Samsung Galaxy S4 Review

Introduction

As Samsung launches yet another Galaxy device it aims to make an even tighter grip on the smartphone market and maintain it’s dominance in the Android scene. Samsung’s two main rivals have had a head start with the release of there flagship devices so Samsung knew the S4 had to be special so lets have a look and see if it is.

Look and Feel

In hand

The first thing you will notice when you see the S4 for the first time is the wonderful 5-inch screen. The screen is capable of playing your video library in wonderfully crisp high definition at a resolution of 1080p with 441ppi. So basically the screen is just as good as your HD television. The sharpness and colour that the screen delivers is out of this world, I can assure you when you see it you will be blown away. Colours and icons seem to just pop out at you and when you look at pictures the detail is incredible.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is not only slimmer than the S3 it is lighter as well and measures just 7.9mm thick and weighs just 130g. The full dimensions for those interested are 136.6mm x 69.8mm x 7.9mm. I will say it certainly feels light, the plastic rear is still there and has brought a lot of divided opinions but as Samsung would say “why fix something that isn’t broken”. The rear of the S4 is actually slightly flatter than the more curved S3 back but this doesn’t take away from the striking resemblance to the S3. The S4 scraps the pebble blue color that we seen on the S3 and now comes in both black mist and white frost to start with but no doubt the future will bring limited edition colors. When holding both the S3 and S4 you can tell there has been changes as the S4 feels a lot more sturdy in the hand.

Some people may be disappointed with the design as it is so similar to the S3 but when you actually hold it there is a sense of a more premium phone than when holding the S3. The Internet is flooded with comments complaining about the design as how is anyone supposed to show off their newest handset when it looks like the old one? This is a dilemma faced by iPhone owners as well but lets see if the S4 can make up for this in other departments.

Specs

Powering the Galaxy S4’s wonderful screen is one mighty powerful chip, but there is a catch. What chip you get comes down to where in the world you reside. Some of the more lucky people will experience Samsung’s awesome new eight-core chip but those of us here in the UK will be stuck with a 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro with 2GB of RAM. Clearly I have a cheek to moan as this chip is a marvel in itself and will make multi-tasking and gaming a breeze. The main reason for the UK getting the Snapdragon chip is due to it’s 4G capabilities so I presume countries with no 4G may get the unsupported eight-core chip.

As you know with all that power there has to be a negative somewhere. You guessed it the battery life. Power is supplied to the S4 with a huge 2,600mAh battery and like the S3 it is fully replaceable. You can expect to charge this beast everyday due to the new screen and faster processor. Samsung is good when it comes to sticking new technology in their devices, so as you would expect the S4 can be charged using a wireless charging pad or you could do it the boring way and use the charger. I will say that we had to recharge our device daily mainly due to heavy usage but the more conservative owner could maybe squeeze an extra half day out of the battery.

On-board storage comes in the form of 16GB,32GB and 64GB with the option to expand by another 64GB via micro-SD so space will never be an issue. Other awesome additions come in the shape of an IR blaster allowing you to control any TV, and an optical reader to recognize and record the text from business cards.

As you can see the S4 has quite an impressive spec sheet and it seems Sasmung has gone all out to make sure you get it all.

Camera

camera settings

The Galaxy S4 spec’s isn’t the only thing Samsung have went all out on. The camera has also been given the same love and care. The rear camera is a 13 megapixel offering that is also capable of shooting full 1080p video while the front is a 2 megapixel offering. The control panel that comes with the S4 camera is the same control panel found on Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, it presents you with an onscreen dial that allows you to finely tune your snapping options. The first few quick pictures I took came out crisp and clear and one thing I noted is how bright the flash was.

There are many new exciting features that come with the S4’s new camera software and the first one I would like to discuss is dual-shot. This allows you to use the front and rear facing camera simultaneously and creates a picture-in-picture image. While taking the picture there are many options you can use to make it look as creative or boring as you want from postage stamps to love hearts.

Another new feature is Drama Shot, this works by stitching multiple burst shots together into one image the results are pretty impressive, Cine-shot creates a picture that’s a mixture of still shots and video and finally my favourite Eraser, this allows you to delete a moving object from a picture. This comes in handy for those moments a lovely shot is ruined by a photo-bomber or passer by. The only downside to Eraser mode is you have to have taken the picture using that mode to be able to delete people.

I have attached a slideshow below with some pictures I have taken to show you the high quality images you can achieve. I am by no means a photographer so please be gentle.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Features

S View

The Galaxy S4 is jam packed with features some of which are truly amazing. The two features that were talked up the most by Samsung were Smart Pause and Smart Scroll. First of all I would like to say setting up any feature on the S4 is as easy as ticking a box and you even get a demonstration on how to use them. I was very impressed with these features and both worked flawlessly, tracking the movement of my hands and eyes to complete the desired task.

