Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review : Samsung Galaxy S4 - Performance never satisfy you.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 40,000 in May 2013. This flagship phone from the South Korean giant sports an Octa Core (1.6 GHz Quad + 1.2 GHz Quad) Processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal memory with SD card support upto 64 GB,  5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED Touchscreen with 441 ppi and Android 4.2.2 JellyBean. 

So in a very quick succession I am back with another device to review and this time it’s the most powerful smartphone available in the country- The Samsung Galaxy S4 – the flagship device produced by Samsung. One of my friends recently bought this monster for forty grands. 

What made Samsung to release S4 while its S3 was already doing well; in fact it was the bestselling phone in high end smartphone segment? S3 was hardly one year old but companies just stay on their toes and starts working on a next iteration as soon as they release an upgrade. Who knows Samsung may have already started working on an S5 or whatever they will call it at the time of writing this text. It’s not that Samsung was apprehensive because of iphone 5 or HTC One. It’s just like that you better look good when racing against yourself. In this case Samsung had to better its own offering, the Galaxy S3. 

When I saw my friend using his S4; I mistook it for a S3 only. Look wise it was no different but as soon as I grabbed the phone in my hands I realised it was much thinner, slicker and a bit lighter than S3. Design wise it’s no different than any other Samsung Galaxy phones available in the market. S4 is available in two colors - Black Mist and White Frost. Overall body shape, design and looks are nothing to write home about. One may just give it a paas if looks are preferred over performance. It is high time for Samsung to wake up its design team and bring something new and fresh. Same design/pattern again and again with every other launch will make things monotonous for Samsung and will not do any good. Like I mentioned this in my last to last review of Samsung Galaxy Core – South Korean companies just follow the same design cue with every other device they make; Take Hyundai’s fluidic design for example. Looks wise HTC One is the phone to lure for and in my humble opinion HTC makes the best looking phones. 

Screen & Build Quality

But I just forgot all other stuff as soon as I switched on the screen. I was smitten by the super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with 16M colors,  1080 x 1920 pixels (~441 ppi pixel density) which comes with corning Gorilla Glass 3. This is so far the most vibrant displays I have personally seen on a phone after my brother’s Note II. The colors, saturation, contrast all seems to be just perfect. The multi touch screen is super smooth to use. Samsung offers a display technology on S4 known as adapt display which optimises the screen depending on the ambient lighting conditions. Watching movies, reading text will be a nice experience on a S4. While I have not personally checked a HTC One yet but HTC claims to have a little more ppi density than compared to S4 but that hardly would be a deal breaker here.

Talking of build quality I would say that Samsung has disappointed again just like it has done in the past. The removable textured plastic back cover is too flimsy and one has to be careful while removing the cover as it appears that it just might break upon little mishandling. Build quality is disappointing; my sub 20K HTC One V has better build quality than this phone! Nothing beats smooth aluminium unibody construction.  This phone too has dollop chrome plated boundary like other Galaxy phones which I personally don’t like but majority of us do like chrome plating – be it on cars, bikes or mobiles.

Camera & Buttons

Just like every other Android phone this too has a power button on the right, a 3.5mm audio jack and charging slot on the top and volume rocker on the left. On the front there is a 2MP camera for video calling purposes along with couple of sensors – most probably for light sensing functionalities like smart stay/smart pause etc. Earpiece is located just above the Samsung logo and has a chrome grill which looks decent. Microphone is hiding somewhere at the bottom along with a micro usb slot. 

On the back, S4 sports a 13 megapixel  camera with 4128 x 3096 pixels having features like  autofocus, LED flash, check quality, dual Shot, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization and HDR. Video recording is HD 1080p@30fps with dual-video recording mode and even the front 2 MP camera records 1080 @30 fps videos and featuring dual video call. Talking of the image quality – I would say that it satisfied the photographer in me for outdoor photos; hope my friends who know me will understand what I mean. In other words image quality is excellent for day time outdoor photos but quality degrades under low light conditions which is quite common with mobile phone cameras. 

Operating System and Hardware

Samsung Galaxy S4 comes loaded with the latest Android 4.2.2 JellyBean along with Samsung’s proprietary bloat ware. The octa core processor - combination of 1.6 GHz Quad + 1.2 GHz Quad processors easily handles that stuff. User interface is bliss to use, switching between applications is blazing fast.  Performance wise this device is a monster and there are no complaints in this regard. It has 2GB RAM and 16 GB internal space out of which about 8GB is usable. One can expand the storage capacity by adding SD card which is supported upto 64GB which must be sufficient for even the power users. For handling graphics and games, S4 comes with PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU processor. I could not play any games personally on the device but as reported by my friend the gaming performance is at par. 

Samsung’s touchwiz UI works over the Android just like the HTC sense. The user can have upto seven home screens with widgets etc. The pinch in gesture lets you quickly switch between screens. Smart stay feature keeps the screen on as long as you keep looking on it. Smart scroll will scroll up/down depending upon the direction of tilting the screen. Smart pause pauses a video if you take your eyes away from the screen.   Air view lets user to quickly preview their documents instead of opening by just hovering your finger over the files without actually touching or tapping it. Other basic features like NFC, Wi-Fi hotspot are present. 

Battery & Sound 

Call quality is quite good; the speaker phone loudness is just okay. S4 is shipped with a push in type earphones which are reported to offer excellent sound quality by my friend. This power hungry monster comes with a massive Li-Ion 2600 mAh battery which easily last for a day on full charge which is respectable for a device which comes with octacore processor and AMOLED screen. 

Considering its great screen quality and high end specification, this phone definitely catches the fancy of prospective customers, but all this comes with a hefty price tag of Rupees Forty Thousand which will keep this phone out of reach for many buyers. If you have the money and want to upgrade your 20k smartphone then this could be just the right smartphone for you. I don’t recommend S3 users to upgrade to S4 unless you have excess moolah to spend. Look wise I will still put my money on HTC One which may be a little expensive than S4 but looks incredible in my humble opinion and performs equally well. 

So guys that’s all from this post – Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: The review and its content are my own views/user experience and may differ from others. I am not an expert reviewer and the review can have possible shortcomings. Please bear with that. Comments and suggestions much appreciated.

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