-time payment.
I don’t have a lot of space, so I don’t think I’ll miss my SD card. If I do, then I’ll invest in the 64GB Dev version or something.
Battery NEEDS to be changed in a year or two, so unless you are a habitual phone upgrader :P you do NEED removable batteries.
The materials used in the One is very nice, but for some people that
doesn’t matter since you are putting it into a case anyways, so the main
thing that I look at between phones are the actual capabilities of the
devices. I’ve been doing a lot of research on benchmark tests between
the One and the S4, and in every benchmark test between antutu, 3dmark,
quadrant, and GL benchmark 2.5 (One – ~33 fps, S4 – ~41 fps), the
average beat the One hands down in every test. And that at least to me
says the S4 is the better phone since material isn’t seen inside a case
anyways. Yes the One is fast, but I want the fastest, most capable
device for my money.
Don’t you wish it was that simple. ;) Kevin hides his complexities well.
Kevin is not a fan-boy unlike Chris’ review. I trust Kevin’s review much more.
True in that. Although I still despair at the general lack of knowledge in terms of the actual material property of Aluminium among all the reviewers :P. Wonder how some will feel when the metal they thought is a premium and expensive material is actually one of the cheapest and weaker and softer metal around ….. and yes I am looking at you, Aluminium.
Chris reviewed the One and Kevin reviewed the S4 so not sure either had enough knowledge to make a directly thorough judgement there, but this is one reason we’ve added our Positives/Negatives/Verdict to reviews along with a specific numbered rating. I’m guessing you like the One better too?
Notice the verge….
“For now, it’s a choice every buyer will have to make. You can have the far better-looking phone or you can have the slightly better-performing phone — and you really can’t choose wrong. If the GS III is any indication, millions upon millions will choose the GS4. Me? I think design matters. Polish matters. The Galaxy S4 is fast and impressive, but it’s also noisy and complex. The One is refined, quiet, comfortable, beautiful, and above all simply pleasant. I love using that phone, in a way I haven’t experienced with anything since the iPhone 5. That’s why, when my contract is up in June, I’ll probably be casting my lot with HTC instead of Samsung.”
Im just joking of course guys. Ive had every phone under the sun including the GS3 and honestly when you throw AOSP on the phone there is very little difference to be had. This time I agreed and went with the phone that I thought was better looking and did well low light and that ended up being the One.
Reads like an advertisement for the HTC.
Personally I’m not going to take the heavier, thicker, taller, smaller screen phone with less features just so I can say it sort of feels like an iphone.
– Heavier – because its not made of plastic
– thicker – 1.4mm?, finger nail width its really not important
– taller – I guess you have tiny hands for this to be a problem
– smaller screen – again its .3 inches, you trade . 3 inches for greater pixel density
– and as far as the touch wiz “features,” keep them I run AOSP anyways….
Heavier is heavier. The question is does it make it better? Answer is no — not if you actually value the quality of the material and that it is actually strong and hard. But Aluminium is actually more scratch prone than good plastic composite and can be weaker too. So … that is a bad choice.
wait wait wait… so you have a sprint GS4 and an OPEN sim card slot??? i thought sprint didn’t want removable sim slots??? my evo LTE has a locked in card….. EXPLAIN YOURSELF!
The GS4 on Sprint has international roaming capabilities I believe.
this makes sense…. probably easier on samsung to produce just one phone with all radios and have it work on all carriers
I believe the reason behind the embedded LTE SIMs has been the iDen SIMs… now with the iDen shutdown commencing and not being offered as new, the odds of them getting mixed up and intermingling will be lessened.
I love the look of the One but I do like a lot of the Samsung features and the bigger screen. This is harder than I thought
It’s a good thing the things I look in a phone is camera and media capabilities. =.P
And the Zoe feature would make uploading all my pictures to Facebook simpler No more will I need to upload each individual picture, because I never do. LoL!!
The HTC One has those front facing speakers and nearly nothing else over the S4. But I am completely content with my S3 right now (and under contract), but who wouldn’t love that 5″ Full HD screen and better battery, etc.
