back to article Review: Samsung Galaxy S4

In purely commercial terms, the Samsung Galaxy S III was always going to be a tough act to follow. After all, it established and then cemented Samsung’s position as the number one smartphone maker by volume - and the only one to give Apple the collywobbles. I suspect that’s why Samsung has played it safe and opted for …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's a pretty nice

    looking iPhone you got there.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: That's a pretty nice

      iPhone 12?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's a pretty nice

      I wonder if the iphone gets a slating for keeping it's 'home button' ???

      1. William Donelson
        FAIL

        Re: That's a pretty nice

        I hate how Android takes up screen space to put "home" button and two others, and nothing else.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's a pretty nice

          Yeah, if this ran Windows Phone it would be a winner. Android sucks in so many ways.

          1. MacGyver
            Trollface

            Re: That's a pretty nice

            AC, it's hard to tell sarcasm with text, next time use "/sarcasm" at the end, because I know you can't be serious.

    3. DF118

      Re: That's a pretty nice

      Obvious troll is obvious

  2. Pie

    Are the 32Gb or 64Gb version available yet?

    Not seen any for sale only the 16Gb seems to be available at the moment, and you can't load apps to the sd card....

    But looking at the phone it appears to have a great screen, and feels good in the hand to me...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Are the 32Gb or 64Gb version available yet?

      > you can't load apps to the sd card....

      Thanks for raising that point, Pie.

      8 GB would once have been overkill for app storage, but it appears the trend is for apps to be much bigger these days, especially games.

      http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2212114

      I hadn't realised it was an Android issue from 4.0... Not really an advance! It's a bit like the time Android was updated and no longer connected to computers as MSC (though I think some phones -Xperia Z? - retain an option to do so, removing a little hurdle for Mac and Linux users)

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Are the 32Gb or 64Gb version available yet?

      AFAIK, not in America. No biggie in this case thanks to support for 64GB SDXC Micro cards and USB On-the-Go. I'd be more inclined to use USB OTG if they provide an OTG cable that provides BOTH the USB host socket AND power (that's my one beef with USB OTG--you typically can't both charge the phone and run On the Go at the same time).

    3. illiad

      Re: Are the 32Gb or 64Gb version available yet?

      AT&T in US has it..

    4. illiad

      Re: Are the 32Gb or 64Gb version available yet?

      how is your google fu???

      https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=32gb+samsung&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a&channel=fflb#cr=countryUK|countryGB&safe=off&client=firefox-a&hs=Gwn&hl=en&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB%3Aofficial&channel=fflb&tbs=ctr:countryUK|countryGB&sclient=psy-ab&q=32gb+s4+site:co.uk&oq=32gb+s4+site:co.uk&gs_l=serp.3...45872.51291.1.51691.11.11.0.0.0.0.53.491.11.11.0...0.0...1c.1.14.psy-ab.ENood2eH_Dw&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.46751780,d.bGE&fp=ba64e33975863f3&biw=1276&bih=659

      1. illiad

        Re: Are the 32Gb or 64Gb version available yet?

        too much?? then goto to google, type in

        32gb s4 site:co.uk

        ok??? :D

  3. tommy060289
    Stop

    I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

    Apple constantly get moaned at for this and now people are of Samsung, but at the end of the day what do people want to come out? People seem to expect the industrial engine in the first generation, the jet engine in the second and time travel in the third generation.

    There really is very little to revolutionise the smart phone market at the moment so it will probably be a while before the next revolution comes along so at the moment all there is is to improve on the offerings that are there at the moment i.e., more power, better battery life, slightly better specs but at the end of the day speed is not going to revolutionise the market, so can we please stop this 'oh company X has lost its way - its new phone doesn't even have time travel!'

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

      Agreed, its daft to bemoan a product category for becoming mature.

      I like it that manufacturers are needing to think harder than just cramming bigger/faster components inside a case, and are trying other ways to suit the needs of the user, such as making phones more durable and waterproof- something that has been standard feature on most wristwatches for years. (Though as someone pointed out the other day about the Xperia Z - it doesn't really need to be waterproof because it is too big to be accidentally dropped in a pint glass!)

      The IR transmitter on this S IV seems to me to be a sensible, useful addition- it's a fair assumption that most people who might buy a high-end phone will have several black boxes under their television set. Eyeball tracking? Meh.

