497 of 523 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Samsung Galaxy S4 Thorough Review
Before I picked up my Galaxy S4, I had the Galaxy Note II. I put my Note II up for sale online before my S4 was supposed to arrive, and it sold around two weeks before the S4 was supposed to be released, so for the two weeks before my S4 arrived, I had been living with a Droid X. Keep this in mind during my review, as my findings may have been slightly tainted by the fact...
Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
95 of 116 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not sure yet
I upgraded to the S4 from my Droid X. I was looking forward the larger screen size and faster processing speed. Haven't had the phone long, here is a quick list of what I can tell so far. I have not used the camera yet, so cannot comment.
*awesome screen display
*very quick processing speeds
*lightweight and thin, but this changes once you...
Published 20 months ago by Paul "online shopper"
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497 of 523 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Samsung Galaxy S4 Thorough Review,
Before I picked up my Galaxy S4, I had the Galaxy Note II. I put my Note II up for sale online before my S4 was supposed to arrive, and it sold around two weeks before the S4 was supposed to be released, so for the two weeks before my S4 arrived, I had been living with a Droid X. Keep this in mind during my review, as my findings may have been slightly tainted by the fact that the S4 is such a massive upgrade from the Droid X, which I can hardly consider to be a "modern phone" anymore. Anyway, I'd like to go through the S4's hardware (screen, construction, camera, internals) then its software and any miscellaneous things I hadn't mentioned so far.
The Galaxy S4's screen is unbelievably high quality. It is a 4.99" 1920 x 1080 panel, and colors are extremely sharp and vivid. Text looks fantastic, and because the resolution is so high, I haven't had a problem decreasing the font size to fit more information on my display. The display is 441 pixels per inch; in comparison, the S3's is 308 ppi, a 43% increase! The screen is a massive improvement from the S3 or the Note II. Super AMOLED HD panels like this one make colors really pop, which isn't a problem for me, but some people prefer to have a more realistic/neutral panel on their phones. There is a display setting that you can adjust to make the screen more neutral though, which should help alleviate any issues people have with the S4's standard setup.
Physical Construction/Phone Exterior
The Galaxy S3 was said by Samsung to be inspired by nature, so they made it with very curved sides like a pebble. With the S4, this mantra is refined a little bit. There is a metallic band that circles the phone's sides, and the swooping curves of the S3's back are straightened out a little. The result looks significantly more sophisticated and "grown up" than the S3. The back of the phone has a "Hyperglaze" finish with a light pattern printed on it, which is interesting but not distractingly so. The pattern is not very easy to see unless you hold the phone close to you or at an angle from a light source. I chose the white S4 because I think white may hide scratches and scuffs better than black, but both colors are enticing. One thing I am happy about is that this phone doesn't have Verizon's garish logo plastered right onto the home button like it was on the Note II. Make no mistake though, Verizon's version of the S4 still has a jumbo Verizon logo as well 4G LTE one on the phone's back. I would definitely get a replacement back without these ugly logos if I didn't use a case.
The volume, power, and home buttons are all substantially upgraded from Samsung's previous phones. They have a nice satisfying click, they don't wobble, and they are easy to feel without looking. I especially like the fact that the S4's home button is in the middle of the bottom bezel, instead of at the bottom like it was in the S3. Speaking of bezels, this phone has practically none. This phone feels like all screen basically, which explains how Samsung got a 4.99" screen into a body that is actually slightly smaller than the S3's body (which had a 4.8" screen), making it the smallest ~5" 1080p phone in the world! Even though the S4 is larger than an iPhone, it feels much more compact due to the great use of space and tiny bezels.
A few more things: the S4 feels very light, but the metallic band around the phone makes it feel sturdy. Also, the screen is covered in Gorilla Glass 3 - although you probably can't scratch it with your keys, I still wouldn't recommend dropping it a lot. I bought a soft touch plastic case on Amazon from Elago for my S4 and I really like it, as it keeps the phone more protected while not making it look like an ugly brick. I still love how the power button is on the side of the S4 (unlike phones like the HTC One or the iPhone 5), as it feels like a much more natural position for turning the phone on and off when in your hand.
The Galaxy S4 has a quad core Snapdragon 600 processor and 2 GB ram, and in my time so far, I still haven't seen any of the occasional lag I felt when I tried a S4 out at AT&T (maybe this is what took Verizon an extra month in releasing the S4). The international version of the phone has 8 cores - a low powered quad core processor for idling and a high powered quad core processor for doing more intensive tasks. I'm a little disappointed that the U.S. didn't get that processor, but the Snapdragon 600 is no slouch. Regardless, I have gotten fantastic LTE service everywhere I've visited with the S4 so far.
