Samsung Galaxy S four assessment
That is the story of slightly smartphone collection that grows up and, three years later, positions itself to take over the world. The gadget in query, the most recent addition to that lineup, does not actually need a lot of an introduction because of a few of the most profitable advertising campaigns on the planet. We’ll be joyful to offer it anyway: pictured atop this very textual content sits the Samsung Galaxy S four, the newest and biggest flagship out of Korea. That is the hero, the system chosen to steer the cost for Samsung because it ventures deeper into 2013, and it is fitted with one of the best of all the things: a 1080p Tremendous AMOLED show, 1.9GHz quad-core (or 1.6GHz Exynos 5 Octa 5410, relying on market) chipset, Android four.2, 13MP digital camera and a large assortment of brand name-new firmware facilities, to call just some.
Even if its predecessor bought tens of millions upon hundreds of thousands of models prior to now yr, the Galaxy S four is not alone in its quest for international Android domination this time. HTC, the underdog of the struggle, has launched the One, a flagship that rivals the GS4 in virtually each method and does so in a bodily engaging package deal full with a strong aluminum construct. The place do these two units stand as compared to one another? Does the GS4 reign supreme? Will its onslaught of latest software program options ship the telephone to the highest of the pack? These solutions and extra await you after the break.
Samsung Galaxy S four
- Excellent 1080p Tremendous AMOLED show
- Digital camera takes spectacular daylight photographs
- Snapdragon 600 delivers strong efficiency
- Battery life higher than most flagships
- A number of new options are impractical and half-baked
- Boring general design with out premium look or really feel
The Galaxy S four is a strong enchancment over the GS3, and the perfect Samsung gadget we have ever used, however we might like to see Samsung provide you with a recent design and premium look.
In case your first impression of the Galaxy S four was like ours, we’re guessing you had a tough time differentiating it from final yr’s flagship mannequin. Take a better look, nevertheless, and it turns into extra obvious that Samsung’s design staff did not truly use the previous yr to make amends for the sleep it misplaced crafting the GS3. The telephone maker stored to the similar general fashion, however it made a couple of essential tweaks alongside the best way to enhance its match and end.
Samsung’s selection of construct materials wasn’t considered one of them. For those who have been a critic of the GS3’s plastic development, you will be disillusioned with its successor — the corporate’s persevering with its lengthy-standing custom of preserving metallic out of the meeting strains, constructing the body, again cowl and pretend-chrome edges with polycarbonate. It is comparable — although decrease-grade and never machined — to the kind of plastic you’d take pleasure in on flagships just like the Nokia Lumia 920 and even the HTC One X+, so it is nothing out of the abnormal for Samsung. The most important profit in utilizing one of these materials is that it provides a bit extra give once you drop the telephone. It is nonetheless lots sturdy, and it feels prefer it’s simply as sturdy because the GS3 or Galaxy Word II. This can be ideally suited for numerous potential consumers, however we nonetheless choose the HTC One’s premium construct high quality and visible attraction, because of its use of excessive-grade aluminum via its whole unibody chassis.
The GS4 makes use of polycarbonate and is fairly sturdy, however the HTC One nonetheless has a extra premium construct high quality and visible attraction.
One of many subtlest tweaks to the design within the GS4 may additionally be one of the efficient: the Gorilla Glass three rests only a hair under the sting of the display. This tiny transfer makes the display a tad much less weak than the GS3, which options glass that sits barely above the sting. This would possibly not assure your display’s security once you drop your telephone, however it at the very least will increase the probability of it surviving an impression at an angle.
One other design shift is in Samsung’s selection of decor. At launch, the GS4 will probably be provided in Frost White and Black Mist, and each colours function a cross-stitching sample throughout the back and front. This type is sufficiently delicate on our white evaluate unit and provides just a little additional character to an in any other case plain and shiny system. It stands out extra on the black mannequin, nevertheless, to the purpose the place it’s kind of of an eyesore. With regards to evaluating the darker-hued variations, we a lot choose the brushed-metallic look on the blue GS3. (In full disclosure, we have spent much more time with the white unit, so our views of the black model are based mostly on first impressions we had previous to our evaluation.)
