back to article Samsung's new Galaxy S 4: iPhone assassin or Android also-ran?

After weeks of hypegasmic drum-beating at a level unusual for the South Korean consumer-electronics giant, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S 4 at an embarassingly over-the-top, show-biz–infused gala on Thursday evening. Held in New York City, the extravaganza overshadowed the fact that the Galaxy S 4 appears to be a fine Android …

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Anonymous Coward

More to the point

It might make the S3 and S3 mini more affordable, since they'll have to take a price cut now...

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Happy

Re: More to the point

I don't know I think there is more interference (The Mobile Market is definitely cartel like) than that. (The S2 has never gone below £200).

Samsung conspire to not provide exactly what people want for some reason.

(i.e no dual sim phones with a reasonable spec).

Stuff like the Ace 2 is deliberately gimped in some areas.

Too much is not at least HDPI.

They still use a junk overlay.

Providing the micro sd slot is good though.

(I prefer to buy phones that are not fashionable but pretty decent not terrible in any one area at a knock-down price). I go through about a phone every 6 months usually. Max £200.)

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Not sure I'll bother

Current owner of an S3 previous model was also a Samsung was looking forward to the release of this expecting to buy one now I'm not so sure.

All seems a bit gimmicky to me. Sure the screens ability to detect and react to a hovering finger sounds good should help keep the screen clean anway but beyone that theres not a lot else.

The camera functions sound dreamt up in a coke fuelled brain storm session. The health and excersise functions don't interest me and can't see them getting a lot of use. Beyond that there's not a lot to appeal. Plus the names of the colours have to be some of the most pretentious bull I've seen in a while bet the marketing bod behind that one is feeling pretty proud.

Don't get me wrong I'm sure it's a good phone and will sell in the millions but they didn't make a compelling case on why I should upgrade from my current one.

Nothing actually wrong with my current handset just getting a little bored but not sure this is the answer. Since I want something with at least the same size screen as my current one my options are pretty limited at the moment, may hang on till the next note release/announcement and see what else is available then. Buy my phones sim free so not tied to a contract and can update at any time just was expecting to do it in the next month or two. Briefly considered the new Xperia but then remembered my last experience as a Sony Ericsson customer wait and age for any update and stopped supporting it almost immediately after release (or so it felt for us X10i users) so left a bad taste in the mouth.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure I'll bother

There are some gimmicks, but they say it can recognised the British English accent so it that means it can recognise Geordie and Brum it will be the most amazing thing ever.

I do note that no mention was made of the Scottish accent. I suppose trying to translate Glaswegian would be a software step to far.

All cred to Samsung, they have produced a phone with more features than you can begin to to use or understand, but for me it's just a tad big and having to use two hands to use it defeats the object of a mobile phone. Not to mention the fact that I would need to wear combats every day so that I could have a pocket in my trousers big enough to carry it in.

Still pretty good effort.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure I'll bother

It will annoy me if the video stops playing every time I look away, it'll take me hours and hours to get through a film and I won't be able to make a cup of tea during the boring bits, they'll be waiting for me when I get back.

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Megaphone

Re: Not sure I'll bother

> It will annoy me if the video stops playing every time I look away

But Google will love using the attention-detection for the pre-roll adverts on YouTube.

Only when you've earned your 15 million merits will you be allowed to skip the adverts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure I'll bother

If it wasn't for the display it could have been called the Galaxy 3S (for speed).Sony have had 12 or so megapixel cameras in their phones for a while. They also had the "hover" display stuff. LG had the 1080 screens first.

It's all a bit yawn inducing. Samsung really is a follower not an innovator.

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"British Accent"

I guess it's like "American Accent" or "Chinese Accent" or any other accent in the world (except Australian, of course, which only has one).

