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Early reviews and verdicts on the Samsung Galaxy S4

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Samsung Galaxy S4As you may already know, Samsung yesterday launched the latest iteration of its Galaxy S flagship line of smartphones, the Galaxy S4. The launch was made in New York, and as happens soon after such events, the tech blogs globally are teaming news, first impressions, early reviews and verdicts on what may be one of the most loved phones in the next several months.

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We thought we’d pull the most interesting verdicts here so we feed on them in one place. But before that, here’s a summary of the hard specs: 5 inch Full HD Super AMOLED display; up to 4G connectivity and Wi-Fi etc..; 1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor; 13 Mega pixel camera; 16GB up to 64GB user memory; 2GB RAM.  Gyro, Proximity, Humidity, Temperature, Gesture sensors.

And of the softer specs: Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean), S Health software which helps you keep tabs on your health via sensors on the phone. Samsung WatchON uses infra red to transform your S4 into a TV remote control. Samsung Smart Pause, the phone knows when you look away from it and pauses whatever stuff you were doing, such watching a video. Air View and Air Gesture, enables you to control the S4 using finger hovering and the wave of your hand. That is without touching the screen.

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Now to the reviews:

There has been a ton of hype and build-up to this device, and ultimately, it left us feeling cold. The S IV feels uninspired. There are small spec bumps from the previous generation and there’s a ton of software which will largely sit unused. There’s just no wow-factor here.

….From a design perspective, the [HTC] One absolutely crushes the S IV. When you pick up the One, you feel like you’re holding something amazing, both in the build and the screen. When you pick up the S IV, you feel like you’re holding an S III with a few extra bells and whistles.Gizmodo

It is bloated with all the “S” apps and everything else that Samsung has thrown into its new flagship smartphone. On the one hand, all the new and unique features Samsung definitely bring some real benefits. On the other hand, the “S” apps and all the stuff in the S4 add up to a very busy user experience. Readwrite

The Galaxy S 4 is a testament to Samsung’s ethos: an unabashed focus on features over design, and an immense desire to fork Android as best it can. Still, as much as its add-ons differentiate this handset from last year’s, we can’t shake the feeling that the GS 4 falls flat next to the competition. In fact, we get the sense Samsung could’ve called this device the GS III Plus Engadget

Samsung has aggressively embraced a software strategy, rather than focus on speeds and feeds as most smartphone makers do. Of course, Apple’s iPhone strategy has always been about what the smartphone can do, not its specs, and Google’s Android has also been increasingly focused on its services and apps over its hardware specs. InfoWorld

And finally, a verdict from their competition, HTC President Jason MacKenzie :

I went from laughing to actually feeling embarrassed at some of the acting. Watching the presentation, it looks like they invested a lot in marketing instead of innovation. CNET

Our thoughts: We don’t think all that added software will be very useful. The S3 was touted as the device that would know when you went to sleep and would select the best photo etc. Seems Samsung is doing more of that stuff here, and not necessarily perfecting them. Those features didn’t matter much eventually and never worked as seamlessly as advertised. We don’t think those soft features are better than a user curated app experience, based on their unique lifestyle.

We’d also love to hear in the comments what your first impressions are from what you have read.


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10 thoughts on “Early reviews and verdicts on the Samsung Galaxy S4

  1. Too early to say. The best reviews will be from the users who buy it. From a tech view, the eye scrolling feature & “air gesturing” are definitely new and innovative. I heard about Samsung’s application for eye scrolling. I can see its use in other countless applications, beyond the phone.

    I am not a big phone person. Even if I had the luxury to purchase it, I have no interest.
    I think alot of effort was made in the R&D part especially for the novel software-driven features. As a developer, it would be really interesting to download the API and play with it. I would agree that its probably better off being an SIII “plus” version.

    I think on the general, smartphones have reached a point of stagnation.Due to the rapid-iteration and annual launches, there isnt much time given to develop the phone(s). The iPhone 4S still remains preferrable to many compared to its successor, iPhone 5. We’ll wait to hear about the SIV’s fate.

    It just amazes me how fast technology moves. My first computer, my pride and joy, was a P1 MMX 166MHz speed, running Win98SE at its peak…. now, compare that to the stuff you can hold in your hand

  2. Calling it the S4 was jumping the gun in my view. They should have just called it the S3 Plus as suggested and then made their marketing fuss. What I do hope though is that some of the software they’ve made available for the S4 can trickle down to the S3. I wouldn’t mind having Smart Pause on my phone.