Though it technically has a bigger show than its four.eight-inch predecessor, the 5-inch GS4 is definitely narrower (sixty nine.8mm large, versus 70.6mm on the GS3) as a result of it solely provides vertical display area and has skinnier bezels on both sides. The GS4 loses a lot of the properly-polished curves prominently featured up to now-gen flagship, because it’s designed with broader corners and a crammed-out again, each of that are indicators that Samsung has veered away from its “impressed by nature” mantra. Thankfully, this implies we lastly get to say goodbye to the pebble feel and appear: the sides are straighter from prime to backside, giving our fingers extra floor to understand onto, and the again cowl matches flat on the fake-chrome edge as an alternative of curving round it like waves of the ocean. The whole floor continues to be slick and shiny, besides, it is nonetheless simpler to wrap your arms round this gadget. Measuring 7.9mm (zero.31 inch) thick, the Galaxy S four is zero.7mm (zero.027 inch) thinner than its older sibling. It is also a mere three grams (zero.eleven ounce) lighter. All that stated, the distinction between the 2 units is not noticeable until you are intently inspecting the pair aspect by aspect.
Whereas the house button was virtually utterly flush with the remainder of the physique on the GS3, the S four’s is raised a good quantity. On one hand, bodily buttons are a lot simpler to press this manner; on the opposite, it stands out above the remainder of the display a lot that our fingers catch on it as we swipe down on the show. It is a facet of the telephone we will get used to, though it is unlucky that its placement interrupts the design circulate. As for the remainder of the entrance aspect, the menu and again keys flank the house button on the left and proper, respectively, which is totally reverse of the format used on numerous OEM Android units. Alongside the highest of the display, you will see the two.1-megapixel entrance-dealing with digital camera, earpiece grille and an assortment of sensors.
Flip the telephone over and also you’re introduced with a barely raised digital camera module on the highest with an LED flash slightly below, and a pair of slits over the mono speaker sitting close to the underside; the plastic between them is raised to stop sound from being muffled when the telephone is mendacity face-up. The compulsory logos are right here as nicely: “Galaxy S four,” situated simply above the audio system in conventional trend, and the service emblem (T-Cellular on this case) beneath the flash.
Samsung prefers to make the again cowl detachable, which means you might have quick access to the two,600mAh battery (which doubles because the NFC antenna), together with the microSDXC and micro-SIM slots — in addition to contacts for inductive charging — simply above it. We anticipate to listen to extra concerning the telephone’s wi-fi charging choices from Samsung ultimately, however all we all know for now’s that the corporate plans to promote an elective again cowl with this functionality constructed-in. (Given Verizon’s curiosity in Qi, we cannot be stunned if its model of the GS4 launches with the choice.)
Going across the fake-chrome edges, you will discover the quantity rocker on the left, energy button on the proper, micro-USB / MHL 2.zero connection port on the underside and the three.5mm headphone jack, mic and infrared transceiver on the highest. It is refreshing to see infrared resurging in reputation, as we’re now seeing it in a number of flagship units, although it is utilized in a totally totally different means now than within the days of the Palm Treo and different IrDA-clad units. Which is to say, the first cause for the tech was targeted on knowledge transfers and “beaming,” and now it is merely provided as a common distant.
Within the final two months, Sony and HTC have each launched flagship telephones, every with a spec sheet-topping 1080p show. Though each seemed nice on their very own, the HTC One bested the Xperia Z in almost each attainable means. However now that Samsung is lastly tossing its hat into the ring, will its 5-inch, 1080p Tremendous AMOLED display prime the LCD used on its bitter rival?
Briefly, the 2 are extremely shut, and also you’d in all probability be proud of both one. However let’s dive into extra element about how they differ. AMOLED panels are usually extra saturated in colour than their LCD counterparts, however we have been just a little stunned to see the extent of shade toned down from the GS3; a lot, actually, that the majority photographs we seen matched the pure colour copy we loved on the One. The blacks have been nonetheless darker on the GS4, whereas the whites have been brighter — and viewing angles higher — on the One. Blues appeared one of the best on the GS4, however the reds have been a bit of too saturated for our style. Sure, the world of 1080p smartphone shows is a nitpicker’s heaven, however until you could have an aversion to AMOLED panels, you will be amazingly proud of the crisp textual content and vibrant visuals. Lastly, to ensure we keep away from any confusion, it’s certainly a transparent enchancment over the 720p show on the GS3.
The brand new Synaptics ClearPad within the GS4 is able to detecting your finger from 2cm away.
Moreover, the GS4 makes use of a complicated capacitive touchscreen powered by Synaptics, also referred to as ClearPad. This specific display includes a new tech dubbed “3D-Contact” which provides the telephone the power to detect your finger from as much as 2cm away. Not solely does this make it potential to make use of Air View with out an S Pen, it additionally permits chilly-climate people to the touch the display whereas sporting gloves in case you’ve activated the “additional sensitivity mode” within the settings. (In case you are questioning, an S Pen will not work on the GS4 because of the lack of Wacom digitizer, however we’re advised that the C-Pen and different capacitive styli ought to perform completely fantastic.)Software program
Even if Android acquired nary a point out in Samsung’s GS4 launch occasion final month, the gadget is definitely one of many first smartphones (outdoors the Nexus four, in fact) to run Android four.2.2 Jelly Bean, the newest model of Google’s cellular OS. Contemplating it was launched almost six months in the past, this can be a fairly large deal — to not point out yet one more scathing reminder of the prolonged ready interval Android followers endure between updates.
