The age where a mobile phone is just a tool has gone, replaced by an era where a phone is part of one’s lifestyle where it can be used for just about anything we do. Having said that, the new Samsung Galaxy S4 has brought even more to the smartphone market with its latest innovations and style.
At first glance, the S4 might not look any different from its predecessor, the S3. However, there are many subtle changes that fixed the little flaws in the S3 making the S4 a phone that feels like it has been more thought through.
By the way, the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in an eco-friendly packaging which I think is a nice touch. Even the manual is printed on recycled paper.
Looks, Build and Design
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has made rather subtle changes when it comes to the looks and the build. First, you would notice that the screen has increased in size although the size of the phone has not.
The screen is now closer to the edge making the space between the screen and edge of the phone even smaller.
This makes the Galaxy S3 still in the smartphone category and not like its cousin the Note 2 which is considered a phoneblet. Good choice there since those who like the size of the Note would get that instead of the S4.
The Galaxy S4 is still a great plastic phone; weighing just 130g, it is lighter than the S3. Although it is made mostly out of plastic, it does not lose out in style. The S4 has also squared off the edges making the phone more comfortable to hold and less likely to slip out of your hands. I think I prefer the phone being a little more squared on the edges as it looks and feels better in my hand. In addition, I think the subtle diamond-shaped pattern etched within the glossy surface of the back cover gives the phone a little more elegance without being too loud.
The home button at the bottom has also decreased in size, but does not hinder you from looking for it. Since the touch buttons at the bottom has also decreased in size, you might think it would be hard to use it, but those touch buttons are even more sensitive than its predecessor’s.
Display & Camera
With the AMOLED display and Full HD resolution, looking at my screen has never felt better. Everything looks so sharp and clear, especially when browsing images or watching videos. Colours are richer and edges sharper.
The front and rear camera is also better. Compared with my Galaxy S3, the photos I take on the Galaxy S4 is sharper, brighter and shooting is faster. The new Galaxy S4 has many new modes in its camera function such as Beauty Face, HDR, Eraser, Panorama, Sports, Night mode, Animated photos, Drama Shots and more.
There are also lots of filters – sort of an Instagram-like feature but not square. Haha. My favourite new feature in their camera function is the Dual Shot that you can use to shoot a photo with the S4 back camera, and simultaneously shoot your own face with the front camera. Awesome when you can’t put yourself in the entire photo (since you are the one shooting), but can still be there, well, sort of anyway.
It is fun, but don’t forget to switch off the Dual Shot mode before you close the camera, because if you don’t, your camera app would take a longer time to load when you relaunch it since it needs to switch both its front and back camera on.
The battery life is awesome! I thought with all the new features like Air-View, Air Gesture, Smart Stay, NFC, larger sharper screen, etc, would make the battery drain faster, but it doesn’t!
True that the Galaxy S4 has a bigger battery capacity now compared to the S3 – 2,100mAH to 2,600mAH, but my battery can last me a whopping eight hours with WiFi on, and strong vibrate, playing games every now and then, as well as messaging and browsing FB/Instagram off and on. I have yet to test it playing games to drain the entire battery life, but for regular usage, this is already pretty great.
However, playing Candy Crush all the while is gonna drain your battery pretty fast, so that is considered super high usage and not for the normal masses.
There are lots more features – so much that I can do on and on and on. But amongst the many (and other than the camera modes), I love the new drop down menu of the Galaxy S4. In the previous S3, you use however many fingers to get the drop down menu from the top. In the Galaxy S4 however, if you use two fingers, you can get your customized shortcuts in icon form in that same drop down menu. This makes everything so much easier since I don’t have to keep pressing deeper into each menu to find what I want. It is also easier for those who are new to Android.
Anyway, I will just list here the other interesting new features that come with the new S4. One is the S Health where it monitors your daily food intake, how much exercise you need or have done (something like Nike Fit) and helps you to keep fit. Another is the S Translator which makes going overseas a little easier. Just type or say something in your native language, and it translates it to whichever language you choose; this is even more accurate than Google Translate. I have tried in other languages and surprisingly, the app can actually recognise many more words.
There is also Group Play which is something fun you can do with other S4 users such as making a little disco party by playing and sharing your music – sort of like using everyone’s S4 speakers to play the same song. With this feature, everyone can also play the same game, so basically, this feature is for parties when a bunch of people with Galaxy S4 wanna do something different from the norm.
Another useful feature is the WatchOn feature which allows you to control your TV channels (like Astro) with your phone.
Basically, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a reliable, practical and lightweight phone with a big screen. The new features is an extra bonus, especially since some features are not available on other smartphones such as the Dual Shot. The S4 has managed to squeeze so much into a small little phone, and I really respect them for that. They compacted a bigger screen with bigger juice, and customisable shortcuts as well as so many features in this thin, 130g phone. Awesome.