"We'll happily put that down to the presence of Android 4.2.2 which remains, I feel, a mixed bag because its mixed user interface metaphors offer plenty of chances for early user confusion."
Care to elaborate?
Samsung's Galaxy S4 is as wonderfully polished as you would expect from the Korean manufacturer's latest flagship, but the software the company says turns it into a “life companion” will be an acquired taste for many. Samsung yesterday officially launched the S4 for Australians at a lavish event staged at Sydney's Opera House …
Sure. I personally find Android's mix of Apps and Widgets, combined with customisations from manufacturers, means I need to spend a good 15 minutes customising Android handsets so the interface is to my liking. And my liking is for a very consistent and clean experience.
That's NOT me saying everything should behave like iOS. Rather it's a statement that I feel Android is a little untidy and inconsistent.
15 minutes? I fail to see how this is an issue... If you'd said a day, then I'd agree.
Personally, the ability to customise it massively outweighs the time to do so.
On the very rare occasions when I do a full wipe, it takes longer for my installed apps to redownload (automatically, though) than it does for me to customise the home screens.
Also, on the discussion of lag, I can't help but feel that this is Samsung's issue more than Android itself. I have the original Sensation running a kang of CM 10.1 (Albinoman887, for those that are interested) and don't have any issues with lag.
(Isn't it time for a Google/Android icon?)
The price of flexibility... and let's be fair, 15 minutes spent customising on the first time out of the box is pretty small potatoes - imagine how long you spend installing and customising all the applications and settings with a new, fresh-out-of-the-box PC.
I guess the initial setup is geared towards what the average person is most likely to want - we in the tech game are a bit more demanding :)
Pint - to look forward to once the setup is complete and I can relax in the knowledge of a job well done.
>Does it have rSAP?
http://www.android-rsap.com/compatibility.html would suggest that it does. Curiously, my uber-geek mate (the sort who always sticks his previous gen Samsung Galaxy on eBay a day before the official announcement of the next model) drives a recent Audi, and he likes the integration. A nice car, but he only discovered that he has to put anti-feeeze in his windscreen in winter when he crashed into a parked car a few months back... a selectively-smart chap.
AIUI it's got a IR trasmitter on it.
Next step would be a 433MHz transmitter for various RF remotes and DECT for when the phone is at home.
(My DSL router-cum-PBX - a Fritzbox - is a Dect base station with an app to treat wifi-based smartphones as internal extensions when they're in the house, but wifi range is a bit "lacking")
I rather agree it's a shame about the Oct core version not being available in the UK and other territories. The premise of a low power chip performing the humble tasks, that kicks in the hight power chip as necessary, seems a sensible and battery saving measure ( though I don't really see why the low power chip required 4 cores).
My understanding is the the Octa chip isn't in various territories because they couldn't make it work with 4G (which is present or rolling out in those territories). Can't think why given they'd have designed the chip in full knowledge of the time-scales and technical challenges of 4G, but there you go.
Apparently 70% of UK chips will be snapdragon and the rest Octa so it may be that they sell those via networks that won't make use of 4g for the next couple of years. Apologies if any of the info in this is inaccurate - it's just what I gathered after researching the same question when they did the NY launch.
I've been stung by the poor software on HTC handsets, so this time I'm going where the action is. I have never used a S3, so all the reviews that directly compare the two are a bit pointless to me. This handset will be bang up to date for ages (Sensation XE was superseded within a month of ownership) and has enough of a balance of gimmicks and power to keep my interest. So what if S-translate is muck? Sat nav on the 5" screen will make up for that for me personally.
Swings and roundabouts, this one being more swings...
>As an Alpha Geek
No, you are a geek who is still in the alpha-testing stage... let us know when you have reached version 0.9 or higher.
If you had reached a release-ready level of personal development, you would know that the Galaxy S4 is a 'Ubuntu phone':
Ubuntu for Phone will be another OS alternative to Phones, specially Smart Phones, that works with any phones that carry Android and have the minimum hardware requirements posted above. Phones like Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG and others that offer Android will be able to install Ubuntu for Phone on them.
Given that the Galaxy range of phones are popular amongst geeks, its seems reasonable to assume that it will be a handset better supported by the Ubuntu effort. Anyway, I thought you preferred Mint?
