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!



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

Samsung Galaxy S4

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches

136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm

Weight

4.69 oz (133 g)

HTC One

HTC One

Dimensions

5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z

Dimensions

5.47 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

139 x 71 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.15 oz (146 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches

136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm

Weight

4.69 oz (133 g)

HTC One

HTC One

Dimensions

5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z

Dimensions

5.47 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

139 x 71 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.15 oz (146 g)

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

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.





Samsung Galaxy S4 360-Degrees View:



FEATURED VIDEO

528 Comments

1. lee480 unregistered

Sorry. Either buying the HTC One or Xperia Z.

10. abdane

Posts: 507; Member since: Oct 07, 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 unregistered

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. :)

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

44. abdane

Posts: 507; Member since: Oct 07, 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: 1420; Member since: Jun 20, 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: 765; Member since: Jan 21, 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: 157; Member since: Feb 23, 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: 111; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

"Features" - 90% of buyers won't use those gimmicy "features"..whats the sense and logic?

49. RapidCat

Posts: 351; Member since: Jun 12, 2012

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

64. TROLL

Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 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: 168; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

Say something that makes sense, Please I'm begging you

107. monkeytown

Posts: 125; Member since: Jul 26, 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: 145; Member since: Aug 09, 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: 765; Member since: Jan 21, 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: 679; Member since: Jul 23, 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

Posts: 29; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

LOL my sides ahahhaha since when was cheap recycled soda can aluminum premium? LOLLLLL

263. kclgphilsbsa

Posts: 765; Member since: Jan 21, 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: Mar 15, 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: 299; Member since: Oct 21, 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: 765; Member since: Jan 21, 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: 125; Member since: Jul 26, 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: 305; Member since: Sep 24, 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: 47; Member since: Feb 28, 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: 305; Member since: Sep 24, 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: 137; Member since: Sep 10, 2011

And I suppose you prefer vinyl seats to leather in your car...

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

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Galaxy S4
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, Quad-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2600 mAh(17h 3G talk time)

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