In the last few years, the Samsung Galaxy series smartphones have become the king of all Android phones and they are always the first thing to consider. Honestly I am a fan of Samsung and have used all of the flagship Galaxy S smartphones in the last 4 years. Therefore, absolutely I can’t miss the chance to try the latest Samsung Galaxy S4.
At the time of writing this review, I have seen a lot of complaints about this device. I tested on my Galaxy S4 i9500 to verify those complaints and realize that most of them are not true. So, I recommend you to try it yourself and don’t believe in what others say. There is no perfect phone but you will find out the most suitable one.
Let’s go on to review some aspects of the Galaxy S4 i9500, the international Exynos Octa-core version (against the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 version for North America’s market).
The Galaxy S4 has a similar look as its predecessor, the Galaxy S3. I feel the new S4 is a much sleeker thanks to the metal stripe on all sides of the phone.
As the screen is expanded bigger to 5 inches and the size is almost kept the same, Samsung made the borders thinner and it seems prettier than the S3.
I also have to make compliment to the build quality of the S4. Although the phone still uses the same glossy plastic on the back, it looks more premium because they add the metal ring on sides and you can’t find out any defect in manufacturing.
The 5-inch screen is so gorgeous and bright. As other Super AMOLED screens, the display has very high contrast and saturation. I even see it more colorful than the true colors. The screen gave me an wow immediately when I turned it on.
However, I know many people don’t like it because it doesn’t reflect the true colors. This is just preference, you will love the screen if you like colorful pictures.
The screen is also perfect for browsing web, viewing pictures or videos. It has been upgraded from 720p on S3 to the stunning 1080p full HD display with the resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (~441 ppi pixel density).
I set the brightness at just around 70% and it is good enough to see the beautiful screen clearly.
I tried using the screen outdoor as well as indoor and it is really impressive. Check out the video I recorded.
The Galaxy S4 features a 13MP rear camera and a 2MP front camera. The image quality produced by the 13MP camera is excellent and it is more than enough for a phone. Check out some images I captured with the S4:
The camera also comes with a very interesting and sophisticated software. I am impressed with some new modes, for instance, the Drama Mode to create a sequence of multiple shots of a moving subject; the Animated Photo helps create animated GIFs easily; the Eraser mode to remove passerby from the scene; the Dual Shot to take pictures using the two cameras at the same time and we will get the picture-in-picture effect.
The Galaxy S4 sports the Exynos 5 Octa 5410 chipset. It will use the powerful Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 for heavy tasks like gaming, watching videos and use the efficient quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 for lighter tasks like web browsing or viewing emails.
I have seen some complaints about the lag on Galaxy S4 but I can’t reproduce it at all. I tried swiping screens, close and open apps, playing games and my phone is totally lag free. Let me know if anyone could reproduce the lag on my device.
I run a benchmark with Quadrant and the benchmark score reached 11600, more than any device I’ve ever tested.
The capacity of S4’s battery is 2,600 mAh. It is enough for moderate use throughout a full day. However, there is an important thing you have to notice. My battery drained very fast on the first day I used the Galaxy S4. I checked the battery status and saw that Google Maps is on top of battery usage, it drained almost 35% of the battery. You can simply fix it by going to Maps – Settings – Location Settings, then uncheck the option Report from this device. It could help the battery last longer.
We can’t forget Samsung proudly announced the S4 with a lot of new features, such as the eye-tracking features including Smart Scroll, Smart Pause, Smart Stay and Smart Rotate, or other features like Screen Mirroring, Air View or Group Play. You must be very impressed with the features, unfortunately, most of them are gimmicky and I don’t touch them in normal usage at all.
Samsung did a great job in making the features look like must-haves. Actually I just see the Smart Stay and Screen Mirroring useful sometimes. Other features are so redundant.
I see another complaint about the heat issue on the S4. Yes, I feel the heat after using the phone for a while. It is hotter than the Galaxy S3 but is not as hot as other aluminum devices like the HTC One, iPhone 5 or MacBook.
- Impressive Screen.
- Excellent Camera.
- Good battery life.
- Better Design than its predecessor.
- Almost lag-free
- No innovative features.
- Plastic design.
- A lot of bloatwares.
- Expensive (was $700 on Amazon, now around $400).
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Michael Aulia says
Great review, Tuan. The camera is indeed great but not when you are taking low light photos (such as when you are in a cafe one evening, or taking landscape photos at night). And yeah, I turn most of the features off as well unfortunately
Still a solid Android phone though!
Tuan Do says
Thanks for pointing it out Michael,
I haven’t got the chance to shoot pictures in low light. I will update the review tonight. It seems like the 13MP camera is not good as the 4MP on HTC One. The One works really well even in dark environment.
This is really a decent phone but honestly I won’t upgrade from the S3. :)
Michael Aulia says
Yeah, I really want to try the HTC One’s camera out :) But I agree, though the HD display is nice, not sure if it’s recommended to upgrade (unless if people want the features, of course)
Great review, Tuan. The camera quality seems quite impressive, and the display is fabulous as usual (as we often see on most of the Samsung devices). However, the specs are almost as same as the Galaxy S3. Nothing new introduced to make me want to upgrade to it from the Galaxy S III. What’d you say?
Tuan Do says
Actually the specs are quite different. The Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 is much more powerful and the device also features the Gorrila Glass 3 which is more scratch proof. There are also a lot of features you will find interesting but they are gimmicky. The new features probably are not convincing enough to make the upgrade from S3, at least for me. :)
yeah most of the software’s features will come to Galaxy S3 on next official Jelly Bean Update.