      1. Timmay
        Trollface

        Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

        Actually, people who have the money to buy a high-end phone probably have the money to buy a decent all-in-one type remote, a la Logitech Harmony :)

        1. Al Taylor

          Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

          Fair comments all but Nokia moved the game on in regards to photography with the Lumia 920's mechanically stabilized camera and HTC has done similar for sound quality with the One's forward facing loudspeakers. Granted the S4 is better than the S3 in all ways but there's no single feature that tries to redefine the genre. I don't blame Samsung for playing it safe but a wee bit more adventurousness wouldn't have gone amiss.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

            "Granted the S4 is better than the S3 in all ways ..." -NOT SO, they disconnected the FM Radio that is part of the chipset, and was usable in all previous Galaxies, and is also supported by stock Android. Why strip out basic core specs and introduce duplicate browsers. players etc. ?

            2 more points: it would help your smartphone reviews if you could rate each phone for droptest survival.

            A design improvement would be, like in the HTC One, to have the speaker(s) facing the user, not away from the user

        2. Kevin 6

          Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

          I'm pretty sure it does more then the logitech harmony

          my samsung tablet has the option too, and if they included peel (the program on the tablet) the program will connect to the internet tell you what is on, and offer 1 button graphical channel changing along with a synopsis of the show that is currently on. It also has brows able categories.

          Its actually a very nice program I personally just don't find it extremely useful as I don't watch much TV, but when I do want to see something its a couple thousand times faster then going through my satellites programming guide to look if a certain show is on, and to find the channel.

    2. dougal83

      Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

      Agreed. About time iOS had an overhaul though... it's still crap.

    3. DougS Silver badge
      Facepalm

      IR is NOT a useful addition to a phone

      Spot on. There haven't been any true innovations in phones for several years now.

      However, I can't believe someone singled out IR as a useful innovation. This was already added to phones a decade ago and rightly abandoned as it saw little use aside from smartasses surreptitiously turning off/changing channels on TVs/monitors located in public places. I suspect that will cover 98% of its usage this time around as well, but thanks to how easy it will now be to download codes to your phone for every possible device out there it'll be done 100x more often.

      1. DRendar

        Re: IR is NOT a useful addition to a phone

        Horses for courses mate, to me at least this is an extremely useful addition.

        I currently have 5 remote controls in my living room. One of them can almost do everything, but it's not all that nice to use - in particular the ff,rw, play, pause, stop buttons aren't in the places that the Sky remote has trained my fingers to think they are meaning I have to look at the remote to find stuff, which is difficult in grew dark... Also there's no record or colour buttons, and no Media/hub button for the telly to access iPlayer / lovefilm.

        But the main problem is actually *finding* the bastard things, undoubtedly my 20month old squirrel/daughter, the mrs or I will have absent mindedly left them in the kitchen, on the computer desk or at the bottom of a toybox.

        Having a genuinely universal remote in my pocket will be an absolute godsend, and if I lose it, I can just ring it from the housephone... fecking awesome! Add that to the XBMC remote that is already on my phone anyway and we're onto a winner-100% control of all my devices from a device that's nearly impossible to lose.

        Eeeexcellent.

        1. The Original Steve

          Re: IR is NOT a useful addition to a phone

          It's called a Logitech Harmony. Start at under £30 and if it cant be setup to work with all your kit nothing will.

          Some are so big you just can't lose them!

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: IR is NOT a useful addition to a phone

            If it saves having multiple devices kicking around then I'm happy. After all, that's why I updated a Moto A1000 to a S2 and dumped various other pieces of kit I carried around to cover the parts the Moto missed

            To cover all the bases, it'd be great if the phone had a DECT module onboard, 433MHZ RF remote (power/light controls) and a rollup 10-inch screen (as seen on TekWar).

            Some of that is still SF, but others are perfectly doable. My home router/PBX (FritzBox 7390) has a SIP module which works fairly well to the S2 over WiFi, but that comes with WiFi's inherent limitations when it comes to penetrating walls, etc.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: IR is NOT a useful addition to a phone

              You want one of those Homer Simpson designed cars - basically that's what it's getting to here. Why not add a can opener, knife and scissors like a swiss army knife? Oh and how about an ethernet port - you never know when you might not have wifi.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: IR is NOT a useful addition to a phone

          Except what when you leave the room with your phone and there is now no remote. As someone else said Logitech Harmony is your solution not a gimmick IR - what next a centronics-on-the-go cable?

