Samsung Galaxy S 4 Review: Bigger, Faster, Stronger
Design and Exterior
As we noted previously, the Galaxy S 4 sports a 5” (technically 4.99”) screen with a full 1080p resolution (1080x1920, 440PPI), a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC running at a swift 1.9GHz, 2GB of RAM, a 13MP camera, and a number of other additional sensors and updates that allow for some interesting features.
Although the Galaxy S 4 has a larger screen than the Galaxy S III, the S 4 is roughly the same height and width, thanks to thinner bezels all around. The S 4, however, is thinner and lighter than the S III. The Galaxy S 4’s dimensions measure 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm and it weighs in at 130g. According to Samsung, though the device is thinner and lighter, it is more ridged and stronger than the S III, due to tweaks in materials and design. The phone definitely feels good in the hand, and it is clearly more rigid than the Galaxy S III. Torqueing / twisting the device doesn’t result in the same type of squeaks and creaks that the S III had.
In addition to better build quality, the phone’s full HD Super AMOLED 5” screen looks great. Couple those densely packed pixels and high resolution with excellent brightness and vivid colors and the S 4’s screen is sure to impress. When placed side by side against a Note II and a Droid RAZR MAXX, and the superior clarity of the S 4’s screen was obvious and it appeared to display white backgrounds more accurately too. There were not “off color” whites—things looked simply just "white."
The Galaxy S 4 is nice and thin at 7.9mm, and like the S III, it has a metallic band that runs along its edge. Button placement and configuration is the same as the S III as well, though the tolerances are noticeably tighter on the S 4. We should also mention that the band on the S 4 is reportedly stronger than the one used on the S III, though we’re not clear on what material is used to produce it.
The Galaxy S 4 is going to be offered in black or white initially, and like the S III, it has a removable back cover so users can access the battery, SIM slot, and micro-SD expansion slot. The finish on the back cover seemed to be of a better quality than the S III, though it is still made of a flexible composite material. We should point out that under that cover lies a beefy 2,600mAh battery, which offers surprisingly good battery life, despite the phone’s high-end specs. It’s not quite as beefy as the 3,100mAh unit in the Note II, but it is much larger than the 2,100mAh of the similarly-sized S III.
The 13mp rear facing camera, which compliments the front-facing 2mp camera, is also a nice upgrade over previous models. In addition, the S 4’s camera software offers a number of new features that allow both the front and rear facing cameras to be used simultaneously, so the person taking pics or video can be inserted into any shots being taken / recorded. The S4 also gives users the ability to embed audio into stills, should you want to send a message off to someone along with the picture, without having to send a much larger video file. We'll cover more of the camera's features a little later...