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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You have my attention.

My 2-year-old phone is starting to feel long in the tooth with today's apps, so I have the itch to switch. I was turned off the HTC One because you can't change the battery or use SD. This one is ticking all the marks so far: current Android, high res (I still have good eyes), power, battery can be removed, even SDXC support (from the 64GB claim). I plan to jump later this year, and so far this is the one to beat.

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Boffin

Re: You have my attention.

SDXC has been supported since the Galaxy S2 for certain, and possibly before that. 128GB cards coming Real Soon Now...

GJC

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Re: You have my attention.

My note has had a 64GB card in it for a while now, so they do support the big cards.

Now there's a thing, all this talk of the S 4, nothing new on Note 3? That's what I'm waiting for at the moment....

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Re: You have my attention.

Have to wonder, though, if they'll support the capacities out of the box. Since the big hurdle (exFAT support) is already licked, I would hope so, but you never know.

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Big Brother

Cupertino, start your photocopiers

This is the second generation of tech they failed to innovate from Samsung. Guess the first generation such as NFC, wireless charging, proper screen sizes etc they are still innovating from the first S3 will be here any year now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cupertino, start your photocopiers

Not everyone is a fat, angry basement dweller so a massive screen isn't need to watch anime and to compensate for being a 40 year old virgin. So before talking about a proper screen do realise you're different.

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Re: Cupertino, start your photocopiers

LOL. Too true. Too true.

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Re: Cupertino, start your photocopiers

I've had an NFC phone for some time now, and have no use for the feature. That said, I was recently doing some work on a house, and thought that being able to embed passive FC tags in the walls, for future identification of water pipes etc would be handy, if the tags were cheap enough.

Now, that IR transmitter on this SG S 4 does seem useful. Strange that it hasn't been featured on more smartphones in recent years, given it was a coveted feature on Casio wristwatches amongst schoolkids in the nineties.

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FAIL

Re: Cupertino, start your photocopiers

and if there's anything you basic fanboi really hates it's anything different.

it's a witch! burn it etc etc.

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Happy

Re: Cupertino, start your photocopiers

I understand your point, but technically the S3 wireless charging announced @ launch was vaporware ;> Of course they have implied that in addition to the S4, the S3 will get a refresh that will include it.

Anyway, there are inovations that Samsung has produced that Apple has not immulated - of course that could be because that would make Apple hypocritical in their previous criticisms that Samsung products were nothing but knockoffs of Apple products (I've disagreed with that assertion on the grounds that no patent should ever be awarded for derivative elements like rounded corners.)

ANYWAY, the real observation I'll make with regard to the S4 is that like with SIRI, the non-touch gesture based interface may not really be ready for prime-time, but it does signal the likely evolution of future interfaces. Sooner or later we know that we'll all be able to talk to and gesture at our "portable assistant." Nobody is actually there yet, but they will get there. As such, Crapple fanboi suggestions that Samsung only emulates are clearly unfounded.

But then again fanBoys will be fanBoys (on both sides).

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Re: Cupertino, start your photocopiers

Much as I both agree and disagree with the sentiment (I reckon Apple and Samsung have probably taken "inspiration" equally as often from each other), I've upvoted you purely for the brilliant line :-)

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FAIL

Re: Cupertino, start your photocopiers

So how is watching porn on your iPhone? Does the extra row of icons show much additional?

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Happy

Swappability

For me, the main thing I look for in a phone is the ability to swap batteries and swap uSD cards. Using a phone a lot during the day, even for emails, tweets, RSS, and the odd little game uses up nearly all of a battery and many times you don't get a chance to recharge when running low. Having a back up battery to keep you going is important. Similarly being able to backup to a uSD and insert into another phone when the inevitable happens is also very important, especially when phones can store gigabytes and you keep many personal documents/photos in them.

My current ancient phone of a Dell Streak 5 has those features. I'm glad that the SIV has these features too. These two facts will make it a major reason why I will switch to the SIV when I've saved up some money.

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Re: Swappability

The former problem is dealt with by having a phone with enough battery life to last more than a day (with use) on a full charge. The iPhone and many Android phones can manage that these days perfectly well.

The latter is dealt with by backing your phone up to the cloud. iPhone owners can for example move to a new phone and have everything restored and working within a few minutes.

Result: these are both non-issues for most people.

