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Samsung Galaxy S4 (Sprint)

Armando Rodriguez | April 25, 2013
This is the burning question of the moment: Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S4?

Everything but the kitchen sink

What Samsung's phone lacks in design, though, it makes up for in features and specs. The U.S. version of the Galaxy S4 ships with a 1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor and 2GB of RAM, making the phone a powerhouse at running 3D games and other resource-heavy applications. All of that processing power comes in handy when running two apps simultaneously, a feature we most recently saw on Samsung's 8-inch Note tablet.

Another feature borrowed from the Note line is Air Preview: By hovering your finger a few centimeters off the screen, you can view the contents of folders, email, and messages without having to open them. It's pretty neat, but I didn't find myself using Air Preview all that much, as simply opening and closing content was often faster than waiting for the preview to show up.

The Galaxy S4 also supports the hands-free Air Gestures control, which lets you scroll through webpages, flip through photos in the Gallery app, and answer the phone by swiping your hand over the Samsung logo above the screen. I ended up using Air Gestures more than I thought I would, because it gave me some control over the phone without having to touch it--useful for when my hands were wet or dirty.

Other highlights of the Galaxy S4 include the exclusive Optical Reader, S Translator, and S Health apps. Optical Reader lets you scan text or QR codes, and you can use it to enter information from business cards into your contacts quickly. The app worked well for scanning QR codes, but it stumbled a bit when I tried to scan several business cards that I had lying around.

S Translator is basically Samsung's attempt to copy the functionality of Google Translate: You enter or speak your queries, and S Translator spits out a translation in one of 12 languages. Though the app managed to translate my Spanish phrases into English somewhat successfully, it seemed uninspired next to the official Google Translate app, which can translate to more languages, and can do so more accurately.

I grew to appreciate S Health, Samsung's fitness tracking app, the more I used it. I'm constantly forgetting my Fitbit at home, so having the Galaxy S4 track my steps and activities without any need for extra hardware proved extremely convenient. The app can also track your calorie intake, and it uses colorful graphs to show you how close you are to your daily step count. S Health is one of my favorite additions to the Galaxy line, and I hope Samsung keeps the service around for future Samsung phones.

Another aspect of the Galaxy S4 that I thoroughly enjoyed was the phone's ability to function as a universal remote control. The phone has a built-in IR blaster, and the preloaded WatchOn app allows you to browse TV listings. The app isn't as straightforward to set up as the TV app on the HTC One, but WatchOn offers extra functionality such as the ability to pair with a Google TV.

 

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