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Samsung Galaxy S4 Review

Samsung Galaxy S4 9.3

We've gotten used to seeing Samsung's phones arrive with the latest Android version available, and the new flagship smartphone doesn't disappoint. Coming straight with Android 4.2.2, the Galaxy S4 has all Android features, plus a ton of custom ones developed by Samsung itself.

The main concept behind this version of the TouchWiz Nature UX remains the same: it's a reskinned version of Android, which looks and feels different from the stock UI. It runs extremely fluidly and is highly customizable, allowing the user to tweak almost all of its aspects. There's a good number of custom widgets, which make it easy for you to compose a useful and informative homescreen setup that has a relatively unified look.

The new features that make a debut on the Samsung Galaxy S4 can be divided into four abstract categories: Fun, Relationship, Life Task and Life Care. Here's some detailed information about all the new goodies:

Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S4 Review

  • Dual shot – This new camera feature makes for some interesting stories, mainly because it compiles videos by recording content with the front and rear cameras. It’s neat because you can tell a story about what you’re trying to shoot in the video.
  • Sound & Shot – This is simple - it just allows us to record up to 9 seconds of audio when we snap a photo. Therefore, when we preview it in the gallery, it’ll play the recording when we look at it.
  • Drama Shot – Always wondered how professional photographers snap those cool photos of someone diving into a pool? You know, the ones where it shows in the photo the step-by-step moment? Well, the drama shot feature relies on multi burst to take various photos of something in motion, and then complies them together in a single shot.
  • Cinema Photo – Now this one is really cool, it’s like having a photo that you can honestly say you’re “feeling the moment.” Basically, it’s like making a GIF image on the smartphone. As the handset is capturing images, we can select what elements to animate and what others we want to keep stationary.
  • Story Album – The name says it all! It’s a feature that lets us stitch together a story album using pictures, time, place, weather, and more.


  • S Translator – You guessed it folks, the Galaxy S IV makes it super convenient to translate stuff on the fly. Incorporated into a variety of apps, like ChatON, messaging, S Translator app, and email, language barriers will be a thing of the past with this new S Translator feature.
  • Group Play – There are to aspects of Group Play. First, there’s the ability to allow the smartphone to pair with other Galaxy S IVs so they can conjure up a powerful sound system with its new Share Music feature. Come to think about it, the entire thing kind of reminds us of daisy chaining. Lastly, the Galaxy S IV allow for more social engagement when it comes to playing games. Specifically, optimized versions of Asphalt 7 and Gun Bros 2 allow multiple Samsung Galaxy S IV smartphone to play collaboratively.

Life Task

  • Air View – Yup, the Note’s Air View feature has somehow magically arrived on the Galaxy S IV – and boy does it impress on many levels. We’ve already talked about its usefulness and the display’s accuracy, but Sammy has an optimized version of Flipboard that allows us to hover our finger over its tiles to get a preview. Of course, the feature works in many other places – like previewing email and calendar appointments.
  • Air Gesture – Holy smokes! So what’s Air Gesture? Simply, it’s a basic version of Kinect for the Microsoft XBOX 360, but for smartphones (SGSIV in this case obviously). At its core, Air Gesture is touchless commands for the Galaxy S IV and breaks down to three commands – Air Browse, Air Jump, and Air Call Accept. In the browser and email apps, we can wave our hand in a downward/upward motion to tell the phone to scroll up/down. Likewise, we can “swipe” through photos in the gallery by waving our hand over the display in the appropriate direction. Yeah, it’s super neat, but not all apps support it. Instead, most of Sammy’s set offer it, but not others like Chrome or Gmail. Unfortunately though, there’s no air gesture for “pinch zooming.”
  • Smart Pause – It’s hard enough remembering a storyline when watching a movie on a phone, especially when we decide to do something else aside from watching it. Well, with Smart Pause, the handset knows when we’re not looking. Therefore, it’ll automatically pause the moment our eyes are no longer affixed to the display, but it’ll resume once we look back at it.
  • Smart Scroll – Using a combination of looking with our eyes and some tilting action, we can scroll through various content in the web browser and email app.
  • Samsung Optical Reader – No one likes having to manually input business card information into their phones, so that’s why we’re given the Samsung Optical Reader. Snap a business card, it’ll automatically retrieve the pertinent content and convert it digitally for us. Also, it works to decipher QR codes.
  • WatchON – Seeing that the handset is now sporting an IR blaster, WatchON is the one stop hub for all our television program needs. Not only can we control, select, and viewing programming, it also has a cool video on demand feature.

