Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 review by Expert!!!

Updated on 17th April 2013. We've had a chance to get our hands on the Galaxy S4 for a bit longer at the London launch event, so we have brought you some more in-depth impressions of the phone
Just over a month after the New York launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung brought the new flagship handset to London, and we’ve had another play with it. It has a larger screen and faster processor than the previous model, as well as some innovative new features, so could well be the ultimate smartphone when it's launched on April 27th.
The phone has more power and more up-to-date features than the iPhone 5 and pre-empts the upcoming iPhone 5S.


The first thing to note is that the Galaxy S4 looks similar to the Samsung Galaxy S3, and builds on that phone's looks. The Galaxy S4 is a little bigger, thanks to its 4.99in screen, but not as much as you might think: at 136.6x69.8x7.9mm, it's roughly as wide as the S3, but around 5mm longer, and around 1mm slimmer. The phone is also 10g lighter than the Galaxy S3.

The result is the Galaxy S4 feels good in the hand and every bit as comfortable to hold as the S3. It's certainly not us unwieldy as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
We love the thin screen bezel, which makes it look as if the screen is pouring off the edge of the phone. The air gap between the screen and the touch digitiser is absolutely tiny, too, which makes it feel almost as if you're touching the colourful interface rather than the glass on top of it.

It's even slimmer than the old model, and lighter too
The overall effect, helped by the phone's squarer edges, is of a more modern Galaxy S3. Clearly, Samsung felt the need not to mess too much with a winning formula, but we would have personally loved to have seen an aluminium chassis, as on the HTC One, rather than the plastic used here.


The 4.99in Super AMOLED display is gorgeous. It has a Full HD, 1,920x1,080 resolution with a high pixel density of 441ppi. While that's certainly impressive, theHTC One has the same resolution but a smaller screen, so a higher pixel density of 468ppi and the Sony Xperia Z has the same size screen and resolution, so has a matching 441ppi. What's important is that on all three phones everything looks pin-sharp and there's no danger of spotting individual pixels.
It’s worth noting that you can't directly compare the Galaxy S4 to LCD-based Full HD handsets, such as the HTC One. This is because Samsung continues to use a Super AMOLED display with a PenTile pixel arrangement. Simply put, this means there are only two coloured sub-pixels per pixel instead of three. The reduced colour resolution is made up for by the excellent contrast and blacks that AMOLED provides (as well as lower power usage), but it’s a matter of taste which screen type you prefer. When we saw the phone we found its screen bright and colourful, but we'll save a full opinion for when we can do a proper side-by-side comparison.
As expected, the screen can be operated just by hovering your finger over it, giving rise to two new features. Air View lets you hover over content, such as an email or photo, to preview it without having to open it. Air Gesture lets you change tracks, scroll through a web page or answer a call with a wave of your hand. We haven't had chance to try the system out yet, but this should make fine-control of the touchscreen operating system that little bit easier.
Air View and Air Gesture let you operate the touchscreen without touching it
Gorilla Glass 3 helps make the phone durable, although we'd still recommend a screen protector or case if you're going to keep your phone in a pocket with sharp items, such as keys.


The phones at the US event were kitted out with Exynos octo-core processors running at 1.6GHz. It's not strictly an eight-core phone, though, as it uses ARM's big.LITTLE architecture. The eight cores are divided in two, with four high-power, complex cores to do the heavy lifting and four smaller, power-efficient cores for more mundane tasks. The S4's architecture is designed so that the phone can switch seamlessly between the different types of core.
However, UK versions of the Galaxy S4 will only have four-core chips. The good news is that the UK S4's Snapdragon 600 chipset will run at a faster 1.9GHz, which should help to make up for the cores shortfall.
We had no qualms about the Galaxy S4's performance at the event. We can't really imagine how Android 4.2 could run any more smoothly. Everything is lightning fast and apps open and shut with a snap, and web pages glide around under your finger.

3DMark looks amazing on the screen, and runs smoothly, too
We ran our Sunspider JavaScript benchmark on the S4, and it completed the test in 933ms. This is one of the fastest scores we've seen, and bodes well for snappy web browsing. To really test the phone's up-to-the-minute processor we ran the Android version of 3DMark. This performs a number of intensive graphics and physics tests to stress all aspects of the phone's chip.
3DMark's space battles ran incredibly smoothly, and resulted in a score of 10101 - the fastest score we've seen. The benchmark also looked beautiful on the S4's display, showing this is definitely a phone for the latest graphics-intensive Android games.


The battery on the S4 is an impressive 2,600mAh. That's around 500mAh bigger than the S3's battery and bigger than the vast majority of batteries used in smartphones today. With such a big battery it shouldn't have any problems providing all-day power.


The camera has been upgraded to a 13-megapixel model. It has a Backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor for better low-light sensitivity, although there's also a flash for when it's really dark. We took a few test shots in the dark demo hall and they looked fine on-screen, but actual quality tests need to wait until we have a test handset.
At the front is a 2-megapixel BSI camera. While it can be used for video calling, it can also be used with Samsung's Dual Camera mode, which lets you superimpose a shot from the front camera on the footage from the rear camera. In practice, this means that you can have your floating head, bordered by a postage-stamp frame imposed on the picture taken by the main camera. It feels a little gimmicky.
You can superimpose yourself as a floating stamp in videos, if you like that kind of thing
The front camera also serves a purpose in controlling the phone with Smart Pause. This technology knows when you're looking at the screen so it can, for example, pause a video when you turn your head and look away. As soon as you look back, the video continues. It's a neat way of using the cameras for more than just still images and video.


The Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available in versions with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB of storage, although it's expandable by up to 64GB via the microSD card slot. Prices for the models haven't been announced yet, but it may well work out much better value to buy the 16B or 32GB models, then upgrade storage as and when you need it.


Samsung has said that the Galaxy S4 will get security tracking built in. This works in a similar way to Find My iPhone, letting you track a stolen handset online.
However, while Apple's implementation can be wiped out by resetting the phone, Samsung has got something more secure up its sleeves. By partnering with Absolute, which makes the Computrace laptop-tracking software, Samsung has got firmware persistence technology built into the Galaxy S4. In other words, the tracking software sits in main firmware and so it can survive a full hardware reset.
Security tracking is part of the Knox security suite, which is designed to make the platform more secure. It's aimed at business users, where it will also provide a business and personal side of the phone, so that you only have to carry one device. The work mode can be locked down and managed by your company, while the personal side is yours to do with as you will; importantly, both sides are completely independent.
We're in the process of finding out if the security tracking feature will be available to consumers, or if it will only be available to business users.


As well as what comes with the phone, Samsung is also pushing the phone's lifestyle aspect with a selection of Galaxy S4 accessories. These range from health accessories that can monitor how active you are and your weight and heart rate, to a gamepad that you clip the phone into. There's also a wireless charging dock, so you can charge your phone simply by laying it on the charging pad.

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