The S4 comes with a 13 MP camera (although its set to take 9.6 MP photos by default). This camera is definitely an upgrade from anything else on the market. Not only does it capture a huge amount of detail in photos, but the software has so many useful features too. There are plenty of different modes to take pictures with, but the ones I've really played with and enjoyed are Drama Shot and Animated Photo Mode. Drama Shot basically takes a series of pictures and then stitches them together, which is useful when the subject is moving. I took a picture of my brother doing a flying kick on the lawn and it looks fantastic. The Animated Photo Mode is great, too - essentially, the S4 takes a series of shots and plays them sequentially in one image, like a gif. You can then choose which parts of the photo to animate and which to keep still. It may sound confusing, but it's actually relatively intuitive and fun when you try it out. I have seen comparisons between the S4 and the HTC One criticizing the S4's low light performance, so I tested it out for myself. On Auto mode, with the auto night detection off, the S4's photos in low light look poor. However, in Night mode, the photos improve immensely. Overall, the One's low light quality is better than the S4's, but the S4's camera is much better in all other situations. Of course, the "better camera" depends on each person's use for it, but unless you take most of your pictures in the dark, it probably makes sense to go for the S4's camera, which captures quite a bit more detail at all other times and is still decent in the dark. As a side note, the front facing camera is 2 MP, which is a slight upgrade from the 1.9 MP camera in the S3.
Like the S3 and the Note II, the S4 comes with a removable battery (2600 mAh) and a Micro SD card slot. I immediately put in my 64 GB card I got on Amazon and now I have plenty of space to store my photos, videos, and music. I haven't yet purchased a spare battery, but it is nice to know I have the option to do so if I want.
The S4 comes with approximately 1 million sensors - to name a few, an accelerometer, a temperature gauge, a barometer, two proximity sensors, an RGB notification light, two mics, and even more. One of my favorite things about Android is the notification light; you can instantly tell when your phone has an unread message or other notification. I haven't had a problem with any of the phone calls I've made with my S4, so clearly the noise canceling second mic is doing its job.
I think that Android has always had more features than iOS but that iOS has always had more polish to it. After Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, I no longer find this to be true. Jelly Bean looks fantastic, and it is also very feature-rich. iOS on the other hand has stagnated. I owned the original iPhone and the iPhone 4, and other than the increased resolution (and the ability to add home screen backgrounds), the software on both phones looks practically identical. iOS, although once groundbreaking, now looks positively gaudy, with many of its apps containing over-the-top skeumorphic design - Game Center and Podcasts come to mind as particularly egregious examples. Android now offers a nice, clean interface that has finally caught up to iOS in terms of visual flair.
Jelly Bean isn't the massive overhaul that Ice Cream Sandwich was, but it definitely has some nice new features that I enjoy using. By long pressing on the home button and clicking on the Google icon, you can get to Google Now. Here, Google combines information that it already knows about you into sets of "cards" that appear throughout the day at (hopefully) the most helpful time. For instance, when I bought a case and screen protector, there was a card that told me that my package had shipped with UPS two day shipping, and it gave me the option to track it or viewa the confirmation email from Amazon. Google Now also tells you the local weather for the next three days, traffic home from work and other frequently visited places, and sports scores for your favorite teams. In addition, by saying "Google" or pressing the speech button while in Google Now, you can use Google's enhanced voice actions. Here, Google uses its algorithms to answer questions about people and places. You can ask it math questions, set alarms, send texts, call people, and do a ton of other things. Somehow, Google has done something to make these voice searches incredibly quick and accurate, often much more so than Apple's voice assistant Siri. If you want to see a funny video of the two compared, search on YouTube for "Google Search vs. Siri App Judgment" and skip to 3:31 in the video, it really shows how well Google's voice recognition algorithm works. Another feature introduced in Jelly Bean is expandable/actionable notifications. When I get a text message, I can drag down with one or two fingers on the notification to expand it to see the entire message. This also works with emails and many other types of notifications, as long as the developer has enabled it.
The Galaxy S4 runs Jellybean, aka Android 4.2.2., which is currently the most up to date Android version. It has a layer designed by Samsung that overlays Jellybean called Touchwiz, which has its pros and cons. In my opinion, pure, unmodified Jellybean looks significantly better than Touchwiz, but Touchwiz adds some pretty fantastic features that aren't present in stock Jellybean. It would be impossible to mention all the features present on this phone, but I will try to go over the most significant ones.
Multi Window: by holding the back button for a few seconds, multi window opens (or closes), allowing you to select and open two different apps simultaneously. One thing I really like doing is watching a video on YouTube while browsing on Chrome or sending a text.
Smart Stay/Rotation/Pause/Scroll: Smart Stay keeps the screen on while you're looking at it, which is useful if you do a lot of reading. Smart Rotation stops the screen from rotating along with the phone if it senses your face rotating along too (like if you're laying down in bed). Smart Pause pauses a video if you look away. Smart Scroll scrolls up and down by either tilting your head or tilting the phone up and down. Of course, these features don't work if the front facing camera can't see your face, so that limits their applicability in some situations.
