Samsung Galaxy S4 Review

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In this day and age, when someone buys a smartphone the numbers suggest that they are trying to decide between Android and iOS. When you look even deeper at the numbers, they suggest that consumers are mainly looking at two phones for their next purchase. Namely, the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5. Samsung and Apple hold over 50% of all of the smartphone market, and things don't look to be changing for some time. While companies fumble and trip over each other, Samsung and Apple seem to have the smartphone market game down. We are finding out what consumers want and don't want, and it seems they make like incremental updates. At least that's what Samsung and Apple are hoping.

Kyle's Samsung Galaxy S4 Review (via TechCtrlr)

The last week or so I got to play around with a "big" phone called the Samung Galaxy S4. It is the latest flagship smart phone from South Korean manufacturer Samsung. Samsung has taken Google's Android operating system to new heights with Samsung holding 32.7% of all smart phone market share. That is huge for both Samsung and Google, and they are sure to take more of the market as people start adopting the S4 in the coming months.

Samsung is holding 32.7% of the entire smart phone market share, not just Android

The Galaxy S4 is proving two things about Samsung. They are proving that they can grow a relationship with consumers that many other smart phone manufactures can't seem to do. People buy the latest Samsung phone because to consumers, it is the best option on the market and they trust Samsung. For good reason too. The Samsung Galaxy S3 was and is a solid phone, while it's successor is also just as good and in many ways better. Samsung is also proving that they believe that Apple's strategy of design is a good one. Many other Android manufactures release phones every year that look completely different. Many Android users have criticized Apple for their incremental updates, but Samsung seems to think that keeping the basic user experience the same, while slightly improving the hardware, is actually the what the end user wants. At least, that is what they are implying the the Galaxy S4. There isn't much change here from last years model.

DESIGN

HEY LOOK A GS3...OH WAIT...

Design is huge for me. I love a phone with a great esthetically appealing look while feeling great feel in the hand. Unfortunately, to me this phone gives me neither. The Galaxy S4 borrows much of it's look and feel from it's predecessor the Galaxy S3. What does that mean exactly? You get a smooth glossy back that feels quite cheap and plasticky. This feeling flows through the entire phone really, and it really takes away from the user experience. It would be nice if I could say, what the GS4 loses in esthetics it gains in ergonomics, but unfortunately that is not the case. The Galaxy S4 felt like a cheap plasticky behemoth in my hand. No matter how I held it, the S4 seemed to either want to slip out of my hand, due to the cheap slippery plastic, or I had to hold it with two hand. To me, a 5 inch screen is not for one-handed use. Trying to use this phone as a one-handed device proved to be very strenuous, and I gave up on it quickly.

GALAXY S4 GALLERY

VIEW FULL GALLERY

After owning a Nexus 4, I have grown accustomed to onscreen buttons. This is probably exactly what google wants to hear, considering that is the design language they are pushing for, and what works best with the overall experience of the operating system. Having a designated home button is nice sometimes, but having onscreen keys really leaves the power of the user experience in the developers hands. It also makes things like Google Now and multitasking, seem like they are hidden features. This is something that you are used to however, if you are moving from an S3 to an S4.

THE CAMERA

not very forgiving if you have a shaky hand

The Galaxy S4's 13 mega-pixel camera is quite good, especially when stacked against the competition. In good lighting the Galaxy S4 blows every other Android phone out of the water, and sometimes even gives the iPhone 5 a run for it's money. However, I did notice that the Galaxy S4 is not very forgiving if you have a shaky hand. There was many times I had to retake a shot quite a few times due to an unsteady hand. Although, this isn't really a problem when you see how fast the shutter speed is on this camera. I sometimes took to many pictures due to the fact I didn't know I had already taken a picture. While the camera is great in decent lighting, it loses some of it's high quality in low light. The Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC One are extremely more accurate in low lighting. So, if your someone who is snapping pictures in low light areas often, you should definitely take that into consideration.

SAMPLE SHOTS

VIEW FULL GALLERY

Samsung Galaxy S4 Camera Test (via TechCtrlr)

VIDEO

Video captured on the Galaxy S4 is a very similar story. The Galaxy S4's camera for video recording is quite fantastic. Video is crisp and clear, while the color seems very vibrant and true to life. There are a few times when the color may seem a little over saturated however, and the quality drastically decreases in low light. It is definitely one of the best video cameras on any smartphone today.

TOUCHWIZ

While touchWiz has improved over time, and it is not the incredibly ugly and bloated skin that is used to be, it is still a nuisance for me. Coming from a Nexus 4, anything other than pure Android feels wrong to me. The skin over the messaging app, the notification shade, and the hints of purple and green everywhere got to me fairly quickly. I yearned for stock 4.2, and fortunately there were many others like me. When the Samsung Galaxy S4 was released on AT&T they locked the boot loader and made it nearly impossible to root and rom the phone. Nearly impossible. Within a week there was a way around it and plenty of tutorials to help you through the process. But, with TouchWiz comes all the air gestures and bundled Samsung apps. A lot of which, are actually not half bad. Most are gimmicky little features that you will show a few friends and soon forget about, but there are a few gems. One of which, is the ability to have your hand over the phone when your getting a call and it will answer the phone on speaker. That is great if your eating. Another nice feature, is the ability to have two apps open at the same time. While, I don't think I would use it that often, there are not that many phones that have true multitasking capabilities. I can see it being very useful for some consumers

WRAP UP

Samsung's Galaxy S4 is a solid phone with minor drawbacks. For someone like me, it just doesn't make sense. Design is huge for me, and I wasn't a fan of the Galaxy S3, so it comes to no surprise that I found the design of the Galaxy S4 to be atrocious. The giant slippery plastic device just doesn't quench my thirst for good design quite like the HTC One. To me, 5 inch phones are just to big for the average user. At 5 inches, you can't use the phone with just one hand, and you also only get blown up phone apps rather than full fledged tablet apps. Most of the features you find on the phone just waste space and don't add that much actual value to the overall user experience. The screen is absolutely gorgeous though, and what the GS4 loses in functionality, it gains in pixel density. It also has one of the best cameras I have used on a mobile device. At the end of the day, even though I wouldn't own the phone myself, I still recognize it as one of the best Android phones on the market. Would I recommend it to my friends and family? Absolutely not. I still think the HTC One and the iPhone 5 are more compelling choices over the GS4.

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