Samsung Galaxy S4 Australian Review: Pipped At The Post


The Samsung Galaxy S4 is finally here, and we have been spending some time with it. We put it through its paces and pushed it right up to the limit, and as a result, we can finally emerge from our lab (read: dungeon) to tell you what it's like. Can it beat the HTC One at its own game? (Hint: not really)

What Is It?

The Galaxy S4 is Samsung's latest Galaxy-branded flagship, and it's packing some really impressive hardware under its familiar-looking exterior.

It's a 5-inch, quad-core 1.9GHz-packing monster with 2GB of RAM, expandable storage and a 2600mAh battery. It comes in either white or grey like the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Galaxy Note II and it will cost you $899 outright, or less on a 24-month contract with Australia's big-four carriers.

Design

Ever seen a Galaxy S III? Good. You've pretty much seen the Galaxy S4, then. No joke, I have had Samsung people tell me they have gotten confused between the S III and the S4.

The similarity comes from the same plastic construction and finish, same removable back cover, same logo placement, camera placement, speaker placement; same everything. The only real differences come when you inspect it a little more closely.

It's lighter for a start and remarkably, Samsung have managed to pack a larger, five-inch screen onto the Galaxy S4 while still keeping the footprint virtually the same. It did that by adopting a similar design principle to the Galaxy Note II: smaller bezel, thinner profile and tiny, oval home key centred on the bottom of the device.

The other changes come from a few more tiny black holes around the top of the device for camera and sensor equipment. That's for stuff like Smart Motion which lets you wave your hand over the phone to swipe between photos, for example, as well as Smart Scroll which ensures the screen scrolls down based on your head-position and Smart Stay where the screen stays active when it knows you're looking at something while you're like a video.

There's a slew of other S-branded features in there, but we'll get to those.

The screen on the S4 is bigger and brighter than ever on a Galaxy S handset. It's a five-inch display with a 1920x1080 SuperAMOLED display, packing in 441 pixels per inch. It's brighter and more gorgeous than ever, and we expect nothing less than this new benchmark from a manufacturer who makes the best screens in the industry.

The only other subtle physical change on the S4 compared to the S III is the crosshatch pattern on the rear of the device. Which you can't feel it with your fingers, it adds a nice visual texture to the device that the S III didn't have.

Using It

There can only be one word for the way TouchWiz/Nature UI interacts with Android on the Galaxy S4: obnoxious. Oh. My. God. You have no idea. It's so annoying to use day-to-day.

I'm not the biggest fan of any manufacturer-built Android skin to start with, with the least favourite on that list being TouchWiz, but this time, Samsung have come up with a whole new way to annoy you by making you do everything differently, rather than how you know how to do stuff on every other Android operating system. There are more clicks than ever to get basic stuff done.

Instead of just dragging a widget slightly to trigger the resize tabs, you actually have to press the Menu soft-key on the home screen, tap Edit and then start resizing stuff and moving it around. You can't even move apps around by holding your finger on them and dragging them around without telling the device you want to Edit the home screen. How frustrating.

In fact, the only thing that doesn't require three button clicks where one would suffice is dumping stuff into folders, but the process has been reworked, so don't expect to be able to do it without engaging your brain for the first few goes.

Samsung is also desperate to cram all it's stuff in front of you to get you to use it.

Out of the box, you're bombarded with the sign-in screens for S-Travel, TouchWiz-customised Flipboard, S-Planner, Samsung Hub, S-Fitness, Story Album and the Samsung App Store. Phew. First thing I wanted to do is actually get rid of most of that, because let's face it: you and I will use it once — if that — and then never use it again because it's gimmicky. But no: customising your home screen now takes work as we've discussed. You and I will be able to get rid of it because we can understand what dialogue boxes are telling us to figure out how Samsung wants us to do things, but people who aren't as well-versed in technology might struggle.