Gestures: there are a huge number of gestures built into the phone. You can wave up or down to scroll in the browser, you can wave to answer a call or change songs, you can swipe your palm across the screen to take a screenshot, and you can put the phone up to your ear to start a call while in the messaging app.
Air View: this lets you preview messages, images, and other things in many of the built in apps by hovering your finger over them. It used to only work with the S Pen on the Note II, but now it can sense your finger, too.
Lock screen applications: I like these because they let you jump to an app right from the lock screen.
Swipe to call/text: In the dialer or contacts apps, you can swipe in one direction on a contact to call them and in the other to text them. This seems so simple, but it is extremely convenient.
Although the Galaxy S4 doesn't deviate too far from the S3's look, it has been completely redesigned internally and has also received a whole set of new software features. It will probably take me a few weeks to evaluate the S4's battery life, but I will try to update this review with any further comments I may have. I have only had my S4 for a few days, but these are my impressions so far. If you have any questions, feel free to comment and ask me. The S4 is a fantastic phone and I have no qualms recommending it to anyone.
176 of 187 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Device, Beautiful Screen. *** UPDATED ***,
I've been waiting for this phone for months, while also planning on switching carriers at the same time. Here's what I like about the phone:
Beautiful screen - for those of us who don't have perfect vision, this screen is very readable. The fonts are an appropriate size, with good contrast.
Nice speed. The screen is responsive, and allows multiple windows to be open at once.
Screen size: For certain apps, I.e. the kindle app, this screen approximates an e-reader very well (as opposed to reading on a smaller phone screen.)
The interface is very thoughtfully designed. Great job, Samsung! Unobtrusive, noninvasive methods of accessing critical apps are available from almost anyplace on the phone.
Icons/graphics are adorable, and creatively designed. No boring manila folders on this phone! Your folders show contents from the outside of the folder... Cute.
Ease of use: There is a little bit of a learning curve on this phone (I had the Samsung Epic previously), but I've pretty much figured it out in a few hours. It's going to be great. Once you get the hang of the graphics, it's really quick to move things around, personalize, etc.
It really blurs the boundary between a tablet and a phone, without becoming too huge, like the Note (which I am now glad I did not buy).
Voice quality: I'd read reviews in the last few days that state that it is not very good... I think it's fine. The sound is clear, and volume is fine.
One of my favorite apps for Android: Out of Milk. Running out of groceries? Scan the bar code into one of your shopping lists, (or input by voice or typing), and your shopping list is complete. I keep a running shopping list for Trader Joes, and my other local market. When I go to the store, I simply move the items I need to the top of the list, and go for it! No more paper lists!
One heads up: (carrier, not phone related): check on Visual Voicemail.... I use it all the time, and really like it. I was surprised to discover that I had to pay for it as an add on with Verizon.... It was part of my Sprint service previously.
** UPDATE **
I've had the phone for almost a week, and it's simply a PLEASURE to use! Lots of nice touches: pop up asking if you'd like to add someone to your contacts after a call from a non contact, for example.
Camera: is great. I photographed an entire exhibit in a museum.... No flash, in dark rooms, and the photos are stunning.
Battery life: surprisingly good! I used the phone all day yesterday, on and off trains where it would have been seeking service in tunnels (usually drains battery quicker), used my Kindle app, made calls, sent texts and emails, and I still had 60% at the end of a ten hour day.
Battery recharging: using the charging cord that comes with the phone, it charges in no time... A couple of hours at most. I've been amazed at the recharge speed, compared to my previous phone.
Kindle app is like a baby Kindle... there's just enough on the page to not feel like you are only reading a few sentences at a time like on some smaller devices.
I'm so pleased with my choice, I hope you enjoy it, also.
(And in case this is helpful to anyone: if you are debating about a case, I have the Seidio holster case... Please see my review.)
UPDATE 2: June 9
The phone continues to work beautifully, but I wanted to give everyone a head's up:
Careful how you delete your photos. I thought I was deleting one picture, and deleted everything by accident! Back up your photos before you delete anything. Also, I wouldn't delete anything until you figure out the camera interface.... I hadn't had a chance to do a backup. And, read the 'confirm" carefully. It said do you want to delete this album... I didn't realize it was more than one photo until I hit 'yes', and there was no way to stop the delete at that point.
Luckily, I had emailed some of the photos, so I had a few of them, but the rest are gone.
UPATE 3: June 22
Still loving the device. I use the camera daily.... Photo quality blows me away. It's great.
Check out the Samsung spare battery/ charger for the S4.... Please see my review. Very nice set.
