What's right (and wrong) with the Samsung Galaxy S4

What's right (and wrong) with the Samsung Galaxy S4

Summary: Does this new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone have what it takes to stand out in a sea of other handsets? Yes it does, but there are some downsides potential buyers should be aware of.

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(Source: Samsung)

Samsung has recently updated its flagship Android-powered Galaxy 3S handset with the updated with the Galaxy S4. But does this new premium smartphone have what it takes to stand out in a sea of other handsets?

Does it have what it takes to be the king of the Android handsets?

What's right with the Galaxy S4?

  • Solid device – The Galaxy S4 is a solid, well-made handset.
  • Great performance – Thanks to the 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor.
  • Awesome screen – The 5-inch Super AMOLED display with 441 pixels-per-inch is incredible.
  • Customization – TouchWiz offers a way to heavily customize the Android UI.
  • User-replaceable battery – Just pop the back off, pop the battery out, pop a new one in, and you're ready to rock.
  • Great storage space – 32GB is the storage starting point.
  • More storage – If the built-in storage isn't enough, there's a microSD card slot.
  • Excellent camera – The camera on the Galaxy S4 is incredible, and there are a myriad of awesome features.
  • Flip covers – You're either going to love or hate the screen-protecting flip covers.
  • Gimmicks – Control your TV with a handset? No problem with the Galaxy S4!

What's wrong with the Galaxy S4?

  • Too much Android skinning – If this isn't for you, then you might prefer the Nexus 4 or the Google Play-edition of the Galaxy S4.
  • Swimming through treacle – The UI can be slow in places, such as when displaying photos.
  • Mediocre call quality – Who calls anyone on a smartphone these days?
  • Flip covers – You're either going to love or hate the screen-protecting flip covers.
  • Price – The Galaxy S4 is not a cheap handset even with a contract, and if you want the unlocked Google Play-edition, that's going to cost you a lot more.

Bottom line

The Galaxy S4 is a solid upgrade compared to the Galaxy S3, and it is certainly a handset that those who like bells and whistles should look at. However, for those looking for an unadulterated Android experience, then the more expensive Google Play-edition of the Galaxy S4 might be worth a look at.

Personally, I still prefer the Nexus 4. It's a simpler handset, but it's also a more rounded, balanced handset. 

Topics: Android, Samsung, Smartphones

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22 comments
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  • love my sgs4

    "Personally, I still prefer the Nexus 4. It's a simpler handset"
    Fortunately this strategy is not winning.....we want features so is very logical that Apple falls everywhere......
    anywherehome
    • GS4 it's the best phone by far

      Though Samsung's need to over customize the UI is a huge downside. In fact between the Nexus 7 2013 and the GS4 I use the Nexus 7 missy of the time. The reasons are the real drawbacks off the GS4:

      - No true Google experience
      - No updates to Android 4.2.3
      - Samsung keyboard overcorrects,
      You are better off with any other keyboard
      - Too many gimmicks that don't work
      - Battery drain is too high.
      Uralbas
      • Many are preferences than drawbacks

        - No true Google experience

        Correct, instead you get a Galaxy experience. The same can be applied to the Nexus phone, it's not a Galaxy experience.

        - No updates to Android 4.2.3

        I'm on 4.2.2 but 4.3 is coming. No OEM except Google are quick at this.

        - Too many gimmicks that don't work

        I'll give you that one.

        - Battery drain is too high.

        Mine's great, it's subjective.
        bradavon
      • No updates to 4.2.3

        You found a hidden version that no-one else is aware of.

        Kudos Dude.
        Boothy_p
      • Damn they announced..

        4.2.3? Damn Im behind..

        /s
        EVHGameOvR
  • love my sgs4

    "Personally, I still prefer the Nexus 4. It's a simpler handset"
    Fortunately this strategy is not winning.....we want features so is very logical that Apple falls everywhere......
    anywherehome
  • A lot of this subjective

    Great storage space – 32GB is the storage starting point.

    The SGS4 starts at 16GB

    Too much Android skinning

    To little skinning on the Nexus range in my book.

    Swimming through treacle – The UI can be slow in places, such as when displaying photos.

    It's very fast in my experience, including photos.

    Mediocre call quality – Who calls anyone on a smartphone these days?