It's not all bad, though. Some of the better S-features Samsung has loaded onto the device include an upgrade to S-Motion that lets you wave your hands over the phone to scroll through stuff like photos without touching the screen, Air View that lets you hover your finger over stuff like days on the S-Planner (read: calendar) to expose what you're doing on that day without touching the screen like on the Galaxy Note II, and S-Health, which pairs with a Fitbit-style wristband to tell you all about the steps your doing. Some of the other features are use-once, forget-forever kind of things though. If you don't love stuff like S-Travel, Story Albums and Samsung Hub straight away, it's a fair bet you'll just trash them from the home screen and never use them again.

Other great features include support for every catch-up service you can think of, as well as Watch On: a feature that lets you schedule stuff to watch and/or record on your Samsung TV. Watch On will be upgraded in June to have on-demand streaming of movies and TV programming too. There's also the upgraded Samsung Music Hub, which is nifty and gives you a month of free, premium-tier access for new Galaxy S4 owners. Would have thought that would be a longer free-access period but whatever.

The Galaxy S4 also supports multi-screen apps so you can take advantage of that screen real-estate. Apps like Chrome, Messages, Email and other Samsung applications work in multi-view beautifully, and throwing the device into landscape mode gives you the best of two screens at once. It's also infinitely adjustable, so you don't have to have your screens split straight 50-50, you can customise it. The annoying quirk about multi-view, however, is the persistent drawer it puts on your screen, but you can get rid of that by holding the Back soft-key on the home screen until it disappears. If you don't, it'll stick around for everything, including games and video playback. Learn that tip early.

Performance

Much like Brent said in his review of the S4: this thing should run rings around its competition. It has a 1.9GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. That equals a GeekBench 2 score of 3231. Simple translation? It could power an Iron Man suit without breaking a sweat, yet it feels sluggish, dull and unresponsive when you try to zip around it. Benchmarking the HTC One under the same tests gives you a score of 2634, so why does the S4 feel slow where the One doesn't?

I feel that Samsung's crapware is at fault here. There's only so much weight you can put on the shoulders of a giant before it starts to become a burden. The HTC One is designed in such a way that the new version of Sense gets out of your way completely when you tell it to. That means both in visual and performance terms. When you're not using BlinkFeed, it doesn't chew resources trying to keep itself alive, for example.

On the Galaxy S4, however, you have Smart Stay, Smart Pause and Smart Scroll constantly watching you, S-Voice always listening to you, Air View waiting for your finger to hover over the screen and Air Gestures waiting to see if you wave over the screen to wave your hand over the device like a Jedi. It's too much for the Trojan to take, and the weight really shows.

Even when you turn all that crap off, the One still runs laps around the S4, and that shouldn't be happening. It's a disappointment. The S4 has already been rooted, which means you can get Samsung's Nature UI off the device if you want to and actually install a launcher that does the hardware justice. It all comes down to your level of expertise, though.

In less disappointing news, however, the S4's battery is really excellent. When we say that a battery will give you a day of usage here at Gizmodo, we mean it will last you from when you leave the house to when you arrive home after a nine-hour workday. In-between you will have been listening to music, downloading apps, playing a game or two for about an hour and doing some social networking. That's heavy usage. Give it about 10-hours of that, though, and you'll be scrambling for a charger. The S4, however, is different. It takes about a day-and-a-half of punishment before you need a charger, and while it may not seem significant, it's actually a pretty big deal when it comes to how you use your phone.

Say you're looking to go out for drinks after work, for example. If you're a geek like me, you're on your phone in-between rounds, Instagram-ing mates, finding somewhere to grab a bite to eat and calling your significant other to slur to them that you'll be home some time in the wee-hours. With a phone that lasts you only nine hours, you won't be able to do any of this after-hours fun without actually recharging your phone in the middle of the day.

The Galaxy S4, however, lasts longer, meaning that while it might not get you through to the light of the next morning, it will help you call yourself a cab when you're fall out of your mate's place at 1AM.

That's great.

Camera

The only way you're really going to know how the Samsung Galaxy S4's camera performs is if you see it in action for yourself. We got a hold of an Apple iPhone 5, an HTC One and a Nokia Lumia 920 for a smartphone camera deathmatch.

