Samsung Galaxy S4: thorough analysis and user experience

Samsung Galaxy S4 Analisis01 copy

After two years clearly dominating the global Android landscape, Samsung reaches this 2013 with a very difficult challenge ahead: continue that dominance. The difficulty of the challenge is that the competition has been stepping up and is stronger than ever, so Samsung must make the best of itself if it wants to be king.

To address this challenge, had a little over a month the Samsung Galaxy S4 , the fourth generation of the Galaxy S family, primarily responsible for the success that the company has achieved in recent years. Will the Samsung Galaxy S4 able to continue the path of his predecessors and crown as the best Android smartphone of the year?

We are going to analyze the behavior of the terminal and use our experience after 13 intensive days . From Friday that it had exclusive before it goes on sale, up to today. We go.

video Glance

exterior design and materials: Samsung in pure

 Samsung Galaxy S4 Analisis04

The outside of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the least has undergone changes over the previous version. At first glance are exactly the same, but if we look more closely we realize that there are some changes that differentiate them, such as the network that has the back or the metal cover (which is actually plastic) lining the edges.

If we turn to the Galaxy S4 by the scale and the stadiometer, gives figures of 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm and 130 grams, a figure slightly lower than the Galaxy S3. That is, Samsung has increased the screen size and performance while has reduced the device body. Quite a feat.

Samsung Galaxy S4 analysis10

In practice, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is very comfortable in the hand. It is a smartphone that, despite its size, is easy to use with one hand, thanks in part to the thickness, weight and the reduced screen frames. However, the fact that such small frameworks have also disadvantages, is that on more than one occasion accidentally can we touch the screen or any of the buttons while we subject the device.

Distributing is the classic buttons leading Samsung using since you started with your Galaxy S, and I must say that I find the most correct of all proposals from all manufacturers. We find the power button on the right side, volume buttons on the left, headphone out on top, microUSB port on the bottom and the three classic buttons (home, menu and back) just below the display.

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The issue of materials is always something controversial when it comes to a smartphone from Samsung, and the Galaxy S4 wonder. Increasingly, those who claim that Samsung abandons the plastic as the main material for the manufacture of its devices, because the feel polycarbonate is not as premium as expected in a smartphone for nearly 700 euros. On the other hand we have those who defend the use of plastic (which includes the manufacturer, of course), which argue that it is essential to get a smartphone so light and thin.

Each person prefer a material, but what is clear is that the Galaxy S4 does not feel as solid and compact as other rival smartphones (HTC One and Xperia Z, for example). However, it has a better finish than the Galaxy S3, which is always a positive and remarkable.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Analisis02

From my point of view, I prefer materials like aluminum and glass, but I feel good that Samsung chooses to use plastic, because the advantages are many , but what I do not like the type of plastic used. The rugged polycarbonate that had smartphones like the Galaxy S2 or Galaxy Nexus seems much more successful than we have seen in the Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2 and S4.

Finally, it is noteworthy that the Samsung Galaxy S4 does not have a unibody body as if its rivals. That is, we remove the back cover and battery easily access the microSIM and microSD card, which is always a plus. However, solutions like the one we saw on the HTC Desire HD and HTC Desire S I look better, unibody design that combines the body and the ability to remove the battery.

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Hardware, battery life and performance: Excellent hardware but lack of optimization

 Samsung Galaxy S4 Analisis09 Year after year, Samsung has led the performance test with Galaxy S family, and the S4 would not be less. This smartphone is a real beast in terms of hardware, little more can be said. This is the spec sheet:

Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC style=”line-height: 13px;”> 600 – Krait CPU quad core 300 1.9 GHz – GPU Adreno 320

  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 4.99-inch SuperAMOLED display with Full HD resolution (441 dpi)
  • 13 megapixel rear camera with LED flash
  • 2 megapixel front camera
  • Gorilla Glass Crystal 3
  • Wi-Fi a / b / g / n / ac, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS
  • 16/32/64 GB expandable via microSD cards
  • Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC

  • Infrared port

  • 2600 mAh battery
  • 4G LTE connection
  • As you could see, the unit we tested is the same as hands reach Spain of the operators, ie quad-core version with LTE. As I explained at the time, the decision to bring to Spain the quad-core model is that this is compatible with 4G LTE networks that are beginning to unfold in Spain, while the eight-core version is not compatible with these networks.