Real geeks will be dual booting.
Real Alpha geeks will be triple booting Android,Ubuntu and Mozilla.
Insane geeks will throw in another version of Android and quad boot, for those moments you just need a faster running game.
Eadon will remain a beginner, aspiring to geekness but lacking any clue how to achieve it.
Eadon "I am a master (literally) of physics, mathematics and software engineering"
Does the use of "literally" mean you have a master's degree? Or that you really are a master of all these things? If the latter, who is writing most of your El Reg comments?
No, Eadon, no.
The Art of War states that the best commanders *create* a situation such that they don't have to draw battle to win (and, in a separate passage, a quite important à propos point is made on the mastery of "infinite varieties").
That is a completely different thing from supposedly "not having to fight" .
If you don't understand that, maybe instead of getting a triple Master's you should have had invested your time in developing reading comprehension? Oh, and, BTW, Sun Tzu also had a thing or ten to say about hubris as well.
Mentioning degree(s) you may or may not hold does not add any validity to your comment. Just like it doesn't with some people who insist signing their emails with their degree(s) and Hons. I've found that generally the people who boast about the degrees are pretty much completely useless. Then you get some people who have degrees who are clever and useful and find no need to mention the degree(s) unless explicitly asked.
Yawn...Samsung would never now accept a maps application that points you in the wrong direction, has places in the wrong place, has imagery that looks like it was printed on jelly then dropped on the kitchen floor, has an antennae that has to be held a certain way to get it to work, has a UI where some apps have to have black bars down the side, has a primary desktop that is nothing more than rows of icons, etc etc.
Every phone has it's faults. The iPhone's are just more serious and actually affect real-world use.
You phrased that incorrectly, Samsung is outselling Apple, it just so happens that Samsung's flagship OS is Android.
Android as an OS was well on it's way to market saturation before Samsung kicked up a gear due to the amount of manufacturers selling various amounts of handsets at different price points, that was always the key ingredient to it's market share success. Samsung has just helped hammer that last nail in Apple's coffin (unless they start doing some amazing innovation with their handsets that helps them claw back some market share).
....but the software........will be an acquired taste for many.
Look, it's very simple. Make the bloody thing and put on the OS and hardware-specific apps required to make the whole device work (camera etc). Add your cruft as ordinary user apps that can be removed / replaced / whatever. Host same
pointless cruftapps on the app storeplay skool, limited to users of your device, for updates (as you already do) and just in case anyone who dumped 'em wants 'em back.
Easier to do, makes your OS update process quicker / cheaper / simpler and avoids pissing off that large chunk of your user base who hate the added crapware. Get it right.
Those who buy the thing because your FaceTwitWank app is better than others' offerings will still do so and you may just sell a few more to those who want it for its capabilities.
Don't take this personally Samsung, I'm looking at everyone here.
@TeeCee that is the perfect solution. Honestly I read this review thinking that it's a shame that I just won't even consider what is obviously a nice bit of tin because of the Samsung crapware that gets loaded on (and I can't be doing with the faff of rooting and applying custom roms). I hope someone in Samsung is getting this feedback - "Wake up! You are actually losing customers because of this"!
>It's the audio latency that needs improving, they are far from laggy.
That's something Google stated they were concentrating on in Jelly Bean- I'll give it ago when the update drops for my handset this month. Previously, people who have wanted to use their phone or tablet as DAW control surfaces have gone iOS. A real Korg Kaoscilator is a fun toy, but too pricey to justify to myself!
"One reason is weak integration with social networks: the photo app doesn't offer a share to Twitter or share to Facebook option until those apps are installed."
As far as I'm concerned that's the app done right, and isn't a Samsung failing. The 'Share' function is part of Android, and relies on apps telling it you can share via them - meaning you can't share via an app that isn't installed.
Much better than baking in sharing options that may/will stop working when the social network either changes it's API or disappears.
If you are going to review a phone, at least understand why it does things, and who is responsible.
P.S If i'm talking rubbish, happy to be corrected
No that is completely correct.
I was rather confused by the author's statement when he mentioned that. I mean why should the device have to have links to twitter and facebook clogging up the share menu if you don't use them?