Smart scroll is great when reading articles on websites, you can just lie back and scroll simply by tilting your hand up and down while looking at the screen in order to scroll. This only works when the screen knows you are paying attention. A lot of people say that this is gimmicky but for me it is just fantastic and I will use this feature regularly.

Smart Pause is a great feature that when enabled allows the device to automatically pause content when you are not looking at it or paying attention. As soon as you look back at screen your content will resume, I also found this to be useful as in my line of work you have many distractions and it allowed me to continue watching my clips without having to rewind.

The features don’t stop there as on top of these come two other highly impressive features. These are known as Air View and Air Gesture. Air Gesture allows you to swipe through content seamlessly without ever having to touch the display, just a simple swipe over the top of the screen and you can look through your whole picture gallery. Air view is a very intuitive feature and it truly is a time saver. Air View allows you to see glimpses of previously hidden content such as emails again without having to touch the screen. Air view can save you loads of time, just hovering your finger over the top of emails and text messages enables you to gain pop-up access to content and contact information.

Its not just your hands that control the Galaxy S4 either, the S4 can track your eyes to and knows when your paying attention to the device or not. Smart Pause is a great feature that knows if you get interrupted or simply have to look away while watching a movie or video, if this happens the S4 will automatically pause and restart the video when you look away then turn back. Smart Scroll also utilizes your eyes and allows you to scroll up and down just by tilting the phone back and forth, this feature relies on you paying attention to the screen as well.

Samsung also seem to be caring about your health and well being with there new S Health feature. This feature will ensure you keep healthy by tracking your daily calorie intake, workouts, step count and even check the status of your surroundings. The S Health feature is great for those who like to keep healthy and actually makes the whole experience fun.

A lot of people say that these features are somewhat of a gimmick but I for one disagree. I found them both to be very useful and intuitive and I will be sure to utilize them on a daily basis. If you feel there are to many features for your liking you can easily turn them off in settings. We will be be showing you all the features in our video review to allow you to have a closer look at them in action.

NFC

NFC or near-field communication isn’t a new feature but the S4 is the first device to have built in NFC payment technology. Incase you don’t know NFC allows devices to talk to each other and exchange data when simply tapped together. The S4 features Visa’s payWave technology that can talk to tills in the shops just like the contactless credit or debit cards that are available. This is a new technology and although some company’s are getting on board with it there are still many who are not.

The NFC feature can also be used to to join your handset up with your friends devices over NFC Group Play. This will allow you to play games together, share photos, videos and other files that you have.

Accessories

s4 covers

The Galaxy S4 has brought with it some nice cases and accessories that are definitely worth a look. They will not only keep your device safe but they deliver style and practicality.

Galaxy-S4-S-View-Covers-575x380

S View Cover: The awesome new S View cover will protect your device while allowing you to preview the time, date, call status, message notifications and music player to ensure that you never miss anything. This cover also allows you to answer a call just by swiping your finger over the window ensuring you device stays connected and protected at all times. I found this case to be very useful as I always take my device out of my pocket to check if I have any notifications.

s4-flip-case

Flip Cover: The flip cover is something we have seen before on previous Galaxy devices. This case is very discreet as it just replaces the battery cover and maintains the sleek design of the S4 while offering some protection. There is also a speaker slot at the top of the case allowing you to take calls while the cover is closed again ensuring your device is safe.

s4-case+

Protective cover+: This case does what the name suggests and protects your S4 that little bit more than the others. It offers a nice slimline design ensuring that your S4 doesn’t get bulked up to much while still offering decent protection and style.

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HDMI Adaptor: This adaptor allows you to connect your Galaxy S4 up to the big screen with any standard HDMI cable allowing you to show the world what’s on your phone. The MHL 2.0 standard means that the device doesn’t require a power supply and it will support up to full 1080p HD so you can show off all those cool HD movies you have been taken or the stunning pictures you have captured with the camera.

Overall

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 may not have been the game changer in terms of styling that everyone was expecting but it certainly will be a dominant force in the Android smartphone scene.

Samsung have ensured the hardware used was second to none and this makes for an absolute beast of a phone. In my own opinion Samsung has taking everything you would ever want in a smartphone and given you more. The screen is magnificent, the processor powers through anything you throw at it and the camera is absolutely stunning as well.

As they done with the S3 there are loads of new innovative features packed in, granted that some may be more useful than others but I’m sure they will definitely grab the attention of Android and even Apple fans around the world when the device goes on sale this month. There is no doubting that this device was the most anticipated device of 2013 and it certainly lives up to all the hype.

Is it better than the HTC One or iPhone 5? That’s a question you will have to answer on your own there’s no doubt the HTC One and iPhone 5 have a more premium feel but the S4 makes up for this in every other department so you are going to have a tough decision to make if your upgrade is due.

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Ryan Oneill

Editor In Chief

BeginnersTech was an idea I had one Sunday when I was bored. It is now not only a website but a successful YouTube channel that takes me all over the world. Don’t ever let anyone discourage you. Chase those dreams.