Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
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.
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.
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
4.59 oz (130 g)
136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm
4.69 oz (133 g)
137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)
139 x 71 x 7.9 mm
5.15 oz (146 g)
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.
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.
Samsung Galaxy S4 images Fullscreen
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Samsung Galaxy S4 images
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|
|Sony Xperia Z||440
|Samsung Galaxy S III||294
|Samsung Galaxy S4||288
The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.
|Maximum brightness Lower is better||Minimum brightness Lower is better||Contrast Lower is better||Color temperature Lower is better||Gamma Lower is better||Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better||Delta E grayscale Lower is better|
|Samsung Galaxy S4||0%
|Samsung Galaxy S III||No data
|Sony Xperia Z||No data
The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy.
The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential (target) values.
Drag the picture or use the keyboard arrows to rotate the phone. Double click or press keyboard Space to zoom in/out
1. lee480 (Posts: 141; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)
Sorry. Either buying the HTC One or Xperia Z.
10. abdane (Posts: 450; 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 ???
23. lee480 (Posts: 141; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)
Can you tell me why the S4 is better than Xperia Z and the HTC One?
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. :)
30. SleepingOz (Posts: 2013; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)
"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
44. abdane (Posts: 450; 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 !
95. Feanor (Posts: 184; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
Depends one's point of view; The S4 is the one with the most software enhancements but to me most of them are gimmicky and I could imagine myself disabling in real life most of them. And if on top of that I get annoyed everytime I switch on the screen to see what 'life is...' according to Samsung in horrible faux hand written font, I'd go for the modern UI of the One or the neutral aesthetics of the Z.
266. kclgphilsbsa (Posts: 762; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)
no no no, smart stay smart scroll and smart pause are only the real gimmicks but theyr opening for some revolutionary thiings in the future regading being smarter with eye tracking tech..
108. Jack58221 (Posts: 120; Member since: 23 Feb 2013)
just like the gs3, most of those features are pointless. I know I would end up turning most of them of right out of the box, and never be using others. Bah my phone against a friend phone when I will not see them for a few hours, our just text/email them? Eye tracking meet ADHD... Yeah, it all goes off right away.
So for me, outside viewing and aluminum body, or inside only with plastic body.
472. giri555 (Posts: 95; Member since: 15 Mar 2012)
"Features" - 90% of buyers won't use those gimmicy "features"..whats the sense and logic?
49. RapidCat (Posts: 340; Member since: 12 Jun 2012)
because S4 did not use iPhone round corner patent design.
and xperia Z is upgly device
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!
461. phonemonkey (Posts: 135; Member since: 13 Feb 2012)
Say something that makes sense,
Please I'm begging you
107. monkeytown (Posts: 84; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)
if you favor the XZ, apparently you care about one of the worst displays ever, an overhyped but crappy camera and of course the wrongly designed loudspeaker, that you block with your own hand
183. AshishRomea (Posts: 136; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)
i own an Xperia Z , people who have seen it call it better than all the phones out der ! Display is very good & camera is great ! persnal experience!
265. kclgphilsbsa (Posts: 762; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)
oh users withn talk.sonymobile.com say otherwise :D
bugs left & ryt :D speaker, call quality, battery, stmina mode, screen, signal, camera, laggy homescreen, death etc
193. therealestmc (Posts: 128; Member since: 23 Jul 2012)
I am going out on a limp and say you have never seen the phone personally. You are just going off what others have said. Tell me I am wrong. Unlikely, though.
126. umadddd (banned) (Posts: 29; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
LOL my sides ahahhaha
since when was cheap recycled soda can aluminum premium? LOLLLLL
263. kclgphilsbsa (Posts: 762; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)
"its more a usability question"??
yet u can only mention abt the plastic? is it related to usability?
by the way when we talk abt usability, Galaxy s4 was called by some experts to hit LIFESTYLE, thats usability.. it hits Health, display adaptation for every uses, Group PLay for the benefit of several group interactions, Feature-packed camera for fun and simple photography uses, MULTITASKING, AIR GESTURES have their uses esp when your eating something and that hover hover drop down is really cool and useful, etc im tired coz i have lots to say
anyway HTCone and Galaxy s4 are my favor8s
get that Xperia Z and fix everything abt it so the users of that f**king phone will not be sad..