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Trollface

Re: Swappability

And when your iPhone battery does die because you've been watching YouTube videos all day. I guess you're going to just have to get a bunch of lemons and try to generate electricity with them..

And when your data allowance is used up or youre in a foreign country and dont want to pay for a data network or youre in a place with no cell coverage, I guess the iPhone makes a good paperweight.

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Joke

Re: Swappability

I believe You will find out that he doesn't want the lemons. He didn't order them! What would he do with them?

A potato, on the other hand, would provide 1,2V - with should be enough, if he keeps calm.

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Re: Swappability

The cloud, yees. Like putting your RSS feeds in Google's Reader, yees.

Your data may be unimportant to you, but some of us have doubts.

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It's a mature market now.

A nicer screen (but what is the point of higher than perceptible resolution?), a faster processor (nice, but again not exactly a quantum leap), loads of rather gimmicky new features that will be mostly ignored after the first five minutes...

This doesn't mean the S4 is boring, just that smartphones are maturing and that's what happens - there are diminishing returns. Expect the iPhone 5S to be greeted with the same chorus of "where's the next big thing?"...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a mature market now.

Jobs was the driving force behind Apple, he's gone. So there's no point being critical of what Apple do now. They may keep the fanfare going, but its obvious they have no visionary at the helm.

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Samsung galaxy 3S

It's rubbish and with talk of the features being back port to the galaxy 3 that means it has even fewer new features.

The only thing working in Samsung's favour is the high dissatisfaction android owners have means they'll upgrade more often.

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High dissatisfaction

I agree. I'm an Android owner am very dissatisfied that I cannot get the same experience as the iPhone 5 unless I go back in time to the Galaxy S2.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: High dissatisfaction

Errm you know that the SIII isn't Android right? It's samsungs spin on Android.

If you don't like what Samsung are going, try and Xperia Z, HTC One, or a Nexus 4. All still Android, and all unique.

Personally, I don't think you can beat stock Android Nexus 4. Most of the gadgets and gizmos you can download from the app-store if you want them, forget about them if you don't.

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FAIL

Re: High dissatisfaction @AC 08:46 GMT

"Errm you know that the SIII isn't Android right? It's samsungs spin on Android."

Errm - You do know you can flash the SIII with a more pure Android version (think CM 10.1) with all the Samsung crap removed.

Icon: Failure of previous poster to do his homework

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WTF?

Re: High dissatisfaction

"Errm you know that the SIII isn't Android right?"

Of course it's Android! It doesn't matter what interface changes you make or apps you preinstall or even how many go-fast stripes you put on it. It's an Android OS phone. (This photo says it all: http://mobile.it168.com/tu/1461878_1.shtml#15)

It's a bit like saying 'Ubuntu isn't Linux' but that's a different argument for another time .....

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Re: High dissatisfaction

If I do get an SIV, i'll definitely be getting it unbranded (otherwise, I'll hold off). I can tolerate TouchWiz and I'll see what apps they offer. If I'm not satisfied...hopefully Samsung will be lenient on those who buy the phone unbranded and make it easy to reflash it.

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Happy

Re: High dissatisfaction

He may have used the wrong words - but I agree with the gist of it.

Let me explain.

The Android used by Samsung is (were?) heavily customized. It is Android, all right. But it IS different.

I have an Xperia Arc, and looks to me that Sony fiddled much less with the OS. Looked to a Nexus of a friend, and my Xperia is almost the same. My girlfriend's Galaxy SII was quite different.

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Re: High dissatisfaction

"Errm you know that the SIII isn't Android right? It's samsungs spin on Android."

Its android with some added Samsung Apps.

BY your logic my old Vodafone branded iphone wouldn't be iOS

*facepalm*

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Re: High dissatisfaction

"I have an Xperia Arc, and looks to me that Sony fiddled much less with the OS."

So you didn't notice the lock screen, home screen, launcher, app drawer, music app, gallery app and the host of other customisations Sony made to the Arc?

Sony add just as much, if not more, stuff to their roms than Samsung do

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Boffin

Re: High dissatisfaction

I was talking about the system, not the apps.

I don't have a Samsung handy here, so cannot get into specifics. But (from memory) the navigation was quite different - and (again, from memory) with a Nexus I felt quite at home.

Hence, Sony must have fiddled less.

Another point: The Xperia Arc is (was, at the time) the first Android Sony sold with minimal changing. I remember that older models had an interface completely different from everything else - and it was one of the (given) reasons to the delay of the updates.