    Call quality is outstanding.
    bradavon
  • there is nothing wrong with an S4

    It might not appeal to you but that's more a preference/opinion. The S4 is one of the best smartphones ever made and leads the industry in many ways. Everything else is just pink vs blue or other choice options.
    greywolf7
  • Funny comment

    About who's using a smartphone for making calls these days. Maybe there is a market for a cheap phone and a cheap calling plan as an accessory to the smartphone. I actually do this with an iPad and an old Motorola flip phone. Never pocket dial anyone with that setup.
    rfoto
    • To a point I agree

      Calling isn't in the top 3 things I do on my phone (but it is at 4 so...)
      I've refused to upgrade from the Galaxy S2, for a number of reasons, but it's on the latest version of Android now, has no touchwiz (that's the geeky bit), and quike honestly I love the size and the feel of the phone.
      So I buy other not really needed but fun gadgets with the money.
      If I had to upgrade, it would be the S4, but the Google Edition, or the rooted and CM rom'd route. Again a personal opinion but I just fine the pure android more 'elegant' and refined than Samsung's version.
      Samsung can make the hardware, leave the software to Google.
      Boothy_p
  • Re: What's right (and wrong) with the Samsung Galaxy S4....

    The Android system has really come on leaps and bounds and makes a great foundation for the Samsung Smartphones and Tablets.

    Being the owner of an iPhone 5 and iPad 3 and all round Apple orientated I wanted to get to know Android a little better. I was fortunate enough to pick up a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 for a reasonable price.

    Android is fluid and responsive although a little less easy to navigate than iOS however Samsung have presented Android well.

    My main hang up is a Smartphone or Tablet made out of plastic. It just feels a bit cheap in the hand compared to the iPad. I am not saying the build quality is inherently bad but I would question its robustness. It is for this reason I would rather carry an iPhone around than a Samsung Galaxy Smartphone.

    Of course I realise it is the use of cheaper materials that has made Smartphones and Tablets more affordable but if there were a model released running Android with the build quality of an iPad then Apple would need to sit up and take note.

    All that said the upcoming iOS 7 for iPhone and iPad is looking stunning.
    5735guy
  • S4 User

    Now that the iphone is going to be launched, I think Apple has started sponsoring the negative articles about Galaxy S4 just to downsize the competition it is giving to all the other phones in the market. Plus, Samsung's custom added features make the device more usable with their features like easier accessibility, multi window and a lot more.
    _william
  • Dumped My Smartphone

    After years of owning a smartphone I gave my S3 to one of the grand kids and bought myself a cheapie flip phone.

    My only use for the phone is as a phone when I am away from the house.

    If I am home I have a couple of tablets and a couple of PCs.

    I am not advocating that no one needs a smart phone but some of us only need a phone without the bells and whistles. (yes, my S3 whistled at me when I had a message)

    I am 70 yrs old and am kind of envious that this technology was not available when I was younger.
    Richardd43
  • Loading Map very slow on S4 android vs Iphone

    I have a Iphone 4S and was about to switch to S4, but when doing comparisons in the store noticed how slow google maps load vs Iphone (both on the same wifi and both using the google map app.). I then tried it on several other stores and friends phone and its indeed true. I am surprised that no comparison reviews seem to have picked this up, especially Map app is one of the most commonly used app in smartphones.
    To test do this: Sync to your current location, then do a search for another city and see how smoothly and swiftly IPhones zoom to the new location, on android phones it can take a very noticeable few seconds before anything happens..
    Anyone else noticed this ?
    alex01752
  • it's well built????

    Pfft really?? What is defined as well built. I think the iphone 5s or HTC one deserve that award, not the GS4.
    Hoggy866
  • You Nailed it!

    I totally agree on everything... I am quite happy with mine... Two things bug me and one is what you pointed out the lack of theme's is terrible... I have about four apps that customized mine and made it all dark looking the way I like it...

    I am using Next Launcher, Contacts+, Active Lockscreen and Kii Keyboard just to get my Samsung Galaxy 4S looking the way I like it but would rather just use a darker built in theme to save battery life...

    The other is Googles Music app seriously needs so eye candy... I am coming from a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 and really hate not using the XboX Music on it... It just seemed Microsoft really did a fantastic job with their Windows Phone Music App... It's really too bad these two companies do not get along better sort of ruins things for all of us...
    CoZmicShReddeR
  • S4 Mediocre call quality – Who calls anyone on a smartphone these days?

    Helloooo! From what planet are you from. Call quality is a very important feature especially since most people don't get a land line anymore. Maybe you use your shoe phone for calls?
    mbendik
  • I didn't realise what was wrong with my S1, S2 & S3...

    ... until I gave up and got a Nexus 4. It really does 'just work' and has been a joy since I got it. The fact that it was cheap, is a bonus, but I think its worth at least as much as the S3. Its nicely made, nice to hold and in my experience has better battery life (due to not having all the unnecessary apps installed).
    roblightbody
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  • Lock screen widgets are disabled when you lock your phone

    One big issue I have with the S4 is that Samsung has disabled lock screen widgets when you add a lock screen password. Hopefully they fix this in 4.3 :/
    anth9001