Samsung Galaxy S 4 Review: Bigger, Faster, Stronger

Introduction and Specifications

Samsung has done an exceptional job the past few years building interest and recognition for their Galaxy-branded smartphones. The fervor isn’t quite on the level of Apple's iPhone launches, but if the attendance of their “Samsung Unpacked” event at Radio City Music Hall and the buzz on-line for today’s introduction is any indicator, Samsung has tapped into something big and earned a cult following, very much like Apple has over the years. And the sales figures back this up, of course, all of which show Samsung dominating the Android-based smartphone market.

When a company is clearly on top, people tend to scrutinize every move a little (or lot) more closely, depending on where their allegiances lie. For Samsung, and perhaps Android fans as well, availability of the Galaxy S 4 is a momentous occasion. Although it’ll be strongly contested by competing devices from HTC, LG, and others, the Samsung Galaxy S 4 currently represents the pinnacle of Android-based smartphones. Fans will want to see this phone succeed and will point out its differentiating features at every turn. Detractors, however, will have a few things to say as well. At first glance, for example, the Galaxy S 4 is nearly indistinguishable from the Galaxy S III. Though the devices are actually quite different, their physical similarities alone are going to give the haters fuel for the impending flame wars.

Regardless of which side you’re on, or if you don’t have any particular brand/mobile OS loyalty at all, availability of the Galaxy S 4 we’ll be showing you here is a significant event. Not only is it the next iteration of the most popular brand of Android-based phones, but it is a device that Samsung has infused with a slew of new features, some of which are not available anywhere else. To accompany the device, Samsung is also releasing a myriad of accessories, which include everything from simple bumpers and covers to connected scales and heart monitors.

Before we dive in and take a look at all of the particulars, here’s a video of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 in action. Some of the device’s features are difficult to appreciate and describe with words alone, so we hope you check this out before proceeding.

Samsung Galaxy S 4
Specifications & Features


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


1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor


Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)


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


Codec: MPEG4, H.264, H.263, DivX, DivX3.11, VC-1, VP8, WMV7/8, Sorenson Spark, HEVC
  Recording & Playback: Full HD (1080p)


Codec: MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA, Vorbis(OGG), FLAC,
AC-3, apt-X


Dual Camera: Dual Shot / Dual Recording/ Dual Video Call, Drama Shot,
Sound & Shot, Animated Photo, Eraser, Night, Best Photo, Best Face,
Beauty Face, Rich Tone (High Dynamic Range), Panorama, Sports


Group Play: Share Music, Share Picture, Share Document, Play Games

Story Album, S Translator, Optical Reader

Samsung Smart Scroll, Samsung Smart Pause, Air Gesture, Air View,

Samsung Hub, ChatON (Voice/Video Call, Share screen, 3-way calling)
Samsung WatchON

S Travel (Trip Advisor), S Voice™ Drive, S Health

Samsung Adapt Display, Samsung Adapt Sound
High Touch Sensitivity (Glove friendly)

Samsung Link, Screen Mirroring


Google Mobile

Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Latitude, Google Play Store,
Google Plus, YouTube, Google Talk, Google Places, Google Navigation,
Google Downloads, Voice Search


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


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


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


136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130g


2,600 mA

As you can see in the chart above, the Samsung Galaxy S 4’s main features and specifications are quite impressive in light of competing devices currently on the market. We’re going to cover many aspects of the S 4 on the pages ahead, but we’ll quickly summarize a few of the improvements over the Galaxy S III here as well. You’ll note this new device has a 5” screen (actual size is 4.99”, but who’s counting?) with a full HD 1080P resolution, for a pixel density of 441PPI. The screen is also covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and features Samsung’s HD Super AMOLED technology.

U.S. variants of the Galaxy S 4 are powered by a fast, 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core SoC (international versions have an octal-core Exynos 5). The Snapdragon 600 features Qualcomm’s updated Krait 300 CPU architecture, which improves performance and efficiency. The Snapdragon 600 is also outfitted with a more powerful Adreno 320 GPU, which supports the OpenGL ES 3.0, DirectX, OpenCL, Renderscript Compute and FlexRender APIs. The SoC is paired to 2GB of LP-DDR3 memory, the device features 4G LTE, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity (including 802.11ac), a 13MP rear camera, and everything is powered by a beefy 2600 mAh battery. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 also sports a wider array of sensors, which include an accelerometer, and RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro, Barometric, Temperature and Humidity, and Gesture sensors. The gesture sensor is a particularly interesting addition, as it allows users to control a number of the phones features without even touching the screen—make sure you watch the video above to see that in action. It’s pretty cool and others are sure to copy it ASAP.

In addition to all of the updated or upgraded hardware components, Samsung has done plenty of new things with the software on the Galaxy S 4 as well. We’re going to talk about some new features and improvements to TouchWiz on the pages ahead, and will cover a number of camera modes and S-Apps later too. We should also draw some attention to the S 4’s KNOX feature. KNOX is a play off of “Fort Knox”, and is a feature that partitions the phone into personal and work-related spaces. If you’d like to carry only one device for personal and professional use, with KNOX, you can keep all of your personal data completely separate from any professional files. It’s not something general consumers are likely to take advantage of, but IT departments will appreciate KNOX’s capabilities, especially with more and more companies allowing employees to use their own devices for work.

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