I'm hoping Samsung chose one of the following to be the "British Accent":

1. Geordie (no one will understand it)

2. Cockney (lots of "fackin' this" and "fackin' that")

3. Welsh (at least everyone will start laughing once they hear it, even if they can't understand it - "Valley Boy" LOL)

4. Brummy (or South African - both the same).

4.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure I'll bother

I'm disappointed by the GPU. I was hoping for Imagination's new Rogue chip. The one they've gone for is only a little more powerful than the iPhone 5 which only has to fill a 1136x640 screen. For the S4 trying to fill a full HD 1080p display with 3D graphics at that res is going to be a struggle I suspect.

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Re: Not sure I'll bother

It's smaller than the S3 that is comfortably nestled into a normal pocket of my normal jeans at the moment, and that's with a case on it that makes it slightly larger.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure I'll bother

Interesting you mention Sony as many of the new features seem to be lifted from Sony's Android phones.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure I'll bother

>It will annoy me if the video stops playing every time I look away,

Options:

1. Turn off feature in 'settings'

2. Use an alternative video player from the Google Play store- it will probably have better codec support anyway

3. Apply tape to the sensor

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "British Accent"

You are out of luck should you ever venture north of the border. Good luck getting a translation from an Aberdeen drawl. Seagulls are 'scurries' and everyone has furry boots.

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Re: Not sure I'll bother

"The camera functions sound dreamt up in a coke fuelled brain storm session. "

So you missed the whole instagram thing then?

That is obviously what the camera effects are aimed at.

Sure I wouldn't use them, but then again I wouldn't use a phone as a camera in the first place...

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Re: Not sure I'll bother

I feel like what Samsung is saying is 'this is the flagship phone; we're going to throw every idea we have at it and see what sticks' — some people are going to find some of the new features useful, nobody is going to be at a disadvantage because of them and Samsung can gauge reactions to figure out what to port to next year's midrange handsets.

I guess it's a more market-driven approach to figuring out where to go next, rather than dictating simplicity from the centre.

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Big Brother

Re: Not sure I'll bother

There is no way that 3. will make it think you are watching. If sensibly programmed it will cause a fall-back to 1. but its not really a separate option. My preference is 4.

4. Place toy with eyes in front of sensor. I'm thinking maybe a small troll doll.

I'm guessing the sensor must be the forward facing camera so this may not be practical but will be amusing. Alternatively:

5. wear a hat/top with a picture of a forward facing face on it.

Big Brother because he'd probably work.

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New features

I think most importantly for the S 4 is that it no longer feels like they're playing catch-up to Apple - the features they've crammed in are impressive, and even if somewhat gimmicky it's the type of stuff that Apple would have come up with first (or claimed to) just a few years back. The difference between then and now is that a few years ago no-one would care that samsung had put face tracking on a phone - because it was just a Samsung. I've no doubt that had Apple done it, it would be a bullet point on the box, and the first round loaded into the chamber of the Fanboi FUDgun. But after god knows how many lawsuits, patent disputes and copyright claims, Samsung have been flung repeatedly into the limelight by Apple, to the point where the Galaxy S series of phones are, ironically, now one of the most watched series of phones being made.

I've no interest in getting an S 4 (just got a Nexus 4 a few months ago) but It's great to see that technology isn't stopping - we've gone beyond "colour screens! look at pictures! take photos! play movies!" into the realm of doing all of that stuff as effortlessly as possible, in the most convenient way imaginable, in high definition, streamed from the net.

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Terminator

re: no longer playing catch-up (?!)

er, Apple have been playing catch-up since the S3 and Note II.

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What is so compelling?

As far as I can see this is just another Android Phone. Meh! There is nothing here that says 'buy me' that is not in pretty well every other phone (android/iPhone or windows phone) available today.

Sure it has a lot of sensors and there is some nifty electronics inside but what level of improvement of user experience will this give me over a dozen other phones out there?

At the moment, I can't see anything.

Then there is Rik's statement about the iPhone 5 being last weeks newspaper.

I have to ask, 'so what?'. Does it do what it says on the tin?

In the broader consumer world (not the technophobes who post on 'El Reg') does this really matter?