    Although it may seem strange, the performance differences between the two versions are minimal, and as shown by the benchmarks , where the Galaxy S4 is positioned as one of the most powerful smartphones currently (only stands up the HTC One, with similar results). In Antutu scores gives around 24000 points and 12000 Quadrant on.

    comparative benchmarks

    What benchmarks can reflect ago truth when we put the Galaxy S4 to work. In games like Real Racing 3, GTA Vice City or Need For Speed ​​Most Wanted, develops mobile without any problem, I would say even slightly better than the HTC One The same applies to the other tasks, such as browsing the internet and other applications that require power. It is without doubt the fastest smartphone I’ve tested to date along with the HTC One

    However, the excellent performance of the Galaxy S4 is clouded with Touchwiz customization layer, which discuss in more detail later. Be seen as the Galaxy S4 has gone on sale with the software very green, indeed in the days I’ve been with him I received two updates correcting errors and bugs. These two updates have greatly improved overall performance, but there is still some lag in the transitions and, above all, a lack of response to our actions. But as I said, it’s a matter of software and Samsung is slowly correcting constant updates.

    Battery On issues, the Galaxy S4 offers a range acceptable. Get to the end of the day with average use almost no problems, but expected more considering that your battery is 2600 mAh, 300 mAh more than does the HTC One and the Sony Xperia Z. If we use little smartphone (about an hour and a half of screen), the Galaxy S4 is able to reach the two days of autonomy. Probably this consumption gradually improve with future updates, but for now remains in the same place as the rest of its competitors.


    One of the surprises that brings the Samsung Galaxy S4 and why many are alarmed is the low internal memory it has. The version of 16 GB (13.5 GB actually) has about 9.5 GB free for the user, when it would be normal to have about 11.5 GB. Luckily, we have a microSD slot that allows us to easily expand the device’s memory.

    A very positive Galaxy S4 (at least for me) is that the USB port has MHL and OTG support. Thanks to these two protocols, you can connect your smartphone to a TV via HDMI (MHL) or a USB connection to S4 via an adapter and read the information contained (OTG). In the same way, it is noteworthy that the screen of the Samsung Galaxy S4 can be used with gloves due to its high sensitivity, something that offered other phones like the Lumia 920.

    Finally, we should mention that features 4G LTE connection, connectivity now maybe we do not care much because it is not deployed yet in our country, but that next year will be a must have in any smartphone. Recall that the 4G LTE is the new data transmission protocol that allows us to surf the Internet at speeds up to 100 Mbps

    Software: Many magic, little use


    With the Galaxy S4, Samsung has wanted to make a play very similar to what Apple did with the iPhone 4S: maintaining the exterior design and improve on all software. And that is precisely what they have done, but another issue is whether they have done right or wrong.

    As far as interface is concerned, Touchwiz maintains a very similar to what we have in the Galaxy S3. Just have some new details such as the redesigned clock widget or lock screen with rays of light, but overall remains a very similar.


    So I seen this, we can say that Software developments are found in the new features, which are numerous:

