If the Galaxy S III was gently mocked for its design, the S4 has been the unwitting focus of a full-on roast. In a video explaining its design choices, Samsung explains that while the Galaxy S III was inspired by nature, this time it decided to ask the question, "How can we change people's lives for the better?" It concluded that it should be more rational with the S4's design, toning down the curves and eliminating some of its predecessor's flourishes. This focus apparently helped the company make the phone thinner while including a larger display. The product designers say they still managed to introduce "emotional elements" through CMF (color, material, and finish) choices, though.

While phones like the HTC One, the iPhone 5, and the Lumia 920 all draw emotion through premium-feeling materials, the S4's exterior is almost entirely plastic, save a gloss-coated metal stripe that covers the phone's sides. It's "like nothing you've ever seen before," says one Samsung designer, before explaining how the S4's glossy finish is like "countless stars sparkling in the night sky." Although it's clearly unlike the design of its contemporaries, the Galaxy S4 is certainly like something we've seen before—the Galaxy S III.

Perfection through feature accumulation

In terms of its software, Samsung clearly believes the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach adds real value to its products. It says its new flagship smartphone is a more "meaningful life companion" than its last because of the hundreds of new software features.

While musing on the design of an aircraft, French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry famously deduced that "in anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away." While Samsung's product designers seem to be taking Saint-Exupéry's words to heart, its software developers don't appear to be on the same page.