Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4

Every once in a while a phone will come out and we get the opportunity to spend quality time with it. We recently had the Galaxy S4 in our hands. Today we're going to talk about all the features it brings to the table and our experience with the phone.

The Galaxy S4 has a long list of specifications which we've included below. To highlight a few, the display is a full 1920x1080 resolution on a 5 inch display. That means the pixels are extremely small on this phone which gives it a very crisp look. We're reviewing the Sprint version of the Galaxy S4 so the processor inside is the 1.9 GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 600. The processor and 2 GB of RAM are the perfect setup for a buttery smooth experience.

5inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi

1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor / 1.6 GHz Octa-Core Processor
The seletion of AP will be differed by markets

Android 4.2.2 (Jelly bean)

File Storage
16 / 32 / 64GB memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB)


Main(Rear): 13 Mega pixel Auto Focus camera with Flash & Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
Sub (Front): 2 Mega pixel camera, Full HD recording @30fps with Zero Shutter Lag, BIS

Camera Features
Dual Shot , Drama Shot, Sound & Shot, 360 Photo, Animated Photo, Eraser, Night, Best Photo, Best Face, Beauty Face, HDR (High Dynamic Range), Panorama, Sports

Recording & Playback: Full HD (1080p)

Accelerometer, RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro, 
Temperature & Humidity, Gesture

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130g

WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (HT80)
NFC, Bluetooth® 4.0 (LE)
IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0


Build Quality
The Galaxy S4 is a beautiful looking phone. It's super thin and the brushed steel look on the band around the phone gives is a sleek look. The phone casing is made of plastic which several people could be turned off by. In my experience with all the phones I've had the pleasure to use, this is easily solved through any number of cheap or expensive cell phone cases. The trade off is added bulk. If the phone was made from more durable materials, a case is still arguably a good thing to have.

The micro USB slot is located on the bottom of the phone with the mic slightly off to one side. This is one annoyance I've had with most phones. If the phone is plugged in I can't easily rest it on anything without worrying about ruining the USB cable from kinking the cable too much.

The button configuration is identical to the Galaxy S3. There are two touch sensitive buttons to the left (menu) and right (back) of the physical button which is horizontally centered at the bottom of the phone. We've seen phones with soft keys, physical buttons, touch sensitive buttons or a mix. You might have a preference, but we think with a short amount of time anyone can adjust to the GS4 button layout.

On the left side of the phone you'll find the standard volume rocker and the power button is on the right hand side of the phone.

The phone comes with a set of earbuds, a nicely shielded USB cable and a power adapter. The earbuds have an inline mic and control which make them perfect for listening to music and answering the phone all in one. The power adapter is a solid 2.0A out.

The screen is made from Corning's own Gorilla Glass 3. It's nice to see a quality scratch resistant material being used on a premium phone like this. Of course the screen can still get scratched, but if you're careful you might be able to get away without a screen protector. We would not recommend this; however, I know plenty of people that refuse to use screen protectors. If you are one of those people, the Galaxy S4 comes with the toughest most scratch resistant screen you will find on a smartphone.

Hardware Features
I love innovation. In terms of hardware the Galaxy S4 has several sensors that enable smarter software which we'll get to later on. One of my favorite additions to phones is the IR light. I've been waiting for years to see this happen. I almost built my own device using an arduino, a USB shield and and accessory development kit. That would have been bulky and unpleasant to look at. The Galaxy S4 includes an IR LED at the top of the phone opening up a world of remote control possibilities and not just limited to home entertainment products. I downloaded an app and in minutes I was snapping photos with my DSLR Nikon without having to touch the camera. Anything that uses an IR remote could be controlled from your phone.

There are additional sensors on the front of the phone which can be used for proximity, gestures and even temperature and humidity. I'm sure the Nest home thermostat could hook in to this data to provide even better temperature control when the phone is connected to the same WiFi. The fact that these additional sensors are being added to the phone opens up possibilities to developers.

Wireless technology is definitely progressing. The Galaxy S4 supports the newer 802.11 ac WiFi standard. It also comes with Bluetooth 4.0 (LE) which will be nice for those of us that sometimes forget turn Bluetooth off.

The rear camera is a 13 MP camera and the front camera is a 2 MP camera. We were pleased to see support for HDR photos via their Rich Tone feature.

Software Features

Call Quality