Superphone Round-Up: Samsung, HTC, LG and More
Samsung Galaxy S 4
If there’s a single brand that comes to most people’s mind when thinking of a high-end Android smartphone, it’s Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones. The buzz that surrounded the launch of the Galaxy S 4 as the company’s latest flagship smartphone and the fact that Samsung has reportedly sold more than 20 million Galaxy S4 devices reveals Samsung’s tremendous popularity.
Samsung includes a number of sensors in the Galaxy S 4, including proximity and gesture sensors. With these sensors, you get the ability to control the phone without touching the screen, which is something most phones can’t claim. For example, with Air View you can preview photos, files, links, and text by hovering your finger over the phone. Using Air Gesture, you can skip songs, check notifications, or even answer your phone by waving your hand.
You’ll also find a Multi Window feature on the Galaxy S 4 that enables you to use two applications side by side. Multi Window is compatible with a number of different applications including Chrome, Email, Gallery, Gmail, Internet, Maps, Messaging, Polaris Office, S Memo, Talk, and YouTube. When you open two applications using Multi Window, they will each utilize half of the screen. A bar between the apps lets you drag to show more of one window and less of the other. You can also swap which app is on top or bottom, switch to view one application in full screen mode, or close an application.
We appreciate that the Multi Window functionally found on the Galaxy S 4 is compatible with a number of different applications. The LG Optimus G Pro also has multitasking functionality, but it’s implemented differently. We’ll discuss this more on the next page, but the key differences are in application support and layout. The Galaxy S 4 supports more applications using Multi Window than the Optimus G Pro supports using QSlide but the Optimus G Pro gives you additional layout options than Multi Window.
Given the number of people who bring their own devices to work, corporate IT departments will appreciate the fact that Samsung has included a feature known as KNOX on the Galaxy S 4. KNOX partitions the phone into personal and work-related spaces thereby making it possible to keep your personal data completely separate from your professional files.
Samsung includes a number of S-branded apps with the Galaxy S 4 including S Memo, S Health, S Translator, S Voice, Samsung Link and Watch On. S Health enables a link between the Galaxy S 4 and health-related accessories such as a heart monitor and scale. Frequent travelers will appreciate S Translator which is capable of text-to-speech and speech-to-text translations of many popular languages. This handy app can also scan an image using the Galaxy S 4’s camera and translate the text after using optical character recognition.
In an attempt to set its camera apart from other smartphones, Samsung incorporated a number of new shooting modes including Sound & Shot, Drama, Animated Photo and Eraser. Sound & Shot lets you attach sound clips to photos. Drama captures a burst of 100 images and then combines the best images where the subject is not overlapping to show the subject in multiple positions within a single photo. Animated photo creates a short animated GIF using a burst of photos. With Eraser mode, you can remove objects from the background. This feature is particularly useful if you’re taking a picture of your friend standing in front of the Eifel Tower and someone walks into the photo. Using the Eraser, you can remove that person to see the complete background. Samsung also lets users put themselves in photos by using the front and rear cameras simultaneously.
Samsung also offers the Galaxy S4 Active, which has many of the same hardware and software features as the Galaxy S4 but in a more rugged package that is dust and water resistant. The Galaxy S4 Active also includes an Aqua Mode which lets you take pictures under water.
The Samsung Galaxy S 4 has the widest availability of the three smartphones we’re examining in this article. You’ll find the Galaxy S 4 at AT&T, Cricket, C Spire, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon Wireless.