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Samsung Galaxy S4 Review

Samsung Galaxy S4 9.3
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Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Introduction

Another year, another Galaxy S phone! Since the very first Galaxy S, which came out in 2010, Samsung has been regularly refining and improving its formula for success in the mobile industry. It is mainly thanks to this series of handsets that the manufacturer is now enjoying lush revenue streams and having a profound influence over the whole Android ecosystem.

Today, the Galaxy S phones stand for approachable design, superb performance and premium features. By the looks of it, the new Galaxy S4 is going to have all three components. But will it see the same outstanding success as its predecessors?

The market landscape this year is different from what it was in previous years. The competition is no longer as confused and unprepared as it used to be. For the first time ever, the Galaxy S smartphone of the year will have to go against some very tough Android-powered opponents like the marvelous HTC One and Sony Xperia Z, both of which offer impressive designs and unique features. Has Samsung managed to come up with enough goodies to make the Galaxy S4 the undisputed king of the Android jungle, or will the throne be stolen by some of the other contenders?

The smartphone wars are getting more and more intriguing. The battle which used to be between two powerful factions has grown into a full-blown massacre now that the other parties have joined. The Galaxy S4 is here, so let's take a good look at it and try to determine its chances of being the last phone standing!

Samsung Galaxy S4 is a true engineering achievement - it has a bigger display than its predecessor, yet its overall dimensions are smaller. - Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 is a true engineering achievement - it has a bigger display than its predecessor, yet its overall dimensions are smaller. - Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 is a true engineering achievement - it has a bigger display than its predecessor, yet its overall dimensions are smaller. - Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 is a true engineering achievement - it has a bigger display than its predecessor, yet its overall dimensions are smaller. - Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 is a true engineering achievement - it has a bigger display than its predecessor, yet its overall dimensions are smaller. - Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 is a true engineering achievement - it has a bigger display than its predecessor, yet its overall dimensions are smaller. - Samsung Galaxy S4 Review

Samsung Galaxy S4 is a true engineering achievement - it has a bigger display than its predecessor, yet its overall dimensions are smaller.



Design

It's not that the appearance of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is untouched compared to the one of the S III, but let's just say that the design language is almost identical. Still, we have to acknowledge the fact that the manufacturer has refined the exterior a bit. Even then, the Galaxy S4's appearance isn't anything to write home about. Its main virtues are that it's not bad and it's comfortable to hold, despite the considerable dimensions.

The latter is not only due to the ergonomic shape of the product, but also to the nice glossy plastic material that's been used for the casing. If you've touched a Galaxy S III, the GS4's plastic feels exactly the same way. As always, it attracts fingerprints, but that's not a major problem. The nonslippery, pleasant-to-touch finish more than makes up. The design of the back side is rather bland, as it only houses the camera, LED flash, Samsung logo and tiny speaker grill.

Samsung Galaxy S4
5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S III
5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches
136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm
4.69 oz (133 g)

Samsung Galaxy S III

HTC One
5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches
137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

HTC One

Sony Xperia Z
5.47 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches
139 x 71 x 7.9 mm
5.15 oz (146 g)

Sony Xperia Z


To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.


The GS4 is a true engineering achievement, as it packs a larger screen than the GS III, but manages to be a bit smaller and lighter at the same time!

All physical keys on the Galaxy S4 function very well. That includes the Home, Power/Lock and Volume buttons. Of course, some of them could be even better, namely the volume rocker, but they won't cause you any trouble the way they work now.

If we have to describe our feelings towards the SGS4's design in a single sentence, we would say that it isn't anything to write home about, but it works. We still dislike the fact that the back cover is a thin, flimsy piece of plastic, but at least it has a pleasant in-hand feel to it.


Display

Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
The Galaxy S4 comes with a wonderful display! Similarly to many high-end Android handsets this year, its diagonal measures 5 inches. The resolution is, of course, 1080 x 1920 pixels. With a pixel density of 441 ppi, it's obvious that the display is incredibly sharp and detailed. It's still a Super AMOLED screen, though, which means that the inherent pros and cons of the technology are all present here.