The GS4 runs Android four.2, which continues to be not often utilized in model new units.
Because the GS4 makes use of Android four.2, it provides most of the similar additions launched with the refresh — however not all. One function that did not make the reduce is Photograph Sphere, a intelligent digital camera choice which helps you to sew collectively panorama pictures aligned each horizontally and vertically. You can also’t use the inventory Android keyboard, although Samsung’s collaboration with SwiftKey is certainly a suitable various. What you are able to do, nevertheless, is benefit from expanded Google Now options, use the Daydream display saver and pull down the notification bar with two fingers to entry the fast settings notification bar. (Actually, Samsung’s TouchWiz model boasts much more toggles to select from on this menu, and you may customise the order by which they seem.) Lock display widgets will even be at your disposal each time you wake your telephone up — and Samsung has even developed a number of of its personal, akin to widgets for WatchON, Samsung Music and a customizable grid of your favourite apps.
As is the mantra of each Galaxy system, the GS4 makes use of Samsung’s TouchWiz pores and skin atop almost each potential facet of the firmware. And whether or not you’re keen on the proprietary UI or not, its general format is almost similar to what you will discover on the GS3. You’ll be able to nonetheless use as much as seven residence pages, and also you’re handled to the identical app menu, choices and gestures. Even the usual notification bar seems to be precisely alike. Samsung is a fan of consistency, and lots of TouchWiz lovers will recognize the minimal studying curve required to make the leap to this system. Merely put: in the event you loved the firmware on the GS3, your expertise with its successor shall be simply as rapturous, if no more so. When you’re hoping to run customized ROMs instead of TouchWiz, you’ll have to attend for a short while since Samsung has confirmed to us that the bootloader is locked.New options
With one other flagship Galaxy gadget comes yet one more wave of brand name-new software program gimmicks perks. This should not stun anybody who’s already conversant in Samsung; the corporate’s been cranking out onslaughts of latest gesture- and movement-based mostly options — alongside quite a lot of different apps and providers — with every new model. Some are helpful, however much more are merely celebration tips that appear to be designed for his or her wow issue.
The function that has arguably acquired probably the most consideration is Sensible Scroll. The entrance-dealing with digital camera detects your eyes after which tracks the motion of your head, in a lot the identical method as most different Sensible options. Should you tilt your head down, the web page you are taking a look at scrolls down; tilt your head up and the display scrolls up as properly. It is an ideal concept, in principle, however we finally discovered it irritating for a number of causes. First, it solely works in particular apps. As an example, the inventory web browser helps it, however Chrome doesn’t, and we could not scroll by means of Samsung’s menus utilizing this technique, both. (There is no phrase on whether or not this function shall be included into an SDK ultimately for third-social gathering builders, however we’re optimistic about it.)
Sensible Scroll is a enjoyable concept in concept, however our neck acquired drained extra shortly than our fingers when doing the identical activity.
Second, it will not work in a dimly lit space because it has to select up your eyes. Third, your face cannot be too shut or too distant — you will get the most effective outcomes from between two and three ft away. We additionally grew shortly uninterested in bobbing our head up and right down to do an exercise we will simply do with a flick of a finger. Lastly, it does not all the time work as promised. In some instances, tilting your head up gives no outcomes, no matter how clean or jerky your facial actions are. Different occasions, the display scrolls down even when your face is out of the digital camera’s line of sight. On a number of events, even, the display merely stopped scrolling mid-web page, even if we hadn’t moved or blinked. (In full disclosure, we now have solely reviewed the T-Cellular mannequin, so it is potential that the expertise might range on the unbranded GS4. We’ll replace this evaluate if we discover differing experiences with different fashions.)
Proper up there amongst the extremely touted GS4 providers is a function referred to as Group Play, a P2P networking software that expands on the options launched in Group Forged final yr. On this mode, your telephone establishes an advert-hoc WiFi hotspot. When a number of GS4 units are inside vary, all of them could be related to one another, giving them the power to share music, pictures, docs and even video games with one another. Whereas sharing pictures and docs on this trend are par for the course, Group Play provides some fascinating twists to the music and video games area. As an alternative of merely sharing the track with a good friend, this function lets every telephone act as a special encompass sound speaker, with the grasp unit answerable for which songs to play. For video games, the function provides you and a good friend the prospect to go head-to-head towards one another, although this is not something we’ve not seen already.
