Samsung's Galaxy S IV reveal is now just days away. While leaks about Samsung's anticipated handset are abundant, nothing is set in stone until Samsung announces it on stage. On Friday, the Ars editors put together a wish list of half a dozen improvements that we hope Samsung makes to the phone. We also asked you what you wanted, and you responded loud and clear. Here are half a dozen recommendations from our esteemed Ars readership that Samsung could use to improve to its newest flagship phone.
1) Tone down TouchWiz
OEM-produced skins for Android can be a mixed bag. At their best, they can add features to Android that it doesn't yet include. At their worst, they replace perfectly good things from stock Android with versions that don't work as well. More than one of you wanted Samsung to use a lighter touch with its TouchWiz skin.
"Tone down Touchwiz and rip out much of what doesn't work," said Ars commenter dfavro. "Do an Apple and make this the 'refinement' generation. Get rid of Kies, Allshare Cast, S-voice, and all the Hubs that no one uses unless there's a legitimate improvement over stock. There are too many features on my [Galaxy] Note that seem, well, half-baked would be charitable."
Others would rather see TouchWiz excised entirely. "Android is coming along just fine without being whizzed up/on by Samsung," said ColinABQ. "They should just drop the whole TouchWiz act and go with stock Android, to the extent possible in any given hardware configuration. That would eliminate, solve, or reduce several problems, such as icon/menu placement and organization, and speed of updates. They could also reduce their own expenses in development and testing. Being the largest Android handset maker, a step away from their current role in fragmentation and update delays would do the entire Android ecosystem some good and might even encourage feature contributions to the (allegedly) open Android OS."
And finally, some would down steer a middle path, keeping some of Samsung's design touches as long as they are optional. "I can do my own customization to suit my own requirements a lot better than you can (although some customization help would be welcome, in the form of templates I can choose and modify)," wrote Postulator. "Basically, enable the user rather than trying to tell us how to use our device—that's what Android is made for."
2) Improved LTE (and thus, fewer international variants)
The Galaxy S III (and a pile of other smartphones) is available in several different hardware configurations depending on the country it was purchased in. The "international" version of the phone uses one of Samsung's Exynos 4 Quad chips, while the US version uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. The variants also differ in what LTE bands they support. Some of you want to see Samsung simplify this product matrix and ship one configuration of the phone that works everywhere.
"I hope it drops with [Qualcomm's RF360] 40 band LTE chip so it can get LTE on any carrier around the world, and so there is only one (international) model of the phone, allowing all to be updated at the same time, without delays from the carrier," wrote Dark Laser. "A boy can dream…"
3) Better off-contract price
When Google and LG introduced the Nexus 4 with high-end hardware for $300 without a contract, some dared to hope. Perhaps the device would help shake up a market dominated by phones that sell for more than twice as much when not tied to a two-year carrier agreement. Sadly, this doesn't seem to be happening, but some of you haven't given up that dream.
"The number one thing I want to see is a $400 off-contract price," wrote Korgoth. "In a world where Google is speccing out high-end Nexus phones then releasing them off contract for under $400, why would I buy an S IV that is chained to a $90-a-month contract?"
4) Water resistance
You're not going to make it through life without introducing liquid to electronics that aren't equipped to handle liquid. It's a fact. Whether you've accidentally spilled your drink or dumped your phone into the toilet, accidents happen. So some of you want Samsung to follow what Sony has done with its Xperia Z: make a waterproof phone.
"All I want is a water-resistant phone with high-end specs," wrote mrbenstein. "I tried out the Samsung rugby smart last summer. You could use the phone underwater. Awesome! It would freeze up and require a battery pull to reboot when performing basic tasks. Not awesome. I don't care if it's a little thicker, just make me a good phone that is durable and water-resistant."
5) No more plastic
The plastic-versus-metal debate in smartphones can be almost as polarizing as the AMOLED-vs-IPS discussion—plastic can be done well and it makes for lightweight phones, but it is also prone to feeling creaky and cheap.
"I would like to see an aluminum body like the HTC One," wrote LMT. "That would be an automatic sale from me since I can't stand the HTC software."
Some of you are still fine with plastic, as long as it's high-quality plastic. "Use better materials like aluminum or steel for the band, ceramic or at least polycarbonate (not all plastics are polycarbonate) for the back," said spartak.
6) Yes to better battery life (but keep it replaceable)
Finally, one area where the staff and the readers were in universal agreement: most of you want the Galaxy S IV to have great battery life. Many of you even said that you'd gladly accept a little additional thickness to get it.
"I would like the standard battery to be roughly equivalent to what's now an extended battery," saidBoksone. "Adding a few mm to the depth of the phone would not only be acceptable to me, but desirable. Most modern phones are actually too thin for comfort for me."
Others agree that battery life is very important, but they don't want it to come at the cost of having a removable battery. "My biggest request is for them to not to hop on the non-replaceable battery bandwagon," wrote hertzsae. "I don't care how big you make the battery. I love the fact that I can have an instantly charged phone by swapping it out. If they make a battery that lasts 10 days, I'll probably forget to charge and need the instant capacity that a battery swap gives me."