Surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S4 manages to fit its 5 inch display into a chassis that’s the same height, and even slightly narrower and thinner than the S3.
It’s also about 3g lighter. Just like the Samsung Galaxy S3, The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a rounded polycarbonate plastic chassis. So it won’t compete against the glass-bodied Xperia Z, Or the metal HTC One in terms of premium build quality. Still, keeping a similar polycarbonate build to the Samsung Galaxy S3, Means that the Galaxy S4 can continue to offer features like a swappable battery, While of course remaining very lightweight. There are improvements to the S4’s design though. I think the overall look is better compared to the S3. And I find that it’s slimness makes it much more comfortable to hold in the hand. One factor that contributes to this slimness, Is the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the front. This is Corning’s toughest and thinnest Gorilla Glass yet. I can hold the S4 comfortably in one hand for long periods of time, But it does have a 5 inch display, So I end up needing both hands to actually use the phone. The black phone I have here tends to pick up finger print smudges quickly, But it’s easily cleaned off with a cloth. The position of ports and buttons hasn’t changed much. Above the display, There’s the earpiece, With light and proximity sensors beside it. There’s a third sensor in this group that helps Samsung Galaxy S4’s air gestures work. In the top right there’s the 2 megapixel front camera, And all the way in the top left there’s an LED indicator. Below the display is the prominent home button. And on either side of that are the capacitive menu and back keys. Double-tapping the home button launches S-voice, And long-pressing it takes you to the task manager. Long pressing the menu key launches Google Now. The power button is on the right hand side. And on a large phone, I prefer it here rather than at the top. On the left there’s the volume rocker. This doubles as a camera shutter key when you’re taking photos. On the bottom of the phone, There’s the microUSB data and charging port, And the primary microphone. On the top, There’s the 3.5mm headphone jack and a secondary microphone. You’ll also find an infra-red emitter here. And this, along with the pre-installed ‘Watch On’ app turns the S4 into a universal remote for your TV and other devices. On the back of the phone, There’s the 13 megapixel camera with an LED flash below it. And the speaker is right at the bottom. You can remove the back cover and swap the 2600 mAh battery inside. The microSIM and microSD card slots are also here. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a full HD, super-AMOLED display. While it has a similar PenTile matrix arrangement to the one in the Samsung Galaxy Galaxy S3, Don’t jump to conclusions about pixellation just yet. Because the S4’s 5 inch display has a 1080p resolution and 441ppi pixel density. So spotting any sort of blurriness, with the naked eye, Is virtually impossible. To give you a better idea of how the S4’s display looks, I’ve run it through some tests. This is for outdoor visibility. All the displays are at maximum brightness. It was a little overcast that day, with normal sunlight. And you can see screen visibility is fairly okay. I wasn’t able to do any bright sunlight tests, Because the sun’s been playing peekaboo with me for a while now. But I’ll catch it before my S4 vs HTC One comparison video, And you’ll see there how the S4’s display performs in direct sunlight. Let’s have a look at colour accuracy, indoors. And again all the displays are at maximum brightness, And the S4 display is on its default ‘standard’ setting. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is showing a nice, deep colour, But what really stands out is it’s good screen contrast. An issue with the S3’s AMOLED display was oversaturated greens. It’s good to see that the S4’s display doesn’t have that problem. Samsung’s really improved their AMOLED display this time round. In most of these shots it’s on par with the LCD displays. And in images like this, I feel the Samsung Galaxy S4 shows slightly richer colours. I like how the S4’s not oversaturating in dark areas, So detail is still kept in the picture. If anything, the white clouds on the S4 are showing a very slight bluish tint, But it’s definitely not bad. Now, this is reading outdoors. Again it’s not a very bright day. Even then the words on the Samsung Galaxy S4’s display aren’t standing out very well. I’d have liked a bit more contrast on it. I’ll do another sunny day test in my upcoming HTC One comparison video. Reading indoors is better. The S4 has the highest ppi display of all these three phones, But text is equally clear on them. The extra ppi isn’t making a huge difference when it comes to normal reading. The S4 has four different screen modes. ‘Standard’ is the default. Saturation decreases as you go down the list. The image tends to become a bit more greyer by the time you reach ‘Movie’ mode. Exynos 5 Octa or the Snapdragon 600 quad-core? The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in two processor flavours. But a quick word about the octa-core. This is actually an arrangement of two groups of quad-cores. The faster 1.6 GHz quad-core group, And the slower 1.2 GHz quad-core group. At any given time, only one of these groups is active. Which one depends on whether the phone needs maximum performance or maximum power efficiency. The S4 model I have here has the Snapdragon 600 chipset. And its four cores have a clock speed of 1.9 GHz with 2GB RAM. This is the processor you’ll find in the North American and international LTE versions. It’s also the same processor in the HTC One, Only clocked at a higher speed. Because of that, The Samsung Galaxy S4 edged past other phones in most benchmark tests. So far in my everyday use the S4 hasn’t disappointed. It glides through tasks and swiping through screens. The browser is responsive, And zooming in on text was smooth. 