Samsung Galaxy S4 review round-up

Samsung Galaxy S 4The first Samsung Galaxy S 4 reviews are in as the phone gets ready to go on sale in around 30 markets across the globe this month. Almost every major tech publication in the United States has posted its Galaxy S 4 review this morning, giving us a clear idea of what to expect from this Samsung flagship.

The overall reaction that we gathered from these reviews is that Samsung Galaxy S 4 is good smartphone, but not something great or revolutionary. The lack of design innovation has clearly pushed Samsung Galaxy S 4 behind, else everything on the phone seem to perform great.

Packing the latest Android version with Samsung’s own numerous software customisations (including the gimmicky ones), Samsung Galaxy S 4 packs 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor (some variants will have Exynos 5 Octa on-board).

So, what does the US tech press thinks of Galaxy S 4?

All Things D – Walt Mossberg – Galaxy S4 Is a Good, but Not a Great, Step Up

If you’re a nut for lists of new features, love Samsung or crave an even bigger display, the Galaxy S4 may be for you. It’s a good phone, just not a great one.

  • Some of Samsung’s new software features worked well. A feature called Air View lets you see expanded information about things like email previews and calendar items by hovering over them with your finger. A multi-window feature splits the screen so you can view two apps at once. But both features only work with certain apps.
  • I also liked an improved version of Easy Mode, which substitutes the sometimes confusing normal screens and settings panels for simpler ones with larger, cleaner icons and simplified settings.
  • Another good move: Samsung rewrote the standard Android email app so it’s better, with a unified inbox and other nice improvements.
  • The plastic body felt a bit insubstantial to me and the mono speaker on the rear was only fair. Oddly, I found the sound via headphones to be too soft in some cases, though voice calls were clear.

The Verge – David Pierce – How do you upgrade the best-selling Android phone of all time?

I ended my HTC One review by saying there were two Android phones worth buying, the One and the Nexus 4. That number is now very clearly three, but I had hoped against hope that Samsung would emerge the undisputed winner. The Galaxy S4 is a very good phone in most respects — it has a stellar camera and solid battery life, blistering performance and an impressively useful complement of software features. It’s a technological achievement — there’s no question about that.

  • I don’t like holding this phone, and I can’t overstate how much that informs the experience of using it. It makes an awful first impression, slippery and slimy and simply unpleasant in your hand. My white review unit is completely smooth and glossy, with a subtle checkered pattern that looks textured but is neither grippy nor textured anywhere on its body. Even the silver band around the sides, which is obviously supposed to look like metal, is plastic. Everyone I showed the GS4 to frowned and wrinkled their nose as if it smelled bad, before rubbing their fingers on the back of the phone and then handing it back to me — that’s the opposite of the standard reaction to HTC’s One
  • I don’t know if all the pixels the Galaxy S4’s 13-megapixel sensor are the reason, or if I should credit Samsung’s fast processor or the clear attention paid to its software, but the upshot is that the GS4’s camera is the best Android camera I’ve ever used by a considerable margin, and in most cases it’s every bit as good as the iPhone 5’s camera.
  • My biggest frustration with the HTC One has always been its battery. It’ll last a day, but only with a bit of hand-holding. If that’s lower-middle class, I’d say the Galaxy S4 is upper-middle class: it lasts a full day almost no matter how I use it (unless I stream HD Netflix videos constantly, in which case it dies in about five hours), and will even get me to the morning if I forget to plug it in.

ABC News – Joanna Stern – An Android Phone Commitment You Won’t Regret

If you are looking for an Android smartphone, the Galaxy S4 is a great choice. It’s jam-packed with new camera features, it’s fast, and it has all-day battery life. Beyond all that, its software enhancements – not those gimmicky waving and tilting ones, but the other ones — make it standout amongst all other Android phones and even the iPhone.

  • In my week of testing and trying out software features, the phone was consistently able to keep up with my manic use of it. Thanks to a 1.9GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, the Galaxy S4 launches apps quickly and handles multiple tasks at the same time without a hiccup. More impressively, it is able to stich together hundreds of photos to create those animated photos and other edited photos in just seconds.

Time – Harry McCracken – Gimme One Smartphone, With Everything

If you want the most polished phone with the best selection of apps, the iPhone 5 still has no peer. If you crave Apple-like panache but love Android, HTC’s One is a fine choice. And if what you want is the mainstream phone with the biggest screen and the most built-in stuff, the Galaxy S 4 is your most logical option.

  • Samsung itself was apparently satisfied with the Galaxy S III’s overall personality: the S 4 preserves the same basic look and feel. That includes the plastic case. It’s perfectly pleasant, but doesn’t aspire to match the posh styling of the aluminum iPhone 5 and HTC One and Nokia’s polycarbonate Lumia models.
  • To be fair to Samsung, its new apps are among the best-designed ones I’ve used on one of its phones: the company, which has shipped more than one product with a baffling interface, is getting the knack of building simple, approachable software.

GigaOm – Kevin C. Tofel – Too many features or just right?

Even though the Galaxy S 4 looks much like the model it replaces, this phone is a big step up thanks to the innovative software features and functions that Samsung has integrated. No phone is perfect for everyone, of course. I think most people, however, would be happy to have this device in their pocket.

  • Simply put, TouchWiz has evolved as a powerful software environment that contains so much functionality that Samsung has had to put a tabbed interface in the Settings. In fact, if you enabled all of the buttons in the Notification panel — think one-touch buttons for Wi-Fi, Sound, Bluetooth, etc. — you’d have 19 options to choose from. That’s because of the Samsung-specific features.
  • Would I recommend the Samsung Galaxy S 4? Yes, without hesitation. It’s speedy, runs all day on a single charge, and has a wonderful display. It also offers a removable battery and expandable memory, which not every phone does.

So, what you guys think, will you be choosing Samsung Galaxy S 4 as your next smartphone? Let us know in comments.

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