In the majority of cases, I think that is does not.

Therefore I must conclude that this is a sign of the smart phone market maturing to point where all the phones will do pretty well everything that the users are demanding. Like new versions of MS Office, the new features are only useful to a small percentage of the overall user base.

So no compelling need to rush out and buy one of the then?

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Re: What is so compelling?

"....the technophobes who post on 'El Reg'"

Surely, you mean 'technophiles'?

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Re: What is so compelling?

"As far as I can see this is just another Android Phone."

In the same way that the iPhone 5 is just another iOS phone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What is so compelling?

I think Samsung's success is due to them cramming in every feature. With competitors you have to pick and choose.

Many are still obsessed with having a battery that is removable and SD slots.

When buying a Windows Phone 8 handset I could have bought the Samsung phone with these features, but decided I wanted QI wireless charging and better camera.

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Re: What is so compelling?

"Sure it has a lot of sensors"

Still missing, though, are the breathalyzer, mass-spectrometer (for avoiding that Ben Fogle spiked drink moment, with secondary use as a coke/ketamine/ecstasy quality tester ), and (to tie up with certain 'specialist' apps) a penile turgidity cuff fitting; after all, the damn things have vibrated for years...

Samsung please note; I'd prefer $s to Wons.

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Re: Sure it has a lot of sensors

I'm still waiting for a phone with a cigarette lighter in.

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Headmaster

Re: "Surely, you mean 'technophiles'?" I think that depends on which company the........

........technology originates from. If one were to judge by the howling that greets anything from "fill in your choice of company here" one would have to assume that a certain proportion of the membership here are indeed "technophobes". At least a fair number appear to have an automatic aversion reaction to any tech not approved of by "their tribe".

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Re: What is so compelling?

Yes I was wondering this - I mean, works with gloves was first done by Nokia, hover touch was first done by Sony (I think). Is there a phone yet that does both of these together?

And I was amused when the micro SD storage was announced with an "of course" :) (I'm not sure if that was a dig at Apple, Google, HTC or all three...)

Still, it is a shame that Samsung get so much publicity when there are plenty of other top quality phones coming from Sony, HTC etc. But I guess it's a step forward when the mainstream media were only publicising the iphone, when there was never any justification for doing so.

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Re: Sure it has a lot of sensors

I'm still waiting for a phone with a cigarette lighter in.

Wait no longer

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Re: phone with a cigarette lighter in

That is possibly the most awesome thing I have seen today at least, and what a name!

I'm not sure I can see anyone actually buying it, but still, absolutely brilliant, almost makes me want to take up smoking again, but not quite.

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Vic
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Joke

Re: What is so compelling?

> Surely, you mean 'technophiles'?

Not been here long, have you?

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sure it has a lot of sensors

The bloody thing can do everything except that one thing that an old SE or Nokia featurephone can... record a phonecall (both caller and yourself AKA full 2-way callrecording).

So it doesn't matter how many cores, how much lpram, how big a screen or how much sensors it has; if can't do that one simple thing that a 2005 phone could do without a fuzz.

This is not progress this is braggery.

Samsung, a dumping-company of cheap and crappy consumerproducts, may fool the whole world but they won't fool me.

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Facepalm

Re: Sure it has a lot of sensors

Have you searched the app store? Auto Call Recorder perhaps....?

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whopper

I'm just at the point of buying new smartphone and was waiting to see what the S4 was going to deliver. My rather basic concern is, can this thing actually fit in your trouser pocket ?

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Coat

Re: whopper

"can this thing actually fit in your trouser pocket ?"

Who needs pants when you have a phone like that.

I will be needing this coat though...

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Meh

Re: whopper

You will need two handed dexterity to use this beastie.

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Re: whopper

It's (a very, very small bit) smaller than the S3, which I've been carrying around quite comfortably for a year. fits in all the various trousers I wear, both casual (mostly jeans) and business, very nicely.

