- Editor's Rating
- Outstanding sharpness and display contrast
- Fantastic overall performance
- Some nice exclusive features
- Light and ergonomic design
- A bit too much like an S III
- Poor battery life when utilizing all features
- Air Gestures feature poorly realized
Quick TakeThe Samsung Galaxy S4 is a top-of-the-line Android smartphone, but it may not be innovative enough to convince Galaxy S III users to upgrade.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the company’s newest flagship smartphone, running the Android OS. It’s an upgrade from the previous model, the Samsung Galaxy S III, in that it offers advanced hardware and software, but Brighthand noted it’s not quite enough of an improvement to warrant an upgrade by current S III owners.
The Galaxy S4 features an almost identical design to the S III. The device is 136 x 70 x 7.9-millimeters, weighs 130 grams and has what Brighthand said are the best ergonomics of any device with a 5-inch display currently on the market. However, Brighthand also noted that when held in hand, it doesn’t come close to giving the user a premium experience. The Galaxy S4 has a glazed plastic finish and Gorilla Glass 3, which makes the screen difficult to scratch.
Brighthand called the smartphone’s 5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display with a 441 pixel-per-inch resolution its “most impressive feature.” The display produces impressive image sharpness, outstanding contrast, excellent brightness and perfect viewing angles. Brighthand did note that the display loses some of its contrast when used in bright sunlight.
The device features menu, home and back keys under the screen while the front of the smartphone also has various sensors and a 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera. The back of the device has a 13-megapixel camera with LED flash and loud speaker. The edges feature the power button, volume rocker, audio jack and micro USB with MHL 2.0 support. Brighthand was disappointed the device does not have a dedicated camera button.
The unit reviewed by Brighthand featured a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset with a 1.9GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM. Brighthand noted the smartphone scored the best benchmarks of any flagship smartphone on the market and experienced no lags or glitches when using the device. The smartphone has a multi-window mode which allows two active apps to be open at the same time, but only supports some pre-installed apps.
In terms of software, the Galaxy S4 features the TouchWiz UI, which comes with an endless line of novelties which are easy to make sense of, but not all of which are fully realized. Brighthand was unimpressed with the Air Gestures feature, which allows users to scroll through the display by waving their hand in front of the device, noting it performs poorly in practice and is a “useless feature.\” Brighthand also noted the phone’s “smart” functions (Smart Rotate, Smart Scroll, Smart Pause, etc.) don’t work. However, Brighthand found the apps exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S4, like S Voice and S Health, work exceptionally well.
The smartphone’s 13-megapixel rear-facing camera can shoot video and photos at the same time and Brighthand noted both the image and video quality is above average for a smartphone camera. The device has poor battery life when many of its sensors and applications are in use throughout the day and Brighthand noted users will likely only get a day’s use out of the device.
In the end, Brighthand was impressed with the Samsung Galaxy S4’s excellent display, powerful chipset and TouchWiz user interface, but was disappointed in the poor battery life, performance of the Air Gesture function and the non-innovative design. Brighthand noted the Galaxy S4 is an excellent Android OS smartphone, and anyone who purchases it will be pleased, but also notes Galaxy S III owners won’t find enough of a reason to upgrade. Brighthand also noted users may be more pleased with rival models, and noted buyers should also consider other Android OS flagship smartphones like the HTC One and Sony Xperia Z.