Since GS4 models are a little bit of a rarity lately, we did not get to check this specific function a lot apart from a couple of minutes once we first acquired our gadget at a press briefing. Throughout that have, every part functioned precisely as marketed and we had no hassle sharing music. Given that you simply in all probability will not have a number of pals choosing up GS4 models immediately, Group Play is a troublesome function to advocate; as soon as the flood of excited shoppers begin pouring in — to not point out units just like the Notice III that appear like locks to obtain the service when it launches — it’s going to turn into infinitely extra practical. Till that occurs, nevertheless, it is no higher than vaporware.
The subsequent “sensible” function Samsung boasts on the GS4 is Sensible Pause. The telephone pauses the video or film you are watching any time your eyes look away from the display. That is one other function that does not look like common: it labored properly within the pre-loaded YouTube and Samsung Video apps, however it did not register in Play Films and third-get together gamers downloaded from the Play Retailer. This function carried out nice in common mild, however if you wish to (or should) watch a full-size film at the hours of darkness — you recognize, the popular setting for watching films — it is in all probability not going to work out so properly. In fact, we aren’t passionate about the thought of getting the video cease anytime we shut our eyes or briefly take our gaze away from the display, so it is good that the function is turned off by default.
Lastly, an app referred to as S Translator could possibly be probably the most helpful of the bunch. Converse a phrase in a single language and the telephone is ready to translate it and rattle off the translated phrase in a totally totally different language. If the app is having hassle understanding what you are saying, you’ll be able to select to sort it in textual content to get the identical end result. If that does not work both, this system has a big library of preset phrases already saved. Decide the class you are inquisitive about — say, it is advisable get to the airport — and the app can train you methods to ask for a taxi (or you possibly can simply have it do the asking for you, if you are lazy that is your most popular type). Have a selected query or phrase you ask lots all through your travels? Why undergo the difficulty of studying it when you possibly can simply favourite it for fast entry later?Different notable options
We’re not achieved but: there are nonetheless a number of extra particular options value highlighting. IR seems to be making an enormous comeback, and the included transmitter discovered within the prime of the GS4 transforms the smartphone right into a distant management. The HTC One and LG Optimus G Professional do the identical factor, and identical to the previous, Samsung is partnering with Peel — not an enormous shock, as the 2 corporations have teamed up earlier than on merchandise just like the Galaxy Tab 7.7. The app they’ve created is WatchON, which acts as a common distant, leisure information and Netflix portal all wrapped up into one. These final two options will range in usefulness relying on cable supplier and gear (trace: Netflix does not appear to do a lot good if you do not have Google TV). We have been in a position to make use of the distant perform to hook up with a number of leisure methods with out our fingers breaking right into a sweat; in reality, we received a member of the family’s system arrange and dealing quicker than it might’ve taken us to determine their very own mess of remotes.
Security Help could also be one of many cleverest options on the GS4, however the US fashions will not supply it.
We’ll make temporary point out of the subsequent function purely on account of its cleverness, even if it will not be out there in any US fashions at launch (which means, we could not check it). The app we’re referring to known as Security Help, a software you can escape if you end up in an emergency and have to broadcast your whereabouts (with out utilizing GPS, in fact). Activating the service, which is completed by holding down quantity up and down for 3 seconds, will immediate the telephone to take an image from each cameras and routinely ship them to a pre-decided contact. It will permit that individual to see precisely the place you are at. Hopefully it’s going to by no means have for use, however one thing like this must be included on numerous telephones.
The Galaxy S four has one other distinctive functionality that we have but to see elsewhere: compatibility with Mobeam. By no means heard of it? No sweat. The startup makes it attainable for any commonplace bar code scanner — grocery shops are the preferred examples, however this might prolong to any state of affairs — to scan digital coupons saved in your smartphone. How is that this completed? It makes use of the proximity sensor constructed into the handset to bounce mild into the scanner, mimicking the sample of your coupon within the course of. It is fairly attainable that we’ll start seeing this functionality present up in additional new units (legacy telephones cannot be programmed with this function), however the GS4 is the primary to supply this specific performance.
Lastly, the GS4 features a pair of options referred to as Adapt Show and Adapt Sound which perform precisely because the names suggest: Show is a flowery auto brightness software that figures out what you are viewing, in addition to the setting you are in, and adjusts the display brightness to suit your wants. Naturally, Adapt Sound is the audio equal of this function and is able to adjusting your music or audiobook quantity as you modify songs or movies, making the sound persistently optimized to your preferences.Look ma, no S Pen!