I think they've done a really neat job of packaging to get the bigger screen and battery into a package smaller than the S3, and it's good to see a return to Super AMOLED - always seemed an odd choice to fit the flagship phone with the second-tier screen on the S3, although it works well enough for my ageing and colour-blind eyesight.

Watching the launch event was quite excrutiatingly embarrassing, though. Samsung are not Apple, and I do wish they wouldn't try to be. All the pauses waiting for audience applause that never came was like watching a train crash in slow motion.

GJC

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Headmaster

Re: whopper

S 4 not S4.

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Re: whopper

No problem, I've had one for a while and I hardly notice it in any of my pockets but why not pop into a phone shop and give one a try ;)

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Re: whopper

>My rather basic concern is, can this thing actually fit in your trouser pocket ?

What Grant said. Your Pockets May Vary.

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FAIL

Re: whopper

Not according to Samsung's website where you can't get a fag paper between the S and the 4 ...

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Trollface

Re: whopper

I've had plenty of practice using both hands, no worries there!

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What strikes me about this review is ...

it appears to be balanced and fairly neutral - unlike the Guardian's rewrite artist Charles Arthur - and provides informational reading to El Reg readers. The family arguments on Orange County Choppers killed that show and, likewise, Troll writers who write 'reviews' exposing their prejudices/preferences are just so much waste space.

That Samsung is marketing what is, effectively, an under-powered cell handset in North America is interesting. I run a company Note 2 purchased and used in the Far East and when compared to a friend's North American Note 2 the subtle differences become noticeable.

I would be curious to know the strategy behind these decisions.

In the mean time I patiently await the Note 3 - just think what Samsung could achieve with all that additional real estate under the cover!

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Sounds great

If only I had waited and not got my One X back in July. The One X is a great phone,but I miss the replaceable battery and card slot.

I love the idea of air gestures, and having played with the S3 I think more should be made of the ability Samsung have added to have more than one app on the screen.

IAs an expat, the translation thing might have been useful had it included the language of my chosen home.

It'll undoubtedly sell like hotcakes.

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Re: Sounds great

With the exception of its outstanding screen and build quality I too am somewhat underwhelmed by the One X.

Sticking AOKP on it (in the form of IceColdJelly) has made a difference to battery life and heat generation, but I'll still be selling this one on pretty quickly.

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Re: Sounds great

>IAs an expat, the translation thing might have been useful had it included the language of my chosen home.

Have you tried installing "Google Translate" on your One X? I'm not sure what the S 4 gives you above that. Nobody seems to mention it in the reviews.

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Meh

Re: Sounds great

Translate sounds marvelously useful on the face of it. Until you give it some though.... The most likely and useful place to use it would be while holidaying in some foreign land, ask it "which way to the beach" and it can translate it for a helpful local to point you in the correct direction. But... when you're on holiday you'll have to rely on the hefty data roaming charges it will inevitable rack up to talk to the translation servers.

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Re: Sounds great

Sensible travelers would swap SIMs upon arriving and use a local prepaid system (pay for a short stint, use it, then toss it away as you leave). Rates may vary, but they're likely better than international roaming.

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Boffin

Re: Sounds great

@Charles 9 - I hear that a lot, but know of no-one who does it, lest I'd be having to text people "I'll be on +34 123 4565 19 for the next 2 weeks if you want to reach me.." Or forever swapping SIM cards back and forth depending on whether I want *my* expensive phoneline, or *a* cheap phoneline.

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Re: Sounds great

You're talking to one. I did it for a three-week stint, and it worked out nicely, and despite a number of international calls and texts (not to mention a generous data allowance) the final damage wasn't all that significant.

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Re: Sounds great

That's where O2's TuGo app comes in handy. If your local SIM has a reasonable data allowance, then you can make and receive calls on your UK number for the same cost as in the UK. If you have that, then you probably don't need to worry about voice minutes or texts at all on your local SIM, and you can just go for the one with the cheapest data.

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