As before, this Super AMOLED screen by Samsung uses a PenTile matrix, but the manufacturer has tweaked the technology a bit, adding an additional green subpixel to each pixel. This, combined with the high pixel density means that you won't be able to notice the pixelization problems observed with the early PenTile screens. On the screen of the Galaxy S4, everything is smooth and free of graininess.

Needless to say, colors are quite vivid and saturated. They make for an amazing multimedia experience (images, video, games...), but aren't particularly natural, which might be irritating to some, or in some cases. Thankfully, there's an option allowing you to tone the saturation down a bit and make the colors look a bit more realistic.

As you would expect out of an AMOLED screen, viewing angles are terrific, though there's some color degradation observed when you're viewing the handset at more extreme angles, but this generally isn't a problem.

Outdoor visibility isn't top-notch, because the screen can't get very bright. We mean, it's bright, but definitely not the brightest out there. As a result, viewing will be difficult if you're outside and it's a beautiful, sunny day. The brightness can also be set very low, but again, it would have been better if it could go even lower, so as to make using the handset in the dark a bit more comfortable for our eyes.




Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 289
(Poor)
9
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7316
(Good)
2.16
5.52
(Average)
7.31
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S III 294
(Poor)
20
(Poor)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7990
(Average)
2.14
7.67
(Average)
6.11
(Average)
HTC One 460
(Good)
14
(Poor)
1:1758
(Excellent)
8008
(Poor)
2.21
5.89
(Average)
5.33
(Average)
Sony Xperia Z 440
(Good)
21
(Poor)
1:799
(Average)
8250
(Poor)
1.93
4.94
(Average)
6.23
(Average)
View all


Samsung Galaxy S4 360-Degrees View:



528 Comments
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posted on 24 Mar 2013, 05:36

303. Trex95 (Posts: 1002; Member since: 03 Mar 2013)


Okay i got it. But due to the android need more power than other OS, why didn't made the LITTLE A9?! i understand that will effect the battery life but not big of deal cause Samsung still can offer bigger battery.

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:18 137

1. lee480 (Posts: 197; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


Sorry. Either buying the HTC One or Xperia Z.

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:23 114

10. abdane (Posts: 494; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)


can you tell me why are the htc one and the xperia z better than the GS4 ? other than the design... unless, all what you want is the design ???

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:30 3

22. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Why don't you buy both....?

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:30 107

23. lee480 (Posts: 197; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


Can you tell me why the S4 is better than Xperia Z and the HTC One?
For me-
I do not care about what type of CPU. Does not affect real world performance.
I do not like screens that displays inaccurate colours nor do I care about viewing angles.
It's more a usability question. I do not like cheap flimsy Samsung plastic. I prefer premium materials. Dislikes oncoming. :)

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:35 18

28. wendygarett (unregistered)


Gs4 is pentile? OMG is it true Ray?

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:36 68

30. SleepingOz (unregistered)


"Can you tell me why the S4 is better than Xperia Z and the HTC One?"

The answers are found in your own comment, it's all the things you're pretending not to care about. =3

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:38 5

31. zuckerboy (banned) (Posts: 898; Member since: 22 Dec 2011)


ok gtfo then

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 13:09 5

119. DanishDynamite (Posts: 44; Member since: 28 Feb 2013)


Okay, i don't know about you, but i don't want to look like an idiot :D I totally respect what Samsung has done with the S 4, it is a marvelous piece of engineering, but i just have some other priorities, like Boomsound and the alumunium-body, so let's just stop this, we won't agree anyways :D but seriously, calling me "stupid" is not right, i use a lot of time at phonearena, android authority and other webpages, i know more then most grown men about phones. and i'm just telling you that they, yes they work simultaneously, but only when it's big.LITLLE MP, and the S 4 doesn't use MP :D no hate

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:46 30

36. wendygarett (unregistered)


Oh well, HTC SLCD 3 with 468ppi win once again :p

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:51 33

41. BillyG (Posts: 305; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


let them enjoy their dead-water-resistant-paperweight (XperiaZ) and HTC One with its bad battery and wait-forever-update. soon we'll enjoy seeing them complaining that the updates took forever (as usual with htc...) and those bad batteries (and if something wrong happened, they'll have to exchange the whole phone, and HTC cust. service aren't famous for their services...) and that physical build that called for scratch, dents, chamfered edges probs (like what happened to those iCons). soon they'll understand what those iConUsers feel when they drop their phones.

and in few months, we can eat our popcorn while waving our hands on our S4 reading their agony and be thankful we didn't make those mistakes...

