Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Samsung Galaxy S4 deep-dive review: A real-world evaluation

JR Raphael | April 30, 2013
Some things in this world need no introduction. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is not one of those things.

(The Galaxy S4 is available in either "Black Mist" or "White Frost," by the way -- and yes, those colors are basically just black and white.)

Comparisons aside, the Galaxy S4 feels nice if a bit insubstantial in the hand. The back panel is slick to the touch but not difficult to hold. The rear camera creates a slight bump in the phone's back, as does a small speaker grille located at the bottom-left of the device.

The Galaxy S4 has a silver-colored trim around its edges that's made to look like metal (though it, too, is actually plastic). The left edge holds a silver-colored volume rocker while the power switch sits on the phone's top-right side -- a natural position that's easy to find with your fingers. The top of the phone houses a 3.5mm headphone jack, while the bottom holds a micro-USB port that doubles as an HDMI-out with the use of a standard MHL adapter.

The Galaxy S4's speaker -- housed behind that aforementioned single grille on the device's back -- is adequate but underwhelming: Audio played through the phone sounds hollow and tinny and tends to be muffled by your hand (if holding the phone) or a table (if the phone is sitting flat on a surface). That level of quality is pretty typical for a smartphone speaker, but the superb front-facing stereo speakers on the HTC One, which I reviewed previously, left me a bit spoiled and expecting more.


Samsung's Galaxy S4 boasts a 5-in. 1080p Super AMOLED display. That's quite a boost from the Galaxy S III's 4.8-in. 720p display; Samsung managed to shrink down the device's bezels to make space for the larger screen while maintaining the same basic frame size.

At 441 pixels per inch, the Galaxy S4's display looks quite good: Colors are bold and brilliant, images are pleasantly crisp and text is sharp and easy to read. The screen is somewhat oversaturated but noticeably less so than with past Samsung devices. Like most Samsung products, the phone's autobrightness mode -- which is activated by default -- is rather wonky and tends to keep the display too dim regardless of your environment; in order for the screen to look its best, you'll need to disable that setting and manually set the brightness level yourself.

The Galaxy S4's pixels-per-inch measurement, it's worth noting, is slightly less than that of the HTC One -- but we've reached the level here where such a difference isn't really noticeable to the human eye. What is noticeable is the difference between the AMOLED display technology Samsung uses and the LCD technology HTC employs.

The Galaxy S4's AMOLED screen has deeper, truer blacks but less pure-looking whites than the One's LCD display. The GS4's screen also suffers in sunlight: While the One's LCD panel remains perfectly viewable even in the most glary conditions, the Galaxy S4's AMOLED display is often difficult to see outdoors and practically useless in direct sun.


Previous Page  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.