The first thing you notice about the S4 when you pit it against the competition is the width of the lens. It's a narrower field of view compared to the competition, which means you won't be able to cram as much in. Unfortunate, but it can't be helped.

There are also a few little software quirks in the Galaxy S4's camera that make it really obnoxious to use. Telling the device to flip the camera from the rear-facing to the front-facing camera, for example, took about four clicks and about as many dialogue boxes before it would respond. Conversely, messing with the features is also really finnicky.

Speaking of the bells and whistles, Samsung has jacked its camera full of them to make taking photos fun. To be honest, the whole thing is reminiscent of the frankly-excellent Samsung Galaxy Camera we tested a while back (and are giving away in our Shooting Challenge).

It also goes toe-to-toe with the features in the HTC One's Zoe camera, with Drama shot grabbing sequential photos, Best Face grabbing five consecutive photos to let you choose where the subject looks best, and a weird feature called Beauty Face which can strangely make you look better. The only area where the S4's camera loses a bit of ground to Zoe is in the three-second video functionality.

Zoe lets you snap three seconds of video, rather than taking sequential photos and choosing the best one. That way, you can manipulate it to remove subjects from the final frame, increase the brightness on an individual subject's face or create funky effects like the action shots we mentioned earlier. It's great because it saves that three-second video, as well as whatever you pulled out of it. It then creates moving albums around them. The Galaxy S4 has the Story Album feature which makes animating your photos on the home screen a breeze, but it lacks the three-second video feature. The closest it gets is letting you take a snapshot while recording 10-seconds of audio around it. That's called Sound Shot, and it's a nifty idea, but not really current. I had an LG flip-phone that could do that in 2005, and it was kind of rubbish back then, too.

Low-Light

I went down to my garage and commandeered myself a Hyosung GT-R 650 motorcycle. Resting the cameras on the top of the fuel tank and using two steady hands, I snapped the bike's speedometer at night and away from the lights of the garage.

Both the HTC One and the iPhone 5 produce solid light where there is barely any to speak of, but the Nokia Lumia 920 still produces great low-light shots with barely any noise or blur by comparison to the other three. Atrocious performance from the S4.

We shot the low-light sample shots in full Auto mode for fairness. It's worth noting that the Galaxy S4 performed better when it was shifted into Night mode, but not by much. The noise is unbearable and it took what felt like an age in smartphone-time to actually find and focus on the subject. Poor marks all round.

Macro

Because everyone's going to Foodstagram stuff, right? We took the cameras in to a distance of about 15- to 20-cm away from this delicious cup of coffee (taken outdoors in high-light) to see the results.

As we can see from the image comparisons, the HTC One and the Galaxy S4 turn in fine performances, giving us great tones and colour in our caffeinated art. The iPhone 5 tends to overexpose the frame, somewhat, while the Lumia 920 does the opposite, and seems to be bucketing in contrast to make up for it.

The S4 and the One are a dead-heat here, as far as I'm concerned.

Landscape

Ideal conditions for smartphone cameras, here: we took it into Sydney Park to shoot around the duck pond, and found these great subjects just waiting to be snapped.

The iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S4 are the star-performers here — both rendered crisp, beautiful images. The only thing that puts the S4 slightly over the top is a better result in the highlights of the image. The light looks better on the top of the sleeper when captured on the Galaxy S4, even if it's slight.

The HTC One caught glare from somewhere (each photo was taken in the same position within seconds of each other), meaning that the some of the colour and detail is washed out, but still impressive. The Lumia 920 had a few focus issues, constantly grabbing the scenery behind the subject. It's still the most vivid of the four, however.

Here are the rest of our comparisons:

Click to enlarge...

Samsung Galaxy S4


iPhone 5


Lumia 920


HTC One


Should You Buy It?

That question really depends on how much you love Samsung.

If you're a massive fan and love everything the gadget giant does, then the S4 is for you. You'll be happier in the Samsung ecosystem with your S-everything than you will adjusting to something else like Sense 5 on the HTC One. If you're just someone looking for the best Android phone you can get, however, the phone for you is still the HTC One. If you can forgive the terrible pun, it's still the one to beat.

