Samsung Galaxy S4 is absolute BEST!
OK so the title is a joke, just in case you were thinking I was part of Sammy's Astroturfing division!
Someone on this forum asked me to give some longterm feedback once I'd had my GS4 for a while, and seeing that other post on the forum reminded me to actually do it.
Anyone who knows me on these forums knows that I'm pretty reasonable; no fan of any company and no fan of people defending their favourite companies for the sake of it. So here goes the good, the bad and the ugly... (oh in my opinion yada yada yada)
The screen on this thing is sickeningly disgustingly good. Hyperbolic much? I know. But seriously, it is outrageous. Anyone suggesting you can 'see' the pentile arrangement is frankly crazy. Don't take my word for it though, check out displaymate or sites like that. When you have a high quality photo wallpaper on your homescreen, it literally looks like you can peel the photo right off the screen it's that good (make your own build quality jokes there).
This phone is never going to win any looks battles. What is does have going for it is form and function. The front of it is just a blank canvas; tiny bezels and no distractions. This is hands down the best consumption device I've honestly ever had, I prefer it for reading than my iPad, especially when lying down because it's one handed.
TW is one ugly piece of software, BUT I personally wouldn't swap the features for the Google edition. I think people exaggerate how bad it is. Out of the box it looks terrible sure. But...Nova launcher. With that installed I basically never even see TW on a daily basis apart from the notification shade. And OK the shade's colours are a little garish...but it's bloody useful and imo WAY better than any other android notification shade. Apart from that there are some nice little touches. Personally I love the unlock animation where a little beam of light follows my finger before it even touches the screen. It's not a big deal...but it just looks awesome and sometimes that's enough.
Yes all the features can cause occasional lag. But as with everything it's all relative. I rarely notice it. I don't turn anything off (animations/features) because I don't want to. Any lag is a total non-issue for me. If I go out of my way I can spot it sometimes, that's it really. In a similar way I use Chrome as a browser rather than aosp too...sure it's not as smooth but the features make up for it for me personally.
One man's gimmick is another's useful feature. Sure I find some of the features gimmicky. Just a few I find useful however are...Airview/swipe is actually pretty useful when showing photos to someone else or when the phone is on a stand. Multi-window I thought would be pointless. Actually I use it quite often when looking something up and emailing it to someone at the same time etc. Wave to wake up I use all the time to check notifications when my phone is on my desk.
Again the camera is just stupidly good. Sure it will get beat by others in low light (but even here it's not bad). In normal lighting conditions it will blow you away.The interface is also really good, and again lots of the features I find gimmicky, but others I don't. I just used drama shot to catch my baby's first steps on camera. Will I use it again? Who knows, but I got a great picture that I couldn't get on most cameras. In general it just works nicely and is a joy to use from a UI point of view. Pretty much the first phone camera I've had that accomplishes all of that.
Button layout is great, and the shape of the phone means it feels very natural in the hand to use it on a daily basis. It's comfortable basically, feeling little bigger than a Nexus 4. One of the reasons I didn't go with a One is that for me it's not comfortable in the hand. The only issue is the plastic on the back. In hot weather it does get a bit slick feeling.
Personally I use the phone with a slim matte plastic case. This actually makes it feel nicer in the hand...which tells you all you need to know about how Samsung dropped the ball here. I don't want an aluminium phone, but I do wish they'd use Nokia-style plastic instead. Should say also though in relation to the other post...if you do drop it and the back cracks...well it'll cost you $10 for a replacement back, rather than a permanently dented aluminium back for example.
Battery life is excellent, I have no problems getting through a full day. Everything depends on personal use of course. But I don't worry about it, and never have to babysit it through a day. My girlfriend's Nexus 4 is in a total different league battery-life wise (in a bad way). And she can't just change the battery in a year's time if she needs to...
So there you have it. All that's off the top of my head, so I'll add anything to the comments that I've forgotten. Feel free to point out anything I've missed/ or ask any questions if you're trying to decide what phone to get.