Add in Instagram, Myspace, G+, Digg, Pintrest, etc then you're going to have a whole lot of shares for apps you don't use.
It's far better to share with apps that have been chosen by the user. I get a feeling it is perhaps the author having had an IPhone before (assumption?) and having to have all links between apps and shares preset. Android uses intents to link apps and data between each other seamlessly.
Indeed, the intents system (of which Share is one of a unlimited amount of intents) is what makes Android light years ahead of iOS.
In laymens terms:
All applications are sandboxed by way of unix style user accounts. No application can talk to any other application full stop, nor can it talk to the outside world unless it has permission (granted on installed).
To share data with other apps, you use intents, which are a public interface for passing data. It's a very simple, but ingenuous solution, and provides unlimited flexibility, and only available on Android.
You want to write your own mapping application? Sure you implement the Navigate intent, and when your app is installed, and something tries to navigate somewhere, your app will be listed as a receiver of the navigate intent (along with Google Maps and any other application that implements the navigate intent).
Android has a massive list of built in intents, and there is a list of 3rd party ones here, if you want to implement communications with another 3rd party app.
The other good thing about using intents is that you can easily change your default app.
Using the Maps example a user, when clicking in an app or a hyperlink that might open up in Google Maps can choose to either make a totally different app the default for that action or always have a choice menu come up to choose each time.
If Google screwed their Maps app up you could just choose another and set that as the default opener for that intent.
It's not complex either, when you click on an action (such as choosing Navigate here from a Qype app) it will present you a list of everything that can perform the task with the option to choose "Just Once" or "Always".
I just wish they had stuck to the old (pre-jelly bean) system of always choosing just once unless you also ticked the checkbox to make default. As I use "just once" for a lot of intents it means I always have to have an extra click.
@Ben 47 I was just spitting out my tea while eyeballing that same line. The reporter has the smell of an iPhone owner/ignoramus(any difference?). Weak integration is more like sophisticated functionality but I guess you have to be of a certain level of intellect to recognise and attribute these things. I would waffle on but I have tea to clean off my keyboard.
Agreed, if anything the opposite is a criticism of the fruity phone - "share via Facebook" is a kludge to try and pretend there's social network integration. What you'll find is that the iPhone has a "share via FB" option, regardles of whether you have a FB account tied to the phone - so unnecessary clutter.
Even worse, you can have the FB app installed, but you need to link the account through the phone's settings too. So clicking the "share via FB" options prompts the error message "no FB account associated" instead of doing what you'd think would be the sensible option of passing through to the FB app.
I have to say, I have a Note I & a Note II, I am sure the portrate / landscape lag is intentional, those times where you accidenty tilt the phone slightly over its threshold to switch would be a real pain in the backside if it flipped the second it was triggered. I prefer the slight lag for the above reasons. The phone (especially Note II) is blisteringly fast, when you use one ,or an SIII it is apparent that merely fliping views views instanly is far beneath the devices capability, I'm sure this holds true for the SIIII also.
I've had a few ROMs installed that exposed the delay in settings but it's only part of the problem, usually a very minor part.
The major issue is by default Android handles rotation of apps by restarting them and that can be very expensive, especially for container apps like the launcher. Since the rotation animation doesn't start till the app finishes reinitialising you see a lot of lag if the app takes a long time, even though actual rotation detection isn't laggy! On the same device simple apps switch quickly.
It's possible to work around this and internally deal with rotation but few apps bother. Not sure a launcher could do it while supporting widgets anyway and most simply disable landscape mode to avoid the issue.
It's probably the 'right thing' to do by default, completely reinitialising is more reliable and automagic but with an unfortunate effect on lag.
I find the apps I use most are fixed in one orientation, and if your app is supposed to work with various orientations, then it should manage it itself I think...
Although I would like landscape apps to allow you to hold the tablet any way up, it is frustrating that my tablet case stands my tablet one way and the app doesn't work that way up!
"should manage it (rotation) itself", while I appreciate having 180&270deg rotation without relying on devs explicitly supporting it. I think we can assume at least some would manage to display upside down if they tried ;)
Non-standard rotations few have available but so very useful if your OEM foolishly put the notification LED in the power button on the phones top edge, carefully hidden from sight!