Also: Samsung Galaxy S4: Full Australian Pricing

What's interesting to note about the Galaxy S4 (ok, I'll stop with the product puns) is who it seems to have been built for. It's incredibly similar to the Galaxy S III to the point that anyone who owns one would be mad to spend the almost $1000 upgrading, but when you look at how it sits compared to the Galaxy S II, the S4 is a no-brainer.

This is almost Samsung's own S III S: an incremental, Apple-like upgrade to a product line it wants to keep customers buying into every second year. In the same vein as the iPhone 5 isn't for people who have the iPhone 4S, it's for people who have the iPhone 4. Samsung is carving itself a new upgrade path with this product that is distinctly Apple-esque, and that's only a good thing. It means we get an incremental upgrade to the Galaxy line every year.

Snap back to the present, however, and we're still left with the same conclusion: unless you're neck-deep in the Samsung ecosystem, need to upgrade from your Galaxy S II or even just want something to compliment those Samsung tattoos you have, there's no fathomable reason to buy the Galaxy S4 above the HTC One.

The One is faster, better looking, smarter and has more features that you'll actually use like Boom Sound, Zoe and BlinkFeed. Unless you want a removable battery and expandable memory, the S4 is pipped at the post, sitting on the Android podium in second-place to the aptly-named One.

So if you're wondering how the Android market sits right now in terms of which phone you should actually buy? In order from first to third: HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and then the Sony Xperia Z.


Comments

    Touchwiz... obnoxious?
    Because I like to sit around all day resizing widgets and moving them around?
    Holy sh*t dude if that's the worst you can come up with you need a life. I actually like the sound of not being able to accidentally move stuff (even though that would still take some effort).

      Touchwiz is annoying, even on the GS3. custom launchers are so much more user friendly and intuitive.
      Sure you might not move stuff around much but it's a valid concern.
      I've owned all 3 galaxy phone so far and it's the first thing to get replaced.

      No one likes touchwiz, don't be that guy.

        I have to be honest - I liked it. I certainly found it to be better on my S3 than Sense on the HTC One when I played with it briefly.
        Also, having now switched from the S3 to a Nexus 4, I find that there's several bits from Touchwiz that I miss - mostly the extra buttons on top of the notification drawer that just worked better than the ones in stock 4.2.2.

        I liked it. It adds some good things. It just needs optimizing and the icons need changing.

        I like/liked Touchwiz. It provided necessary usability improvements where android fell short in its earlier years, and on My S2 I kept dropping other launchers to come back to the touchwoz home. It flowed well, the widgets worked great. the menu was customisable enough to keep it clean and organised. And it was there on my phone from the get go.

        Sure you can bash on the added junk on samsungs phones, but when you looked at android without the features that 4.1+ introduced, you can really see what stock android was lacking, and for me, touchwiz filled that gap. Now that im on a N4 I dont miss Touchwiz, but when I went from a near stock 2.3 device to my S2 with 2.3 and touchwiz, i felt like it was a much needed improvement of basic functionality.

      Touchwiz sucks. They actually locked the dock for Australian users. I can't even work out why, unless they want to track your web behaviour by encouraging you to use their browser!

      Yeah I agree with you.

      The only part of TouchWiz on the Galaxy S3 I currently find annoying is the auto-correct, after the most recent Android update (4.1.2), the TouchWiz auto-correct was dumbed down and made less intrusive to the UX, unfortunately it was an extremely BAD move, and I now find writing text quite frustrating at times. Predictive text was improved, but because it requires you to manually select the word, it makes it pointless as an improvement.

      Actually it was also the 4.1.2 update that brought the need to use the menu/edit option to resize widgets, before that you could resize them in the same screen that you moved them. The reason for this was: If you had 2 spare spots that were not adjacent, and wanted to add a 2x1 widget, you would previously have had to move them all around yourself, but now the homescreen will do that for you and fit your new widget in.

      Mate, Every time I wanted to remove/move a widget or icon on my S3 I was reminded to click the menu button and select edit. Do you know how frustrating that was. I had a play with both the S4 and the HTC One and ended up getting the One. I really hope HTC do well this year, it should get Samsung to up their game again.