I don't know if it was true - but my 2.3.0 Arc was upgraded (by Sony) to 2.3.4 and 4.0.4.

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What I'd like to see...

.... is a smartphone that can last a whole waking day of heavy use without having to re-charge or swap the battery out.

Pretty please?

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Re: What I'd like to see...

Galaxy Note.

So huge they can fit a decent battery in it.

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Re: What I'd like to see...

I think Moto do a phone with an extra big battery option, and the Sony TX has a swappable battery.

"and the flagship DROID RAZR MAXX HD has the same 3,300mAh battery that was first introduced in the DROID RAZR MAXX" - http://www.phonedog.com/2012/09/10/motorola-s-big-gambit-is-extra-large-batteries-and-it-might-just-work/ September 2012

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What I'd like to see...

You'd be wanting a Motarola RAZR MAXX or HD MAXX, which are regular RAZRs with humungous batteries. Sadly only available in the US, though you can import them. Pretty good phones too, apparently

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Re: What I'd like to see...

I would rather have a thicker phone with room for a bigger battery, this is essential for those of us addicted to Ingress! A fully charged battery in my Note only gives me about 3 hours of play. Ok, using GPS and the screen all the time is going to suck battery life and that's my choice if I want to play but I would love to be able to play without having to carry around a spare.

Although, I guess I should be thankful i can swap my battery. I would hate to have a phone that once its dead, it stays that way until you get home. If you can't swap the battery in a phone its not worth having.

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Re: What I'd like to see...

I'm also grateful that Micro USB has become the standard charging method. It makes getting a USB battery brick more versatile.

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Re: What I'd like to see...

Yup. They're the only phones that have taken battery life seriously. I don't know why Motorola isn't giving the MAXX HD a sprinking of upgrades, 4.2.2 and throwing it out to the international market.

I did import a RAZR MAXX HD, for pretty much the reason that it wasn't silly: 720p screen (1080p is pointless at this size), that giant battery, nicely balanced SoC (MSM8960, dual core Krait).. micro SD, and so on.

Toss some capacitive buttons under the screen, upgrade to MSM8960T and 2GiB RAM, they have a winner on their hands again.. (oh, and ditch AMOLED, that degrades badly. Give me a nice LCD any day).

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Anonymous Coward

I would like

Dual core (quad core is pointless on a pc let alone a phone)

Max 4" display with minimal bezels (720p is fine)

Sd card

Big battery

Quality materials (milled polycarbonate or metal)

Camera that works in low light

Stock android

Will any manufacturer make this please?

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Re: I would like

Have you tried machining polycarbonate? Try it on an old CD. It's better moulded, or pressed (which can be done at room temperature for some forms).

Multicore chips are an effort to save battery power - the idea is that fewer / efficient cores are used for keeping the phone ticking over, and the other cores are only called into action when required.

If you want a solid aluminium, dual core phone with a 4" display, you might consider a Sony Xperia P- and it's not too pricey. Okay, it doesn't have a removeable battery, but i get on quite well with with a little Li-ion USB battery pack I bought from Lidl. It doesn't have a uSD card slot, but it does support USB OTG, so a card reader can be connected (note: the Nexus 4 doesn't offer this facility). The Xperia P doesn't have stock Android, but the Sony customisation isn't too offensive.

Its camera is alright, but nothing special in low light. There isn't really any substitute for size when it comes to low light pictures (bigger sensor, brighter lens), so maybe you want a Nokia Pureview or a dedicated compact camera.

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Re: I would like

The S3 mini ticks most of those boxes.

My battery lasts 2 days easily. Granted I don't make too many calls but plenty of emails and web use.

Nice size for my hands and pocket also.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I would like

Thanks for the tips (and the downvotes).

Quite like the look of the S3 mini, but been used to metal phones for while (Nokia 8800 / n71 / iphone1 / ip4) so would like something with a solid feel.

I can put up with OTG cables for my nexus, but not for a phone (downloading from amazon cloud player is far less hastle if i need to swap out some tunes), hence wanting big memory (£s) or microsd

Guess i'm still looking ... it would be really nice if the Nexus 5 came in 4" and 5" sizes to keep everyone happy (probably except me as it won't have microsd....).

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Anonymous Coward

Another in the long lone of real iPhone killers.