    • Smart Scroll is a function that allows us to scroll in any list by moving our eyes (or rather, head). Using the front camera, the Samsung Galaxy S4 detects where we are looking and accordingly, moves up or down the list. It usually works well, but requires that we have a considerable amount of light that the camera is capable of detecting our face.
    • Smart Pause also uses the front camera to pause any video we are seeing when we stop looking at the screen. Generally works well, but back to the same problem as before: there has to be enough light for the camera to detect our face.
    • Smart
    • Rotation also uses the front camera for detect the position of our face and rotate the image accordingly. This is very useful to prevent the image is rotated without us wish (eg in bed). It has the same problem as before: needs to be a light amount acceptable to correctly detect our face.
    • Smart Stay is a function that already knew the Samsung Galaxy S3 and basically detected when we stop looking at the screen and blocks the terminal. In the same way, if we are looking at the phone, keep the screen lit up we block it manually or fail to look at the screen. It has the same problem as the three previous functions, but except that, it works pretty well.
    • Air View : Those of you with a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and to know Air View, a feature that allows us to interact with the device without touching it with your fingers. Now this feature is also available in the Samsung Galaxy S4, with the great news that also works with your fingers (in the Note 2 will only work with the stylus). The downside of it is that sometimes you have to bring both your finger to the screen accidentally touching inevitable.
    • Air Gesture is a totally new feature that makes use Galaxy S4 infrared multi-sensor device for detecting the movement of our hands. In this way, we can answer or make calls without touching scroll mobile, moving the hand just above it.

    addition to these software features, Samsung has added three new applications. The first is S-Health, which is basically a monitorizador of our health and complemented by multiple ancillary to Samsung. With S-Health can keep track of calories, from what we eat, the distance we travel in our day to day … etc.. It is well to control our day to day, but not for advanced athletes who want to measure different parameters.


    Another new application is S-Translator, which basically does the same as the translator of Google. The advantage of S-Translator is complemented by different applications also made by Samsung, such as the mail client. Thus, we can translate any language to any email we receive. However, the sometimes leaves something to be desired, as almost all translators.

    The Samsung Galaxy S4 account at the top with infrared port for what? To run the application Watch On. If read, ‘ my review of HTC One , you probably remember Sense TV, it was a very complete TV guide also allowed us, through the infrared port One, handle our TV from the mobile. For Watch On exactly the same, but on Samsung Galaxy S4. It works exactly the same, although it lacks a function that does have the One, and is able to add devices that are not officially supported, although this should not be a problem for most people.


    As with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4 features multi-window function (activated by holding down the back key) and S-Voice. Both have been improved and now performance is excellent, especially in the case of S-Voice, which as you will recall had enough problems of comprehension in the 2012 model year.

    Finally, we should mention that Galaxy S4 comes standard with Android 4.2.2 serial, something none of his rivals have done. Both the HTC One as the Xperia Z comes with Android 4.1 factory, in fact, the Galaxy S4 is the only phone with the Nexus 4 which features Android 4.2.2 at this time.

    In the time I have been with the terminal, I realized that most of these functions only call attention to the beginning and they are well to teach them to your friends and your family, but just a few have real utility. In fact, I deactivated the three days the most, because they were consuming battery and not used for anything. Watch Only On, S-Health, Smart and Stay Smart Rotation seem useful, hence to say that the Galaxy S4 has lots of magic. However, I believe it is right that Samsung innovate and create software like this, for every novelty is always grateful.

    Display and sound

    : Among the best, but not the best

    Samsung Galaxy S4 Analisis15

    The screen of Samsung Galaxy S4 is undoubtedly one of the best we can find in the market, but not the best. Its SuperAMOLED panel 4.99 inch Full HD resolution not reach the same level as the HTC One therefore supersaturated colors, and also has a lower pixel density (441 vs 469). In the same way, outdoor visibility is rather poor even with maximum brightness, which does not happen with phones like the HTC One or the Xperia Z.

    For you to have a better idea of ​​where screen positioned Samsung Galaxy S4, in a ranking would be as follows:

    style=”line-height: 13px;”> HTC One

  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • LG Optimus G Pro
  • Sony Xperia Z
  • sound field, history repeats . The Samsung Galaxy S4 is among the best but not the best, and again the best returns as the HTC One In that case, the Galaxy S4 has a very good quality, but sins in peak position and speaker, where the HTC blows it. In this case, the ranking would be as follows:

    style=”line-height: 13px;”> HTC One

  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Sony Xperia Z
  • LG Optimus G
  • could conclude this section in the same way it started, the Galaxy S4 is among the best , but not the best. The HTC One in these two respects him greatly exceeded, especially in the audio where the differences between the two are enormous.