I haven't used an S4 but I presume that is intentional. Most phones have a lag on rotation to confirm that you actually want to turn the phone around.
If it was instant and you were lying down you might find it flipping rapidly between the two formats otherwise.
Most of the time you don't move between the two formats (apart from testing the phone) continuously. You choose to use it in portrait or landscape based on your situation or app and don't return it until after you have finished that app or your situation changes.
I'm sure that it's a perfectly nice phone, as long as you're prepared to spend half an hour in a quiet corner with a cup of coffee turning off the spurious Samsung "features" before really using it.
I had to do that with my S3, turning off "smart stay", the stupid gesture stuff, NFC (potentially useful one day, but not yet, and probably not that well tested) and Bob-knows what else. Once I had done that, it was much more like a sensible, useful Android device. Great hardware, but Samsung's "customisations" or "premium features" are just tat.
I keep saying this, but if such manufacturers sold two variants, the "enhanced" version with all the tchotchkes and wossnames, and the other more or less plain Android, the world would be a better place. The latter could just be a subset of the former, and not even require maintaining a massively different code base, mostly being just a case of only updating the right bits.
Oh, and last thing.. don't bother with a bloody Samsung account. It's useless, spammy and pointless, and their web services are beyond horrid. The device works just fine without one- in fact, arguably better.
Still, they do make nice devices..
On my S1 I kept uninstaling the Samsung Store, preferring to stick with the Android store instead.
This was precisely because Samsung innundate you with Spam and their Store is virtually unnavigable due to the sheer volume of tat. Of course, on every update the Samsung Store kept reinstalling itself or disabling apps that "needed" the store to "verify" my account.
It never surprises me that a company that's so good at the hardware side seem to have a software arm that is run by the Sales and Marketing Department.
I'm now on an iPhone because my company is prepared to foot the bill (surprising how things like that will sway me). I miss Android for it's flexibility and at the same time, love the iPhone because it just "works". One day, (and it's not today) somebody will provide a phone that has both these things...
I have one on order for friday, and as long as its as good as my S3 was, i'll be happy, I will be surprised if it is sluggish though, from my understanding Android had done a lot to improve visual performance...
Probably caused by the samsung extras features, most of which will be turned off upon getting into my hands... I don't want most of the features except maybe the translate that works offline... google translate is great otherwise!
I have a few months of contract still to run S I am beginning to look at what's available.
I have only got 2 criticisms of the S2 and they are likely to be the same for the S4.
1. *Junkware*. When I got my phone, I went through and installed what I needed and configured things. Then I found out what a pain the Samsung "hubs" were.They had pooled all my email, textx, IP FB and anything else into a big mess. After trying to cope with it for a couple of months, I bit the bullet and reset to factory settings and carefully did not touch these annoying utilities.
2. It's too thin! I know that one of the cool factors that impresses the uninformed is how un-thick a phone is. The manufacturers have not really got a choice on this. If someone made a 12mm thick phone, all we would hear would be "OMG - it's even thicker than an iPhone!".
The first fault can be "fixed" by knowing that all the junkware must not be clicked upon. Remove it from your screens and should you accidentally run it from the Apps, you just have to carefully reverse out of there.
The other problem solution is one that unfortunately keeps me from having a Nexus phone. I put a high capacity battery in the phone and as a side effect now it is thick enough to hold comfortably and securely. I have a Nexus7 tablet and really like the cruft-free interface but with my phone, battery life is more important.
At the moment, the choice seems to be between the S4 and the One. If the rumours that the One will not be upgraded seem to be true, that will rule it out. I wonder what other competitors will show up.
Me too. I've just upgraded mine to JB (samsung version) and after rooting/removing the samsung tat I'm a happy bunny. I've tried the S3 and couldn't see a good reason to upgrade, nor do I for the S4, despite the exra whizzy bits.
I'm the kind of user who keeps a phone for years&years (ie, till it breaks), then upgrades to whatever's top of the line at the time, after trying everyone else's phone to see what I do/don't like. This allows reverting to sim-only pricing for the interim period.
BTW: the best "upgrade" I would like to see is a battery capacity whihch will let the phone run for 2 days or more.
"BTW: the best "upgrade" I would like to see is a battery capacity whihch will let the phone run for 2 days or more."
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