One of many distinctive points of Samsung’s Galaxy Observe collection is the S Pen, a stylus-like gadget that provides you new methods to work together with the display. Because of the GS4’s extremely-delicate show, nevertheless, S Pen options are starting to trickle right down to extra units with out truly needing to make use of the pen in any respect. One of the best instance of that is Air View, which does most of the similar issues already completed on the Word 2, however together with your finger appearing because the S Pen. Maintain one in every of your digits above the calendar to get a pop-up display of the day’s appointments, above your emails to see the primary few strains of textual content (Gmail not included, sadly), above the browser to make the textual content bigger and above the progress bar when watching films to preview a scene.
Samsung’s been including fancy gesture- and movement-based mostly tips to its flagships for a number of years now, because of the massive array of sensors made out there to Android units. Within the case of the GS4, the corporate has included a set of options referred to as Air Gesture. We first noticed a glimpse of this within the Word 2 with Fast Look, however it’s been enormously expanded this time round. Air Bounce allows you to do web page-up and web page-down scrolls by waving your hand up or down, whereas Air Browse will change you from one browser tab to a different if you wave your hand back and forth. And Air Transfer helps you relocate icons (specifically, apps and calendar appointments) to different pages by holding them with one finger and waving your free hand left or proper.
Lastly, one final function that is gained reputation within the Word collection is Multi Window, and it is absolutely practical within the GS4. Press and maintain the again button and a tab will magically seem. Faucet on it to behold a sidebar of apps that help the function. Since third-social gathering builders have been doing a tremendous job of hopping on board, loads of purposes are already suitable.Digital camera
Samsung has been mass-producing eight-megapixel digital camera modules for its flagships ever because the Galaxy S 2, so it virtually comes as a shock that the corporate is able to push forward with a thirteen-megapixel mannequin. As our expertise with the HTC One confirmed, megapixel rely doesn’t a terrific digital camera make, nevertheless it definitely cannot harm (in concept). And let’s face it: potential consumers usually tend to see thirteen megapixels as favorable to Samsung’s earlier 8MP modules — particularly whenever you examine it to the One’s 4MP rely, Ultrapixels or not.
Moreover, the GS4 rear digital camera lens makes use of an f/2.2 aperture, four.235mm focal size and a sixty nine-diploma angular area of view; the 1/three.06-inch sensor presents a pixel measurement of 1.12 microns (in comparison with 2.zero microns on the One). Its 13MP decision is about at a facet ratio of four:three, so sixteen:9 followers might want to go right down to 9.6 megapixels for a widescreen choice. On paper, the specs point out a reasonably strong setup for a flagship, however efficiency does not all the time match up with the specs — particularly now that we have used the One extensively and located it to be a bar-raiser when it comes to its low-mild outcomes.
Samsung took one step ahead and one step again with its digital camera UI. Mainstream customers will not have any drawback adjusting to the interface, a whole lot of which has been carried over from the Galaxy Digital camera: it consists of twin shutter buttons (one for stills and one for video, identical to HTC’s Sense UI), gallery entry above and a button beneath that allows you to select from 9 totally different modes, most of which we’ll talk about in additional element shortly. The place it regresses from earlier telephones, nevertheless, is within the complicated settings menu, which is discovered on the highest-left nook of the viewfinder. Press it as soon as and you’ve got a small listing of shortcut choices, in addition to one other gear icon indicating you’ve got extra settings to select from (you may as well entry this menu just a little extra simply by hitting the menu key from the primary viewfinder).
Some digital camera modes additionally embrace a downward arrow close to the underside of the viewfinder that options much more choices to select from. Since these menus are totally different with every corresponding mode — and absent in some modes altogether — it might take some getting used to. Talking of which, let’s dive into the brand new options Samsung has cooked up for the GS4.New digital camera modes
As you’ll be able to see, Samsung has constructed a fame for providing all kinds of lavish settings that give you a chance to tweak your photographs in a plethora of the way. With the GS4, it is truly increasing its efforts much more, as a number of new digital camera modes have been added to the combination. Lots of them are nice for displaying off at events with little usefulness elsewhere, however we discovered ourselves utilizing a number of of them on a extra common foundation. We’ll talk about every one so as of significance.
Twin-shot takes benefit of each cameras on the telephone concurrently. You now have the chance to shoot footage or movies with the entrance and rear cameras on the similar actual time, successfully creating an image-in-image impact just like what we have already seen on the Optimus G Professional, in addition to many televisions. The smaller body — which is the entrance digital camera view by default, although you possibly can change views simply at any time — is resizable, may be moved to any a part of the viewfinder and may take the type of a field, coronary heart, stamp or Wizard of Oz-fashion floating cloud, amongst others. The GS4 even permits you to do a cut up-display impact, with half of the display displaying the entrance and the opposite half displaying the again. We all know it is gimmicky, however it’s considered one of our favourite options and we think about loads of individuals will discover good use for it.