Life Care

  • S Health – Fitness junkies will surely appreciate S Health the most, since it tracks and measures various physical activities – eventually giving us detailed statistics about our fitness regimen. From counting the steps we’ve take to the amount of calories we’ve consumed for the day, S Health is the central spot where we can monitor our healthy lifestyle. Heck, it can even tell us if the temperature and weather conditions are conducive to our health. Oh yeah, did we mention it can also monitor sleeping patterns?
  • Samsung Adapt Sound – In its attempt to be self-aware, the Samsung Adapt Sound will automatically adjust some of the handset’s settings based on what we’re doing. For example, if we’re reading a book in the dark, it’ll adjust the contrast and brightness to make it easier on our eyes. Another scenario pumps up the two so that it provides for an enticing video watching experience. Rather than doing it ourselves manually, it’s nice to see the handset doing it automatically for us.


With a screen this big and with a phone this ergonomic, one would think that typing on the on-screen QWERTY keyboards would be a joy, and they'll be right. The keyboard is quite spacious so there's enough empty space between the individual keys to reduce those accidental presses to a minimum. Still, the built-in Samsung keyboard doesn't really have the best possible layout, so you might want to consider installing a quality third-party one in order to optimize or customize your typing experience as much as you can.

Other than that, there aren't too many enhancements with regards to messaging on the device. It has the regular messaging apps including the standard Gmail app and Samsung's own ChatON service, which can now handle conference video calls for up to three people.

Samsung Galaxy S4's default QWERTY keyboard layout - Samsung Galaxy S4 Review

Samsung Galaxy S4's default QWERTY keyboard layout

Processor and Memory

The Samsung Galaxy S phones have always been equipped with exceptional processors and the Galaxy S4 is not an exception. The fourth Galaxy S will be available in two versions. In some markets including the US and the UK, the handset is going to ship with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset, which is also available in the HTC One. In some international markets, the GS4 will have the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa, which is supposed to be a powerful, yet efficient octa-core CPU. The unit we're testing for this review is powered by the Snapdragon 600 CPU and boy is this thing fast! This powerful, cutting-edge chipset is clocked at 1.9 GHz to offer unsurpassed performance no matter what task is being executed.

Additionally, the handset is armed with 2 GB of RAM, as well as the Adreno 320 GPU for superb performance in games and other 3D applications.

As far as internal memory goes, the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in 16, 32 and 64 GB flavors, but stays true to the tradition and features a microSD card slot for memory expansion. We appreciate this kind of versatility in a device – after all, why not have the option of using a microSD card?

Performance benchmarks

Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 12078
Samsung Galaxy S III 5335
HTC One 12481
Sony Xperia Z 8221
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 24701
Samsung Galaxy S III 15152
HTC One 23308
Sony Xperia Z 20835
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen (fps)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 39
HTC One 31
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 704
HTC One 781
Sony Xperia Z 626
Vellamo HTML 5
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 1702
HTC One 2395
Sony Xperia Z 2198
View all

  • Options

posted on 24 Mar 2013, 05:36

303. Trex95 (Posts: 1069; 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: 45; 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: 45; 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


1 Htc One
2 S4
3 Experia Z


1 Galaxy S4
2 Experia Z
3 Htc One


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: 45; 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."


posted on 23 Mar 2013, 12:32 1

81. DanishDynamite (Posts: 45; 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: 1120; 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
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, Quad-core, 1900 MHz, Krait 300 processor
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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