Samsung Galaxy S4 Australian Hands-On: The Same, But Completely Different


If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's the age-old motto recited by inventors and innovators the world over. When it comes to making something new and incredible, you don't just abandon a successful design in favour of change for change's sake. That's what Samsung has done with the Galaxy S4: created an evolution of the Galaxy range, rather than a revolution.

Also: Samsung Galaxy S4: Full Australian Pricing

When you look at the Galaxy S4 in photos, you could be forgiven for thinking that it looks exactly the same as the Galaxy S III. In fact, unless you were on the design team that build the damn thing, I'd be surprised if you could even tell the difference to save your own life.

It's the same plastic finish, the same white or gunmetal grey finish, the same logo positioning and the same oval button on the bottom, front of the handset. The rear cover looks identical, too, what with the camera in the same place. It's only when you pick up the Galaxy S4 and physically go hands-on with the device that you notice the difference.

It's lighter, cleaner, sharper and there's more attention to detail than ever before. Despite the plastic finish, it's beautiful and polished, right down to the fine crosshatch design on the rear of the device (ours is white).

It's the same when you get into the device: you think you're just going to be using just another Samsung-augmented version of Android. Actually, that part is true — you are — but TouchWiz is cleaner, less in your face, more beautiful, while still packing in a swathe of apps to make your life better. It's like Samsung went to every feature of the phone — camera, screen, social networking, etc — and said to themselves, 'how can we augment this to make people's lives better?'.

The Korean gadget giant came out with an app that builds beautiful photo albums on the go, a function that lets you wave a hand over your device to swipe through photos like you're strong with The Force, and there's even a feature that lets you hover your finger over a day on your calendar or a photo album, and exposes what's inside without you having to click and go to another screen. All these S-Functions might seem a little naff on the surface, but some of them are quite impressive when you go hands-on.

Yes, it's disappointing that there isn't the world-eating octa-core processor in the Australian model, but we won't know how that affects the unit until we actually test it.

As far as networking capabilities are concerned, the Galaxy S4 is a Category 3, 4G device that will go on-sale through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. We'll have official plan pricing up soon.

Outright price on the device is $899 at Samsung Stores in Sydney and Melbourne. Pre-orders start there tomorrow.

Stay tuned for our full review, and pricing information, for the Samsung Galaxy S4 soon.


Comments

    Also, the octa-core is only 4 cores at a time anyway. Fast or slow. So I think irrelevant.

      The faster 4 cores of the octa-core have a superior architecture to the snapdragon quad core, benchmarks have shown that the octa-core version is about 20% more powerful than the quad-core.

      Plus the low power 4 cores help with power consumption.

      dont get the octa core unless you get a grey import so irrelevant in that regard

    Bit pricey for me - but then I hated the design of the S3 too.. Felt so cheap and weak like it was just looking for an excuse to break.

      Why does build design have to come into every single article. You do realize that the plastic is actually going to protect it better? Sure it's not aluminium, but that gets big dents and scratches, and I've already seen tests to prove this on the iPhone and the HTC One.

        "Feeling cheap and weak" can sometimes just be a mind thing. I think the iPhone feels cheap and weak. And it is

        I've held an S3 and thought it was nice. I have a Note 2 and think it feels pretty solid. And it performs really well. It's amazing. I love it. I've had a few apps crash but I never turn the phone off and always have several apps running at once (I always Home button out of apps so they end up staying open in the background)

        A lot of it comes down to the experience though. I realise plastic is fine, but I don't want a handset that literally feels so flimsy that it's going to bend in my hand.

          I agree, I don't want a handset that is so sharp and metallic that it cuts off the circulation in my ear.

          The two people I know who said this exact same thing got the htc one. And they also have phone cases on them which completely cover the sole reason they got them. The metal scratches and dents as you will see on youtube. I would be worried about dropping it all the time. This is not to say the s4 is weak or strong, but they are both delicate pieces of hardware.

          Bend in your hand? That doesn't happen bro.

      The cheap and weak feel of it is probably what helps save it in the event of a drop. When dropped the 'cheap feeling' plastic absorbs more energy than something firmer.

        Definitely true. I'm all for plastic, I just want it to be grippier. Not shiny and gloss like.