          1. DRendar
            Trollface

            Re: IR is NOT a useful addition to a phone

            "Except what when you leave the room with your phone and there is now no remote. As someone else said Logitech Harmony is your solution not a gimmick IR"

            Come on AC that's a strawman argument if I ever saw one, and you know that otherwise you wouldn't be posting AC.

            Why would *I* want the remote if I'm not in the room? I'm not suggesting that the phone completely replace the remotes. I'm hardly going to get this phone and immediately pack away all the remotes into the atic and just say bollocks to the mrs (although she has a Galaxy Tab2 7.0 so has this capability also).

            It's called a feature. An additional function that the device is able to perform, and to me and a LOT of other people a damn useful one.

            Why do people like you bemoan additional features just because you don't see a reason for it yourself? There's probably 1/2 a dozen features on the phone that I'll never use, but I'm not going to bellyache on here saying that it's a pointless feature. Pointless for me, yes, pointless for everyone - highly unlikely.

            And the Logitech Harmony, can't run the XBMC remote!

            "what next a centronics-on-the-go cable"

            What you mean like a USBOTG + USBCentronics cable and PrinterShare Premium?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: IR is NOT a useful addition to a phone

              Well if you have a remote what's the need of it on your phone. IR is a step back and more a sign of Samsung looking for something to try and make this lacklustre release look any better.

              What's the saying - you can't shine a...

              Basically it's a S3s ;)

          2. Anonymous Coward #69

            Re: IR is NOT a useful addition to a phone

            Uhm, who's to say that you're the only one with an S4? Presumably couples will buy the same / similar hardware.

            Plus, in 3-5 years after a hardware upgrade, you'll have a universal controller for free since you can just leave the thing in the living room. Reduce, reuse, right?

        3. mIRCat
          Coat

          Re: IR is NOT a useful addition to a phone

          "Undoubtedly my 20month old squirrel/daughter, the mrs or I"

          How did you manage to adopt a squirrel? Was it for tax purposes?

          Most importantly does she ride in your coat pocket?

    4. Anthony Chambers
      Stop

      Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

      I'm just fed up of the phrase. Every review of every iPhone, Galaxy S, even Ford Fiestas currently states "more evolution than revolution". Is it the buzzphrase of the moment or what? It's predictably included in pretty much every review of everything these days, and states the bloody obvious! Stop it reviewers. Stop it!

    5. t.est

      Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

      Oh there is more to revolutionize, but because it's all business and little passion for it, it's gonna take years and years to happen.

    6. BigAndos

      Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

      I agree. I think my iPhone 4S does everything I could ever reasonably need of a smart phone. However, I would just like better battery life and network reception. Those kind of features are now the differentiator for me, I may well jump the fence to Samsung when my contract is up.

    7. Anonymous Coward #69

      Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

      Except APL hasn't done anything of note for the past 3-5 years. Name one thing they added that no other had within the past 5-10 years?

      There's like two things that I can think of that wasn't available before. A voice assistant isn't one of them, as many people believe -- they just took an application on their own store, improved it slightly, integrated into the system. Meanwhile, Android has widgets (homescreen and lockscreen), expandable notifications (so you don't actually have to go into an application to respond to a message, for example), a system to make sure every component (i.e. mapping, text messaging, homescreen) can be seamlessly replaced by downloading an app on the Play Store.

      Samsung's hardware added burst fire camera (S3), touchless gestures based on eye movement (S3), IR blaster (S4, one of the most overlooked feature IMHO).

      So no, I don't get where people get off saying Samsung and Google have not been evolving / revolving (?) their software.

    8. mIRCat
      Coat

      Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

      "so can we please stop this 'oh company X has lost its way - its new phone doesn't even have time travel!'"

      I believe that's the Mark 40 you're thinking of.

      Oh look, a banana. I love bananas.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: I really get tired of this bemoaning 'evolution instead of revolution'

      So where is your input as to where, when, how and in what form, will he next amazingly amazing step come?

      Personally I am so amazed that I can hardly wait for my POX basic 3G phone to expire after another battery or two - and I will have to get a new phone then.... in hopefully 3 to 5 years.

      6 years will be better, and 7 years will be remarkable.

      I will have to replace it eventually, as I can only sodder so many external connecctions and replace key switches, while my phone becomes the technical equivalent of a Edison wax cylinder in a gramophone store.

  4. Efros

    LIke Billy Connolly my inner welder is screaming "£580 for a fucking phone!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £580 for a fucking phone!

      though, to be fair, that part of the UI design did require a lot of testing.

