Samsung Galaxy S4 Reviews: An Improvement, But No Game-Changer

Samsung Galaxy S4 Front Facing

The earliest reviews on the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone have hit the web, just a few days ahead of the handset launching on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. The general consensus surrounding the device is that, while it certainly has a large, beautiful screen and powerful hardware, it also has so-called “gimmicky features” on the software side and “isn’t a game-changer.”

Most editors also agree that Samsung botched the Galaxy S4 design by sticking with thermoplastic, and recommend its new rival Android smartphone, the HTC One, as a result. Continue reading for some interesting excerpts from reviews by leading publications. 

The Verge:

The good:

The GS4′s 5-inch, 1920 x 1080 display is big, beautiful, and seriously eye-catching. [...] Samsung’s Galaxy S lineup has never wanted for power, and neither does the Galaxy S4 — it’s an impressively fast and powerful phone, capable of handling anything I threw at it. [...] The GS4′s camera is the best Android camera I’ve ever used by a considerable margin, and in most cases it’s every bit as good as the iPhone 5′s camera.

The bad:

I don’t like holding this phone, and I can’t overstate how much that informs the experience of using it. It makes an awful first impression, slippery and slimy and simply unpleasant in your hand. My white review unit is completely smooth and glossy, with a subtle checkered pattern that looks textured but is neither grippy nor textured anywhere on its body. Even the silver band around the sides, which is obviously supposed to look like metal, is plastic.

AllThingsD:

Samsung’s new software features aren’t all they’re made out to be:

It’s an evolution of the prior model and despite some improvements, it still is especially weak in the software Samsung adds to basic Android. I found Samsung’s software often gimmicky, duplicative of standard Android apps, or, in some cases, only intermittently functional.

Walt Mossberg highly recommends looking into the rival HTC One:

I urge readers looking for a new Android smartphone to carefully consider the more polished-looking, and quite capable, HTC One, rather than defaulting to the latest Samsung.

AnandTech:

The Galaxy S4 might not be the refresh over the Galaxy S III you were expecting, but at least the choice is there:

At the end of the day, the Galaxy S 4 is an evolution of the Galaxy S 3 in pretty much all of the areas you’d expect it to be. Whether or not that’s what you wanted in a new Android smartphone is going to vary from one person to the next. The good news is that you at least have a choice.

Ars Technica:

Praise for the Galaxy S4 over the Galaxy S III:

It’s an extremely solid phone, and it’s going to be hard to go back to the S III after a week with this one. It feels great to hold, it’s comfortable to use throughout the day, and it takes much better photos than its predecessor. The aluminum ring on its chassis makes the handset look more modern than its predecessors. The display doesn’t hurt either—it’s really something to look at. Samsung definitely has another hit on its hands.

Gizmodo:

Samsung software plagues the Galaxy S4, even though it is powered by flagship hardware:

The Galaxy S4 has a 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 processor. The HTC One has the exact same processor, but it’s only clocked to 1.7GHz. So the S4 should be faster, right? Wrong. Despite that fact that the S4 benchmarks better, the HTC One leaves the S4 in the dust in every practical way possible. The One boots up three times faster, navigates the UI quicker, scrolls smoother, opens apps speedier, and most importantly, takes photos with no shutter lag, whereas the Galaxy S4 generally takes about a second to fire off a shot.

Engadget:

The Galaxy S4 is lacking in design, but largely makes up for it in other areas:

While our geek senses keep tingling at the thought of so many market-topping specs contained within the same chassis, we also aren’t overjoyed, per se, with excitement. The design doesn’t feel fresh, especially not next to the HTC One, but we can’t deny that it’s an improvement over the GS3. On the plus side, it has better battery life, the same smooth performance and beautiful display, and a few diehards will like its inclusion of microSDXC and a removable battery cell.

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