Samsung Galaxy S4
Manufacturer: Samsung Part number: 6580454
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as of 08/30/2014
CNET editors' review
price range: $379.88
- Reviewed by: Jessica Dolcourt
- Reviewed on: 04/23/2013
The good: The Samsung Galaxy S4 has Android 4.2.2, a fantastic camera, a powerful quad-core processor, and software solutions for just about every scenario -- including working as a TV/DVR remote. It's also comfortable in hand and has NFC, a user-replaceable battery, and a microSD storage slot.
The bad: Its screen is dimmer than competitors', its plastic design gives it a cheaper look than its rivals, and we found the Galaxy S4's power button turned on at undesirable times. Not all camera modes work as promised, and a long list of software features can quickly overwhelm and confuse.
The bottom line: Its laundry list of features require time and effort to truly master, but the Galaxy S4 is the top choice for anyone looking for a big-screen, do-everything smartphone.
Exactly as tech reviews describe it
by LonnieMGreen on February 23, 2014
Pros: Battery life is surprisingly good
Very fast processing speeds
Call quality is decent
Air Gesture is actually pretty good
Screen is nice and large with very good resolution display
Cons: S-Voice is still notoriously bad
Can't use the SD card for apps right now
Limited to 16gb of on board storage
Summary: It's the S4. There are plenty of tech reviewers out there who have done full work-ups on all the different features, so I'll just hit the main points ...
Summary: It's the S4. There are plenty of tech reviewers out there who have done full work-ups on all the different features, so I'll just hit the main points I noticed.
The battery life is surprisingly good. I've had a number of these types of phones before, ones that are "cutting edge", and most of them have terrible battery life. I've had my S4 for almost a year now and the battery life is still very good. I do charge it nightly, but if I forget I can usually make it almost 2 full days on the charge. This of course assumes I'm not playing any full-screen games, keeping the screen on for any length of time, or checking Facebook (all of which significantly drain every phone's battery). One point on this though is that I've got most of the special Samsung features like S-Voice, Air View, Smart Pause, Smart Scroll, NFC, S-Beam, Multi-Window, and Smart Stay turned off. I do however keep Air Gestures on. I also have Bluetooth off most of the time, only turning it on when I need it, and I use the Tasker app to automatically disable my WiFi when I'm not near known connections like my house, my friends' houses, etc. If you keep Bluetooth on all the time, or WiFi on for the "location support" provided by Google, you're looking at about a 25% reduction in how long the battery will last.
Samsung apps and features:
As pretty much everyone that's rated Samsung devices in the last 3 years has said, just turn them off unless you're showing them off to a friend. The "eye detection" that's used for the Smart Pause, Smart Scroll, and Smart Stay not only eats battery like crazy while constantly trying to locate your face and eyes, but is delayed and spotty under normal usage conditions. The Air View and Multi-Window only work with a few apps, most of which are ones I never use to begin with, so it's not worth the battery cost and responsiveness costs of having them enabled (especially the Air View that eats even more power trying to detect your finger before it even touches the screen). The Air Gesture is actually pretty good, depending on which ones you've turned on, but anything that involves scrolling or pausing basically doesn't work, get an app like WaveControl for that instead. All the scrolling and pausing stuff, when it even works, only works with a few apps, once again mostly apps I never use. The S-Voice is still notoriously bad, unable to detect almost anything correctly and having an extremely limited set of commands that can be used. The automatic wake-up feature of it also drains battery so fast you'll be plugging the phone in for a full recharge twice a day even if you don't otherwise use it. The contacts app was a huge step forward from Samsung's last one, actually allowing contact integration from sources like Facebook, Twitter, etc, and joining and splitting of contacts in a reasonable manner. It still seems to have a few problems with selecting the default source for a joined contact getting overwritten by the latest data source to update (so you'll almost always see the latest Facebook picture of your contacts rather than ones from Google+ if Facebook syncs more frequently like mine does), but that's minor and can be fixed by saving the picture locally and selecting the local contact as your default. The calendar app is also a huge step forward, integrating all your calendar sources well and providing a nice mechanism for setting all the important fields from multiple calendar sources. Somehow despite a lot of the stock app updates they provide that have better integration for the features of Android, they still have what I believe to be one of the worst launchers of anyone (the home screen settings, display, etc). The first thing you should do is go get the free Nova Launcher, Go Launcher EX, or ADW Launcher (or any other for that matter), install it, and set it as your default. Every launcher out there is better in almost every way from the stock one and has been since well before the S4 even came out.