      I just replace it with a third-party launcher. If you stop using it for a while, the phone will unload it from memory never to run it again unless you ask it to.

      Currently my favourite is the Nova launcher, which allows me to backup my settings and migrate if I need to factory reset my phone.

      touchwiz is hands down the worst skin added to an android phone...which is a shame because samsung make some excellent hardware

    I think this really just indicates how much of an incredible moonshot HTC pulled off with the One. It's interesting to see Samsung branching out and doubling down on their software offerings, but the company doesn't have a history of delivering software excellence. Massive kudos though for having the S4 running the latest version of Android, porting touchwiz to that and all of the other supporting utilities must have taken a herculean effort.

      If only HTC could make a decent camera....

        Absolutely bang on. The HTC One's camera is nothing but a stunt. Its terrible in low light conditions filming video... I actually found the build quality quite un-HTC like as well as there was flex and gaps in the front speaker housings on mine - the gaps were big enough that I could slide paper between the metal cover and white plastic central chassis... I actually ended up taking the HTC one back, and swapped for the Sony Z and not regretting it for a minute..

        Agreed. If they'd put a proper camera in there I'd be holding an HTC One right now. Instead I got the Xperia Z (which I also prefer for its minimal skin on top of Android and for the lower price).

    A brave conclusion considering the amount Samsung have invested advertising on your site, kudos to you

    I like what they've done with the hardware,
    I've read very mixed reviews about the camera,
    but most importantly if Samsung continues to push all their own apps and own interface then the GS3 might be the last Samsung phone I own. I'm seeing a rather disturbing Apple-like trend with Samsung recently. I think they are getting very close to a "we provide you with everything, why would you want anything else" mentality, and I don't like it.
    I'll be very interested in the next generation of Nexus phones. Google should do an entry level one like the N4 and then a flagship one similar to the GS4, with all the bells and whistles.
    I guess the downside there is no carrier contracts so the phone will be pricey.

      Google should do an entry level one like the N4 and then a flagship one similar to the GS4, with all the bells and whistles.

      This line makes no sense to me.
      What "bells and whistles" are you referring too?

        Larger screen, higher rez screen, IR blaster, SD storage, dual SIM would be nice to see. Things like smart covers (eg the GS4 S Cover).
        Just 2 have 2 different models.
        Ultimately I didn't get the Nexus 4 because of the worse camera and limited storage space. Other than that it's a great phone at a great price.

    Does the S4 have an equivillent to Expert mode like the Galaxy Camera? That is one feature that came in handy for me the other weekend, my pics came out a million times better being able to adust the ISO, EV, Aperture and Shutter.

    So the 10 sec video function whatever is amazballs, but in the HTC review it takes terrible video? So the pics will also be terrible that come off it?

    Last edited 29/04/13 10:45 am

      You can edit all those functions besides shutter I think.

    I'm still interested in where the Xperia Z fits in here, in between the two perhaps?

      Last paragraph?

      "So if you’re wondering how the Android market sits right now in terms of which phone you should actually buy? In order from first to third: HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and then the Sony Xperia Z."

        In my defense I just woke up and was reading on the phone >_> ... I'm stupid.
        Cheers though.

          4:50 is a late time to wake up :D Those were the days

    Luke, I am actually happy to read your article as it presented a view that I agree. I tested a unit in an Optus store and found that the response of the OS sluggish compared to the HTC One. It was quite embarrassing really considering the hardware is near identical. The smart scroll feature is absolutely gimmicky as you cannot get a consistent result which will frustrate a user. The unit I tested struggled to respond to simple volume change, which I find quite unacceptable.

      errr... only happy to read an article that you agree with.

    Good review - evidently Samsung's slipped, if not dropped, the ball.
    But you guys need to proofread. I've counted at least four typos.