3D graphic games played well. There was no lag at all. The S4 is 4G-LTE enabled, With bluetooth and dual-band wifi. There’s NFC with Android Beam, And S-Beam, Samsung’s version of that. The microUSB port is MHL- enabled. It allows video output through an MHL-to-HDMI adaptor. It also supports USB-on-the-go. GPS has assisted-GPS and GLONASS support. And with the quick use I’ve made of it so far, I found it to be reliable. Compared to the Nexus 4, It manages to latch on to more of the satellites it sees. The Galaxy S4 rund Android 4.2, Jelly Bean, Overlaid with Samsung’s Touchwiz interface. Touchwiz seems more integrated with Android 4.2 now, Especially in areas like the notification bar, Where you get the screen of toggles as well as the usual Touchwiz scrolling toggles. Many features on Touchwiz are an upgrade to what came before, Like ‘Smart Stay’ which now includes things like “Smart Rotation’, ‘Smart Pause’, and ‘Smart Scroll’. In this section I want to just show you a couple of new features. The first is Air View. This actually originated on the Note 2 last year. But instead of working with the s-pen, Air View on the S4 works with your finger. You can hover a finger over the screen to see the contents of a webpage magnified, for example. There are five different options for what Air View can do, And these can be turned on or off in the settings. I found that to get Air View to work, You need to hold your finger steady over the display for a few seconds initially. It can detect a finger from about a centimetre and a half above the display. It’ll also work if you’re wearing thin gloves. Air Gesture is a feature that lets you scroll through webpages, Or browse through photos among other things, All with a wave of your hand. When it’s enabled, a hand icon appears at the top. The sensor for Air Gesture is next to the earpiece grille above the display. I found it could detect my hand from up to 10cm away. I’m not sure how much I’ll use this feature. It also a bit hit and miss, with a mind of its own, jumping around all over the place, no matter which direction I waved my hand. Touchwiz comes loaded with ten bucketfuls and more of features, Many of which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve used Samsung phones before. I’ll cover more of these in future videos. As with the Samsung Galaxy S3 last year, Call reception on the Samsung Galaxy S4 continues to be very good, With no dropped signals. Next thing is in-call quality, And here’s a quote from Oprah Winfrey to give you an idea of that. You’ve got to follow your passion. You’ve got to figure out what it is you love — who you really are, And have the courage to do that. I believe that the only courage anybody ever needs is the courage to follow their own dreams. Now have a listen to the speaker quality. And as usual I’ve recorded these one meter from the phones. (Music) The S4 plays the treble and some mid-tones quite well, But it’s lacking in bass. The music sounds a bit more tinny because of that. I don’t think listening through the speaker is the best way to enjoy music on the phone. The S4 comes with redesigned earphones. The earbuds are small enough now that they sit in my ears comfortably, And the cord is slim and flat, So tangle-free. The sound is said to be more balanced, With deep bass and high-resolution treble. And compared to the Samsung Galaxy S3’s earphones, they do sound much better. But they’re not a match for more expensive brands. And from my tests, the earphones bundled with the HTC One produced better bass. The Samsung Galaxy S4’s main camera has been bumped up to 13 MP, While the front camera is now 2 MP. The front camera can record 1080p video at 30 fps, And that’s what you’re seeing now. On the user interface, You get both the video and photo shutter buttons. The mode button sits below these, And it shows the different shooting modes like sound and shot, and drama. The arrow at the bottom calls up different colour effects. One shooting mode I found useful was ‘Double Shot’. This captures a photo or video using both the front and rear cameras together, With one camera’s image embedded in a small frame within the other. So now you no longer need to trust a total stranger with your phone, Just because you want to get your face into your own shot. Let’s take a look at actual image quality now. This is the sort of day I’ve been having here lately. But thankfully it’s not quite as dark as the S4’s showing. Still it’s wet, and cloudy, and miserable. Not a great day to be out and about capturing video, Unless you’re a duck of course. It’s actually party time for them here. You know… spring, nests, eggs. The colourful ones are the guys, And they’re all busy chasing lady tails. Now say hello to my neighbours. A rather well-fed bunch. Look at those coats. Cold?… what cold? All you need is a shot of green green grass. Bliss! Okay back indoors. I’m fed up of being rained on. This is a nice dark corner I scouted out just for this video. But if you were to believe the S4 you’d think I was in the broom cupboard. I’m not. Phone cameras on the whole don’t tend to pick up enough light in dim conditions. Red heart circle Here we are in a better lit place. Nice and overexposed from the S4. So now it decides to pick up the light. Three red hearts The Samsung Galaxy S4 is overexposing the colours again. But you know, I quite like it here. If only those heart were actually that read. Wood dragon Trouble is wood doesn’t look that good when its overexposed. My fierce little dragon’s lost all its glow. Macro mode The focus on macro mode is good. I was able to get quite close before everything started to get blurry. Night flash photos I have to say the Samsung Galaxy S4’s flash is excellent. You can light up a totally dark night with it. And these pictures were taken in total darkness. The Samsung Galaxy S4’s picture is the sharpest of the three, Though it has more noise. It’s picked up colours more accurately too. And here’s a video taken with the flash on. I’ve only had time to cover the most important camera comparisons here. I’ll be looking at a few more of the Samsung Galaxy S4’s camera features in my upcoming HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S4 video. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 2600 mAh battery. With a day of near constant use, Including watching movies, browsing, and playing games, I got ten hours and forty one minutes out of a full charge. And my screen-on time was 5 hours and 14 minutes. These are some ten minute battery usage figures for common tasks to give you a better comparison. Everything was done at 50 percent brightness, With all connections turned off. Even with the larger 5 inch screen to power, The Samsung Galaxy S4’s battery figures outdo the Samsung Galaxy S3’s. Gaming was the one area where the Samsung Galaxy S4 used more power, But that’s most likely due to the faster processor, and not just the display. You can compare the Samsung Galaxy S4’s figures there. In many ways the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a big upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S3, But because the form factor still looks very much the same, It’s easy to forget that some major changes have been made. Specs like the processor, display, and camera are bigger and better. It’s a jump forward from the Samsung Galaxy S3, Not a huge leap though. And to sum up, If you like plenty of software extras to play with, And value a swappable battery, Then the Samsung Galaxy S4 might be the perfect fit for you. But if you’re looking for a more premium build and a simpler interface, Then there’s other choice on the market. And that’s everything for this review.