UPATE 4: July 6
I dropped the phone the other day from about 5 feet onto a hard floor. In the Seidio case, the phone was fine.... Please see my review of the case for more info.
UPATE 5: October 11
I took some casual photos on my phone. They were good enough to use in a professionally produced brochure. The photos are stunning!
Enjoy this great device! Questions? Drop a note, and I'll get back to you.
157 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blows the competition out of the water!,
UPDATE#1: The battery life seems great, better than on the S3 even though the screen is larger and has a higher resolution than the S3. When I had my S3, I used to lose about ~3-5% of battery every two hours or so but with the S4, I seem to lose about ~1-2% so that's awesome. The phone comes with a ton of bloatware and the only way to get a good battery is by removing all the bloatware. I was getting terrible battery life when I first got my phone but after reading online it seems that everyone suggests removing the bloatware for batter battery life. Like I said in my review, the snapdragon 600 uses very little battery when it is not being used so that's a big plus. I'm a heavy user and when I say heavy user, I mean heavy user. I do pretty much everything on my phone from taking a crapload of pictures/videos, watching YouTube videos, playing 3D games, phone calls and surfing the internet. At the end of the day the phone has about 30-35% of juice left. Also, one thing that I forgot to mention was the speakers on the phone. Samsung decided to move the speakers which used to be at the top near the camera on the S3 to the bottom of the phone which wasn't a good idea if you ask me. You can block the sound coming from the phone when holding the phone with your hand.
It's been a week since I got my Galaxy S4 and this thing is super awesome. My previous phone was the S3 which I loved to death and this time I'm super excited to have the S4 in my hands. I had absolutely zero issues with the S3 but the S4 looks so sexy with the metal edges. I seriously don't understand why people buy an iPhone because let me tell you that the Galaxy S4 blows the iPhone 5 out of the water and every other phone out there. The Galaxy S4 wins hands down in every category compared to the iPhone 5. I was blown away by the performance of this phone. The Snapdragon 600 is blazing fast and uses far less battery than the S3. I can get through the day with a single charge and still have 30% left at the end of the day. I'm a heavy user so this says a lot about the phone. Even my family who loves the iPhone is blown away by this phone. My family just loves the big screen and the customization that it has compared to the iPhone 5. There are many reasons why I decided to go with this phone over the other smartphones on the market but the main reason is the screen size, camera, storage, processor and the battery life.
These are some of the things that the Galaxy S4 has over the iPhone 5 and other high end phones:
-Screen: The Galaxy S4 has a nice 5 inches Super AMOLED HD screen that makes everything stand out when viewing it. The resolution on this phone is a nice 1080 x 1920 (441ppi pixel density) which makes everything look sharp. The Gorilla Glass 3 is also much better at preventing the screen from cracking and scratching. I tried to scratch the screen with my car keys and nothing happened to the screen, impressive. It has a significantly higher resolution than the iPhone 5 (640 x 1136). Also, the iPhone 5 is only 4 inches which is way too small for most people.
-Android OS: This phone ships with the most up to date version of Android, Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) which is the fastest Android version yet. Samsung has added many new features to TouchWiz which is great. I'm not really a fan of TouchWiz but it seems that they have made many improvements to the UI.
-Design: The design is sort of the same as the S3 which I have no problems with. The S3's design is sexy and very comfortable to hold in your hand and the same goes for the S4. If you loved the S3's design then you will love the S4's design even more, trust me. The phone feels a little bit lighter and thinner which is great. It has a nice feel to it that makes you want to hold the phone.
-Camera: The primary camera on this phone is 13MP (4128 x 3096 pixels) and the front camera is 2MP that takes some of the best pictures I have ever seen. The front facing camera is great when you are Skyping or even taking pictures of yourself.
-Battery: Samsung has decided to improve the battery capacity in S4 to 2600mAh that can easily last a full day with a single charge. I can get through a day with a single charge and still have 30% left at the end of the day. The battery life is one of the most important aspects when deciding which phone to buy for me because I travel a lot and I need a phone that can last a full day. My previous phone which was the S3 needed at least 2-3 charges to last through a day. The Snapdragon 600 does an outstanding job at using as little battery as possible.
-Storage: With the option of an external sdcard, this phone simply destroys the iPhone 5. I can store as many pictures and HD videos as I want and it will never come close to being full. I am the type of person who stores large collections of pictures, videos, and movies and this phone lets me do all of that easily. I also play 3D games that require a minimum of 1-2GB of space and this phone is perfect for that.
-Processor: The Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (Quad-core 1.9 GHz Krait 300) does an amazing job at keeping this phone lag free and blazing fast. I have never experienced a slow down with this phone. I have even tested this phone by playing intensive games such GTA Vice City on the highest settings and there were no slowdowns whatsoever. I am very impressed with the processor in this phone.