    This one looks way better! Always hated the over-ergonomic'ed pebble nature shit going on with the 3.

    When are Australian carriers releasing it, preferably when is Telstra releasing this device?

      Embargo lifts on this information at 8:15pm AEST. Stay tuned!

      Saturday. Minimum $87pm

        All phone at Telstra can be signed onto a $60 contract. It is $60 + $13 = $73 or $80 = $7 = $87. You can go higher if you need to.

    JB Hifi are selling for just under $800 or on Telstra Contracts.

      Ok sweet. How much for a etc upgrade?

        MRO Amount X months Remaining + $50 Admin Fee = Something cheaper then outright

    26th :)

    Titanium silver?
    Isn't it white or black this model?

      Edit: you said gunmetal grey but I still heard white and black. No grey.

    $5 handset fee on the $60 vodafone cap over 24 months

      With bonus 1gb data each month for 12 months.

        And added bonus of limited coverage.

          I get awesome coverage on Vodafone. It was Optus that let me down. Never been happier :)

            As long as you never plan on leaving the city, or travel from town to town you should be fine.

              Well I drive Melbourne to Sydney every three weeks and my coverage is better than I was getting on Optus

    Just got the HTC One and All I can say is that Samsung need to reconsider the whole shiny plastic design language.
    I'm not talking about build quality as Samsung phones have fantastic build quality, I'm talking about the in hand feed of the phone.

      I'll agree on that, I prefer the plastic, but it needs to be grippier.

    $800 outright is an absolute fu(kin joke!!!

      iPhones are just the same and always have been.

      I have to agree. Given that these phones are just iterations of the old tech, then they shouldn't cost this much. It's not a brand new invention, it's an upgrade. They shouldn't cost as much as they do.

    Can you guys compare it to the Note II..it would be interesting to find out the performance stacked up side by side...

    Luke ?....when I go to the toilet in 5 minutes, will it be the same, or completely different ?

    Grey import here I come! I'm gonna get that Octa core!!!

    A) it really doesn't matter whether it is octa or quad, your average Joe finds the S3 too powerful already. the "it's faster" is just a sales mimick, 90% of users do not make use of the full speed.
    B) the HTC One doesn't have removeable storage or battery, those are the two biggest reasons why I has the S2 and now the S3, unlimited power/storage.
    C) I will not buy the S4 now, it is nearly identical to the S3 so I will wait 6 months and buy it for 50% off.

    should i go with Vodafone? they promised they will have their 4G network up soon. how is it looking? should i trust vodafone?

    Apple get the beat down for creating evolutionary, not revolutionary devices, and Samsung seem to be following that formula, too.

    Not to mention that price. But I dare bash an Android handset, right?

      "Bash" all you like, if it makes you feel better about your own choices. Doesn't bother us :-)

      Won't be getting an S4 myself though, for both the reasons you mention (and others). The only phone that might tempt me away from the Nexus line is the HTC One.

      The only ones who bash anyone about phones, are those that care what people think in the playground.

      But you are right. If Apple did this we would never hear the end of it.

      I prob won't be getting it either. If it was apple, EVERYONE WOULD BE GETTING ONE NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!

    you dont need it to go that fast, i mean, its good to have a fast device, but is 8 cores an 'overkill'?

      its only 4 at a time, 4 for power and 4 for battery saving. So no its not

    I'm actually glad we're not getting the Exynos version - some of the CyanogenMod developers say they've completely given up on Exynos, and that it's highly unlikely CM will run on it.

    The real benefit of the octo-core is the name. I think that sounds so cool.

    everyone says samsung phones feel cheap and plasticy. maybe thats true but iv never seen a single one break due to its plasticy design. plenty of screens sure but then thats not a unique Samsung occurrence. and let me tell you....im a clutz and drop my phone all the time and iv had samsungs since the omnia 1

    If you're having that much trouble telling them apart, it's time for new glasses.

      I think the point is that they haven't changed the design much from the S3 AND the design of the S3 was not one of the stronger selling points (of what was a good phone).

        Apart from the size, it shares the design of the Note 2, not the S3. It was a snap criticism when it was first revealed and is a popular choice for people who want to find something wrong with it, but can't actually think of anything.

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