Friday, March 15, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S 4 - Good Enough to Keep the Crown

This morning everyone in the tech scene is covering the new Samsung Galaxy S IV. Samsung itself has created a four minute video which runs down all the new features of its new flagship smartphone.

I am looking at the Samsung Galaxy S 4 in a different perspective. I am in the market for a smartphone this quarter, it probably being the right time to reitre my old faithful HTC Desire HD and move on to a more modern LTE enabled handset.

More images on PCMag

The new Galaxy S 4. looks a lot like last years Samsung Galaxy S III, but it is the more attractive. With a larger 5-inch display fitted in a case which is just as tall, and actually a bit narrower than last years offering you have a smaller bezel all around. The side have been squared off, and the phone is just 7.9 mm thin, 0.7 mm thinner than last years model. All in all, it is a more elegant looking Galaxy S III which is not a bad thing. Samsung has sold upwards of fifty million Galaxy S III's.

The case is made of predominantly of plastic, but I have no qualms about that. Plastic is strong, has good shock resistance, is not prone to scratches and does not interfere with radio signals. Ultimately, whether aluminum, glass or plastic it really does not matter. Everyone I know keeps their touchscreen smartphone in some protective plastic or silicone case anyway.

The Galasy S 4 is runs on the latest version of Android, version 4.2.2 with a TOuchWiz overlay. As expected it comes with a Full HD display. The 5-inch display of the Galaxy S 4 has a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution with a staggering 441 pixels per inch. The display is also of the Super AMOLED variety which displays deep black and vibrant colors.

Inside, you have 2 GB of RAM and either a quad-core Qualcomm S600 or a octacore Exynos 5 Octa 5410, depending on the market. I would prefer the Qualcomm S600 with its system on chip LTE solution, but most likely we will be getting the Exynos version with a separate LTE chip in the Philippines.

The Galaxy S 4 has three internal storage options, with 16, 32 and 64 GB models. Most likely we will be getting the 16 GB model. Since Samsung still includes a microSD card slot, storage is not an issue. microSD cards up to 64 GB are officially supported.

The camera on the Galaxy S 4 has been upgraded to a 13 MP unit. I am not in favor of cramming more and more pixels in a small sensor, but lets wait for the actual photo quality tests. The Samsung Galaxy S III had the best camera in the Android world in 2012, and if the 13 MP unit on the new on is the same as is good as least years, I would be more than satisfied. The early image samples are promising, images looks sharper and have better low light capabilities as compare to an Apple iPhone 5. A flash and front camera are also provided.

The battery of the Galaxy S 4 has been upgraded to a 2600 mAh unit, which is no doubt to compensate for the higher power consumption of the new phone. This unit is larger than the 2300 mAh unit you find in the HTC One, and the 2330 mAh unit in the Sony Xperia Z. It is also user replaceable, which for me is a big thing.

One reason I have been happy with my HTC Desire HD for so long is because I have been able to replace the battery. It is now happily running like it was when it was new on battery number two. A third battery sits in a drawer and is used when I go on overnight hikes or other trips where a power socket it not easily accessible.

The Galaxy S 4 makes me smile in small ways. My favorite Android keyboard, SwiftKey is built-in. The only thing I do not like about the Galaxy S 4 is the physical Home button.

The Sony Xperia Z, chip set has not yet been released in the Philippines, but with its circa 2012 quad core Qualcomm S4 chip set it is already feeling like an older model.

The HTC One is the phone I really want to like, but it does not seem to offer any feature compelling enough to make me consider it over a Galaxy S 4. While the HTC One has a smaller 4.7-inch display, the phone is not more compact than the Galaxy S 4. The Galaxy S 4 even has the same IR hardware which will allow you to convert your smartphone in a TV a remote control. Most importantly, the HTC one does have a user replaceable battery.

All in all, I think Samsung has done enough to keep the momentum started in 2011 going. The Galaxy S 4 will likely be the top Android handset in 2013, and is enough to make old HTC users like me change camps.

The Galaxy S 4 should be available in the Philippine by late April or early May, on both Globe Telecom and Smart Communications.

One please... in Myst Black.


  1. I seriously hope Globe (and Smart) won't be so delayed with the release.

  2. Samsung Galaxy S4 Specification with Review and Price
    Samsung has announced its worst kept secret, but nonetheless exciting Galaxy S4.The Galaxy S4 will take the mantle of the Galaxy S III as Samsung’s new flagship smartphone, sporting a massive 5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED dis...More


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