When u put it like that the One really doesn’t have much over the Same outside of the amazing build quality. I really want to see what Motorola brings to the table
Crap phones, like usual.
maybe for you but not for over 55 million people.
htc one sacrifices the 5″ screen and space on front for speakers and aluminum build.
so it’s terrible for people who use earphones with their phone because you just end up with a heavier, taller, thicker phone with less utilized space on the front for the screen. Which is also .3″ smaller.
Some might say HTC One feels like a premium device but the S4 actually is a premium device.
i wouldnt call it terrible for people who use earphones as the sound on the One is actually better overall so we hear. Beats audio baby.
Beats audio isn’t exactly something to be happy to be endorsed by… Lol… It is great for this phone but by god… The people who actually think beats pro headphones are decent headphones -sigh-
I keep directing people to other better quality brands that deliver a $400 sound point for their $400 headphones rather than a $70-$90 sound point for their $400 headphones.
lol well that depends on the audience of course, i for one would never buy beats headphones, i dont spend more than $20 on headphones because i will break them/dont want to baby sit huge over the ear headphones at the bar.
however, beats audio on the phone as an audio enhancer i really enjoy. Coming from an HTC phone (Evo LTE) to the Nexus 4, i will have to say that i do miss how loud the Evo was. If im watching the movie on the subway and a train goes by, i have to pause my movie because i cant hear it. That’s what i hate.
Beats audio? You’re kidding right? You fell for that?
what is there to fall for? I didnt buy the Evo because it had beats audio. I just noticed that the phone sounded better with beats audio enabled than it did with it off, or than my nexus 4 sounds. Have you ever actually used it or are you just talking smack because you dont like the beats headphone brand
Are you serious or are you just trolling? When I look at the HTC One, it doesn’t look like they sacrificed to me. Front facing stereo speakers, I think are a good thing and so is aluminum. To each his own though.
they sacrificed the removable battery AND the SD card. And btw .. please check out the properties of Aluminium. it is really nothing to shout about at all.
Google have a bad reputation on cutting corners, i hope that doesn’t come in to play with Motorola phones.
And the build is an illusion. There are complaints about the fits between the top and bottom speaker plate and the body .. and Aluminium is in fact the cheapest and one of the weaker and softer metal around! I probably sound like a broken record but it amazes me how many people actually do not know this fact.
:P waiting for Note 3?
Hm. I have an upgrade next month. Right when Verizon should be releasing theirs. Looks like its time to sell my soul for another two years. Haha. The negatives dont really bother me. I keep my phone in a case. I’m also sure it won’t be long before I flash an AOSP ROM on it anyway. Sold.
Well..the HTC looks nicer but I would probably go for the Samsung for the removable battery, possibly better camera and interesting technology.
I brought my HTC One back, battery life was pathetic, build quality sucked and after about 30 minutes running videos the phone was extremely hot.
I think you are talking about an alternate reality htc one :-) . Let’s be realistic and ignore fanboy way of thinking. Htc one has SO much better build quality over S4, it’s ridiculous. Asking so much money for a few childish features and some crappy plastic… Yeah, it will never cut it for me.
Materials used and build quality do not go hand in hand.
Exactly, something many fail to understand for some reason.
Sure, totally agree with you, but still… . The general feel of a cheap phone is always present with a galaxy phone. I’ve never owned an S3, but I did own an S2 for 2 years and was quite happy with it except for the materials (paint on the bezel surrounding the phone came off really ugly). Yes, it is indeed a materials used problem, but for an average end-user, the difference doesn’t really matter.
the main reason i am not buying the HTC one is plain and simple, no sdcard storage and i don’t trust HTC with timely updates other than that HTC is the best looking device ever made, but they keep on trying to be like apple too much by not giving people choices, not everyone care about sdcard but many people do, so why not put one in there anyway and if someone don’t want to use it then don’t use it but if someone wants to it is there why is that so hard.
I feel like I’m in the minority and probably am but SD storage does not matter to me. I’d rather not have all stuff on an SD card that can be taken out of my phone.
