Key features

·         Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE; quad-band 3G with HSPA; LTE
·         5" 16M-color 1080p Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 3
·         Android OS v4.2.2 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz UI
·         Quad-core 1.9 GHz Krait 300 CPU, Adreno 320 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset/ Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7, PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU; Exynos 5410 chipset
·         2GB of RAM
·         13 MP autofocus camera with LED flash,1080p video recording @ 30fps, continuous autofocus and stereo sound
·         2 MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
·         Dual shot and dual video recording, Drama shot, Shot and sound
·         Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA
·         GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
·         16GB/32/64GB of built-in storage
·         microSD card slot
·         microUSB port with USB host and MHL 2.0
·         Bluetooth v4.0
·         NFC
·         IR port for remote control functionality
·         Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
·         Accelerometer and proximity sensor
·         Barometer, thermometer, hygroscope
·         IR gesture sensor for Air gestures
·         Smart gestures: Smart stay, Smart pause, Smart scroll
·         Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
·         2600 mAh battery with great endurance
·         7.9mm thickness
·         Smart volume and Adapt Sound features for the music player

Since the very first Galaxy S, which came out in 2010, Samsung has been regularly refining and improving its formula for success in the mobile industry. 

Today, the Galaxy S phones stand for approachable design, superb performance and premium features. By the looks of it, the new Galaxy S4 is going to have all three components. Hope it will  be the same outstanding success as its predecessors.

The market landscape this year is different from what it was in previous years. The competition is no longer as confused and unprepared as it used to be. For the first time ever, the Galaxy S smartphone of the year will have to go against some very tough Android-powered opponents like the marvelous HTC One and Sony Xperia Z, both of which offer impressive designs and unique features. Has Samsung managed to come up with enough goodies to make the Galaxy S4 the undisputed king of the Android jungle, or will the throne be stolen by some of the other contenders?

The smartphone wars are getting more and more intriguing. The battle which used to be between two powerful factions has grown into a full-blown massacre now that the other parties have joined. The Galaxy S4 is here, so let's take a good look at it and try to determine its chances of being the last phone standing!


The appearance of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is untouched compared to the one of the S III, but let's just say that the design language is almost identical. Still, we have to acknowledge the fact that the manufacturer has refined the exterior a bit. Even then, the Galaxy S4's appearance isn't anything to write home about. Its main virtues are that it's not bad and it's comfortable to hold, despite the considerable dimensions.

The latter is not only due to the ergonomic shape of the product, but also to the nice glossy plastic material that's been used for the casing. If you've touched a Galaxy S III, the GS 4's plastic feels exactly the same way. As always, it attracts fingerprints, but that's not a  problem. The non-slippery, pleasant-to-touch finish more than makes up. The design of the back side is rather bland, as it only houses the camera, LED flash, Samsung logo and tiny speaker grill.

                         FRONT VIEW                       
                           Side view

The GS4 is a true engineering achievement, as it packs a larger screen than the GS III, but manages to be a bit smaller and lighter at the same time. All physical keys on the Galaxy S4 function very well. That includes the Home, Power/Lock and Volume buttons. Of course, some of them could be even better, namely the volume rocker, but they won't cause you any trouble the way they work now.

If we have to describe our feelings towards the GS4's design in a single sentence, we would say that it isn't anything to write home about, but it works. We still dislike the fact that the back cover is a thin, flimsy piece of plastic, but at least it has a pleasant in-hand feel to it.

The 4.99in Super AMOLED display is gorgeous. It has a Full HD, 1,920x1,080 resolution with a high pixel density of 441ppi. While that's certainly impressive, the HTC One has the same resolution but a smaller screen, so a higher pixel density of 468ppi and the Sony Xperia Z has the same size screen and resolution, so has a matching 441ppi.
It’s worth noting that you can't directly compare the Galaxy S4 to LCD-based Full HD handsets, such as the HTC One. This is because Samsung continues to use a Super AMOLED display with a PenTile pixel arrangement. Simply put, this means there are only two coloured sub-pixels per pixel instead of three.
As before, this Super AMOLED screen by Samsung uses a PenTile matrix, but the manufacturer has tweaked the technology a bit, adding an additional green subpixel to each pixel. This, combined with the high pixel density means that you won't be able to notice the pixelization problems observed with the early PenTile screens. On the screen of the Galaxy S4, everything is smooth and free of graininess.

The reduced colour resolution is made up for by the excellent contrast and blacks that AMOLED provides (as well as lower power usage), but it’s a matter of taste which screen type you prefer. When we saw the phone we found its screen bright and colourful, but we'll save a full opinion for when we can do a proper side-by-side comparison.
As expected, the screen can be operated just by hovering your finger over it, giving rise to two new features. Air View lets you hover over content, such as an email or photo, to preview it without having to open it. Air Gesture lets you change tracks, scroll through a web page or answer a call with a wave of your hand.

Needless to say, colors are quite vivid and saturated. They make for an amazing multimedia experience (images, HD video, games...). Thankfully, there's an option allowing you to tone the saturation down a bit and make the colors look a bit more realistic. 

As you would expect out of an AMOLED screen, viewing angles are terrific, though there's some colour degradation observed when you're viewing the handset at more extreme angles, but this generally isn't a problem.

Outdoor visibility isn't top-notch, because the screen can't get very bright. We mean, it's bright, but definitely not the brightest out there. As a result, viewing will be difficult if you're outside and it's a beautiful, sunny day. The brightness can also be set very low, but again, it would have been better if it could go even lower, so as to make using the handset in the dark a bit more comfortable for our eyes.
Gorilla Glass 3 helps make the phone durable, although we'd still recommend a screen protector or case if you're going to keep your phone in a pocket with sharp items, such as keys.


