Samsung Galaxy S4 Reviews
The Samsung Galaxy S4 release date, price and specs has officially been unveiled - the phone will hit shelves by the end of April in the UK.
It’s official and it’s now here, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has been revealed in New York. Although many of the features had been leaked in the weeks leading up to the event, the launch was still a time for Samsung to show-off its latest handset, while no doubt making sure that Apple’s got its work cut-out with the iPhone 5S.
Here we’ll take a look at the phone’s new features and outline its key specifications, as well as rounding up the current UK prices. For a more in-depth look, check out our Samsung Galaxy Specs article.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 DESIGN
With the Galaxy S3 proving to be such a success, Samsung hasn’t strayed too far from that design with the Galaxy S4. The rounded edges and lozenge-shaped home button at the bottom of the phone are all instantly recognisable.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is thinner and lighter than the Samsung Galaxy S3
While the S3 looked and felt, well, quite plasticy, the Samsung S4 looks that much nicer and more like the high-end phone that it should be. It has a polycarbonate case, but it’s now slimmer (7.9mm) and lighter (130g) than its predecessor.
Two versions of the phone will be available: Black Mist and White Frost. It’s hard to pass judgement on the phone until we’ve seen it in the flesh, but in the shots we’ve seen it certainly looks like a step up from the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Available in black or white, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is instantly recognisable
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 SCREEN
As expected, the Galaxy S4 has a 5in Full HD (1,920x1,080) Super AMOLED screen. That’s a stunning 441ppi, making this one of the highest-density phones that we’ve seen. The HTC One manages slightly more at 468ppi, thanks to its slightly-smaller 4.7in Full HD screen. On balance, though, you’re going to find it hard to tell the difference or spot individual pixels on either screen.
There was no mention of the Green PHOLED technology, which was rumoured to be making its first appearance here. However, we’ve been impressed with Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology before and it’s always been power efficient, helping to save battery life.
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 the 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.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 CAMERAS
Cameras are an important part of any smartphone, with many people preferring them to compact cameras. From the specifications, Samsung hasn’t let us down with the Galaxy S4 camera, with a 13-megapixel rear camera, complete with Flash and a high-speed shutter mode. At the front is a 2-megapixel camera.
The 13-megapixel rear camera certainly has impressive specifications, but the front camera can be used to control the phone
Now, two cameras on a smartphone is hardly something new, but with Dual Camera you can operate both of them at the same time. It feels a little gimmicky to us, but the idea is that you can film yourself with the front camera and then superimpose yourself on the footage from the rear camera. The examples we’ve seen look a little twee and we’re not sure that most people want their faces to appear surrounded by a postage stamp border over the footage they’re recording.
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.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 PROCESSOR
We were expecting the Octa-Core Samsung Exynos 5 processor in the phone and that’s an option, with a 1.6GHz model. However, a 1.9GHz Quad-Core version of the phone will also be sold, depending on where you live in the world. Samsung hasn’t specified yet which version we’ll get in the UK, although we would expect to get the Octa-Core model.
The company tweeted a rendering of the new chip, which is also rumoured to power the new Galaxy Note 3 phone/tablet, from its @SamsungExynos Twitter account, so whetting the appetites of Samsung fans everywhere.
The new chip’s eight-core design is based on ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture. This means that there are four powerful Cortex-A15 cores for the phone’s most power-hungry functions, and four lower-power Cortex-A7 models to take care of simpler tasks. When the phone isn’t needed to do anything fancy, the more powerful cores shut down, extending battery life.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 BATTERY
Speaking of battery life, the new handset will use a 2,600mAh battery. That’s 500mAh bigger than the one in the S3 and should be big enough to cope with the slightly-enlarged screen, and the greater demands of 4G, while still running all day.
The battery is also removable, so you can carry a charged spare if you’re going to be out for a long time. It also means that a failing battery can easily be replaced.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 4G AND WIRELESS
You can’t make a modern phone and not support the latest wireless standards, so the Samsung Galaxy S4 has full support for 4G LTE networks. Global 4G support has been promised, supporting download speeds of 100Mbit/s and uploads of 50Mbit/s. Full 3G and 2.5G support is, of course, also present.
For use at home there’s also better Wi-Fi support, with the new 802.11ac standard supported. We’ve seen this networking standard deliver speeds well over 200Mbit/s, so using super-fast broadband speeds on your phone at home is going to easy.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 NFC
NFC makes an appearance, so the phone will be compatible with Google Wallet, so you can pay for goods in compatible shops using just your phone. It will also support Visa’s payWave, widening the choice and range of places that you can shop in.
In addition, Samsung showed some other ways that NFC can be used. One of the most different was Group Play. By tapping your Samsung Galaxy S4 to another one, you can share music and pictures. Samsung has also promised that the technology will support multi-player gaming and it’s opening up the SDK to encourage other companies to develop for it.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 STORAGE
No great surprises on the storage front, with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models announced. However, it’s good to see that there’s still a microSD card slot, so you can add up to 64GB of storage. Depending on the prices, it may even work out cheaper to buy a lower-capacity model and then upgrade it when you need to with a memory card.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 S HEALTH
With fitness accessories apps being big business, Samsung clearly doesn’t want to miss out and has launched S Health with the Galaxy S4. Using your phone a variety of accessories, you’ll be able to measure your weight and health.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 OTHER FEATURES
If all of that wasn’t enough, the Galaxy S4 also has an IR transmitter, which you can use to control your home entertainment kit via the WatchOn app. There’s also S Voice Drive, which puts up a simpler interface for when you’re driving and recognises voice prompts. Finally, when you’re abroad the translation services let you type in a message and have the phone read it out in a different language; the spoken reply is then converted back into your language on the screen.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 RELEASE DATE
Samsung has promised to have the phone out by the end of April. Exact launch dates will depend on the country, but we expect the UK to be one of the first on the list. We’ll bring you updated information as and when it becomes available.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 PRICE AND UK NETWORKS
The good news is that you won’t be short of choice when it comes to buying the Samsung Galaxy S4. Two of the major UK networks have confirmed that they will be carrying the new phone - no great surprise, when you consider the huge success of the Galaxy S3 and the amount of hype that has been building up to the launch of the S4.
As you’d hope considering the Galaxy S4’s LTE capability, it will be available on the UK’s only 4G network - EE - and Three has also thrown its hat into the ring.
Vodafone and O2 have yet to say either way, but we find it hard to believe that they will pass up the chance to stock this year’s potential biggest seller.
Pricing hasn’t yet been announced, but we can take a fair stab at expected prices. We’d imagine that launch prices will be the same as for the S3 when it launched back in May - a wallet-busting £499. Once again though the tough competition from Google’s own Nexus 4 device may force Samsung to lower its price in order to compete - unless of course the hardware specification is a big step forward.
On contract you’re likely to be looking at £30-40 a month minimum, and considerably more with a 4G service such as EE. This will be an expensive handset, though probably still a little less than the iPhone 5 costs