They’re here! Whether that excites you or not remains to be seen, but the Galaxy S4, which will most likely become the best selling Android smartphone of the year by a huge margin, has been reviewed by all the major sites, and there’s lots of interesting conclusions in there – although I think most of you will get the gist.
I already asked you a few weeks ago why you weren’t buying HTC phones, opting for Samsung instead. We got many different answers, such as the SIII supporting SD cards, no removable battery for HTC phones, worse community support for HTC devices, and many more. The Galaxy S4 will most likely continue the trend, so what do the reviews say?
Well, first of all, every review mentions the use of plastic, something Samsung insists on doing. Whereas other manufacturers have moved to metal – like Apple or HTC – or higher-quality plastic – like Nokia. Engadget calls the S4’s plastic “sturdy”, but other phones have a more premium feel. If the plastic is indeed the same as that of the SIII, I agree wholeheartedly.
The Verge is even more direct. “I don’t like holding this phone, and I can’t overstate how much that informs the experience of using it. It makes an awful first impression, slippery and slimy and simply unpleasant in your hand,” writes David Pierce, “Everyone I showed the GS4 to frowned and wrinkled their nose as if it smelled bad, before rubbing their fingers on the back of the phone and then handing it back to me â€” that’s the opposite of the standard reaction to HTC’s One, which everyone wants to ogle and hold.”
Moving on to software, the device is so packed with features it all becomes a bit unwieldily – so much so that Samsung even had to add an easy mode to the phone to remove most of the feature bloat. Engadget calls most of the feature bloat “party tricks” added for their “wow factor”. ABC News calls them “gimmicks”. As you’d expect, there’s a lot of crapware on this thing, with no way to remove it.
Making matters worse – the bootloader is locked, so no custom ROM for you. If you want CyanogenMod or some other stock-ish ROM, you’ll have to wait until the community does its thing and cracks Samsung’s utterly pointless, stupid, and insipid locked bootloader.
There’s also a lot of good stuff to report – the display is amazing, and thanks to clever engineering, the S4’s 5″ screen does not make the device any larger than its predecessor. The S4 is also incredibly fast, and you’ll not be left wanting for more oomph. Then again, I never had much of an issue with CyanogenMod on my SII, but I guess all the bloat running in the background sucks quite a lot of processor power.
Battery-wise, it’s supposedly a little better than the HTC One and iPhone 5, but since i’m used to my HTC 8X – which will easily last three days without a charge for me – I find it all pretty terrible. This is still one of the major downsides to any modern smartphone, and instead of adding pointless crap software no one wants, it’d be nice if Samsung or HTC spent some time on this issue.
Overall, the S4 looks like simply a decent successor to the SII, and it’ll most likely sell like crazy and completely crush the – in my view – better HTC One. Be sure to tead the linked reviews fully to get a complete picture.
I need a phone for work, so I might pick this one up. Insofar as bloatware, I’ll probably be okay with it, and might even use some of it. For example, I’m told that the S3 (and I assume the S4) won’t dim the phone while you’re looking at it. I don’t know how many times I’ve cursed my Nexus 4 when it dims the screen while I’m reading something. I’m also interested in being able to give voice commands to my phone while I drive, which is something that stock Android fails miserably at. I don’t know about the S-health stuff, but I’ll definitely give it a look.
In regard to the HTC One …
Seems about the only thing this phone has going for it is the aluminum build. From what I’ve been reading, the S4 destroys it in just about every other area. And to be honest, I like the feel of the S3 better, because the plastic body makes the phone lighter, which I really like. They say the S4 is even thinner and lighter than the S3. I don’t see a lot of complaints about the S3’s durability, so I’m not overly concerned about it. I haven’t cracked the glass body of my Nexus 4 yet, so I think it’ll be alright
I did play with the HTC One at Best Buy. I don’t know how they managed to f–k up the app drawer so bad, but that’s nothing in comparison to the craptastic Blinkfeed. For anyone defending that bullshit by saying ‘you can just ignore it or install a launcher’, I hope you die screaming Oh, and then there’s the honkin’ huge HTC logo and the 2-button setup. I’d have gladly given up one of the speakers on the front for an extra button. Even if I loved the feel of the phone (which I don’t), I’d never be able to look past these things. If I wanted a phone with a non-removable battery to install CM on, I’d just buy a Nexus.
So what about the Nexus phones and Keyline Pie? Well, it seems that Google has nothing but contempt for people who buy a Nexus phone, as opposed to one of the fake Android phones like the S4. First, they don’t stock nearly enough of them, then they wait several months before releasing a charging dock. I swear to god, it’s like the Nexi are the black sheep of Android phones. Plus, if KLP is anything like the recent builds of stock Android, they’ll probably require several builds to work out the bugs, so I might be content with letting Nexus 5 users be Google’s beta testers. I had enough of that shit with 4.2 and its broken bluetooth stack. And I haven’t installed any custom roms on my N4 anyway… guess I’m getting too old for that kind of thing. As long as I can root the S4 and install an ad blocker, that’s really all I need.
Edited 2013-04-24 23:11 UTC