-Removable Battery: Who doesn't love this, seriously? This and the option of an external sdcard make this the best phone of the year. I always carry extra batteries whenever I travel somewhere and I can easily swap my battery with another one when the phone is low on battery. This is a big plus for this phone. Sucks to be an iPhone user!
-None. As much as I want to think of something bad to say, there's simply nothing negative about this phone.
Overall, I can safely say that Samsung has another winner in their hands. It's a great phone and it doesn't disappoint. With the amazing 1080p resolution, screen size, battery capacity and storage, this phone puts other phones to shame. The Galaxy S4 will be the best phone of 2013, mark my words!
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best. Android. Ever.,
Some background on me: I bought into the Android hype from the beginning, buying a Droid Milestone (the OG Motorola Droid slider.) It was a neat device, but riddled with SO many software bugs and hardware that just could not run such a hefty operating system. I gave up on Android, and switched to an iPhone 4S in 2011. In late 2012 after a series of iTunes fails, I switched to a Droid Razr M. A great device and epic battery life in a small package, but a crummy camera and Android definitely needs the 2GB of ram. OK, enough about me, the phone:
Design: Thin, light, plastic. The thinness is lost on me - I am 6'5 with proportionally gigantic hands, so I don't need a tiny phone per se. That being said its almost too thin, and while we're on it its almost too light for its size. Fortunately if you are part of the 98% that buys a case then this is quickly offset. The case adds the requisite weight so it feels solid, the requisite thickness so holding it doesn't feel like its cutting into your hands. Plastic is almost like a four letter word nowadays, but as is the case with the thinness and lightness, you will not see plastic if you use a case. That being said if you go case free, its all glass front and a metal trim. A beautiful device through and through (5 of 5)
Hardware: Coming from a dual core S4/1 GB of ram I can say this is a huge performance boost. I still close down apps from time to time, though thats mostly for battery saving purposes. I have yet to have this device hang up on me. (Note: Chrome occasionally hangs up, though thats a function of Chrome I suspect. No other apps have hung.) The antennas in this device are great as well. I'm a crazy ground dweller (AKA I live in a basement.) I was getting 1-2 bars on my Razr M, 2-4 bars on this phone. For all I know they have the cell receiver, but I can tell you theres a marked improvement in the S4. Data rates remain constant though, around 7 up/7 down on New York City's oversaturated LTE network. Middling speakers, though quality headphones solve (the OEM headphones are dreadful.) (5 out of 5)
Display: Ill let a little Apple bias shine now - the Iphone 4S and 5 have half the resolution but are sharper and brighter than this phone could dream to be. "But MJ 1080 > iSheep!" you say. Well, yes, more pixels is grand, but the iPhone display is simply better. That being said this is still an amazing display. I actually prefer AMOLEDs more vibrant colors. I have slight color blindness, so the popping colors really jive well with my broken ass eyeballs. Much like a TV you have some good control over the display settings. I go with the "Vibrant" preset cause, well, I love those poppy AMOLED colors. Theres a setting for every type though. (4 out of 5)
Software: This section both validates and invalidates this review. I dont know stock vs Touchwiz Android, so I wont win many Fandroids by admitting that but it also shows im not a Fandroid. I'd like to think I just like good phones. That said, the software on this phone is wunderbar. First off the missing software option: software buttons. Purists love having buttons taking up the bottom 10% of their screen, I hate it. Its why I got this phone. Your menu buttons should not be on the !@#$ing screen! Ahem, anyway. Beyond that its as if Samsung said "to hell with minimalist Android" and fancied it up. I was able to familiarize myself with it pretty quickly based on previous experience. Verizon offers free classes on how to use Android if you're new to the system, at least they do here in NY, so that should help with the learning curve.
As for most of the new additions: I havent had much luck with them. Frankly they are pretty weaksauce - I am not going to flail crazily at my phone to answer it or have it pop popcorn, etc. One really awesome addition though is the Universal Remote Control app included WatchOn. Cant find your remote? Got your S4. At a sports bar where your waitress is taking 20 minutes to switch to the Mets? Got your S4. At your girlfriends place, entering hour 4 of an Americas Next Top Model marathon? Got your S4 (well, at least you can suggest the TV gods are insisting on a new show...) Android is developed enough that its smooth a babies behind. And widgets are why I can never go back to iOS. (Also, being able to drag and drop your music folder instead of librarying and syncing and dancing to the rain gods to get your library on your phone is much, much better.) (5 out of 5)
Battery: Battery is where this place REALLY shines. My brother has an S3, and maybe gets 12-14 hours of serious usage. I want a phone I can use all day, syncing with personal email, syncing with a battery gobbling proprietary work email app, at 70% brightness. Well, I got it. Sadly I cant paste in images here, but right now I am looking at 18 hours on battery, 4 hours of display usage, wifi+GPS on all day, and still at 20% battery. What else can I say? Well, if youre a road weary business traveler like me you have the option of second batteries and extended life batteries, though I find it rather unnecessary. This was my biggest area of concern going into this phone, and this is my favorite aspect of it right now. (5 out of 5)
Camera: This section is pending, as I have taken fewer than 100 pictures at this point. I will address to hot points of discussion though: the HDR on this phone so far seems fairly mediocre. That being said the "Night" mode on this phone is the best I have experienced ever. This phones weakness was supposed to be low lighting and I can say without question that the low light setting on the S4 renders these concerns moot. Been out a few times with this guy, and the night mode captures dimly lit bar pictures fast and clearly, flash free. (Pending, inclined to say 4 of 5.)