The GS4 additionally gives what we wish to name “photobomb mode,” formally generally known as Eraser. It takes a collection of photographs for 5 seconds and provides you the power to take away any objects which might be shifting within the background. Sound acquainted? That is as a result of it does precisely the identical factor as Scalado Take away — heck, we would not be in the least stunned if Samsung partnered with the corporate to make it occur. Regardless, this can be a helpful function, however there are a pair drawbacks. First, you must truly be on this mode for it to work; for those who’re in the usual digital camera mode and a photobomber decides to destroy your youngsters’ solely image with Goofy on the happiest place on Earth, you are out of luck. Second, it sometimes acts finicky, which signifies that it does not all the time decide up each shifting object.
Sound and Shot is a spiffy function to point out off to your mates, however we discovered no use for it in any other case. On this mode, the telephone takes the image after which data 9 seconds of audio instantly following it; then, that recording will play again any time you view the picture. The purpose of that is to seize reminiscences of the occasion because it unfolds, however we had a troublesome time determining many good use case situations for it.
Then there’s Drama Shot, which additionally appears to have been designed particularly to bedazzle onlookers. It takes a collection of burst photographs — ideally of a topic that is shifting from one aspect of the viewfinder to the opposite — and combines them into one picture. Consider these old style “motion photographs” of sports activities stars like Michael Jordan going up for a slam dunk, and you will get the thought. Actually, these frankly are the perfect use instances for this specific function.
Most of Samsung’s new digital camera modes are enjoyable to make use of a couple of occasions, however supply little sensible use.
The final mode we’ll talk about is Animated Photograph. With this, the digital camera takes a 5-second video clip and allows you to determine which elements of the display to freeze and which of them to animate. You possibly can select to have the top end result go in a ahead or backward loop, or go loopy and have the clip trip. In different phrases, that is your probability to make a very fancy GIF and have sure sections of the display frozen in time. One thing you’d use often? In all probability not. A cool function to have? Completely. If we’re being trustworthy, we had problem making something look notably inventive, nevertheless it’s enjoyable to attempt, no less than. Sadly, although, there seems to be no method to return and redo your masterpiece after it has been saved.
On prime of this record of distinctive digital camera modes, the GS4 additionally gives HDR, Magnificence Face, Greatest Face, Greatest Photograph, Panorama, Sports activities and Night time modes. A lot of the scene modes we have been accustomed to seeing in older Samsung telephones are not current — the autumn colours, backlight, candlelight, sundown and a number of other others at the moment are included into the digital camera’s auto mode, which suggests it is sensible sufficient to pick one of the best scene based mostly on every particular person state of affairs.Digital camera efficiency
We have coated Samsung’s fancy feast of options advert nauseam, however as any photographer can attest to, these sorts of issues do not assure excessive-high quality and nice-wanting pictures. However on the GS4, can you will have your cake and eat it too? Are its snazzy modes and settings compensating for a larger drawback, or do they merely complement a strong imaging module?
The digital camera could be very spectacular in daylight use, however the One nonetheless wins in low mild efficiency.
Luckily, it seems to be choice quantity two, although efficiency nonetheless is not good. Let’s get the dangerous out of the best way: though Samsung advertises zero shutter lag, this solely applies to things which might be already in focus. We had problem capturing shifting objects (youngsters, as an example) with out these photographs popping out blurry; we did not expertise this fairly as incessantly on the One.
One of the crucial necessary points of getting a 13MP digital camera is the quantity of element it is able to capturing, and the GS4 seems to seize just a bit extra of it than the identical pictures taken by the One or the GS3. However the additional pixels do their greatest work when the photographs are zoomed in; not solely can the GS4 zoom in additional than the One and GS3, it additionally permits for extra cropping and presents extra definition than the opposite aforementioned units. Colour copy is barely oversaturated; dynamic vary is noticeably higher; and the pictures aren’t as oversharpened because the One. In terms of daylight imagery, Samsung’s newest and biggest is fairly spectacular, and bests the HTC One, which has been our favourite shooter on an Android system up to now and nonetheless provides excellent colours and pure mild. For examples of low-mild efficiency, we have included galleries of samples from each telephones under so you possibly can examine. (Replace: we have additionally added the complete-res variations of our samples to Flickr. Head right here for the GS4 and right here for the HTC One.)
