Samsung Galaxy S4 review (one year later)

Call quality


As you can imagine, things aren't moving very quickly in the call quality department, if they are moving at all. While we're all waiting for the deployment of HD voice, it looks like we shouldn't expect such big differences across devices – not that there aren't exceptions. Thankfully, the GS4 isn't one of them, as call quality is just your typical affair – with loud and sharp voices that are relatively easy to comprehen, but nothing especially good to make it stand out, and the same goes for the mic.

The built-in loudspeaker has plenty of power, and while it doesn't deliver HTC One Boom Sound level of depth, it still sounds acceptable and adequate.

Battery


No two ways about it – while the Galaxy S4's battery life was considered among the better ones in the industry last year, it's now been made laughable by its successor and the rest of the current-gen crowd. If we take a look at some of the results we've gotten from our custom battery test, it turns out that there's been a rather big improvement from last year, probably due to the devices getting larger to some extent.

The Galaxy S4 has lasted the modest 4h 59 min, which is way behind the GS5's 8h 20 min, or the Xperia Z2's 8h 10 min. The One (M8) also has a very impressive result: 7h 12 min. The Galaxy S4 does better than the Xperia Z1 and its 4h 43 min, but the other rival that got launched by the end of 2013, the G2, is also ahead with its result of 6h 48min. This comes to show that if you're looking for maximized battery life, the new generation of high-end smartphones will serve you better.

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script, designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage. All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.

hours Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4
4h 59 min (Poor)
Samsung Galaxy S5
7h 38 min (Average)
HTC One (M8)
7h 12 min (Average)
LG G2
6h 48 min (Average)
Sony Xperia Z1
4h 43 min (Poor)

Conclusion


When all is said and done, it looks like the Samsung Galaxy S4 continues to be a strong performer - a full year after its official release. Sure, the Snapdragon 600 chipset shows its age against handsets sporting the newer Snapdragon 800/801 series, and the screen is dimmer and less accurate, but overall, the newer generation of smartphones hasn't managed to gain a tremendous lead technology-wise. This means that there won't be such great benefit for you, should you upgrade to a 2014 flagship.

Naturally, that kind of thinking only applies to current Galaxy S4 owners. This is so, because it turns out the handset has managed to keep its price fairly high, so if you're on the lookout for a new smartphone, we wouldn't really advise you to consider the GS4, as its off- and on-contract pricing isn't that cheaper than those of its newer rivals. At the current time, the Galaxy S4 costs about $150 less than the Galaxy S5 or the HTC One (M8), which are armed with current-gen technology, making a step forward in the performance department, thanks to the Snapdragon 801 SoC. Obviously, the GS5 and Xperia Z2 are better than the GS4 in every way, while the One (M8) excels with its faster internals and more premium, metal body, but has an inferior camera. Finally, with almost identical price tags, the Sony Xperia Z1/Z1S and LG G2 are overall better phones than the GS4.

Pros

  • Faster than mid-range phones
  • Great camera
  • Compact for a 5” phone

Cons

  • Price is similar to that of newer, better models
  • Dim and inaccurate screen
  • Laggy user interface
PhoneArena rating:
6.7


Related phones

Galaxy S4
  • Display 5.0 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP (Single camera)
    2 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 600
    2GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 2600 mAh
  • OS Android 5.0 Lollipop

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