Doesn't matter if you have a S2, a Nexus 4, and Xperia Z, a HTC One, a LG Optimus or even a Huawei Ascend P2

They are all easilly iPhone killers, they all run the same apps (so you can switch between any of them), and they all cost less than the iPhone. (in the case of the Huawei and the Nexus, half the price of the iPhone), without losing anything, infact all being far more functional and just as easy to use.

Whilst Android has always been ahread of iOS in terms of power and flexability, Jellybean really was a game changer for Google, it's now massively ahead of Apple in the usability and look game too.

The Nexus4 totally kills the iPhone in every area, and is over half the price. Get one for you and the wife for the same price, it's a compelling offer.

Guess that's why Google just reached the 750m Android device mark. (more like 850m when you add in all the non-Google enabled Android devices).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another in the long lone of real iPhone killers.

Rubbish. The Nexus 4 doesn't have LTE support, the Nexus 4 doesn't support Bluetooth 4 low power (I have a Fitbit One and can use an iPhone to sync its stats).

I can get an iPhone with 32GB or more. What does the Nexus 4 have? oh erm 8GB or 16GB (it's not 2008 guys).

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Re: Another in the long lone of real iPhone killers.

What utter bollocks. I own both devices (I use the n4 the wife uses the iphone5) and without even wasting time writing counterpoints to your post I can confidently state the following:

The iPhone camera dumps all over the n4

The iPhone screen is far more accurate than the n4 - and yes, I am using a custom kernel to get the best out of it.

I actually prefer the n4 for many reasons and would always advocate the phone over an iPhone but don't flat out lie ffs.

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Re: Another in the long lone of real iPhone killers.

i really don't wanna do the whole "my android is better than your iphone/BB/Winpho" but i can't help but agree with the above statement.

Bought a 16 gig nexus for for £279, comfortably cheaper than every similar device out there. the UI is excellent even for an android virgin. If price is a factor in your purchasing decision, you seriously need to give throught to the Nexus 4. The battery easily lasts a whole day of moderate use (whereas my i4S was dead by 4-5pm). It is light, has an excellent screen and and excellent range of apps. Managed to sell my i4S too which covered 90% of the purchase price.

Thoroughly recommended.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another in the long lone of real iPhone killers.

@ AC 0942 GMT

<blockquote>I can get an iPhone with 32GB or more. What does the Nexus 4 have? oh erm 8GB or 16GB (it's not 2008 guys).</blockquote>

Cloud storage and MicroSD....

Why do you want a device with any amount of limited storage in your hand, its not 2007 guys.

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Different bands for different markets - how awful

The whole point of a mobile phone is that you should be able to take it around to different places and it should just work - I'm fed up with having a GSM phone that only works in parts of the USA and Canada, for example, because they use different bands to ours.

So what do we find here: 4g with the hardware using a different selection of bands when sold in different places. So if I buy one in the UK it probably won't be able to use 4g in other countries. What a mess.

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Re: Different bands for different markets - how awful

I understand the feeling, but it's pretty much the best we can do. Compactness demands pretuned antennae. Besides, a software radio isn't sensitive enough.

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Re: Different bands for different markets - how awful

In any event, they're trying to be as accommodating as possible. The GSM and HSPA radios are each quad-band and the LTE one is hex-band, and you can usually find some overlap between areas. Even for my T-Mobile G2 (aka HTC Desire Z), I was pleasantly surprised to find an overlapping HSPA+ frequency in the Philippines at 1900MHz. 900MHz is being included in the US frequency list for HSPA(+) and both 900 and 1800MHz are supported on EDGE. Hopefully, the LTE radio will make room for some common international bands.

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Meh

Samsung Suck at Software

I have an S2, and I love it - it's around the same sort of ball-park as an iPhone 5, as I imagine the S3 is too.

However, 90% of what makes my phone good is Android, and actually stuff written by Google or apps developers. The remaining 10% of not-uninstallable shite is all the Samsung stuff. Even worse is the absolute abomination they want you to install on your PC.

The S4 will doubtless be good hardware - that's something Samsung have generally been good at for years and years. However, if they end up "customising" Android to "enhance" the user experience, then it'll be a god-awful crock of steamies. I'd rather they teamed up with Google to get the features they want into Android, but then of course, that means HTC and everyone else will have them too.

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Re: Samsung Suck at Software

Yes. Yes they do. Always have.

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