Size and construction:
The S4 was originally touted as having a "very large screen", albeit smaller than the Notes do, and they weren't kidding. The screen is nice and large, with a very good resolution display. It's not as good as a retina display, nothing else is that sharp, but it is significantly larger. The phone itself feels solid, and the metal bevel around the outside edge gives it that quality feel previous models didn't have. The battery cover is very thin plastic, so thin I worried about tearing it when putting in the battery and SIM card the first time, but it holds up really well and is much more sturdy than it initially feels. The screen is virtually unscratchable, and doesn't crack even with rough use. I accidentally dropped my phone down an entire flight of concrete stairs a few months ago, without any case on it whatsoever, and all I got was a single crack along one corner that doesn't impede the screen at all and can't be felt when running fingers over it. After almost a year of use, the only noticeable wear effects were on where the "metal" bevel edges come up to the edge of the face. The "metal" parts are starting to wear off (I keep my phone in my pocket without a case so it's sliding in and out of my jeans regularly) and reveal the sturdy white plastic they're actually constructed of.
Overall I would highly suggest this phone for anyone looking for a new one, even over the Note 3 that's supposedly a newer and larger screened model (mostly because of the battery life).
P.S., Recommend to check for best price for the "Samsung Galaxy S4" at: androidphoneprices.wordpress.com/samsung-galaxy-s4/
I hope this review is helpful.
18 out of 18 users found this user opinion helpful.
Lives up to the hype
by Scott Gardener on May 24, 2013
Pros: Bleeding edge features, slick interface, smooth functioning with plenty of processing power for complex tasks
Cons: Minimal: slight learning curve, some promised hardware elements not available (U.S.)
Summary: My review applies to the Verizon model, in black. Verizon bumped their delivery date a week earlier than originally announced, which is welcome for me, since it puts the phone ...
Summary: My review applies to the Verizon model, in black. Verizon bumped their delivery date a week earlier than originally announced, which is welcome for me, since it puts the phone in my hands in time for A-Kon, an Anime convention with some 20,000 fellow geeks and techies in attendance. Choice of carriers admittedly impacts experience, not only in terms of quality of connections but also some bundled features. In my case, Verizon's proprietary backup assistant significantly streamlined the transition process, and I soon found my new phone downloading automatically all my apps and information, thus rendering unnecessary a significant portion of my handwritten transition process checklist--it's nice to be reminded that it's 2013, and Windows 98 is dead and buried.
I was impressed. I expected to be, given all the attention this phone has gotten. But I also had read about some of the gripes: allegations of a cheap outer casing, steep learning curve, and bloatware hogging a significant portion of the internal memory. One gripe was accurate: only a 16GB model was available, and the Octa-core processor was replaced with a less exotic four core CPU--though I learned that this was less a loss than I originally thought, since the eight core CPU was really more a battery-saving feature that only uses four cores at a time, and my own phone's four core unit was actually marginally faster. I found many of the other criticisms reaching and exaggerated. The phone feels sturdy, and the outer casing pretty solid. The patterned black trim and metallic frame does not look or feel cheap to me. I also found the learning curve less steep than expected; granted, I was going from Android 2.3 to 4.2. Some of the preinstalled widgets hogged a lot of screen real estate, but they could all be taken down and replaced with the icons and widgets the phone channeled through the cloud aether from my old phone's backups.
The bundled software including bloatware takes up about half the internal memory, leaving 8GB free. I added a 32GB SD card, though I'll probably swap it out for a 64. I was pleased how accessible the back panel was; my last phone buried the SD card in a way that the battery had to come out first. I'm well aware that other phones including the iPhone aren't upgradable. I do wish phones with 32 or 64 GB were available in the U.S.; the time is right for 128 GB mobile devices, though cloud storage and improving bandwidth may soon render the issue moot.
Camera and camcorder functions were streamlined, and I found it easy to point-and-shoot, with all of the legendary photo modes quietly tucked away when just wanting to grab a moment. I'm still early in trying out camera and video. I did test film a fireworks show last night and found night vision limited, with colors faded, particularly green and red. But, filming fireworks from a phone in default automatic mode (rather than the night mode I found shortly afterwards) is possible.
I'll avoid rehashing the specs or general features, as there's already been plenty of general talk about this phone. But, I felt it important to say that so far, it's living up to the high expectations, and that most of the drawbacks described are a bit reaching. It's not hard to use for someone already familiar with Android phones, once one gets past the first few minutes of learning the changes.
21 out of 29 users found this user opinion helpful.
Best of the lot in 2013 with HTC One
by piyushxgupta on April 25, 2013
Pros: Removable or Changeable battery
Cons: Requires Root to get rid of bloatware
Summary: I have read a lot about HTC one and Galaxy S4 comparison and they are only natural as these represent 2 best smartphones of 2013.
Yes, I take that HTC ...