How does having the choice hurt you exactly? No one is forcing you to use SD storage if you don’t want to…buy why support a manufacturer that takes the choice away from you? What if you change your mind in the future and want SD storage?
Sigh, this is another thing that I hate about HTC. They are copying iFruity too much in that way, removing and taking away functions and choices in the name of “optimising” things and making it “idiot” proof
And it is all based on misinformation. Go read up on aluminium .. it is one of the cheapest and weaker and softer material around. Just because it feels cold to touch doesn’t mean that it is a good material. And because of its softness it gets scratched and dent easily. Sigh, why are people just so obtuse to facts?
So do not go on about material when both are basically comparable, unless they start using stainless steel.
Hey i thought Samsung wasn’t using guys anymore, didn’t you get fired?
I remember the days when the hate was between Apple users and Android users…now it seems to be between devices. Why can’t everyone agree that they are both great Android phones and be proud by that. You can’t go wrong with either phone!
post a screen shot of your receipt or stfu. you have a sense wallpaper as your avatar.
You never got HTC one, you’re just a troll. Deep down inside you know you made up the the comment above.
:P details details man. Which part of build quality sucks and how long did it last. But the phone getting hot is probably true from all the reviews.
I’m definitely picking the Galaxy S4 over HTC One only because I can add a MicroSD card. Just two months ago, my friends Galaxy S2 (yes, ironic) failed, and everything stored on the internal memory were lost. Yes, there’s the cloud storage available, but I use my MicroSD card for more than just storing music and pictures. I have several ISO’s, a few portable apps. It’s more of a Portable USB Drive. Plus, I don’t want my 64GB MicroSD card on my HTC EVO 3D to go to waste.
Just realize that SD Card mem is at best equal to if not more prone to fail than on board memory. So; it needs toe same backup discipline.
Easier to fix if it breaks however… also easier to get more files to carry around with you… I have a small case of 32gb and 64gb micro sd cards with my music and videos on them.
No more discipline and common sense than dealing with your other important data.
Exactly. SD card storage is incredibly handy.
I can tell you that do not look at the SD card as a savior. Say you will get it because of more control of your Storage management. Please invest in cloud storage. This SD cards can fail and you can lose everything stored on them. It happened to me when I had my Galaxy S2. Now über cause of that I do not care if a phone comes with an SD car slot or not.
And cloud storage can;t fail? :P And moreover cloud storage is going to COST you money ALL the time, not just monthly fee but data charges as well. So push off. SD card is great and it does NOT fail as often as you imply. It is prudent to back up your data to your main PC, but other than that, it should last for at least 2 years if not more.
Cloud storage failure rate is FAr less than an SD card. you don’t have to pay for cloud storage unless you are going to have well over 5 gigs of pictures, movies and documents. It is not about how often an SD card fails. It is about having immediate back ups. I know to also back up things on my computer. But my case was I was away on vacation and I can’t bring my computer and when taking photos on my trip on my phone, the SD card burned out and I lost a lot of stuff.
The Sprint S4 is a bit of a step back from the S3.
It doesn’t support SVDO (simultaneous voice and EVDO data). It does support SVLTE, as did the S3.
Hopefully Sprint network will be all SVLTE soon. SVDO is nice if you’re using 3G… I’m getting a bit tired of using 3G.
the network over there can be so backward? in a big country like that?
Pfff crappy galaxy plasticy dollar store phones. Why don’t you get a real phone!
(this post is sponsored by #htc)
Oh wait… It’s Samsung that pays people to trash other phones… My mistake, carry on new sheep.
Function over form, unlike HTC / Apple – form over function.
The HTC One is an Android phone, it still has at least 100x the capabilities of the iPhone.
now this I agree. it is not the best phone, but is still a good phone.
“new sheep” I like that better than “sheep in denial.”
problem is, there are actually things to trash :P
Now to be fair, HTC seems to have kick its habit of coming up with an achilles heel for all its premium phone, and HTC One is a good phone. But it decision to go down the path of excessive control makes it seems to like the iFruity company to me, with all the removal of users choice. First with non-removable battery, no sd card, then horrible sense interface that is battery sapping, and then decided that putting in an aggressive task killing setting which effectively kills multitasking is the ultimate solution for bad battery life … the list goes on.