  3. galaxy s3 could select the best photo “no repetitive”. Eye-tracking tech in the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the BEST.

  4. LSMK, looks like you conveniently lined up all the laclkustre online reviews you could find on the GS4, then copy n paste’d them as though those are the only views available on the web concerning the GS4. On the day the GS4 is launched no less – WOW what a lot of time to place a meaningful verdict on a fully featured device like the GS4. And of course, you had to add a quip from their competition HTC. Why didn’t you add a comment from their arch nemesis Apple Inc, for good measure. That way, it would be a really balanced early review, wouldn’t it….Let’s see what OTHER early reviews are saying about the GS4 “The successor of the most popular smartphone (GS3) from the most widely adopted platform (Android 70% Marketshare)” (gsmarena.com) shall we?

    “I’ll get into details in a moment, but my overall sense of this phone is that it firmly establishes Samsung as a leading innovator — if not the leading innovator — in the smartphone space. It’s kind of ironic that Apple won a lawsuit last year after a jury (American) found that Samsung had copied iPhone features and designs. The Galaxy S4 — like the Galaxy S3 — could never be called a copycat. Samsung came out with specs and features that we’ve never yet seen in a smartphone, including any phone that begins with the letter i.” (forbes.com)

    “The Galaxy S 4 clearly has a small ring of competition in the spec
    department. The only phones that are on this level are the Xperia Z
    (1080p 5-inch display, 13mp camera, quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU) and
    the HTC One (4.7-inch 1080p display, 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 quad-core
    CPU, and an “Ultrapixel” camera) and LG’s Optimus G Pro (1080p 5.5-inch
    display, quad-core Snapdragon 600, 13-megapixel camera).
    Of course, they each have their own pros and cons, but the Galaxy S 4
    seems to be the most compact, lightest, and fastest among them” (techcrunch.com)

    “The Galaxy S IV may well be the greatest phone
    in the world right now. It has top-notch hardware, shipping with a
    zippy new Samsung Exynos 5 or Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, and a
    stunning, never-before-seen 1080p Super AMOLED five-inch display. Its
    operating system, Android 4.2.2, is slicker than slugs on ice. It also
    packs new features like automatic translation, a pedometer (and other
    health functions) and a crazy set of wave-your-hands-in-the-air
    gestures. It’s all packed into an incredibly slim body just 0.31 inch
    thick, which is a triumph of industrial design if you stop and think
    about it. It’s aces.” (wired.com)

    1. Thanks for the contributions. There was no intention to paint a certain picture here. purely incidental. I think it’s far to early to do that now.
      just a side note, the wired article wasn’t published yet when we posted this one.

  5. I’m a fan of Samsung yeah, but on their Galaxy S iterations, I say the only one that was a true upgrade was from the S to the S2. I had the chance to use the S2 for quite a while, squeezing every bit of power it had until I felt I had exhausted it and had to get a few more cores. Honestly the upgrade was a disappointement as there were a few hardware dependent features I got on the S3 that weren’t there on an up to date S2.
    Some say the performance is better, believe me, the S2 performed at par with the S3 on the official Jellybean 4.1.1.
    Okay now onto the S4; sounds like history repeating itself. Samsung and other developers are going to port all the Software dependent features or the S4 onto the S2, S3, Note 2. So the only thing unique to the S4 will be the larger screen, and the infra red features like Air gestures and View (which are more or less trivial features).
    Performance-wise, the Octacore is probably going to be underutilized as with the case of the S3. Maybe the 2gig RAM will show some considerable improvements, only a hands-on experience will tell.

    My verdict, if you have an S3 or S2, its not a worthy upgrade except for prestige reasons.

  6. Interesting review line-up. However i will have to agree with ICTcommentator that all selected reviews are sort of negative. They are quite a few positive ones as well.

    Which brings me to my next point. No matter what the tech guys say about this phone, its just going to be a huge and resounding success. Because of one simple fact. Samsung has a large marketing budget. Change that large to huge.

    Most people don’t care what processor the phone has, or how much RAM it has or what version of Android the phone has, that’s for geeks like us. What they care about is that they see the phone on TV all the time. Every time i switch on my TV, i see ads about how great the new Samsung phone is, and ultimately that’s what wins people over, marketing.

    The HTC is a brilliant phone, but its not marketed enough, so will it will always be a follower when it comes to sales numbers. The only company at this moment which can try to challenge Samsung in terms of numbers sold and marketing pull is Apple only. Which is having a torrid time, because they are now behind the technology curve, but still have market appeal.

    Interesting times to come

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