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Five reasons to avoid the Samsung Galaxy S4

Ross Catanzariti | May 23, 2013
Here are five reasons you might want to overlook Samsung's latest flagship Android phone

Samsung's TouchWIZ user interface on the Galaxy S4.

The opposite can be said of the Galaxy S4. From the annoying water droplet sounds everytime you touch the screen, to the oversized, cartoonish looking icons in the app drawer, Samsung really needs some new software designers. In many cases, most of the changes it has made are changes for changes sake. Take the S Calendar app for example: is there any person out there who prefers this hideous brown and beige look over Android's default calendar? Surely not.

As if all this wasn't bad enough, Australian users of the Galaxy S4 can't even edit the four home screen dock shortcuts, which are by default set to phone, contacts, messaging and Internet. This is a ridiculous limitation.

3. It's overloaded with useless features
The Galaxy S4 has arrived with a huge marketing campaign that focuses mostly on Samsung's "exclusive" software features. While we aren't ones to turn our noses up at innovation, most of the Galaxy S4's party tricks are exactly that: useless features with an initial wow factor that wears off very, very quickly.

Take Air View, for example, which allows you to hover over the screen with your finger to display extra information, such as previewing an email, a Flipboard story or a calendar entry. Want to use it in Gmail? No, only works in Samsung's mail app. Want to use it in Google Calendar? No, only works in S Calendar. When we did use it, we often ended up tapping the screen anyway because the margin for hovering your finger over the screen is very close.

Air Gesture. Sounds great in theory but largely a gimmick.

Similarly, Air Gesture allows you to swipe your hand over the screen without touching it to swipe through images in the gallery. We found it very sensitive and it often swiped back when we moved our hand back to swipe forward again. There's also Smart Pause, which automatically pauses a video when you lo ok away from the screen and Smart Scroll, which allows you to scroll a Web page by either tilting the phone up or down, or tilting your head. They both work sporadically at best.

4. It's more difficult to use
Learning to use the Galaxy S4 is a longer process than previous models. The quick settings toggle dropdown in the notifications panel is a perfect example. There are no less than 20 toggles. The basics, like turning on and off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS are handy, but the others can be very overwhelming, especially for first time smartphone or Android users.

In addition, the settings menu on the Galaxy S4 is substantially larger, so much so that Samsung has now split the menu into four tabbed sections. The layout makes it more confusing and less obvious which settings are in each tab, unlike the standard Android layout.


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