The phones at the event were kitted out with Exynos octa-core processors running at 1.6GHz. It's not strictly an eight-core phone, though, as it uses ARM's big.LITTLE architecture. The eight cores are divided in two, with four high-power, complex cores to do the heavy lifting and four smaller, power-efficient cores for more mundane tasks. The S4's architecture is designed so that the phone can switch seamlessly between the different types of core.
However, at the launch Samsung confirmed that the UK version of the phone will have a measly four cores. The good news is that the UK S4's Snapdragon 600 chipset will run at a faster 1.9GHz, which will hopefully go some way to making up for the cores shortfall.
The Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS certainly felt fast on the phone and web browsing was similarly as slick. We can't imagine that things will get worse with the UK version of the phone, but we'll have to save final judgement until we get our hands on a production model.



The battery on the S4 is an impressive 2,600mAh. That's around 500mAh bigger than the S3's battery and bigger than the vast majority of batteries used in smartphones today. With such a big battery it shouldn't have any problems providing all-day power.


The camera has been upgraded to a 13-megapixel model. It has a Backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor for better low-light sensitivity, although there's also a flash for when it's really dark. We took a few test shots in the dark demo hall and they looked fine on-screen, but actual quality tests need to wait until we have a test handset.
At the front is a 2-megapixel BSI camera. While it can be used for video calling, it can also be used with Samsung's Dual Camera mode, which lets you superimpose a shot from the front camera on the footage from the rear camera. In practice, this means that you can have your floating head, bordered by a postage-stamp frame imposed on the picture taken by the main camera. It feels a little gimmicky.
The front camera also serves a purpose in controlling the phone with Smart Pause. This technology knows when you're looking at the screen so it can, for example, pause a video when you turn your head and look away. As soon as you look back, the video continues. It's a neat way of using the cameras for more than just still images and video.


Samsung hasn't really re-tooled the Touchwiz overlay for the Galaxy S4, but has added some clever upgrades that will have some users talking about innovation.
For instance, the lock screen doesn't have the water rippling any more, but does register your finger from up to two centimetres away, so a little beam of light will follow your digit as you unlock. It's something you'll definitely play with for ages.
It's clear with the Galaxy S4 that Samsung has worked out there's only so much it can do on the hardware side these days – not to say that we're pretty impressed with the spec list - and as such has tried to bring the unique flavour through the interface instead.
As before with Touchwiz, there's a definite sense the whole process has been simplified, as the phone has got a much easier feel to it when swiping around. That's not to say there aren't loads of widgets to be played with, but there is less clutter on the larger screen.
The dock at the bottom of the display pervades, and there are more widgets to play with. Thanks to the Galaxy S4 running Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 you've now got an addition in the notifications bar of a toggle in the top-right hand corner where you can turn on and off pretty much anything, from NFC to Group Cast to eye-tracking.
Swiping around the display was easy as pie – it's not exactly taxing on the processor, but we did note that there was a slight pause as we swiped through the menu screen on this pre-production model.
However, there is a worry that the octa-core (yes, you read that right) 1.6 GHz Exynos 5 CPU, with 2GB of RAM as well, could suck power a little too dramatically – but we've yet to hear the full details of how the CPU will work before we can pass any judgement on that.
Smart Stay, which tracks your eyes to tell if you're looking at the screen, has stablemates now. Smart Pause will note if your gaze leaves the screen and will pause the video, and Smart Scroll will check when you're reading a web page and scroll up and down as you tilt the device.
It's a novel idea for replacing things you do already but in practice we didn't find either that useful. Smart Pause takes a second to register your gaze has gone, which means you'll still miss part of the video, and Smart Scroll (again, pre-production model) was far from accurate when we tilted the phone.
That said, the internet browsing as a whole was sublimely fast (when our conference room Wi-Fi played nicely with the phone) and we were impressed with the clarity of web pages as we zoomed through them.
If Smart Scrolling was the way we'd always used our phones, and then someone invented scrolling with the finger, that would be amazing. It just seems that this is a way of doing things for the sake of it - we can't see the likes of Apple or HTC ever doing the same thing.
Smart Voice hasn't been upgraded beyond improving the accuracy of the voice recognition and Driving Mode, which will give you more voice-related feedback when you're in your motor.
Smart Alert has been upgraded: now it's joined by Air Gestures, which allow you to swipe the phone without touching the screen. So this means you can flip through pictures or music tracks ("good if you have messy fingers" says Samsung) flick to the top of a list by wiping upwards on the screen.

On top of that there's Hover mode, which is the same as Air View on the Note 2 which used the S Pen and tracked when it was near the screen to give previews of emails, video scrolling without disturbing the action, and seeing who is on speed dial.
A quick test with this saw the preview being activated a little too easily, but it's definitely a neat feature and something we could get used to.
Any Android phone fans will be a little perplexed by some areas of the phone, unless of course you've spent some time working with Android 4.2 at any point. The first big change is the fact the notifications bar packs not just the standard icons for turning off Wi-Fi and the like, but a tile to tap that takes you to a whole host of other toggles, from things like AllShare Cast to NFC and more.
The settings menu has also been changed to split into four sections, making it easier to play around with connections, your device settings, accounts for social networks or syncing accounts and more, for the likes of device information.
It might confuse those used to the original way of TouchWiz working, but we think Samsung has worked out a decent way to stop things looking so disjointed.
But overall the good news is the large screen looks great, the improved CPU might not be needed but is welcomed and the little touches like the shining lock screen do actually feel like a real step forward.

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
Samsung Galaxy S4
5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches
136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm
Samsung Galaxy S III
5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches
137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

5.47 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches
139 x 71 x 7.9 mm
Sony Xperia Z

Post a Comment Blogger Disqus