A Samsung Galaxy S4 Review: Old Wine in a New Bottle?

March 14, 2013 saw the unveiling of yet another jewel in Samsung’s crown, the Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S4 is undoubtedly packed with hordes of new and improved features, but is it a phone that ushers in a new era in smartphone innovation or is it just old wine in a new bottle? And more importantly, will the S4 be worth buying? Let’s find out.

Galaxy S4 Tech Specs & Comparison

Let’s take a look at the tech specs of the Galaxy S4 and how it compares to the Galaxy S3.

Hardware

The Galaxy S4 is basically a more pumped up version of the Galaxy S3. Samsung has simply taken the S3 and added a bit more to it. For instance, it has taken the 4.8 inch screen of the S3 and converted it into a 5 inch screen; increased the display resolution from 1280×720 to 1960×1080, and pixel quality from 306 to 441 pixels per inch. The Qualcomm dual core 1.5GHz processor has been pumped to a quad core 1.9GHz, while the RAM upgraded to 2GB. ( I believe the S3 was available in global markets with a 1GB RAM).

Samsung Galaxy s4

The S4 comes with a 2600mAh battery as compared to a 2100 mAh powered S3 battery, but will the enhanced pixel density dent the battery life? That remains to be seen.

The Galaxy S4 gets a camera boost, a 13MP rear camera against an 8 MP camera; and a 2MP front camera against the S3’s 1.9 MP camera.

Storage has remained the same on both models, while the weights and size of the S4 have dropped. The Galaxy S4 is slightly lighter than the S3, at 130g against 133g, and the size infinitely thinner, at 7.9mm against 8.6mm.

Did all this technical detail make you go Wow!

Verdict:  Maybe Not! The Samsung Galaxy S4 definitely offers better hardware against its predecessor and maybe moves it up a notch even over other devices such as the iPhone 5 or the HTC One. However, there is nothing revolutionary here only an incremental improvement over the Galaxy S3.

samsung Galaxy S4 front and back

Software

While the hardware side of things doesn’t make your heart skip a beat, Samsung has worked on bringing something new to its software and this could be a major factor that might influence your decision to go in for the device.

Let’s start off with Air Gesture, an interesting piece of technology that lets you wave your fingers over the phone to answer or reject a call, select music tracks, browse the web and do things that require you to eh.. touch the phone. This should be good news for users who handle their smartphones while enjoying a greasy burger!

Then there’s Smart Scroll, a feature that watches your eye movement and decides you want to read further down the screen or stop a video from playing.

Group Play is a feature that lets you multi-play almost anything. Games, music, videos, or document sharing is instant, if you’re connecting to another S4 device via NFC or Bluetooth. Users can now hope to get one step closer to multi- playing Gun Bros on a smartphone!

samsung Galaxy S4 White frost

There’s a lot more you can do with the S4 camera. Dual Shot Camera Mode is a feature that will capture photos or videos from both the front and rear cameras and combine them both; The Sound & Shot mode will let you take a photo along with 9 seconds of audio to capture real life moments; and Drama shot combines a string of quick shots to create one single shot. And how about Cinema Photo, a feature where you can animate a part of the video while keeping the rest static! And finally, I think…a feature that’s sure to be a hit with everyone – Eraser Mode ; simply because you can erase or remove someone from a shot!

If you’re not happy with all of these camera features how about Story Album TripAdvisor integration and self publishing photos?

Samsung’s S apps are not their most loved feature, but there are some new ones thrown in for those who love them. The S-Voice Drive offers voice assistance while driving, the S Health will track your weights, workouts, monitor your blood pressure and sugar levels, and more! S-Translate is integrated with email and messaging services as well as being made available as a standalone app. Chatting with your Japanese clients is going to be so much easier now!

Verdict: The software side of things definitely look good. Some of these features are probably already available on the iPhone or the HTC One, but there are features that are making their mark and sound exciting enough to want to try!

Cool Accessories

The Galaxy S4 also tempts you to pick up some pretty cool accessories such as the wireless charging pad, flip covers, extra battery kit, heart rate monitor and weight scales, game pad and more.

Pricing & Availability

Samsung Galaxy S4 release date and pricing are yet to be announced. But consumers can expect it to make its debut in April or May in the US through Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Cricket Wireless carriers. The rest of the world…please wait!

Final Thoughts on the Galaxy S4

Now that the S4 rumors are laid to rest and everything you need to know about the S4 has been laid bare, the choice is whether the S4 has enough to make you want to get an upgrade? Or make a new purchase if you’ve skipped your Christmas shopping last year.

If you have tons of money to spend, go ahead and pick up the Galaxy S4. You’re not going to get that premium feeling that comes with owning an iPhone 5, but you can always show off some cool Galaxy tricks to your friends!

If you’re perfectly happy with your S3 device and are nowhere near the end of your contract, you’d probably be better off sticking to the S3.

If you’re not too happy with your Galaxy S3 and nearing the end of your contract, you could go in for the S4 or buy an iPhone 5.

And if you are saving up your money to buy an awesome Android smartphone, go ahead and indulge yourself. The beautiful and brilliant Samsung Galaxy S4 world awaits you!

Comments

  1. Paul Salmon says

    I like the specs of the S4, and in reality is a great leap forward. The S3 was a good phone and sold well. In many tests the S3 bested the iPhone 5 in performance, so the S4 should propel it even further ahead of Apple’s offering.

    The issue is many people think that a new phone needs to have astronomical specs compared to the previous generation, but a quad core with double the RAM is a nice increase from the S3. Apple, on the other hand, really hasn’t changed their iPhone much at all since the iPhone 4, and companies such as HTC and Samsung are going to capitalize on this fact.