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Friday, 5 April 2013

Galaxy S4 Review

Introduction
Another year, another Galaxy S phone! Since the very first Galaxy S, which came out in 2010, Samsung has been regularly refining and improving its formula for success in the mobile industry. It is mainly thanks to this series of handsets that the manufacturer is now enjoying lush revenue streams and having a profound influence over the whole Android ecosystem.
Today, the Galaxy S phones stand for approachable design, superb performance and premium features. By the looks of it, the new Galaxy S4 is going to have all three components. But will it see the same outstanding success as its predecessors?
The market landscape this year is different from what it was in previous years. The competition is no longer as confused and unprepared as it used to be. For the first time ever, the Galaxy S smartphone of the year will have to go against some very tough Android-powered opponents like the marvelous HTC One and Sony Xperia Z, both of which offer impressive designs and unique features. Has Samsung managed to come up with enough goodies to make the Galaxy S4 the undisputed king of the Android jungle, or will the throne be stolen by some of the other contenders?
The smartphone wars are getting more and more intriguing. The battle which used to be between two powerful factions has grown into a full-blown massacre now that the other parties have joined. The Galaxy S4 is here, so let's take a good look at it and try to determine its chances of being the last phone standing!

Samsung Galaxy S4 is a true engineering achievement - it has a bigger display than its predecessor, yet its overall dimensions are smaller.

Design
It's not that the appearance of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is untouched compared to the one of the S III, but let's just say that the design language is almost identical. Still, we have to acknowledge the fact that the manufacturer has refined the exterior a bit. Even then, the Galaxy S4's appearance isn't anything to write home about. Its main virtues are that it's not bad and it's comfortable to hold, despite the considerable dimensions.
The latter is not only due to the ergonomic shape of the product, but also to the nice glossy plastic material that's been used for the casing. If you've touched a Galaxy S III, the GS4's plastic feels exactly the same way. As always, it attracts fingerprints, but that's not a major problem. The nonslippery, pleasant-to-touch finish more than makes up. The design of the back side is rather bland, as it only houses the camera, LED flash, Samsung logo and tiny speaker grill.

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
Samsung Galaxy S4

5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches
136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm
Samsung Galaxy S III

5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inches
137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm
HTC One

5.47 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches
139 x 71 x 7.9 mm
Sony Xperia Z

The GS4 is a true engineering achievement, as it packs a larger screen than the GS III, but manages to be a bit smaller and lighter at the same time!
All physical keys on the Galaxy S4 function very well. That includes the Home, Power/Lock and Volume buttons. Of course, some of them could be even better, namely the volume rocker, but they won't cause you any trouble the way they work now.
If we have to describe our feelings towards the SGS4's design in a single sentence, we would say that it isn't anything to write home about, but it works. We still dislike the fact that the back cover is a thin, flimsy piece of plastic, but at least it has a pleasant in-hand feel to it.
Display

The Galaxy S4 comes with a wonderful display! Similarly to many high-end Android handsets this year, its diagonal measures 5 inches. The resolution is, of course, 1080 x 1920 pixels. With a pixel density of 441 ppi, it's obvious that the display is incredibly sharp and detailed. It's still a Super AMOLED screen, though, which means that the inherent pros and cons of the technology are all present here.
As before, this Super AMOLED screen by Samsung uses a PenTile matrix, but the manufacturer has tweaked the technology a bit, adding an additional green subpixel to each pixel. This, combined with the high pixel density means that you won't be able to notice the pixelization problems observed with the early PenTile screens. On the screen of the Galaxy S4, everything is smooth and free of graininess.
Needless to say, colors are quite vivid and saturated. They make for an amazing multimedia experience (images, video, games...), but aren't particularly natural, which might be irritating to some, or in some cases. Thankfully, there's an option allowing you to tone the saturation down a bit and make the colors look a bit more realistic.
As you would expect out of an AMOLED screen, viewing angles are terrific, though there's some color degradation observed when you're viewing the handset at more extreme angles, but this generally isn't a problem.
Outdoor visibility isn't top-notch, because the screen can't get very bright. We mean, it's bright, but definitely not the brightest out there. As a result, viewing will be difficult if you're outside and it's a beautiful, sunny day. The brightness can also be set very low, but again, it would have been better if it could go even lower, so as to make using the handset in the dark a bit more comfortable for our eyes.

Interface
We've gotten used to seeing Samsung's phones arrive with the latest Android version available, and the new flagship smartphone doesn't disappoint. Coming straight with Android 4.2.2, the Galaxy S4 has all Android features, plus a ton of custom ones developed by Samsung itself.
The main concept behind this version of the TouchWiz Nature UX remains the same: it's a reskinned version of Android, which looks and feels different from the stock UI. It runs extremely fluidly and is highly customizable, allowing the user to tweak almost all of its aspects. There's a good number of custom widgets, which make it easy for you to compose a useful and informative homescreen setup that has a relatively unified look.
The new features that make a debut on the Samsung Galaxy S4 can be divided into four abstract categories: Fun, Relationship, Life Task and Life Care. Here's some detailed information about all the new goodies:

Fun
Dual shot– This new camera feature makes for some interesting stories, mainly because it compiles videos by recording content with the front and rear cameras. It’s neat because you can tell a story about what you’re trying to shoot in the video.
Sound & Shot– This is simple - it just allows us to record up to 9 seconds of audio when we snap a photo. Therefore, when we preview it in the gallery, it’ll play the recording when we look at it.
Drama Shot– Always wondered how professional photographers snap those cool photos of someone diving into a pool? You know, the ones where it shows in the photo the step-by-step moment? Well, the drama shot feature relies on multi burst to take various photos of something in motion, and then complies them together in a single shot.
Cinema Photo– Now this one is really cool, it’s like having a photo that you can honestly say you’re “feeling the moment.” Basically, it’s like making a GIF image on the smartphone. As the handset is capturing images, we can select what elements to animate and what others we want to keep stationary.
Story Album– The name says it all! It’s a feature that lets us stitch together a story album using pictures, time, place, weather, and more.

Relationship
S Translator– You guessed it folks, the Galaxy S IV makes it super convenient to translate stuff on the fly. Incorporated into a variety of apps, like ChatON, messaging, S Translator app, and email, language barriers will be a thing of the past with this new S Translator feature.
Group Play– There are to aspects of Group Play. First, there’s the ability to allow the smartphone to pair with other Galaxy S IVs so they can conjure up a powerful sound system with its new Share Music feature. Come to think about it, the entire thing kind of reminds us of daisy chaining. Lastly, the Galaxy S IV allow for more social engagement when it comes to playing games. Specifically, optimized versions of Asphalt 7 and Gun Bros 2 allow multiple Samsung Galaxy S IV smartphone to play collaborative games

Ok...


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