    Camera: The best camera you’ll find Android

    Samsung Galaxy S4 analysis16

    Having spent by the iPhone 5, I struggled to find a Android handset with a camera as good as the Apple smartphone. That camera is the Samsung Galaxy S4, a camera that is not only better, but surpasses it in almost every aspect.

    For starters we have a Sony Exmor sensor thirteen RS megapixels which can record HDR video and that is the same as we have in the Sony Xperia Z. However, thanks to image processing makes Samsung, the quality of pictures taken with Galaxy S4 is much better than those taken with the Sony Xperia Z, which has been a surprise.


    macro In photographs, the Galaxy S4 is unbeatable, but the background blur is not as pronounced as I would like. Other cameras like the iPhone 5 does that blurs the background more and gives a greater sense of depth of field, leaving a very resultón effect.

     HDR Comparaison

    HDR mode Galaxy S4 works like a charm and in this respect than any other camera I had seen before on a smartphone. Just approach him the iPhone 5 and HTC One, but left behind HTC One


    In this picture again Galaxy S4 again beat the competition. The only drawback I find is that saturated the colors a bit, something that perhaps in this screenshot is not very important, but it can sometimes cause a loss of realism.


    Lastly, in low light conditions, the camera of the Galaxy S4 behaves like any other smartphone that HTC is neither One nor the Lumia 920. That is, suffers and is hard to focus properly and take pictures with little noise. In this regard it is of the best, although it is far from HTC One and the Lumia 920.


    Video on the Galaxy S4 is also very good and what I liked is the speed with which it performs the autofocus, plus the softness of it. Rarely produces the annoying effect of approach we’re used to. Recall that is capable of recording in full HD up to 30 FPS.

    camerainterface A noteworthy aspect of the camera of Galaxy S4 is its interface. It has many interesting modes like night mode, which can significantly improve the quality of our pictures in low light. What it does is force a higher ISO to capture more light, hence when we take a photo ask us shall subject the device firmly.

    Another interesting thing is Dual Shot mode, which is basically taking the same time a picture with the front camera and a rear camera and combines creating photographs as resultón like this.


    The only drawback that I find is that the camera settings are somewhat hidden. As I said at first glance, the Galaxy S3 camera hand had more adjustments such as exposure, a value on all Samsung devices must be set manually and that to access the Galaxy S4, we need to perform three intermediate steps.

    So after all this, it is clear that the best camera you can find right now on a smartphone is the Galaxy S4. The only point where it limps a little in low light, where the HTC One and Lumia 920 are currently the kings.

    Click here to download pictures taken with the Galaxy S4 full size

    Conclusions: Good performance but below expectations

    Samsung Galaxy S4 Analisis03

    After spending a few days with the Samsung Galaxy S4, I have to say I’ve done more satisfied than I expected initially remain. The overall smartphone is fantastic, and it’s definitely a great buy, but if you come from a Galaxy S3 or Note 2 does not notice huge differences from the previous model.

    Overall the phone is very complete, but is less than I expected Samsung. Each new Galaxy S has always surpassed the competition with attractive things, extra power or revolutionary features, but in the case of the Galaxy S4 the picture is less clear. The HTC One is on par in almost all sections and that is not good from the place of Samsung. If before you asked for the best Android smartphone, everyone responded with the word Galaxy, this year the views are more diverse and perhaps the HTC One resting many sales.

    If Samsung had modified the design , have introduced some revolutionary new software or high-capacity battery, would dawn. Not everyone can do what Apple did with the iPhone 4S (remodel the interior and the software, not the design) and get good reviews and good sales results. So once again, this Samsung Galaxy S4 is a great smartphone, but below what was expected.


    Article was published in The Free Android (The Android Blog reference. Apps, News , Free Android Games and smartphones)


    The Free Android

    Samsung Galaxy S4: thorough analysis and user experience
    Source: english  
    May 9, 2013

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