This is the burning question of the moment: Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S4? After spending a few days with the phone and running it through TechHive's suite of tests, I can confirm that the Galaxy S4 is an impressive Android phone. Samsung's latest offering tops its previous efforts in many respects, and Android fans are rightly excited by the Galaxy S4's imminent release (slated for the end of the month). That's not to say that the phone is perfect: For all of its innovations and cutting-edge specs, the Galaxy S4 has shortcomings that prevent it from being the ideal smartphone.
At first glance, the Galaxy S4 looks similar to its predecessors, the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2. The phone shares the same rounded corners, Home button, and primarily plastic design; yet the Galaxy S4 feels more polished overall. The new phone's buttons are more durable than those on the Note 2 or Galaxy S3, and its plastic components seem to be of higher quality. Measuring 5.38 by 2.75 by 0.31 inches and weighing a scant 4.64 ounces, the Galaxy S4 is slightly lighter and thinner than the Galaxy S3. However, the Galaxy S4 felt blockish next to the Galaxy S3's gentle curves and wasn't as comfortable to hold.
The 5-inch, 1920-by-1080-pixel display on the Galaxy S4 offers an impressive 441 pixels per inch, making it one of the sharper-looking screens around, and beating the pixel density of the iPhone 5 (326 ppi) and the Galaxy S3 (306 ppi). Still, colors looked more saturated on the Galaxy S4 than on competing smartphones. The thin bezel surrounding the screen made using the phone one-handed more difficult because of the ever-present hazard of inadvertently hitting the Menu button or the Back button--a mistake that tended to happen as I was trying to type an email or text message.
The back of the phone comes off to reveal a removable 2600mAh battery, and a MicroSD card slot that can accommodate up to 64GB of additional storage. TechHive's lab clocked the Galaxy S4's battery life at a solid 7 hours, during which it continuously played back HD video, and I managed to squeeze a full day of use out of the phone while browsing the Web, downloading apps, taking pictures, before having to recharge it.
The Galaxy S4's overall design is a a bit underwhelming. The Galaxy S4 looks chintzy next to phones like the HTC One and the Apple iPhone 5, whose aluminum bodies give them a premium look that seems absent from Samsung's new handset. The phone is by no means ugly; I just wish Samsung had used something other than plastic for the chassis.
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