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:51 16

42. ABDULGHAFOOR (Posts: 104; Member since: 04 May 2012)


Once again Plastic got 9.3 rating.

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:52 38

44. abdane (Posts: 494; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)


cpu and screen are hardware, all phones now are similar in hardware... software is the thing... and the GS4 features blows both the one and the xperia z !

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:43 10

97. BillyG (Posts: 305; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


please enhance your knowlegde before writing something stupid. that 'plastic' is polycarbonate, the same material with Lumia Series, and also HTC One X/+ only with different finish (some glossy, matte, etc.) i really do hope you can see the 'light' now...

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:56 8

45. LonghornTech (Posts: 50; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


Had this score been lower than the HTC One the One would have been an easy choice, but you can not fault Samsung for great features.

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 11:58 10

49. RapidCat (Posts: 351; Member since: 12 Jun 2012)


because S4 did not use iPhone round corner patent design.
and xperia Z is upgly device

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:00 2

52. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1345; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


Too bad that both phones will not make it to Verizon. The S4 "will" be the top selling Android phone in 2013. No other way to cut it. If HTC had released the One globally right after the announcement on every major carrier it would have been a different story.

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:06 5

57. LonghornTech (Posts: 50; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


I really think that low light photos should have been tested for this review and if they are not good they should be added to the negatives. Recent phones have stepped up the low light photography and it is something that should be taken in to account.

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:10 9

65. RapidCat (Posts: 351; Member since: 12 Jun 2012)


agree with you BillyG. and i can't wait to see hwat samsung offer with Premium Suite. this is only the 1st software implementation.

one thing i can sure is "Samsung Orb Photo", they say its better than google sphere

@ DanishDynamite, i think htc use the cheap metal :) why not build their phone with titanium, gold or silver, that is premium. or can htc make their own model, not use iPhone and Blackberry or SGS 1 model?
htc fast company, One ship with 4.1.2, S4 with 4.2.2???? how htc fast update company?

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:07 20

59. DanishDynamite (Posts: 44; Member since: 28 Feb 2013)


HAHAHA!!! that was very entertainingm because a farely new report shows that HTC is the fastest company, when it comes to updating their phones... Well, except from Apple and Google... :D hey, and you forgot to mention the Samsung Galaxy S 4 (cheap plastic, that doesn't feel like a premium device at all. And the misleading "Octa-core" that actually just 4+4... And the useless S-features that they have added...)

HTC One FTW!!!!!!!

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:09 7

64. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Candy bar edge2edge with no curve phones look more stylish sexy and slick then iPhone ugly looks! Look at Oppo5....!
So you like Plasama TV with round curves and not with sharp edges! Phones that have curves look ugly!

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:13 3

67. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


That's right! Look what happened when the S3 came out, everyone complained it was ugly, but still people, fans, users, consumers went and bought it! So did I, I said I won't be buying this hideous phone, but I fell for it due to "specs and cause of that Exynos CPU"

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:18 1

69. chistoefurpuffer (Posts: 140; Member since: 11 Mar 2013)


Lol have fun with that already surpased technology and software. x:

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:20 2

71. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


So it goes like this

1 Galaxy S4
2 Htc One
3 Experia Z

Or

1 Htc One
2 S4
3 Experia Z

Or

1 Galaxy S4
2 Experia Z
3 Htc One

Or

1 Experia Z
2 Htc One
3 Galaxy S4

Sony Fans
Samsung Fans
Htc fans

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:21 3

72. DanishDynamite (Posts: 44; Member since: 28 Feb 2013)


Iphone? Blackberry? SGS 1? uhm, it uses aluminium like the iPhone 5 yes... but that doesn't mean that they copied anything. Blackberry, yes, it has that speaker at the bottom, but the Blackberry Z10 hasn't got that...? And the SGS 1...? WTF has that in common with the One? the screen? NAh. The Processor? Nah. Oh, now i know, the camera? No... Wait.

search for "Htc is fastest at updating their phones" and then look at that phonearena article...