Feel free to ask any questions, I'll do my best to answer any. Im not a super android user, so I cant answer any rooting or custom ROM questions or anything like that, though. Sorry!
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Galaxy S4,
This is a change for me. I was a prior iPhone user having had both a 4 and a 5.
I am still learning my way around the S4 but so far it works just as well if not better than the iPhone and the big difference I think is that the S4 is just plain more fun to use.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Newbie Review,
I'm 62 and have never had a portable phone or pager in my life. I finally decided it was time to give in to the inevitable and got a Samsung S4 for Christmas. Most of the reviews here are by experienced power users who offer insight based upon their wealth of experience. I hesitated to add my greenhorn 2 cents, but then thought that it might be of use to the 6 or 7 people left in the world who haven't already owned and discarded dozens of cellphones.
Observations of a Newbie:
1) The Good.
- The camera is astonishingly good (This coming from a now retired, but former professional). It handles quick snapshots, low light, back light, mixed light, and fast-moving situations flawlessly. And the 13MP give a resolution that is almost unbelievable. I took a picture of a bunch of people at Christmas, then noticed something in the shirt pocket of one of them. I zoomed in using my fingers, then zoomed in further and further. It was like being in an episode of NCIS. I finally could read the writing on the brochure in the shirt pocket of the guy in the back row of the group photo. Fantastic. No need to ever take along a separate camera.
- The screen resolution is awesome. It's 1080p and it looks it. Clear, bright, saturated colors. No blurring or smearing or jittery motion. Videos taken with the built-in camera are brilliant. No need for a video camera either.
- It's fast! At home I use it over the house Wi-Fi system and it loads pages and scrolls through websites faster than the laptop and seemingly as fast as the mighty 6 processor desktop machine. Surfing with Flipboard or one of the portals is fast and fun.
- Voice Search is worth the cost of the phone by itself. If I had known about this I would have caved in years ago. I had, of course, watched the video of Siri vs Android and laughed about "Would you like me to show you a picture of a stallion?" The Google Search as implemented for Android works flawlessly. And quickly. "What was the score of the Bears game?" brings a response in less time than it would take me to even open a browser. "Where's the nearest Redbox?" brings a direct answer along with 8 or 9 alternatives, all with detailed directions and a link so that I could reserve a movie before heading out. Sometimes we just sit here thinking of crazy things to ask. "How do you say 'What would you charge to trim my palm tree?' in Spanish?" Bueno.
2) The Bad.
- Battery life is lousy. Granted, we use it predominantly with Wi-Fi, but still: it seems like we're always charging it. I imagine power users wouldn't make it through a day on one charge.
- The quality of the sound is terrible. I mean really. Here you've got a 1080p HD screen and they want you to use Netflix and Hulu and what all to stream movies and the sound that comes out of the speaker hidden somewhere out of the way is thin and shrill and tinny and barely audible. The same songs that boom powerful and brilliant in the car or out of an MP3 player sound like they're being sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks or Mickey Mouse.
3) The Ugly.
- The software that comes with the phone is a mess. There's tons of stuff from Samsung. Then Verizon added another ton or two of their stuff. Then they threw in a bunch of stuff they thought might be useful (or for which they were paid money to include - yes, I'm such a cynic!). When you first get the phone there are 4 pages of apps and 13 pages of widgets. And this is before you've even had a chance to download Candy Crush Saga. Even worse is that almost all of it refuses to be off-loaded onto the SD card. I understand that some programs are too important to risk being on the SD card, but Audible? IMDb? YouTube? Really? When you get a memory cleaner and take a look at what is running every time you turn on the phone it's enough to knock you flat. With time I'll delve into it and start shutting things down and removing them, but man, they sure do make things difficult.
95 of 116 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not sure yet,
I upgraded to the S4 from my Droid X. I was looking forward the larger screen size and faster processing speed. Haven't had the phone long, here is a quick list of what I can tell so far. I have not used the camera yet, so cannot comment.
*awesome screen display
*very quick processing speeds
*lightweight and thin, but this changes once you put a case on the phone to protect the fragile build.