Summary: I have read a lot about HTC one and Galaxy S4 comparison and they are only natural as these represent 2 best smartphones of 2013.
Yes, I take that HTC One has great looks, beats audio and fresh design... but what you need to give away for that is ability to change or upgrade the battery.
Any battery however good is it charges for 500 cycles if all the connections remain proper.. For a smartphone, its easy to achieve these cycles in 18 months or so..
Do I want to replace a 700 USD phone in such a short time.. sorry, I don't.
Moreover, if you look at some suppliers they give fatter batteries with replaceable covers. SO if you are on the move then it makes sense to change the 2600 mAH battery with 5000 mAH and still retaining reasonable looks, thanks to super slim structure of S4.
Come to the other difference, HTC One has LCD screen and it is common to have dead pixels in LCD after some time. AMOLED screens have no recorded problems like this.
Yes, the audio requires improvement but the included ear-phones house woofer and speaker to get a much rounded sound. Who listens to music or takes calls with speakerphone generally?
Now the plastic, well its much more likely that your phone will survive a drop if its plastic rather than polished metal design.
At the end it will come to personal preference, I have some bad exp. with HTC and their is a huge developer community doing things for Samsung, I fear being left out of exciting customizations like I did with my Dell Streak..
GS4 is for me..
19 out of 25 users found this user opinion helpful.
Best all around Phone
by aigleias on May 23, 2013
Pros: Software,Camera, Screen, Speed, Storage, Battery, and oh yeah the build is just fine on this phone way better than you think. Yes htc one feels better but thats about it and yes if your smart they will both be in a case anyway.
Cons: Just 1, i wish it was aluminum so all the haters would stop complaining.
Summary: The S5 be Aluminum and people will still complain, people just hate when others are doing well, come on guys there just phones plus its good for comp. If iphone ...
Summary: The S5 be Aluminum and people will still complain, people just hate when others are doing well, come on guys there just phones plus its good for comp. If iphone had air gestures all air air view everyone would be going nuts, instead iphone still has the same look form 2009, and HTC one is not even running the latest software and wont for a few months im not trying to hate but whats true is true. I had the htc one, the reasons i took s4 over the 1 was, the battery was not that good starting using at 8am by 1 it was dying come on guys u know its true, also pics a are good but u must be close if not the pics get all messed up cause of 4mp. thats my thoughts good luck.
14 out of 15 users found this user opinion helpful.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 wins for now.
by MCTW1 on March 31, 2013
Pros: Everything about this phone.
Cons: Nothing about this phone
Summary: A lot of people are complaining that it is plastic. Plastic does not break as easy. People get cases for high end exterior phones that are plastic so what is ...
Summary: A lot of people are complaining that it is plastic. Plastic does not break as easy. People get cases for high end exterior phones that are plastic so what is the big deal. This phones specs are incredible and at the best of any phone on the market. Whether this phone is an iphone killer, probably not. The iphone 5s is due out some time this year and no matter if it has anything new, people are going to buy it. Every argument any apple fan has against androids is flawed. However a lot of fandroids have no idea what they are talking about. Overall the Samsung Galaxy S4 will come out as the best phone with the HTC One close behind. Although HTC One looks amazing, HTC phones usually have some flaws especially with battery. Whether some software is useless or not it is always easy to turn off and the battery on the S4 will meet expectations.
19 out of 29 users found this user opinion helpful.
by lordjw on May 23, 2013
Pros: Excellent Display, Great battery life, FAST!
Cons: None so far.
Summary: I've had the Galaxy S4 for only a couple of days, but this phone is amazing! I'm sure that as I continue to use it I'll find ...
Summary: I've had the Galaxy S4 for only a couple of days, but this phone is amazing! I'm sure that as I continue to use it I'll find more and more to like about it.
The universal remote app is easy to set up and fun to use. If you don't like a certain feature, they are easy to turn off (from the pull-down menu. As far as all the complaints about the plastic construction,I think it's fine. I wouldn't carry it in a pocket unprotected like one of the other posters did, but that's just common sense. This phone is very light and the display is amazing. The camera is just as good as a standalone pocket camera. I could go on, but this phone is by far the best I've ever used.
7 out of 7 users found this user opinion helpful.
Not worth the hype. Wait for the s5 to come out.
by HeyItsMeHi on August 16, 2013
Pros: Battery life
Many features, if you need them/know how to use them.
Freezes a LOT
Cracks VERY easily.
Hard to figure out.
Summary: I have gone through THREE of these already. If you want this phone, make sure you buy a REALLY good case for it, because if you so much as hiccup ...