Red it? okay, then i only have one thing left to say... EAT

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:25 6

74. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)


I am pretty sure it is. Even so, I think the average consumer takes more daytime photos so they should obviously carry more weight. Nokia and HTC honestly should have held back this technology until daytime photos were on par. Or at least give us an option to switch between 4 ultra pixels and 13mp.

That is the beauty of the GS4. You don't like the Samsung risk taking, you turn it off.

You don't like blink feed or 4 ultra pixels, too bad it will either make your day time photos suffer or blink feed runs in the background unless you root, voiding your warranty.

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:27 22

76. BillyG (Posts: 305; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


lol, tell that to one x/+ users... ask them who get the latest android update first, GS3/Note2 users or those one x/+ users... and i won't start lecturing you about the diff. between Polycarbonate and 'cheap plastic' , you'll only see what you wanna see... btw, enjoy your so called 'premium' build, but don't come crying because of the dent, scratches, or discoloration of the plastic between the metals (i already read this problem on a german forum since the HTC already released there).

i'll give it 3 months, and i'll enjoy reading those complaining of HTC One, it'll certainly brighten my day... :D

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:27 21

77. SleepingOz (unregistered)


I'd really like to see this "farely new report".

Again the old "cheap plastic" argument.
Plastic(polycarbonate) is more suitable for phone than aluminium, One X, L920 and even my GNOTE II are clear examples! Aluminium doesn't absorb shocks well and is also prone to bending, scratches and dents. Not to forget signal and NFC interference.

"And the misleading "Octa-core" that actually just 4+4"
You, sir, is an ignorant.

"Heterogeneous Multi-Processing (HMP)

This is the other actual implemented function mode of a big.LITTLE CPU. In this case, all 8 cores can be used simultaneously by the system.

This is a vastly more complex working mechanism, and its implementation is also an order of magnitude more sophisticated. It requires the kernel scheduler to actually be aware of the differentiation of between the A7 and A15 cores. Currently, the Linux kernel is not capable of doing this and treats all CPUs as equals. This is a problem since we do not want to use the A15 cores when a task can simply me processed on an A7 core with a much lower power cost.

The Linaro working-group already finished the first implementation of the HMP design as a series of patches to be applied against the Linux 3.8 kernel. What they did is to make the scheduler smart enough to be able to track the load of single process entities, and with that information to schedule the threads smartly on either the A7 cores or the A15 cores. This achieves much lower latency in terms of switching workloads, or better said, switching the environments (CPUs) to the respective work-loads, and exposes the full processing capabilities of the silicon as all cores can be used at once.

You can follow the advancements of this in the publications of the Linaro Connect summits that happen every few months. The code was only published in the middle of February this year for the first working implementation equivalent in power consumption to the IKS."

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2191850

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:32 1

81. DanishDynamite (Posts: 44; Member since: 28 Feb 2013)


That awkward moment when you find out that i'm a 14 year old boy from Denmark... And no, they don't work simultaneously, that's the whole point about it....

posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:35 9

84. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 1116; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


The HTC One has bad battery? LMAO. GSMArena proves you wrong, isn't 13 hours and 38 minutes of talk time, 9 hours and 58 minutes of web browsing and 10 hours of movie playing enough for you with an overall rating of 48 hours? You know unlike some websites *cough* phonearena *cough* some actually test the battery of the device instead of giving their opinion.

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Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

OS: Android 5.0 4.4.2 4.3 4.2.2
view full specs
Display5.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (441 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera13 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, Quad-core, 1900 MHz, Krait 300 processor
2 GB RAM
Size5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches
(136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm)
4.59 oz  (130 g)

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