But it is by no mean perfect. Some reviews and complaints on their forum talked about the slight misalignment between the speaker plate and and body and glass panel, while other talk about the lack of quality in daylight mid range and long range shoot (with scene that have lots of fine details) and the overheating and also about the unresponsiveness of their capacitive button (which is even more glaring since they removed the physical button)
What is impressive is the bigger screen in a smaller package. Performance looks great. But almost all the “new features” are gimmicks that IMHO will seldom if ever be used. Who wants to make big slow waving gestures that dont work half the time at your phone when its easier to swipe the screen? Exception: a few of the new photo tools look fun to try.
I guess when your hands are oily and nasty from eating, the waving gestures come in handy
I’ve gotten the feeling that they’re cramming these gimmicks in before Apple “invents” them.
Smart features on my note 2 are used constantly. they’re far from gimmicks. sure some features you may not use but it’s there for other who do and there are tons of useful features. can’t compete with billions in RnD. Kudos to Sammy. Beautiful phone this gs4.
Here is a situation that others may find handy with air gestures.
When you are baking and hands are messy and you want to scroll your screen displaying the recipe to reveal the next page. You don’t want to “dirty” the screen.
Any situation when you have dirty hands and do not want to dirty the screen.
and these photo tools will probably soon be available through another app in the play store. that’s the nice thing about open source.
mm so the Smart Pause is a gimmick to you? Good for you, but it will actually be useful for others. And the ability to activate your phone using the waving gesture is actually useful if you are using handfree on a phone.
The fact that they release these features means that there is a CHOICE for people. I don’t understand why people detest choices. Just because you cannot understand HOW to use it and you are not able to figure it out, doesn’t mean that it will NOT be useful for other people.
Yes; almost all these new “sw enhancements” are gimmicks. First; they only work on a few select apps. Navigation gestures have to be universal else they simply become confusing useless gimmicks. Why is this hurtful? Because they fill the device with useless complexity and make the whole product a mess. Samsung is also attempting to duplicate perfectly good native functions for their own less functional proprietary versions. Like Svoice (poor compared to native google) and translate (for two examples). They are crossing the line with all this bloatware just so they can list features on a box.
Load an alternate launcher and you will have a decent phone.
The brand recognition of the Galaxy line far, far beats out HTC. The S4 will without a doubt be THE winner this Year.
If HTC keeps a similar design as the One, with the front facing speakers and brings the same device to more carriers in 2014, HTC –might–gain some traction next year if the One gains them some brand recognition this Year.
But that’s what it’s all about, brand recognition.
There’s a lot of competition out there for our consumer dollars. And as exciting 2014 is with the S4 & HTC One, these manufactures Willie have to push themselves even more in 2014/2015 to compete for our mind share.
2013 will go to the S4, let’s wait and see if the HTC One gains any traction with consumers.
Air View works great in the internet browser! You can hover over pull-down menus to get more links. For example, in amazon hover over department menu to get all the departments.
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I heard so much comment about the One battery life being extremely poor. And my Nexus one sucked so hard that I can’t simply return with HTC anymore. On second hand, I really like my Galaxy Nexus..
I wish I could trust battery life reviews, but I actually use my phone as a phone, and the reviewers never seem to. On an average day, phone calls typically account for 20-30% of my battery usage. Not web browsing and watching videos. Who has time to do that crap all day?
whats using the other 70-80%?
Screen is 37% so far today, phone 15% (was in a 4 meeting, so little usage compared to a normal day), exchange services at 8%, etc, etc, etc.
I would actually much rather get the One, but I think because of the expandable storage and removable battery it’s going to have to be this. After the charging port going bad on my current phone, if the battery want removable I would have been screwed. And as far as the removable storage, I can live without it as long as there is at least 64gb onboard.
Too bad they don’t make metal cases…
someone might make a metal case, you never know. I wrap my iPhone 5 in a case because it is prone to scratches and dents. The case makes the phone material irrelevant for most of us.
