Samsung Galaxy S4, hands-on: Does this year's biggest phone deliver?

Samsung Galaxy S4, hands-on: Does this year's biggest phone deliver?

Summary: The Galaxy S4 is Samsung's (and Android's) flagship smartphone - here are my first impressions after getting some hands-on time.


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  • One of the new camera modes is called Dual Shot and uses both the front and rear cameras to take on photograph that includes the scene in front and behind the camera.

    In the image above the front-facing camera was providing the main part of the picture (the Samsung demonstrator is on the left hand side and I'm next to him with the camera) while the inset heart is showing another member of the Samsung team stood in front of the device. Naturally, having the inset picture in a heart is a user-definable option.


  • Another new camera feature, called 'Sound and Shot', allows you to capture up to nine seconds of sound with each photo taken.

    You can select whether you want the up to nine second audio clip to be captured from nine seconds before the photo is taken or the nine seconds after using on screen buttons (pictured).

    There's also a new mode called 'Drama Shot' which creates a collage of images from a single picture by capturing motion. For example, if you were to take a picture of someone diving off a diving board, you would get several images starting with the diver stood at the top of the board all the way down to entering the water.

    There's also an 'Eraser' mode that allows you to edit out moving or unwanted objects in the background of images.


  • Samsung's own branded Hub is still present on the handset, but instead of offering different Hubs for music, books, films and games, they are now all found in one place, making it much more convenient to access your content.

    The music service 7Digital will continue to provide the musical element of Samsung Hub as it has done in previous generations of Samsung's Galaxy S devices. It also provides the store for BlackBerry Music.



Topics: Smartphones, Mobility, Samsung

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • Not much of a "hands-on" review

    Mike Marquis
    • WOW!

      All those spec details blew me away! NOT!!!
      What a waste of (cyber)space!
      • There is different problem than that: obviously, SGS4 is no way "this ...

        ... year's biggest phone" -- neither literally (there are bigger ones from both Samsung and competitors like HTC), nor metaphorically (iPhone is way bigger). Also, this hands-on article omits crooked AMOLED colours issue, as well as the fact that 441 PPI is fake, not true resolution due to PenTile matrix. Finally, cheapo plasticky enclosure for such a pricey device is not mentioned, too.
        • iphone5 is so 2011

          iphone 5 is last year's phone with 2011 features with a battery that can't last a whole day.
        • Crooked amoled colour issues?

          S4 has Adobe RGB mode which renders accurate colours.
          It has been tested by Russian testlab to render the full gamut more accurately than the iphone5 so there goes your fanboy argument.
          As for fake resolution, please mate, still hanging onto that old line.. jeez.
          Note2 has non pentile Amoled and it doesn't look as sharp as Note1 pentile Amoled. I have both of them right here as well as iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 to compare with. at 440 PPI, you won't be able to distinguish pen tile or RGB or whatever matrix.
          They are all retina class and you need a new angle for your argument.
          • Almost none of users even know that SGS have sRBG mode, so they get highly

            ... crooked colours anyway. And the PenTile resolution of SGS4 is fake. It is not SGN2-type PenTile, it is bad PenTile. So this 440ppi is just marketing.
      • Not exactly.

        You see, for it to be a COMPLETE waste of cyberspace, it would have to be an iPhone article.
        Richard Estes
  • 11 pages...

    Mike did you scroll through all 11 pages?
    • My bad!

      No I didn't. Apologies to Ben.
      Mike Marquis
      • me too

        Missed it. Not a fan of slideshow format on phone. Should roll back to "normal" nav format, eg page numbers at bottom of article, next page, full article, etc
    • Scrolling? NO!

      Scrolling is up & down! NOT page after page!
      ZDNET NEEDS to STOP doing this multiple pages mess and start putting it all on one page!
      I have told them that as have many!
      Write & tell them put it all on one!
      Don't need to annoy us for the sake of ads!!!
  • 11 pages?

    I was interested enough to click my way to the first page, but I'm giving up on thes zdnet articles that make me navigate through ten more pages. Maybe it's just me, but that's too damn many ads for one article...
    • too many ads?

      What?? You don't have AdBlock Plus???

      If you're still using IE, I strongly suggest you get Firefox and add AdBlock Plus to the browser. After that you'll never be bothered again. Also add DoNotTrackMe and you'll never be pestered again.

      It is a very different experience from ad-financed IE.
  • Two things

    1) Excellent review, it was detailed enough
    2) CURSE YOU ZDNET, FIX YOUR SYSTEM. Seriously, I shouldn't have to reload the page every time I look at a new picture. I know it's more ad revenue, but... what the heck, dude?
    Michael Alan Goff
    • I don't think it's broken...

      it's deliberate. All those page loads are revenue generating. It makes money so they will keep doing it, in-spite of the fact that it pisses people off.
  • Slide Shows

    I agree! Slide Shows are HORRIBLE; a throwback to the 90s!

    Give us ONE PAGE we can scroll through
  • So Much Better . . .

    . . . than WP8. What you didn't say was if the actual performance was in keeping with the specs, or, if the software was intuitive or just Android-like.
    • Re: So Much Better . . . . . . than WP8.

      At this stage, picking on Windows Phone is like picking on the slow kid at school. It's just not sporting any more.
      • OMG!!!

        Probably coming from someone who has NOT used WP8 or Windows 8!!!
        Or knows the true direction of MS and the technology that is being developed!
        They are WAY AHEAD of most!
        Example: the technology that is being developed with surface is incredible!
        I had my "doubts" of Windows 8 until I actually used it and kept at it!
        Until anyone has done this, they really should make no comments! and the 5 minutes on it at Best Buy, do NOT count as true "using" it!
      • Give it time

        Strange things, preconceptions. Apple walks on water, Android rules the world. None of the people I know who use WP8 would revert to another platform. Just comparing the home screen in your S4 pic with WP Metro live tiles is like jumping a decade. True, WP is having a tough time gaining traction, but this is more about mindset than product. WP8 doesn't need to be cool, Microkia just needs to convince people that you don't need to spend vast sums to own a decent communications device. As ever, less is more.