Summary: I have gone through THREE of these already. If you want this phone, make sure you buy a REALLY good case for it, because if you so much as hiccup near this thing, the screen shatters. Aside from the screen, the phone is made of cheap plastic. My biggest problems are the glitches and the freezing. This is the third one I've had and theyve all done it. It freezes during all kinds of times, but it's most annoying when I try to make a phone call and try to hang up before leaving a voicemail... When it freezes like that, the only way to shut off the phone is to take off the back and remove the battery. I have to restart just about any app that i try to use, whether it's games or anything else about 1-3 times a day and a lot of times need to restart the phone when everything just starts crashing. I lost count of how many times ive gotten the notification saying "(insert app name here) has stopped responding." and shuts it down.
On the plus side, the battery life is way better than any droid ive ever owned and it does have a bright/wide screen.
I would recommend waiting for the s5, until samsung works out all the bugs.
6 out of 7 users found this user opinion helpful.
This phone is a pleasure to use despite a few flaws.
by disappointedidealist on April 25, 2013
Pros: 4.2.2 runs great out of the box, and I think it's the best operating system out there. No hiccups in battery life, call quality, or camera use. The gimmicky features didn't do much to blow me away, but S Memo and S Health are nice features.
Cons: CNET summarized it well. Even as an experienced Android user (2.3 and 4.2 on the Nexus 7), there is quite a learning curve. The plastic I could do without, but mine will soon have an Otterbox. Hoping the power button is better under a case as well.
Summary: The most common complaints I've seen about the S4 is that it's too much like the S3 (it's very similar, but I feel the minor improvements do ...
Summary: The most common complaints I've seen about the S4 is that it's too much like the S3 (it's very similar, but I feel the minor improvements do warrant an upgrade - especially with the S3 still running you $100), and the plastic exterior. The plastic does feel slightly cheap, but most all phones use a case even with Kevlar backing. The plus side is the removable battery and SD card option, which you don't see on phones without a plastic backing (the iPhone and HTC One). If you're in the market for a new phone, particularly an Android (or if you're willing to try something that isn't running iOS) I'd definitely say to give this a try. As I stated, the learning curve is steep, but it's worth the journey.
6 out of 7 users found this user opinion helpful.
The Current King of the Smartphones!
by aycockonxion on April 10, 2013
Pros: 5" screen, 13MP camera, LTE, 8 core processing, 2 GB RAM, wireless charging.
Cons: Price and availability is unknown.
Summary: When the S4 was announced, I was slightly underwhelmed at the time, but once it sank in, I realized that I was more and more impressed. When it becomes available, ...
Summary: When the S4 was announced, I was slightly underwhelmed at the time, but once it sank in, I realized that I was more and more impressed. When it becomes available, it really will stand alone in a category all it's own as the premier smartphone. It's silly that there are people posting reviews that say something to the effect of "don't get me wrong, it's an awesome phone with amazing features and upgrades... but it's such a let down." Give me a break. This phone is the very definition of innovation and it is exactly what reasonable people expected from the next iteration of the best smartphone on the planet.
9 out of 15 users found this user opinion helpful.
Fun, but NOT WORTH THE HYPE
by helloimerinm on May 9, 2013
Pros: AWESOME camera with awesome features
The CONCEPT of Air Gesture, Air View, Smart stay, Smart Scroll, Face unlock, etc is great, however these features do not work too smoothly.
Cons: Glitch-y software.
Freezes a LOT.
Crashes and restarts often.
Awesome features don't work well, or sometimes at all.
Overall, this phone was very overhyped.
Summary: Freezes/ restarts regularly, most apps crash the phone, occasionally I have to try to start the camera about 3 times before it will start and not say "Camera failed to ...
Summary: Freezes/ restarts regularly, most apps crash the phone, occasionally I have to try to start the camera about 3 times before it will start and not say "Camera failed to start" or something. Which also effects the face unlock when you try to use it. Air Gesture only works once in a while but when it does, it takes forever. You have to let your hand hover over it for about 3 seconds before swiping each time. Not worth using. Smart scroll is more of a hassel than anything else because you usually have to correct it with you hand anyway.
Software is not as easy to navigate as other Droids.
Personally, if you havent rushed out to get the S4 already, I think you should wait for the s5 or even s6. It will be a while before they make this a TRULY decent phone.
10 out of 18 users found this user opinion helpful.
- Manufacturer: Samsung
- Part number: 6580454
- Bottom Line: Its laundry list of features require time and effort to truly master, but the Galaxy S4 is the top choice for anyone looking for a big-screen, do-everything smartphone.
- Product Type Smartphone
- Width 2.75 in
- Depth 0.31 in
- Height 5.38 in
- Weight 4.6 oz
- Service Provider T-Mobile
- Operating System Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
- Diagonal Size 5 in