Don’t be fooled by metal. Zinc, lead and copper are metal too, but you WILL never want to make a phone out of them. Aluminium alloy is slightly better than these but it nothing compared to modern plastic composites. That is why iPhone 5 is so easy to scuff and dent, Aluminium IS soft and weak as far as metal go. Its advantage lies in its weight and thus its strength to weight ratio. But when you pare a phone case down to mere millimetre, there is not much benefit to reap over here.
Now if they start making a phone out of stainless steel or tool steel, then there might be something to crow about. :P
Better than the HTC One with its smaller screen and less battery life. Most people will put their expensive new phone in a cover anyway, so aluminum or plastic doesn’t matter. If you did drop the S4, it would also not dent like the One would. Blinkfeed is also a bit irritating imo.
I have an HTC One and I don’t use a case…I can afford insurance. I’ve gotten tons of comments on the phone in just the last few days from co-workers, friends and even a few strangers.
S4 is a commodity. HTC One is a luxury brand.
The HTC One is a device for chumps and posers. You can “afford insurance”??? Insurance is a rip-off, the premiums and deductibles over a couple of years are as much as a new phone. For dumb people.
Why are you being such a fanboy?
lol you mean speaking the truth? If you have to justify a phone because you “can afford the insurance” you’re being a fan-boy.
He was talking about not using a case, jackass.
And you totally missed the point, idiot.
Maybe it’s more about people wanting to use the phone THEY (as in them, NOT YOU) want to use without your personal scrutiny. What’s it to you? Does your Samsung stock ride on what he owns? Are you that thick-headed that you have to diss HTC? Sounds like dick-riding to me and the correlation to fanboyism (yours, in particular) is strong. Personally, I’d be god-damned if you walked to me and said that you should just switch to Samsung or vice versa because YOU like it over another company.
He says he’s gotten tons of comments from people about the phone, so he’s obviously using it as a status symbol. In that regard, I guess the HTC One is the new iPhone.
only hardware-wise. It just seems that Samsung diehards are making themselves known like a JobsMob Apple-only fanboy. They’re pretty much equal, IMO. The point i’m still trying to make is that people shouldn’t impose what they like or dislike on others!
Well, I look at it like this… if somebody chooses a phone because of its features, because it has long battery life, because it feels very ergonomic in their hand, etc, then fine… more power to them. But if their main criteria for buying a phone is because of how ‘sexy’ it is, or how it makes them look, then they deserve as much ridicule as I can possibly give them. Why? Because in the end, we all suffer for their stupid decisions, as phone manufacturers spend more time making sure that the phone looks snazzy in order to cater to these sheeple, rather than focusing on how the phone actually works.
I’m really hoping that you’re not implying that I don’t look for your above stated features. Having said that, are you justifying imposing your opinions on others for the sake of what a phone manufacturer may steer towards simply because people look in the sexiness of a phone device? That’s a first. Ultimately, it’s an utter waste of energy. People telling others to go with Samsung (I know you’re implying Samsung.. you can NOT deny that) over HTC is like Apple fanboys telling other to go with Apple over Samsung. Do you know how incredibly dumb that sounds? It’s pretty damn dumb, yet it’s clear that the behavior is no different.
And your argument implying that phone manufacturers would cater to these sheeple, based on their input? mmm No. Otherwise, according to your logic, the S4 would have been built to look sexier with less features (again, your logic)? Yeah… no. Obviously, that’s not the case because has more, better features and hardware, and still manages to be sexy. Ultimately, I’m pretty sure Samsung and other like companies look for the input of power users over the majority of users who just use their S3/Note/whatever for Facebook, instagram, and texting. C’mon ,man.. just accept what I been repeating! Nobody should impose their opinion on others what they like or dislike! Let them decide on their own! ESPECIALLY with something as trivial as a cell phone! Jesus H. Christ!
‘Ultimately, it’s an utter waste of energy. People telling others to go
with Samsung (I know you’re implying Samsung.. you can NOT deny that)’
I was not implying anything. If you (and I don’t mean you specifically) bought a Samsung phone solely based on its sex appeal, I would hate you just as much :P Every time a new flagship phone comes out, there are always long discussions on blogs/forums such as this about how ugly (or not) the phone is, and it influences people’s purchasing decision. Why? It’s a f-king phone for christ’s sake, not a fashion statement. It could be orange for all I care.