There’s one lacking puzzle piece, nevertheless, and that is low-mild efficiency. Can Samsung’s newest and biggest maintain a candle to a tool that does not truly want any candles to select up mild? The excellent news is that the GS4 is best on this regard than any Samsung telephone digital camera we have seen earlier than, nevertheless it nonetheless cannot outdo the One. The truth is, HTC’s Ultrapixel sensor picks up extra errant mild in its commonplace setting than the GS4 does in devoted Night time mode. That stated, we observed that the GS4 does a greater job with what little quantity of sunshine it may well seize, utilizing its greater decision to clean out noise. Lastly, even if the One has a tremendous LED flash, the GS4’s is even brighter.
Video is captured at a most decision of 1080p at 30 fps, and presents a bit price of 17 Mbps. It isn’t a horrible camcorder alternative, however there’s nothing about it that basically stands out both. Finally, it is simply your run-of-the-mill telephone video seize. That stated, the mic picked up wonderful audio whereas filtering out a lot of the wind and different undesirable noise. The GS4 additionally has a stabilization function that, very similar to you’d see in submit-manufacturing software program, trims off the outer edges of the viewfinder, so these of you with shaky palms (this consists of us, too) ought to think about a minimum of giving it an opportunity. You will additionally be capable of play with quick-movement (2, four and 8x) and sluggish-movement (1/2, 1/four and 1/eight) settings for high quality leisure functions.
If the infinite buffet of fabulous digital camera options is not sufficient of a sign, we’ll clue you in: Samsung’s no stranger to imagery extravagance, particularly relating to producing the precise masterpiece. The exception to this rule, nevertheless, is in its publish-manufacturing options. Except for the standard set of modifying instruments, Sammy hasn’t executed a lot to face out from the gang. As a way of adjusting that, the GS4 comes with a brand new app referred to as Story Album, which is a lovechild of a partnership Samsung created with self-publishing outfit Blurb. The service does precisely what the identify implies; briefly, you bundle a bunch of images collectively, create a photograph album out of them after which use your telephone to order a bodily, skilled-fashion model of that assortment — whether or not it’s in hardcover, softcover or journal format. Decide one in every of 5 format designs, add your personal captions and choose which photographs you need to embrace within the album. Blurb claims that these photograph books will probably be provided in as much as seventy five nations, so pricing might range — within the US, you are taking a look at a minimal of $9 for a 20-web page 5 x 5-inch guide. We loved slapping collectively a bunch of albums, although sadly we’ve not had sufficient time to order one but.Efficiency and battery life
Usually talking, flagships function the newest and biggest elements out there on the time of their launch. As you might have guessed, the Galaxy S four continues that custom, as evidenced by each on a regular basis efficiency and artificial benchmarks. This specific smartphone is available in two distinct flavors: one which makes use of a 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset and one which debuts Samsung’s octa-core Exynos 5 chip clocked at 1.6GHz, the latter of which takes 4 Cortex-A15 processors and pairs them up with 4 A7s. Even though the Exynos chip presents LTE compatibility in all 20 frequencies, the US carriers have all gone with the Snapdragon mannequin.
Consequently, our conclusions on the telephone’s efficiency are based mostly on exams with the Snapdragon 600, which is paired with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB RAM. This is identical chip the HTC One and LG Optimus G Professional use, although the GS4 is clocked at a quicker velocity than each of them. The CPU options Krait 300 — a bump from the S4 Professional’s Krait 200, which leads to a 15 % enchancment in directions per clock (IPC) and a “velocity-enhanced” Adreno 320 GPU. The 600 can also be constructed utilizing a 28nm course of, identical to the S4 Professional, and presents 802.11ac help (along with the usual suite of a/b/g/n). How does it maintain up towards the One, and what sort of enchancment does the GS4 have over the GS3? The desk under holds the solutions, so let’s take a fast look.
Though it is solely been one yr because the Galaxy S III was launched, the smartphone business has been the proud recipient of some hefty enhancements in processing energy — and it isn’t over but. The as soon as-dominating drive of a Snapdragon S4 chipset is now eclipsed by the Snapdragon 600, and we now have a sense historical past will repeat itself later this yr as quickly because the 800 is unleashed into the world. Give it some thought: out of the six benchmarks above, the GS4 managed to set data in 5 of them, with the One (the earlier report-breaker) not too far behind.
The GS4 holds the document in 5 of our six benchmark checks.
In our assessment of the HTC One, we witnessed one of the crucial highly effective smartphones we have ever used — and because it makes use of the identical chipset clocked at a better frequency, the Galaxy S four is in comparable territory. Generally, the GS4 performs amazingly nicely, however there is a catch: when Air View and Air Gestures have been enabled, we observed the telephone appearing slightly sluggish even in probably the most primary of duties. It will full these duties each time, however we could not assist however discover some stuttering. This appears to point that Sammy’s razzle-dazzle options are processor hogs and are not value enabling until you employ them on a frequent foundation (as unlikely as which will appear). On the gaming aspect, the Adreno 320 works simply as nicely right here because it did on the One; whereas GLBenchmark ranks the GS4 greater, you probably will not be capable of inform a big distinction when enjoying extra graphic-intense titles like Riptide or Asphalt 7.