*audio sound is louder and better than my old droid
*call quality is decent
*Extremely weak reception for 3G/4G. Seems this issue has carried over from its predecessor. I live in Baltimore and have difficulty getting decent reception. I get none in my apt, old droid always got a solid signal. Not sure if this is the phone or the fact that Samsung and Verizon don't play well together.
*Phone has difficulty scanning. My old Droid did great scanning items at the grocery store or qr codes, but the S4 really really struggles.
*does not allow different sounds/ringtone to distinguish between text and email.
*fragile build quality, plastic and slippery
I anticipated getting this phone for a while, but not overly impressed. Will update later after more use.
6/27 Update. placed a call from work today using the phone. The call kept cutting in and out. I walked outside and called the person back and still had difficulty hearing them.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So long iphone. This phone is about as good as it gets in 2013.,
First off I owned an iphone from 2007 - end of 2012 with an iphone 5. I bought a Galaxy note 2. Great phone and it introduced me to Android at version 4.1 So that is where im coming from but I found it was just too big after 6 months of struggling trying to use it with one hand in the car trying to check traffic etc.
1. Perfect size, big but not too big.
2. Screen is amazing, rivals the iphone but has all the features of Galaxy note 2.
3. Running latest version of Android 4.2.2
4. Love the widgets (I have one for Gmail, google voice, out of milk shopping list, google now) All that info without having to open the app.
5. SD card for storing pictures, videos and music/movies.
6. Great feeling in the hand, great thickness, and feel.
7. Love the integration with Google
8. Google+ app auto uploads your pictures if you wish, works like an auto back up
9. Cool new hand gestures like swipping your hand to go through your pictures is pretty neat.
10. The android store is very close to Apple's I have all apps from when I used the iphone.
11. Google navigation and google maps and google now are my favorite apps. Along with Google music with all access.
1. Can't use the SD card for apps right now.
2. Limited to 16gb of on board storage (which is fine I guess since its only for apps)
3. Back of the device is a bit slippery and using it with one hand is tough, I will have to get a rubber grippy case for more traction with the grip
4. Sound quality is nice on the loud speaker and the ear speaker.
5. Wish google music all access could be saved to the SD card to allow more storage for music so it doesn't kill your data plan.
Overall great phone, its everything I like about the galaxy note 2, in a smaller package, up to date android, new features and the perfect size. I am a Galaxy S4 fan.
56 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sexy sleek, long battery life, amazing hands free control (great for someone who has difficulty with touch screens),
The new Samsung Galaxy S4 is sexy sleek! I love the thin edges and smooth design. as a power user, I appreciate the extended battery life.
However, for us the most important aspect: finally an android device that my husband can use! He has neuropathy as well as limited hand function so combined it makes it difficult for him to use traditional touch screen devices, as he gets frustrated, the problem gets worse. However, now with the Galaxy S4 with a swipe of his hand in the air he can answer calls! With the hover of a finger he can select what he needs without fumbling over pressure sensitivity, whether it be to check emails, browse his media or watch videos. now when he looks away the video will automatically pause then resume again when he is ready. True hands free operation. Finally he can join us in the world of smart phones yet fully use and answer the Galaxy S4 even on the days his hand is acting up when he otherwise has difficulty feeling the pressure on the touch screen. He's happy which makes me very happy!
The only thing we miss is the physical keyboard; the addition of that small detail would make the Galaxy S4 the most perfect smart phone, ever.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most powerful phone on the market has arrive. See ya' later iPhone!,
The Good: Gorgeous 5″ screen, tons of customization features and options, Air Gestures and Smart Screen are neat, sleek form factor, super powerful CPU and GPU, tons of fast RAM, expandable media options, packed-in headphones are great, amazing 13MP camera
The Bad: Air Gestures and Smart Screen are just gimmicks and drain the battery fast, battery doesn't last very long unless all features are off, back cover is flimsy and cheap feeling, comes with a lot of bloatware
Apple finally met it's match, the Samsung Galaxy S III has sold more units than the iPhone 4 and 4S combined, that's a serious feat. Why you ask? Because Android OS gives you complete freedom to do what you want, not what Samsung wants. There is no iTunes that you are tethered to, you can put what you want on your phone, you can buy expandable media, the choice is yours. People loved that, and the S3 took off due to the form factor and Samsung's smart marketing ideas. With the S4 Samsung has created the most powerful smartphone on the planet, honestly I won't even compare the S4 to the iPhone 5 much because it is more powerful than that phone and the iPad 3.
