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Samsung Galaxy S4 Review

The flagship phone from Samsung is truly a worthy upgrade. See why in our review.

In the tech world today Samsung the Galaxy S4 is their flagship device not just for Samsung Mobile but the company overall. Much of their years momentum rides on how successful this one smartphone is. Coming off the success of the Galaxy S3 the S4 had to prove it wasn’t just a small upgrade and worthy of standing out on its own. Does Samsung succeed in that?

Similar Design But Noticeable Improvements

There is no getting around it when you first look at the Galaxy S4 it really does look a lot like the Galaxy S3. Similar shape and design. Can’t blame Samsung for doing this as its a design that has work well for them. They did however make some key changes to the S4 so when you hold it you know you have a much different device. One of the elements I like is the chrome trim around the side of the phone. It gives it a better feel and grip when held in the hand. The home button and most of the buttons in general click down better than the S3. Small change that it may be but it’s noticeable with everyday usage. The phone is lighter and thinner then the S3 while the screen size has increase to 5 inches. There is a small hump on the back of the phone for the camera which is 13 megapixels. It doesn’t off-balance the phone when laid flat and doesn’t get in the way when you hold it.

Now one thing that may will complain about is the phone is build using poly carbonate materials or simply very strong plastic. So some may feel its cheap because of this. I find personally that this isn’t a problem. As long as  the phone had a solid built to it the materials to me don’t matter as much. Some will disagree with this and you can get into a deeper debate but for now if you don’t like your phone made of plastic then the S4 won’t be for you. If you’re not too particular about it then you’ll find the phone has a solid build.  Overall the S4 comes with the right improvements over its predecessor.

Beautify HD Display That Will Be A Joy To Look At Everyday

Displays are one of the most important elements of a smartphone. It’s what you look at multiple times a day when your using it. Samsung put a 5 inch 1080p Super AMOLED HD display inside the Galaxy S4. It’s sharp, vivid and wonderful to look at. The screen does give an extra pop of color so it won’t be the most accurate in terms of realistic color schemes but you’ll find that having such a large display for watching video and looking at pictures to be a great feature to have.

Improved Software & Improved Experience

For a smartphone to be good it has to not only have the specs but also have the software to back it up. Samsung threw pretty much everything and the kitchen sink into this version of Touch Wiz which is based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Everyday use has been a pleasant experience. Your typical smartphone tasks work as they should and provides a smooth experience. I am particularly fond of Samsung’s E-mail app which is great for corporate e-mail using Microsoft Exchange and the calendar app which at first I didn’t like but after getting use to it I then became fond of it. The Samsung keyboard is made by Swiftkey and is a major improvement over Samsung’s keyboards of the past. I still personally prefer to use the original Swifkey keyboard for more options and key size but for most this will work well for them.

One of the major software features is the air and motion gestures with Air View, Smart Scroll, Smart Stay and Air Gestures.  They play a big part in the phone’s performance and can be customized to what you want to use. Most of these features work and some will feel cool to use and some will feel kinda useless. We go deeper into the software with our Galaxy S4 Software tour here so I would suggest checking that out for deeper details.

Battery life is just a bit better than the Galaxy S3. You can go about 12-14 hours on one charge and a little as 8 hours depending on usage. I’m using about 4 e-mail accounts and several social networks, Google Play Music and messenger programs daily and it goes about 11 hours before needed a charger during the day. I’m of course a power user so for someone who may be going a bit lighter on their phone should be able to squeeze another 2-3 hours out of the phone. As for call quality, It’s solid people can hear me and I can hear them. The speakerphone could be a bit better at its loudest levels but more than adequate for use.

The 1.9 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM  keeps things running month and very little lag notice. To me there is lag in every smartphone it really just depends on the level and how much of it you see and for Touch Wiz this time around there is very little in my experience.  I’ve found overall that the software is solid and will work for more users.

13 Megapixel of Wonderful Camera Photos

The 13 Megapixel camera in the Galaxy S4 provides some of the best pictures and video available on a smartphone today. Images are crisp and sharp and stand out while video is smooth and high quality. You get a ton of camera modes to make the camera experience even better in the S4. My favorite has been Dual Shot which takes advantage of not only the main camera but the 1.9 Megapixel front facing camera as well to get you into the shot. It works for both video and picture and has a ton of modes and skins to use it with. I also found night mode to be particularly good for the S4. There are cameras that still beat it for night shots but the ones I took with it came out well which you’ll see the sample pictures below.  The camera will be great for those that love to get that perfect shot and Samsung gives you the tools to do it.

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Is A Winner..Minute Some Small Caveats

While there is a lot of good things about the Galaxy S4 there are some things there aren’t so great. I’m not a big fan of the storage options. They give you build it 16 GB  for the base model but you only get around 9.62 GB of that to actually use for storage with 6 GB of that available for regular use. I know you can add more storage with a micro SD card but there are some apps that take up a lot of local storage that you can’t move to a SD card.  To me the 16 GB model is false advertising when it comes to storage and Samsung should look to give user some of that storage back or just make the 32 GB model the base model like many other companies have done with their smartphone offerings.

Even with that small caveat the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a clear winner and a phone I have no issue in recommending. For Galaxy S2 owerns this is the upgrade to get. Galaxy S3 owners should only upgrade if they want an improved camera and plan to use some of the new features in Touch Wiz. However many of those features will eventually make its way down to the S3 in an update in the future. For now Samsung has put out the top smartphone of 2013. This could of course change throughout the rest of the year but as of now it’s a hard phone to beat and it may old be surpassed by Samsung themselves when they release the Galaxy Note III.



Galaxy S4 Product Shots


Galaxy S4 Camera Pics



About the author

Warren Bowman

I have a deep passion for everything tech. From gadgets to gaming I get it all and love giving my opinions, reviews and analysis on all things tech. Live Your Tech World In High Definition!


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