Samsung’s bumped its battery capability to 2,600mAh (up from 2,100mAh on the GS3), however its extra elaborate componentry (greater-res display, higher digital camera and extra highly effective processor) are likely to suck down extra power. With this stability in thoughts, we weren’t stunned to seek out that battery life measured by our rundown check (video looping with 50 % brightness and different standardized settings) was solely marginally higher. All advised, it made it by way of one full cycle in 9 hours and quarter-hour. If we’re evaluating T-Cellular variations, this implies the GS4 bested the GS3 by 17 minutes. That is additionally above common for an early-2013 flagship telephone; since we’re within the behavior of evaluating to HTC’s satisfaction and pleasure, the One snagged six and a half hours on the identical check. In full disclosure, we weren’t capable of check out the GS4 in an LTE space, although the telephone had a full HSPA+ sign. As for actual life, we sometimes received round 14 or 15 hours of normal utilization earlier than it was time to recharge. Because of this energy customers ought to have the ability to make it by way of a full workday with slightly additional to spare for the commute, and almost everybody else will probably get fairly near bedtime earlier than the telephone will get within the pink.
On a full day of normal use, the GS4 managed to final for round 14-15 hours.
Once we used the GS4 for making calls, the quantity was loud, although nonetheless barely quieter than on the One and iPhone 5. We might hear the individual on the opposite high quality, they usually in flip could not inform once we have been strolling down a busy road, because of the telephone’s noise-cancellation capabilities. The exterior audio system used are louder than the GS3, however not as loud because the One’s BoomSound stereo choices.
When a tool has a number of variants, community efficiency is hard to outline, at the least with one assessment unit. Samsung provides as much as six potential units of radio frequencies, so it is finally as much as particular person operators to determine which one works greatest for his or her community. For instance, T-Cellular and AT&T each have quad-band LTE (bands 2, four, 5 and 17) and quad-band GSM / EDGE, however T-Mo presents 850 / AWS / 1900 / 2100 DC-HSPA+ as much as forty two Mbps whereas AT&T’s HSPA+ bands cowl 850 / 1900 / 2100. (As an apart, T-Cellular confirmed to us that its LTE antenna operates with 5-20MHz bandwidth.) Verizon and Dash each use 850 / 1900 CDMA / EVDO in addition to 850 / 1900 GSM / EDGE / UMTS / HSPA+, although Massive Purple’s choice presents LTE in bands four and thirteen (seven hundred / AWS) whereas Dash makes use of band 25 (1900). The Now Community makes use of a detachable SIM and can unlock international GSM roaming after the primary ninety days of service; we anticipate Verizon to supply worldwide roaming as properly, however we have but to obtain affirmation. The mainstream international fashions, the Snapdragon 600-powered I9505 and Exynos-powered I9500, supply quad-band GSM / EDGE, quad-band HSPA+ (850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100) and as much as six LTE bands. All of this can be a great distance of claiming that knowledge efficiency will differ on which specific mannequin you employ, though our T-Cellular unit obtained speeds that have been in keeping with the GS3 and different comparable flagship telephones utilizing the identical community.Wrap-up
In drawing our conclusion of the Samsung Galaxy S four, we discover ourselves at an fascinating junction: whereas our geek senses maintain tingling on the considered so many market-topping specs contained inside the similar chassis, we additionally aren’t overjoyed, per se, with pleasure. The design does not really feel recent, particularly not subsequent to the HTC One, however we will not deny that it is an enchancment over the GS3. On the plus aspect, it has higher battery life, the identical clean efficiency and an attractive show, and some diehards will like its inclusion of microSDXC and a detachable battery cell. Software program-sensible, Samsung’s model-new options are progressive and intelligent, but most of them do not clear up any precise UX issues; they appear impractical and are (in some instances) much less handy than tried-and-true strategies we have used prior to now.
Should you’re contemplating a transfer from an older Samsung gadget, the GS4 is completely the handset you need. Your studying curve will probably be minimal because of TouchWiz’s constant UI, and in addition to, it is usually an amazing smartphone — heck, the telephone itself is the most effective Samsung handset we have used so far, and it will undoubtedly give the One a run for its cash. All advised, each telephones have totally different strengths and weaknesses, so one handset sadly will not match all. However once we examine it to the attention-catching appear and feel of the One, we will not assist however consider one phrase to explain Samsung’s specific flagship entry: predictable.
Edgar Alvarez contributed to this assessment.