That’s not a good thing.
what exactly is anyone posing as? they’re cell phones. not new era hats or ed hardy shirts. No one should EVER have a superiority complex over something is lame as a cell phone. I have insurance because sometimes my nights get too crazy and i might lose it.
Does insurance covers self inflicted dents and scratches? :P
What are you 13? We don’t need to show our phones off.
haha … luxury brand? Man how easily you are to con. You know that a sheet of aluminium cost way almost the same as an equivalent sheet of acrylic? And a sheet of ABS can cost almost three times that of an acrylic? Aluminium is NOT a premium material, get over it. IF they start using stainless steel or better materials, that is another matter.
Another thing, For everyone who wants to try not having a case .. be very careful about handling your phone. Aluminum case get scratches and dents easily, as it is a soft and weak material overall, as least as far as metal goes.
Ummm, have you read the other Samsung Galaxy S4 reviews (e.g – from The Verge, Gizmodo, Android Central and AnandTech)? Battery life was similar to the HTC One but the performance wasn’t. The HTC one performed better. And since when is a 4.7 inch screen considered small? Really!%?
What don’t you understand about the word “smaller”? It means it is not as big… Different from calling it small.
When the verge reviewer goes on about how the plastic body of S4 is a finger print magnet and so on, you know that he is having an agenda. The performance of S4 is even better than HTC One in all ways.
I for one will be going with the One. the difference between a 4.7″ and a 5″ screen is too small of a difference for me to care. Also, I’ll take the pixel density. I’m also a big fan of the aluminum design. I don’t drop my phones so i’m ok with it being more fragile. I’m really buying into the ultra pixel and boom sound features also. Blinkfeed seems pretty nice as well seeing as how i already use flipboard normally. This is definitely all about preference. one isn’t necessarily better. It’s great that i have the s4 to choose from but HTC is getting my money this time around for features that i’ve been begging for over a long time. Cheers to everyone and they’re decision to get an android phone.
We need a drop to settle the dispute between plastic and aluminum. If I have to put a case on my cellphone, it can’t be called build quality.
Touchwiz is still terrible. I have a Galaxy S3 and I’m running Cyanogen 10.1.
Y U NO SOUND EXCITED LIKE CHRIS REVIEWING?!
haha, sarcasm much?
Nice review. That extra 0.3″ of screen really does make a big difference. The screen is the most prominent feature of a phone and upgrading to a phone with the exact same screen size as your old phone, 4.7″, just seems like you’re missing out a bit. Also, I’m addicted to wireless charging. Time to go play with some phones in the store. Unless I completely fall in love with the One or the S4 during hands on time I’ll probably hold off for while on a upgrade.
I’ so sick of people saying “I was hoping that people would ask if thats the Galaxy S4” in a vain effort to be noticed for your phone-jewelry like a brain dead Apple fan who complained about the 4S looking like the 4.
Props on the Camden Yards panorama. Go O’s!
bunch of kids fighting over whose GI joes are better. phone wars are gay.
anyway, dont like the speaker here. their response to the placement on the S3 where the speaker would get blocked by your hand is to move it to the bottom? FAIL. put it on the front so the sound will come your way.
can someone explain to me why the plastic backing is a problem?
mmm yes the speaker can be a bit of a problem in such case if you want to listen to music. But for notification and alerts it works fine. But it will be a bit of a problem for those who do not use a head phone, although I do run with my S2 (I gave my upgrading rights to my wife) and it sounds clear and crisp then.
As for plastic backing, it is NOT a problem, in fact I love S2 back cover, since it is so flexible, it is amazing, you can almost never break it! But S3, because of the folds on the side, is not so visibly flexible but is tough as hell as well. So it only offend those who are lured by the illusion that Aluminium is a superior material, when it is in fact a cheapest and weaker and softer metal around.
I created a Google+ community so us Galaxy S4 owners can discuss our awesome device!