    Got mine :) Lovin it! And FYI, gimmicks or whatever you want to call them most are pretty useful. And either way, HTC One isn't going to sell like hotcakes like them Galaxies.. already know 15 people getting this/waiting for their pre-order and none for the "one". Can't wait to see what HTC is going to name their next flagship

      Sales don't mean ANYTHING AT ALL if the product is not as good. Judging success on sales alone is useless - it is the way of the sheep: "buy what's popular, not what's good". It's really sad to see people making purchasing decisions based on popularity/sales rather than what they want/need in a product, or buying based on quality.

        Exactly, thats why I bought the better product. Dual speakers and some Flipboard copyisn't enough for me to buy the one. Durability and functionality is what I'm after, not a phone that feels good?? it's a phone remember? to make calls? unless you rub that aluminium on your face i'll be happy for you

        Umm seriously?
        So companies are not interested in making a profit then?
        I get the "Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's good" perspective but at the end of the day unless the product sells the company will go bust. And given the falling fortunes of HTC they really need the One to sell.
        So yeah sales mean EVERYTHING at the end of the day.

        Last edited 30/04/13 10:55 am

    It really should be mentioned a major downfall of all HTC devices is their poor battery performance and overheating issues.

    I've gone with the S4 instead of HTC this time due to this. Every HTC device in the last few years heats up very quickly and easily and drains the battery incredibly fast when it does so.

    Stand by, theyre great, but in your pocket, or playing a game, before you know it 20% of you battery is drained in 30 minutes. (not an exageration).

    This is the reason i've chosen to go Samsung over HTC this time.

      I'm happy to see a manufacturer design a competitive device with an excellent battery. I think anyone who battles with poor iPhone 5 battery life would be intrigued at the thought of an all-day S4.

        My Iphone 5's battery life is good? Better then any Android Phone Ive had.
        I think its better at not using power when its on standby.

        All day? Try two on standby.
        I don't really use mine that much and usually from the time I take it off the charger when I get up in the morning to when I go to bed at night it's only used ~40% battery at most. Having said that, people who use public transport etc would probably go through more listening to music etc I guess.

      Battery life on my HTC One X is and was pretty average on Sense. Much better with a custom ROM. I understand that being an issue to make you go with Samsung, but just thought I'd put it out there that the issue is more HTC's software - if you drool over the hardware, get the HTC One and then go with custom (my plug is for Renovate Rom). :D

        If you drool over hardware, then you definitely wouldn't go for the HTC One. Jus' saiyan.

          Don't you mean would go? The One has near identical internals to the S4, and arguably a much better exterior.

        Isn't software what everyone's bitching about with the SGS4?
        Oh the HTC is awesome! Oh except for HTC Sense which chews the battery...
        *facepalm*

      Dont judge htc one by other HTC devices, it would be a mistake. I have had htc one since launch and havnt had issue with battery or overheating at all. I have never once felt htc one get hot. The battery easy lasts all day and night for myself. I really recommend it to anyone! it such a beautiful looking phone and runs really smoothly. The screen colour reproduction is the best iv seen out of any phone. Can not recommend this phone enough!

        They all start out great. i'm not denying that. give it time though and the heating issues will start. especially when you start putting more apps on your phone etc.

    Why is there no comparison with the Nexus 4 in this review? I'd argue it's definitely up there in order of Android preference (and at least ahead of the Xperia Z, but that's just me).
    Great review, regardless.

      I think it's of a different class though. Wouldn't be a fair comparison.

    It's funny because this is exactly the angle Samsung used (the incremental upgrades, amounting to pretty much nothing) in it's ads targeting the iPhone 5 at it's launch last year.

    Granted, it's got a beefier processor, more RAM, better display. But that's about it. All the fluffware that Samsung showcased at their keynote is going to go unused for the most of it.

    I want these companies to go back 3-4 years where every keynote had a 'wow' feature and something absolutely amazing that kept people talking about the products till the next significant technological innovation came around.

      I think smartphones are reaching a hardware feature saturation point - it's getting more and more difficult for manufacturers to bundle truly innovative features to their phones. The IR blaster seems useful in making the phone a universal remote, but I don't see myself getting much use out of a temperature or humidity sensor for example.
      I think most of the innovation will come from the software features rather than hardware features moving forward.

