Samsung Galaxy S4: Hands on review, price, release date info

Reviews Richard Goodwin 17:06, 18 Apr 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4- we go hands on with the biggest Android handset of the year

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is finally here featuring Android Jelly Bean 4.2, reams of processing power, a brand new camera setup, and a gorgeous 4.99-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display. But was it worth the wait?

If you were expecting something vastly different from the Galaxy S3 then you might be a tad disappointed. The Galaxy S4 looks a lot like the Galaxy S3. Now that’s not  necessarily a bad thing so long as you like Samsung’s design language, don’t mind plastic, and thought the Galaxy S3 was awesome in every conceivable way.

Samsung Galaxy S4 - Design

If you’re after something more premium-looking like the HTC One, then it might not be what you’re looking for. It’s Samsung through-and-through and that means lots of plastics, great visuals but rather a lot to be desired when it comes to build materials. It’s not ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s no HTC One.

There are subtle differences between the Galaxy S4 and its predecessor. Its larger and has a vastly superior 4.99-inch Full HD display. 

The front and back are decked out in traditional black and feature a rather attractive mesh-like finish, though this is a pattern not a physical texture. Again it’s plastic but Samsung’s decision to turn its back on nature, or pebbles, and produce a handset using more traditional colouring does wonders for the device’s overall aesthetics. There is also a white version available.

Exact measurements for the device are: 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm and it weighs just 130g, making it significantly lighter than its predecessor. 

The Galaxy S4 does not break any new ground. It’s a refined version of the Galaxy S3. But that’s okay. It's a smart business move. The S3 was a great handset, lots of people loved it, and many, many more bought it. Why go and screw that formula up? It doesn’t make any sense.

Surely, it’s more logical to add a few new features, tighten up the design, whack in a new processor, and add a better display? That’s what’s happened here and we’re neither surprised or perturbed if we’re honest. I liked the Galaxy S3, despite its jarringly plastic finish, and I like this handset, too.

Want cutting edge design? Get the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, or Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6. For everybody else - AKA the majority - the Galaxy S4 will do just nicely. 

Samsung Galaxy S4 - Processor and RAM

Powering everything along is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor alongside 2GB of RAM. It might not be the Exynos octo-core everyone was hoping for, but at 1.9GHz the clockspeed is going to offer plenty of bang for your buck. More to the point, benchmarks of other phones packing this chip at slower clockspeeds showed it to be the fastest chip on the current market.

The main point of all this is to ensure the Galaxy S4 can utilise all the fancy new features Samsung has added to it and to enable it to run the most up-to-date and intensive apps and games without breaking a sweat. 

In terms of general operation, it's business as usual - there's more than enough power here for navigating Android's TouchWiz-clad, widget-bedecked screens without so much as even the slightest hiccup. But then, we'd expect nothing less.

Samsung Galaxy S4 - Display

The 4.99-inch panel has a Full HD 1920x1080 pixel resolution at around 440 ppi. Visuals were extremely detailed and easily on a par with what we’ve seen on the HTC One and the Sony Xperia Z in terms of clarity. Samsung has a good handle on display brightness, colour depth and contrast so none of these areas disappoint either.

Samsung Galaxy S4 - UX

TouchWiz remains largely the same although Samsung has packed it with a myriad of new features that include an IR blaster, Air Gesture control, a pedometer, Smart Switch, and a whole load more.

Air Gesture lets you hover your finger over items on screen to interact with them and to navigate certain sections of the interface with a wave of a hand or digit.

Ahead of launch we were a bit sceptical about the rumoured Smart Scroll feature which lets you navigate web pages by glancing up and down the screen. But, having tried it, it's actually quite fun to use, though we're sure many users will simply stick to swiping.

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