Why are you spamming this video over multiple articles?
Great review Kevin. Does not come across like a fan-boy review, unlike the other review.
I prefer function over form. Have the freedom of choice to use SD card storage, or swappable battery, or not, takes precedence over a phone that might look a bit nicer but lacks those options, and will be in a case anyway so really doesn’t matter.
you’ll be fine with the s3 then. not too much of a difference here since you’re all about function. i say this because you’re clearly biased towards samsung.
There are heaps of difference in terms of function and performance. Are you blind? Or are you blinded by your unseemly obsession over the mere physical appearance of the form (which is all an illusion as I said in the other post, it is more of a compromise than an advantage)
Although I still think it’s a bit big, it looks like a great smartphone and a solid update to the Galaxy line. I’d like it if they put the headphone jack on the bottom though, with such a huge phone it would be much cleaner.
Imagine if this thing came with stock Android. I’d be great running stock Key Lime Pie. I have no interest in TouchWiz or any other custom crap.
Also, why does the previewer keep saying “pretty much one of the best”. This clearly IS “one of the best”. It’s basically either the GS4 or the One right now for Android.
Sadly stock Android is dead right now since the geniuses at Google can’t make a quality Nexus for all carriers with LTE at $199.
it’s the software and screen mostly which is winning me over for the S4. I almost went with the One. I’ve always been a Samsung lover anyways too…
You guys who think the HTC One is a threat to the S4’s sales are out of touch with reality. Samsung says there’s such huge demand there will be a shortage shortly after launch.
I really can’t get over the ugly design, the plastic look, and the fact that it’s basically a carbon copy of the s3. Everyone I know has the s3 so I would really hate to have a phone that looks identical, not to mention I hate physical buttons and the build quality. My Galaxy nexus will probably be the last Samsung phone I ever buy, it still runs pretty great, but I’ve had my fair share of issues with the battery, USB charing tongue, and third party chargers in general. This is still probably an amazing phone, just like the iphone 5, but it’s definitely just not for me. I’m going to wait and hope Verizon picks up the HTC One like everyone keeps claiming, and if that doesn’t happen I’ll wait till the end of the year when the second round of phones comes out. Who knows, maybe Samsung will pick up their game with the Note 3.
The Iphone 5 is a really big let down. Not sure why you folks hate that
its close to the S3 in looks. The Iphones are all the same year after
Verizon probably won’t be getting the HTC One, we’re probably getting the HTC DNA 2 (Butterfly 2) instead but who knows.
First, it is not a carbon copy, unless you are blind. As for the design, by no stretch can it be called ugly, unless you come with an agenda. Identical and too similar to the previous design, I will grant you that.
As for plastic, O god, not another fool who bought into all those “superior” and “premium” quality of Aluminium. How will you feel now if I tell you that Aluminium is cheap (just slightly more expensive than cheap plastics like Acrylic and much more cheaper than even middling plastics like ABS?) and is one of the weaker and softer metal around?
Heck, these are not even news, even if you are not a material scientist … did no one learn anything from the fact that iPhone 5 scratches, scuff and dents to easily? In fact, just wiki it and you will find some basic information there itself, even if you are not bothered to read up details on material properties.
As for physical button .. well good luck to you. Just for your information, go to the HTC bug forum and you will see people complaining about the unresponsiveness of the capacitive buttons. It seems to affect quite a number of users, so hopefully HTC can patch it via a software patch (provided it is not a physical defect .. and yes capacitive button actually requires some hardware .. god forbid).
As for batteries, that is the reason to GET a phone with removable battery isn’t it?
and you blame the company for third party charger?
And please .. do not compare an android phone (any android phone) to iPhone, it is a gross and deadly insult, at the very least, and it will warrant a challenge to a duel if you are anywhere near me :P.
What is a “charging tongue”??? I’m very curious…
I don’t understand why the plastic build is a negative. This should be a positive. Aluminum feels gross in your hand.
Tried the one and the metal is too sharp and not comfortable to hold… An aluminium S4 would be nice but would also cause too much delays and quality issues.