    2. Dave Fox
      Megaphone

      Except that it isn't though really is it?

      It's all very well screaming "£580 for a fucking phone!" if that is all that it was, but for many people these days, it's something else.

      I have a Galaxy Note 2, which I absolutely love, but I use it more for apps, web-browsing, movies, music, navigation, and exercising tracking, than I do for making calls. Yes, it's still my primary phone, but on average I probably only use it for 20 minutes or so a day to actually make and receive phone calls. The rest of the the time I'm using it is for its myriad other functionalities, that in years gone by I'd have had to have separate, expensive, devices to accomplish.

      If you just want a phone, there are thousands of alternatives out there that do not cost the earth!

      1. Efros
        Pint

        Re: Except that it isn't though really is it?

        Indeed there is and I have one, it's a phone cost me $50 up front, annual usage 1500 minutes, annual phone bill $99. All the other stuff I use my tablet for :)

    3. Shagbag

      Agreed

      I know times are tough in the PC market but if the Raspberry Pi can be sold at cost for £31, I fail to see how "high end" smartphones can justify the £££ price tags. That and the record profits from Samsung and Apple all indicate the consumer is getting the shaft. With no mercy.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Agreed

        > Raspberry Pi can be sold at cost for £31

        I think you will find the number of total logic gates in the phone to be at least one and maybe a couple of order of magnitudes greater than a Pi. Radio chipsets are actually a significant portion of the cost as well. Lots of wizardry and patents you have to pay for.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Agreed

          That is so ridiculous - yes a Casio £5 watch tells the time so why should anyone sell a watch for more. The Raspberry Pi is good for what it is - but it's no smartphone - has no screen, radio, wifi, gps, battery and god knows what else.

      2. Goldmember

        Re: Agreed

        "I fail to see how "high end" smartphones can justify the £££ price tags"

        The top end smart phones can do WAY more than a Pi. The ability and spec of the boards, cameras and chips aside though, you have other considerations. Not all of the components will be off the shelf like the Pi. There's prototyping, the slimming down of components to keep the phone thin (which costs a shitload), the design, development and purchase of the latest touchscreens - one of the most expensive components, hordes of designers and testers for the ergonomics, the phone design, design and coding of the ROM (Samsung are very far removed from stock droid these days), power considerations including slimmed down batteries and low consumption where possible. Then there's serious marketing once you actually have your finished product.

        In short, it costs tens of millions to develop the latest phone. Obviously they add a decent markup on the phones; they aren't a charity like the pi foundation. But a few hundred pounds can be justified when you seriously consider the R&D that goes into a product like this.

        1. Magnus Ramage

          Re: Agreed

          @Goldmember: It might be justified, but it's still a lot of money.

    4. Axel
      Boffin

      It's not 580 for a phone, it's 580 for a tiny PC, that can do phone stuff too.

  5. fixit_f
    Thumb Up

    I've had mine since Friday

    1 - the screen is SUPERB

    2 - screen touch is light and responsive

    3 - no noticeable lag on anything, that processor goes like stink

    4 - Battery life of two days definitely achievable with light use

    Very happy with it so far. And the UI layer isn't IMHO as bad as the reviewer suggests, having said that there is a lot of bundled crapware to be uninstalled or disabled.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've had mine since Friday

      Don't get me wrong. It's a good thing that you are happy with your purchase, and if it's got everything you're looking for in a phone so much the better.

      But are we now applauding the fact you can get two days out of a battery of you don't use your phone too much ? That does not sound like progress to me.

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: I've had mine since Friday

        It's true my Nokia 6110 could run for a week on a 900mAh battery. But all it had to/could do was handle GSM voice calls. It's not surprising that a 4G/Wifi/GPS phone with a 1920x1080 screen needs an order of magnitude more power. It would be nice if batteries had improved to the same extent, but "ye cannae change the laws of physicselectrochemistry, Cap'n".

      2. GeorgeTuk

        Re: I've had mine since Friday

        @ Peter R. 1

        That would be a more general industry question to be brought up at one of the big conferences they love doing for the industry now, CEBIT I think its called.

        I am for one am pleased its starting to go this way again as it means, being a lite-ish user I will not be thinking about all day where will I charge it and how much should I use it. That is much harder on holiday as I found out recently!

        Its an issue I have with current HTC One S.

        Either way not too churlish as they are company devices so not going to argue against a new phone!

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