273. zackdbassist (Posts: 22; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)
Better camera on S4, better multitasking on S4(Read Multi-Window), screen can be tuned according to your preference and then it is far superior to z's screen even in terms of contrast, better battery backup for sure(Read bigger battery), smaller and lighter chassis,
Sony on the other hand is waterproof and looks really good.Apart from this there is nothing that the S4 can't do better. Just my 2 cents.
319. xtremesv (Posts: 170; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)
I say it again, you must be among the minority of people who use their smartphones without a protective aftermarket case just for other people to admire the dented or scratched aluminum/glass body.
396. kclgphilsbsa (Posts: 762; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)
the final hardware unit has better call quality.. gsmarena has the final hardware unit :)
so it isnt one of the cons now..
28. wendygarett (unregistered)
Gs4 is pentile? OMG is it true Ray?
36. wendygarett (unregistered)
Oh well, HTC SLCD 3 with 468ppi win once again :p
112. monkeytown (Posts: 84; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)
don´t expect to see any pixel with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 ;)
so, yeah it is pentile, but it doesn´t matter
308. dragonite99 (unregistered)
pentile with extra subpixel.. its as good as RGB
41. BillyG (Posts: 303; 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...
59. DanishDynamite (Posts: 16; 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!!!!!!!
76. BillyG (Posts: 303; 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
391. gtrxman (Posts: 101; Member since: 10 Sep 2011)
And I suppose you prefer vinyl seats to leather in your car...
77. SleepingOz (Posts: 2013; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)
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."
81. DanishDynamite (Posts: 16; 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....
91. SleepingOz (Posts: 2013; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)
Here you go, kid.. =]
109. DanishDynamite (Posts: 16; Member since: 28 Feb 2013)
Oh you are so right! I know nothing about phones. But just one last question, where the f**k does it say anything about the S 4 using big.LITLLE MP? oh... nowhere, so before thinking you are better, get it right. I'm having a good time being smarter then two older gentlemens, that thinks they know more than me, FUNNY! Don't embaress yourselfs :D
120. SleepingOz (Posts: 2013; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)
The GSIV won't be using the Heterogeneous Multi-Processing because it will drain the battery drastically but that doesn't mean it can't!
It's called the magic of XDA.
Anyway, the GSIV has a real octo-core processor. So, again, your argument about the Exynos 5 Octa being a quadcore gimmick is invalid. =]
Btw you're the one embarassing yourself here, for talking about things you know nothing about.
121. DanishDynamite (Posts: 16; Member since: 28 Feb 2013)
Just sayin, not everybody knows how to root their phone... :D
135. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
So OZ has a valid point! It's like when you buy a sports car you can modify the exhaust turbine pistons raise the Engine Management and obtain a further BHP and Tourque which makes the whole car as it should be, not restricted as if as standard!
Yes Rooting is kinda simple if you follow instructions!
275. zackdbassist (Posts: 22; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)
See kiddo, talking the way you are is not helping your argument. And when someone who knows more than you is actually sharing something that would help you know more, then grasp the info with both your arms open. Htc offers one of the best products in the market but isn't that good in all aspects.
And the exynos 5 octa used in s4 is indeed based on Arm's big.Little architecture. Go, get your facts right , , provide us with some concrete evidence(Read source) that HTC updates their product faster. If this is not possible then change your name to DanishPastry instead of Dynamite, that'll suit your age and the way you talk better. Grow up kiddo or at least show some respect to the people who know more, being a fan of some brand is not bad but then you are not someone who appreciates technology.
Add a p after htt in the above link and see for yourself that exynos 5 octa is all about big.LITTLE architecture.
286. taz89 (Posts: 1770; Member since: 03 May 2011)
The exynos 5 octa core is a big.little cpu..arm used this CPU at MWC to show off the big.little features...
