Friday, March 15, 2013

Hands-on and First Impressions: Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung just launched their latest and greatest Smartphone yet, the Galaxy S4, here in New York City and we were one of the first few to have handled and played with the device for a brief amount of time.
Allow me to share my experience and thoughts about this new flagship phone from Samsung.


Admittedly, I was expecting a design shift from Samsung Galaxy S4 after seeing clones of the Galaxy S3 in different sizes in the past few months. However, that’s not happening as the S4 still looked like it came from the S3 mold.
Samsung-Galaxy-S4-02 Samsung-Galaxy-S4-04 Samsung-Galaxy-S4-03
It’s bigger with a 5-inch display and has a thinner bezel making it look more compact than the S3 despite the bigger size. It’s insignificantly thinner and lighter than the previous model as well with the same polycarbonate shell.
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The corners looked more like the Galaxy Note and has that same chrome lining along the side which made it look metallic. You’ll also get the all too familiar buttons on the side and the lone Home button at the bottom of the screen surrounded by the Back and Menu capacitive touch buttons.
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The phones comes in White Frost and Black Mist. The black mist has more appeal (like Pebble Blue from the S3) with a crosshatch pattern at the back. At the back you’ll also get the 13-megapixel lens camera and the LED flash underneath it.


The Samsung Galaxy S4 will come in two flavors of processor and it’s not yet clear which region will get which version. The one we handled uses a 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor and the other version will use Samsung’s new Exynos Octa chip which features four Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 1.6GHz, four Cortex-A7 cores running at 1.2GHz and the PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU.
This will also be the first phone that will have a Full HD Super AMOLED display. Along with it is a 2GB RAM and internal storage in 16/32/64GB versions with microSD support up to 64GB. We were told that it will come in 3G and LTE variant although they’re confident that the LTE variant will be available in more regions.
Rear camera is a 13-megapixel affair capable of Full HD video recording and front is at 2 megapixel. There’s also an IR blaster which was available in their Galaxy Note 10.1 and Note 8.0. It runs on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with a 2600mAh rated battery.
Aside from the new processor, everything is pretty standard if you ask me.


Perhaps what Samsung is excited about in the Galaxy S4 is the slew of built-in features it presents. Some are new while some are better versions of features from the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note II.
Most of the new features are found on the Camera app and this makes the Galaxy S4 a fun shooter to bring have with you. It follows the UI and takes some of the features from the Galaxy Camera as well as add some new things.
There’s Dual-Shot which lets you take a single photo with the rear and front camera activated (one will be an overlay).
Drama Shot allows you to take a burst of shots of a moving object and combine them in one photo.
Sound & Shot lets you take a photo with up to 9-second audio embedded. Cinema photo lets you take a short video and save it as an animated GIF file.
There’s also Eraser where you can shoot in Burst and completely delete moving objects for a stationary photo. All of your photos can also be saved in templated albums where you can have it sent to a service partner for printing.
Samsung also focused on building relationship with the Galaxy S4. It has a built-in translator app called S-Translator that is also embedded in different apps such as E-mail, Chat-On, and Messaging.Video chat got better with 3-way video call, dual-camera video call, and screen share via Chat-On app.Group play lets you play the same song on different devices connected via NFC.
We saw the Air View with the Samsung Galaxy Note and its stylus. It’s now available on the Galaxy S4 using your fingers. By hovering your finger 2cm off the screen, you can preview information on your e-mail, calendar, and even within a video.
Air Gesture is not something Filipinos should be surprised about as we saw this feature on O+ phones and their Air Shuffle. For the uninitiated, what this does is let you control certain aspects of your phone by doing hand gestures. Wave your hand to navigate the browser, your photo gallery, making a call or skipping through your playlist. Useful if you don’t want your greasy hands to touch your device or if you’re wearing gloves.
Smart Stay is an old Samsung feature that got an upgrade on the S4. The phone detects your eye if you’re looking at the screen or away from it while watching a video and wisely pause and resume it for you without touching it. Smart Scroll lets you scroll up or down a page simply by tilting your device.
Samsung also wanted to highlight S-Health which is a set of apps that allows you to live a healthy lifestyle. You can keep track of calories burned with the built-in pedometer, see the temperature of your immediate environment and humidity, and a handy food tracker if you’re counting calories.


Aside from the bump in display and processing power, Samsung clearly wants to showcase on the new built-in features you can get from the Galaxy S4. They’re after the well-rounded smartphone experience it can give users this time around rather than changing the design or incorporating innovative technology on their new flagship device.
Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505 Specs:
4.99-inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1080 x 1920), 441ppi
1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor
Adreno 320 GPU
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
16/32/64GB internal storage, microSD up to 64GB
HSDPA, 42.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps; LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
13 MP rear camera with LED flash
Full HD video recording @ 30 fps
2 MP front camera
Infrared, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, temperature, humidity, gesture
Li-Ion 2600 mAh battery
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
130 g
Colors: White Frost, Black Mist

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