Samsung Galaxy S4 review: Supernova
As the Galaxy S counter flips another digit, Samsung has hopes of getting an even tighter grip on the smartphone market, and reasserting its Android dominance. With two of the main rivals enjoying a head-start to the market, the Samsung Galaxy S4 would need to be something special to quickly erase their lead. Not to mention, it's looked upon to match, and outdo, its predecessor. And by the first impressions of the smartphone, that might be not be as tall an order as it sounds.
The new Samsung flagship improves on just about every aspect of the previous generation, coupling more powerful hardware with another handful of new software features. With a bunch of new sensors too, the Galaxy S4 aims to be your must-have all-in-one tool.
Here's the full cheat sheet for our Samsung Galaxy S4 review:
- 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
- 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
- Ample 2600 mAh battery with great endurance
- 7.9mm thickness
- Smart volume and Adapt Sound features for the music player
- Design is a bit played out by now
- Hyperglaze finish doesn't feel as premium as aluminum on HTC One or glass on Xperia Z
- No FM radio
- Video recording is slightly worse than on the Galaxy S III; FOV in video is pretty narrow
- Shared camera interface makes framing tricky
So, there are enough major wows, some minor ohs and just a few oh wells - not a bad achievement when you are succeeding the most popular droid of all time. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was always expected to aim for the top, but its announcement still managed to surprise a few. The fact that the Koreans squeezed a larger screen, a bigger battery and more power into something smaller than the Galaxy S III is impressive enough in its own right, but the novelties certainly don't end there.
We only got the chance to get to know a few of the Samsung Galaxy S4 exclusive software tricks in our preview, but we'll be testing the full set this time around. The new camera also showed promise and we'll put it through all the motions to find out if it can really live up to its potential.
The hardware inspection starts right after the break, with the battery and display test following right after.
Update, April 18: We got a final retail Galaxy S4 unit and redid tests and benchmarks, made new screenshots and checked if the description of all the features is accurate. Here's what we found to have changed:
Update, April 24: Over the past week, we also had the opportunity to spend time with a US version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 for Sprint Wireless. Save for the different bands, the handset's specifications and performance are on par with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 powered device we extensively reviewed.
- Added info and photos on the new eco-friendly box
- The Smart scroll feature works better on the final unit
- New benchmarks showing slightly improved performance
- New audio quality test
- New photo and video samples
We have updated the respective chapters as well as the vs. articles we have with the Galaxy S4 to reflect these changes.