388. Dark4o90 (Posts: 205; Member since: 20 Feb 2011)
ooo the big guy from samsung and the big guy from ARM said that BIG-LITTLE is there, and you think you know everything ho ho ho, when you don't know something it doesn't mean it's not true, just don't say anything you don't know for sure and learn ENGLISH "embaress"
467. wh3resmycar (Posts: 3; Member since: 05 May 2013)
hey dumbass. big.LITTLE is an design for cortex A15. seriously. just go kill yourself.
119. DanishDynamite (Posts: 16; 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
140. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
You have a point there I agree, calling some one :stupid, should've been called unaware or uninformed or untechy!
304. esperanza (Posts: 21; Member since: 23 Mar 2013)
Boom sound is just stereo speakers. Nothing special. The stereo speakers on two sides are a nice touch, stereo is kind of useless (like on my iPad Mini) if both speakers are shooting in the same direction, the sound mushes together anyways, loud but hella noisy as well.
364. dragonite99 (unregistered)
86. BillyG (Posts: 303; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)
don't waste your energy explaining it to him/her... he/she clearly have no idea about tech. or only got 1% knowledge about high-end smartphones. probably just an ex-iConUser who finally want a taste of android.
96. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
Looks like an iPhone user or has no knowledge about Tech or about how CPU threshold and down Threshold supplement each other on work loads?
89. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
Yes I do agree OZ, but when you feel and touch Stainless Steel or Caron Fibre or a phone made all with DragonTrail glass is pure class touch to it! It's called "Prestige"
99. SleepingOz (Posts: 2013; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)
I know the "prestige" feeling you're talking about. I had the OG Xperia and the N8, but I still prefer the polycarbonate of my GNOTE II. It's stil intact after several falls.
101. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
True! They should've made phones with all in one materials....?
178. ngo2dd (Posts: 731; Member since: 08 Jul 2011)
Here is my source why you are wronghttp://www.wired.co.uk/news/ar
215. SleepingOz (Posts: 2013; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)
"There are two different implementations of big.LITTLE that hardware makers can use: one in which the Cortex-A7 and A15 cores can be active at the same time (called "big.LITTLE MP" in ARM's documentation) and one in which a Cortex-A7 core powers down when its corresponding A15 core powers up and vice versa."
From the link you posted..
I'd really like to know how was I wrong?
Have you even read my comment in the first place?
In my comment I quoted the part where AndreiLux, who is a recognized dev on XDA, explains how all the 8cores can be used simultaneously by the system.
303. Trex95 (Posts: 482; 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.
508. skyguy7567 (Posts: 148; Member since: 17 Nov 2012)
I know that all 8 cores can be used in the system, but are you Samsung fans stupid enough not to notice a huge problem on your very own phones? HEAT! MAN! 4 Samsung cores on the GS3 already caused complains of the phone reaching 50 degrees c, and the 8 cores 'won' the overall heat champion at 60 degrees C. The record temperature on my xperia z is just 45 degrees C. Samsung is trying to give you burns. Extreme heat can also damage the cheap components within the phone. Reports say Samsung components of Samsung phone turned into charcoal from the desert heat of the CPU.
439. jo_Ny (Posts: 24; Member since: 05 Sep 2012)
very true except the fact that this so called Octa doesn't runs on HMP but on CPU Migration instead, in which only 4 cores of any cmobination will ever be working at the same time. So it's you who are an ignorant, I guess...??
400. johnriii (Posts: 216; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
HTC is the fastest company to updating their phones? please explain how you came to that!!! Us thunderbolt owners were promised ICS back in March of 2012, and we finally got it in December, 2012. yeah, they're really fast!!!
65. RapidCat (Posts: 340; 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?
72. DanishDynamite (Posts: 16; 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
88. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 538; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)
If HTC uses cheap metal then what does Samsung uses? Plastic from Toys'R'Us? Use your head before bashing something that is better than what you are defending.
92. Taters (Posts: 1768; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
Aluminum is dirt cheap. Recycling plastic probably costs more. Although the CNC machining might cost a lot since time is money.