        I agree to a certain extent. But then again, I don't believe technology by itself ever reaches a saturation point. The whole premise behind it being continual improvements.

        Software innovations are good too. But as long as they are useful. I don't see any particular use for a story book style album, or a 10 second clip recording other than for novelty.

        These manufacturers have set themselves a benchmark by forcing a 1 year product life cycle on us, it's only fair that they live up to that benchmark.

          I am wondering what anyone else thinks is a WOW feature? Seriously.

    The Lumia 920's camera still continues to impress me, if they got the focus a bit better it'd really be amazing.

    Nice Geekbench score on the S4, I'm disappointed that it's not reflected in the actual user experience.

      Wait until you use it yourself. Don't ever let reviews decide for you. Go read other S4 reviews, they are allllllllllllll different. The ONLY thing that is reflected in most, is that the S4 has bad low-light camera performance.

    As someone who piles on the sarcastic remarks whenever I see someone battling to hold a Note, I'm actually intrigued with the design of the S4. Seems a shame that after they designed a perfectly simple phone, they've used a glut of cheap finishes. Not interested in moving from iOS anytime soon, but strong competition benefits everyone in the smartphone market.

    Here's hoping this puts a rocket up Apple!

    i was on the fence between s4 n the One.. now i'm that much closer to jumping off it! thanks to the writer here!

    Had a play with the S4 at Optus yesterday. The screen clarity is amazing compared to my S3. Like the look of the black one too compared to the titanium or pebble blue.

    Yeah TouchWiz YUK. My ONLY complaint about Note II. After previous HTC had been fairly flexible, TouchWiz is annoying! I put up with it for a couple of weeks. Went shopping and found "Apex Launcher." Problem solved. The new launcher is completely flexible with TouchWiz running in the background, PREFECT!

    Touchwhiz is pure shit. I have several Samsung devices and the first thing I do is get a launcher to at least mitigate the disgusting visual appearance of the software, the horrible icons, the stupid massive square widgets etc. It is awful! The visual design of iphone software is nasty too but in a different way... but that's what Touchwhiz most reminds me of. It's like by trying to emulate that vomit they made something worse.
    I love the performance of my Samsung stuff though.

    This S4 looks dull. I'll wait and see what the Note 3 is like since the Note 2 is my current phone and I love it, but the HTC One is far and away the best looking prospect.

    Last edited 29/04/13 1:03 pm

      Hahaha. I don't get it. You love the Note 2 but hate the S4? They are practically the same man!

      Mate, can't agree more. I've never really hated Samsung's hardware, it's the software that I can't stand. I ended up getting an HTC One this time around as they went the extra yard with their phone this year, whereas Samsung are still copying Apple (good and bad).

    This article reeks of HTC fanboyism. Of all the S4 reviews I have read, this is easily the most badly written. I have used an S4 quite extensively and I never came across the 'slowness' you mention, the phone felt very responsive and was definitely a step up from the S3.

    I actually own an S3, and was tossing up between the S4 and the HTC One, have used both for an equal amount of time and can easily say that the HTC One only does a few things better than what my S3 does. The S4 has real upgrade potential, better camera, better screen, LTE, bigger battery, more software features that I know I will use, and the design is a lot better than the S3.

    I don't understand why people say they look exactly the same, I look at them both side by side and instantly point out a huge difference, they obviously follow the same form factor, but the S4 is a complete refinement of the S3. The S4 presents itself much more as the top-dog of the smartphone industry compared to the Pebble looking S3. I would say the HTC One and the iPhone 5 have the same likeness that the S3 and S4 do.

      Ao you have used the S4 extensively, despite the fact that it is a new release phone? Is this your way of disclosing the fact that perhaps you work for Samsung? Otherwise how have you had this "extensive" access?

      The S3 and the S4 look almost identical, apart from a rearrangement of the sensors on the top of the phone!

      This is not the first review that has picked the HTC one over the S4, look at any review on Engadget, Android Central, whirlpool, or a number of Youtube reviewers and they all reach the same conclusion. Is there such thing of HTC fanboyism? Seriously.

        have you seen the sides of the phone? There's a big difference there that you mistakenly forgot to mention.