Out of the Box
The box itself is actually pretty nice. It has a wood texture on it letting you know you bought something classy, something with character, not a robot clone like the iPhone 5. Like wood, you can shape it and do what you want with it, make furniture, do some woodburning, or break it into pieces. Also like wood, the S4 has endless customization options. The S4 comes with earbuds that are better than the iPhone earbuds, as well as three different ear pieces for different size preferences. You will also have to put the battery in yourself, the back cover, and for some carriers, the 4G SIM card. Assembling your phone also lets you know that it's yours, it's not assembled in the box like an iPhone, it gives you a bit more attachment to your phone. This sounds weird to some people, but it's true, there's a reason for all this.
Welcome to Android
For people who have used Android for awhile (like myself since 2.2) you will love the 4.2.2 Jellybean OS. Samsung's personal touch is amazing with many power saving options, a great shutter menu, and the speed and precision of a high-end PC. Think I'm kidding? There is virtually zero lag even with multiple apps open, but that's not the first thing you will notice.
The phone itself is the thinnest and sleekest phone around. Especially for the power under the hood. The 5″ Super AMOLED display is gorgeous and rivals that of high-end HDTVs. It has a 1920×1080 resolution, that's a full 1080p resolution folks, same quality has a TV. The screen is also 441 ppi which is twice that of most other high-end phones. You are looking at pure eye-catching crisp visuals for movies, games, and photos. Nothing out there beats it. It also feels great, it's a perfect rectangle with rounded edges. It has aluminum sides to make it look modern, and it also comes in black and white. I prefer the black because it looks sleeker and the white makes it look like a stretched out iPhone 4S. The volume rocker is very thin and blends in with the phone and same goes with the power button. The S4 has a home button like the iPhone, and unlike most other Android phones. It has a menu and back soft key, but no search soft key like other phones. I found this simple and honestly looks like a better iPhone.
Under the Hood
For people who care, or don't care, the S4 is one of the most powerful phones on the market. It has a 1.9Ghz (there are 1.6 and 1.4 Ghz models available) quad-core Krait 300 CPU. That is damn fast, even faster than most high-end tablets. It sports a SGX PowerVR 544 GPU which will let you play the best games out there, but is also extremely fast and current games don't quite push it to its limits, it's a tri-core GPU to boot. In fact, it's just one up from the PlayStation Vita GPU, and everyone knows it can produce near PS3 quality graphics. The S4 has 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM which means tons of room for app switching and you won't have any slow down. You also get a 13 MP camera, yeah 13. It's the same quality as a high-end point and shoot, and the quality is amazing. There is also a 2 MP front facing camera which is better than most phone's 1.3 or 0.3 MP FFC. This allows extra precision when using the Smart Gestures (more later). The battery also has a Near Field Communications chip which allows for NFC beaming to other devices. You can also mirror your screen on another device to show them something. The S4 also features DLNA file sharing for computers and other devices.
With the combination of the gyroscope, front facing camera, and the smart screen you can do things on your phone without even touching it. One feature lets you wave your hand in front of the screen to answer a call, hold the screen with two thumbs and use the gyroscope to look around your pictures, wave your hand in front of the screen to scroll pictures, and various other features. One other feature lets you hover your finger above and image to preview it before pressing it. Honestly, these features are gimmicks and nothing more than something to show off with in public. The biggest issue is they are a serious battery drain. Keeping the FFC and smart screen features on just sucks your battery dry in a few short hours.
A few features here like scrolling pages with the tilt of your head or tilting your screen. It doesn't respond as well as you think and sucks your battery down. You can also use Smart Stay which will turn the screen off when you look away, and smart pause which will pause video when you look away. This all keeps your FFC on and will drain your battery in no time as well.
The Little Things That Matter
In the end there are little things that are there for customization. Multi-Window allows you to quickly switch apps with a drawer at the side of your screen, there's a great power-saving mode that underclocks the CPU and can turn off haptic feedback as well as dial back the color resolution on the screen. You will need these because the battery does not last long in the S4 with everything turned on. There's also a little feature that lets you make your own vibration patterns which is really interesting. You can have widgets and short cuts on your lock screen which most phones need third-party apps for, you can control the phone with your voice, and unlock the screen with your voice. This may seem pointless to some people, but the fact that Samsung put it in here means they care about the consumer. They give you all these tools and you can decide if you want them or not, they are not forced onto you. One thing that I do need to mention is that there is a lot of bloatware on the phone that needs to be disabled. I disabled nearly 30 apps that I would never use and just used up space and resources.
In the end the Galaxy S4 is one of the most customizable and powerful smartphones on the market, I would go as far as to say THE most. I have never had a phone that gave me so much freedom before, so much power, and such great picture quality. The biggest problems are with the battery and gimmicky features that help drain that battery. The Air Gestures and Smart Screen are for lazy people or people who like to show off, it actually takes more effort to use these than to just use the screen. Despite this, the S4 gives you endless possibilities with the most powerful and efficient mobile OS on the market. You are a fool not to own this phone.
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