Yeah I am not sure what the big deal is about plastic. The phones today are not built like the phones from a few years ago. The HtC incredible I had had possibly the worst build quality ever. I upgraded to the fascinate which was better but still a little creaky. The Galaxy Nexus build quality was much improved although the back can be creaky. Them there is the s3. I have not touched an s3 that has creaked. I think Samsung has finally figured out how to make a plastic phone that feels very sturdy and nice in your hand. I do wish the ring on the s4 was metal. I don’t understand why they would make it out of plastic and make it look like metal.
I think people are trying to find an alternative to Samsung… The One that I demoed was already scratched in the back… The scratch ruined the whole aesthetics of it… Screen was also overrated, maybe because I’m used to AMOLED, I found that it wasn’t that vibrant. It is super sharp and reading is a pleasure. The speakers are incredible, very loud and clear. The best speakers on a mobile device. Reviews are overwhelming for the One but in person the device has nothing that spectacular. I don’t think you should focus everything on the build quality, because at the end of the day you are using the device more than you are looking at it. I’m still going for the S4 since it has so much more to offer with the new screen and sensors, more developer support, expandable storage and removable battery. It was a great step in the right direction for HTC, if they keep going I might switch to their next flagship, I open to buying the best device.
To be fair, HTC phone is not suppose to be more vibrant, but is suppose to produce more “Accurate” colour … but then again, I don’t think dull accurate colour will appeal more to users of a phone than a vibrant colour. And it is not as if S4 screen has GROSS misrepresentation of colour. They are just talking about slight shift in the colour gamut, which is mostly unnoticeable in daily use by normal user, I will reckon. Of course, if it bothers you that much, at least you have a choice .. or lots of choices in Android.
If you look at the displaymate screen review the S4’s color accuracy is very good compared to older amoled displays
I believe they actually found a sweet spot with a sufficiently high grade plastic composites that is cheap enough to be used as the casing for a phone.
As for that ring, I agree, Maybe it is a compromise the designer have to make to placate the demand from clueless executives who wants “some metal” on the phone. :P
Btw, some metal are weak and soft as well. :P
The ridiculous amount of space between the dock and the rest of the home screen on the TouchWiz launcher always bugged me. The screen indicator doesn’t need that much space to itself. Other than that I’m really digging the S4 and if Moto/Google don’t bring something new and exciting to the table soon then the S4 will likely be replacing my GNex.
I really want the Htc one I like the front facing speakers and love the Lcd3 display also from the reviews ive read the camera takes great lowlight shots
yes but so far, mediocre mid range daylight shot, especially obvious are the lost of details in letterings and other fine details and textures. So it is a compromise, just know what you are buying into first, don’t buy into the hype, we are not iSheeps.
Here’s what we thought of the samsung galaxy s4 vs the htc one.
Check it out
Look you people, EVERYONE AND ANYONE have different taste stop bsing over what’s better at the end of the day the fucking dude is gonna get what he want, this two phone are nice but each phone is made for someone that fits there needs or wants. My answer the s4 software is amazing but the one has beats and the design is fucking sexy PERIOD
I have the Samsung Google Nexus, love the phone. The specs/review on this phone look great, however I’m holding out on the upcoming Galaxy Note 3 this fall.
Still waiting for Note 3 before I upgrade my Note 2
Really nice phone but if I were to go back to android then I would pick either the HTC One or the Galaxy S3. Those extra features in the Galaxy S4 aren’t impressive and the Galaxy S3 is still a great lower cost choice not considering the processing power. the HTC One is straightforward and innovative without all the frills that wouldn’t get much use being just as powerful.
… I would agree, except that many of the new features are actually useful – like smart pause (for video viewing) and the air wave (for use when in car). Granted it is situational, but then ain’t all feature suited for different situations as well?
Don’t be fooled by all these reviews that bashed these features as been not “beginner” friendly. They do not even require an activation code or anything to use, as long as you turn them off. And the best thing is, you can turn them OFF, when you don’t need them.
Speak for yourself. if Samsung ever sealed their phone, drove of customer will look for alternative. AND battery life has NOT improve that much and after one year or two, you DO have to change the battery.