      Since you jumped on the "of all the S4 reviews I have read" bandwagon, then you'd be aware that a common theme has been the lag with various S-junk turned on. I don't think that anyone has argued that the S4 doesn't have superior components, but the overall experience isn't delivering through the sum of those parts. One would hope that it feels responsive in comparison to your last generation phone.

      This isn't the most technical review, but these are both good phones and worth looking at. To claim that the HTC One only does a couple things better than a S3 reeks of fanboyism. Both phones are very fine upgrades over previous gen. The differences between the two are summed up nicely in the second link.

      Of the many reviews I have read (here, ausdroid, anandtech, cnet etc.) its a really close race, but more often than not the One edges ahead.

      http://www.anandtech.com/show/6747/htc-one-review
      http://www.anandtech.com/show/6914/samsung-galaxy-s-4-review/9

    I have a S3 and had a play with the GS4 on the weekend and the only thing that impressed me was the screen. Much brighter. Not enough to spur an upgrade though, the S3 is still a top phone and will happily give me another year of service.

    I can't seem to find an answer anywhere - is the GS4 900MHz LTE compatible? My house isn't in the 1800MHz range yet so I might end up getting 900MHz first. I'm still trying to decide on a new phone:

    GS4:
    + great screen apparently (not keen on Pentile though)
    + removable storage
    + removable battery
    + fastest on paper
    + plastic body, more resistant to impact I'm guessing

    One
    + faster in practice apparently
    +"classier" exterior (but more durable?)

    920
    + best camera
    + 900MHz
    + most reliable?
    - last gen screen but I can live with that
    - WinMo, which has its ups and downs

    FYI, I'm coming from a 3GS so any on these phones will feel like a quantum leap. Not too fussed with the 5.

    This line
    "The S4 has already been rooted, which means you can get Samsung’s Nature UI off the device if you want to and actually install a launcher that does the hardware justice."
    and your review looses all credibility.
    You don't need root to install a launcher replacement.

      You sir, have no idea. Either touchwiz or sense is not just a launcher.

    Looks like Samsung is the new Apple...as in they too now have a cult of annoying fanboys who will do attack anything that so much posts a smidge of criticism.

    Sorry but what a lame review .. most of my friends that use android use custom launchers .. some of the best ones are free on the play store and take about a minute to install. I've been using go launcher ex for 2 years now .. its free.

    Very disappointed in this review .. the writer is either out of his depth or is an idrone user who just doesn't get it.

      I forgot to mention .. any reviewer who bags the stock launcher on an android phone shouldn't be allowed to write reviews at all.

      Last edited 29/04/13 8:53 pm

        Why not? Just because you can change it doesn't mean you should have to.

        "The suspension on the new Falcon is better than the Commodore's which is soft and unresponsive."
        Who cares, since you can change the suspension anyway? Stupid Ford fan, right?

        Having never used an Android device before (but considering one now, including this one), this discussion of Sense vs TouchWiz and launchers is important as it will likely be the software most people will use. Most people have never heard of CyanogenMod.

          The replacement apps are free and take less than a minute to DL.
          Its easier to DL a new launcher than it is to complain about it.

          The replacement launcher I use is free .. its called Go launcher ex .. we're not talking about completely custom roms here .. launchers are apps you can download from the google play store to replace to stock launcher ( in this case touchwiz ) with something better .. there are really good free ones out there and some that you pay a couple of bucks for .. you download an app called home switcher ( which is free ) then you download the launcher of your choice and thats it. I think with android 4.2.1 you don't even need home switcher anymore.. but I still like to have it anyway.

          Since you've never used an android phone you should probably do some reading on customization within stock android to bring you up to speed.

      He's just finding another reason to hate the S4, like every other review cause, yeah people should hate Samsung cause they're successful now just like Apple was. It's not even about Apple vs Samsung anymore

    I suggest reading the Anandtech review for the GS4. They found the S4 would hit thermal throttling during heavy use. The screen can also overheat when set to max brightness. Although they did test a US version, so not too sure how the International version will fare. Very thorough and in depth review.

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