By Taylor Martin | March 19, 2013 3:35 PM
Following Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy S 4 last Thursday, the hype that preceded the fourth-generation Galaxy S model quickly fizzled. Unlike last year, Samsung really had no surprises up its sleeve. The design stayed virtually the same (with some minor tweaks), and the spec bumps were just enough to put it on par with its competitors’ flagships – nothing more, nothing less.
As disappointing as it may be for some, there’s actually very little to be disappointed about with the Galaxy S 4. With a nice set of specifications, a slimmer profile and larger display packed in similarly-sized package, there’s little to complain about. Read on for several reasons you should get the Galaxy S 4.
Since when is familiar a bad thing?
Not every iteration of a device warrants a drastic redesign. It was just unfortunate timing for Samsung this year. Most other manufacturers happen to be undergoing major changes to make up ground lost to the Galaxy S III last year. Samsung, on the other hand, is coming off the massive success of the Galaxy S III. Why stop and change direction mid-stride?
Personally, I was never a fan of the nature-inspired design of the Galaxy S III to begin with, so seeing it implemented for another year was certainly disappointing. But I wholly understand why Samsung didn’t force a redesign. And if you have no issues with the design and build quality of the Galaxy S III, you’ll have no qualms with the Galaxy S 4 either. It’s bigger (well, not physically, but the display is), better and more refined.
It features the same button layout, all the old features (plus a boatload of new ones) and a much better display, which … brings us to my next point.
PenTile woes … be gone!
The noticeable graininess of PenTile Matrix is what initially started the dislike for the unique subpixel arrangement. Having acquired Clairvoyante’s intellectual property on PenTile, Samsung has been using the technology off and on since the initial Galaxy S model.
But low pixels per inch and 33 percent fewer subpixels resulted in displays with gaping flaws: whites appeared to be gray and carried a parchment-like appearance, solid colors (especially greens) appeared textured rather than solid and the strong dependence on green subpixels sometimes made color reproduction wonky.
With 720p, WXGA panels, higher ppi counts and some fine tuning on Samsung’s end, the side effects of using PenTile slowly disappeared. Now with 1080p, the density is high enough to counteract the remaining issues with using PenTile.
The display on the Galaxy S 4 is a 5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED panel, so you can expect the same supersaturation, high contrast and inky blacks. But this time around, you shouldn’t have to worry about any checker-boarding or whites appearing textured and bluish-gray.
Expandability … for the win!
There is a great divide in Androidland. One of the great features of Android, expandable storage, is no longer advocated by Google. It’s still supported, but many manufacturers are leaving microSD card slots out of their devices. And don’t expect a microSD card slot on a Nexus device anytime soon.
Google’s Matias Duarte explained that eliminating a secondary storage drive simplifies things for the end user, which may be true. But having the option to expand storage, for some, is irreplaceable.
Samsung, on the other hand, continues to deliver devices in varying capacities with the ability to expand storage. While this external storage isn’t exactly helpful for games, applications or other Play-purchased content (magazines, movies, TV shows etc.), it’s great for loading up your own music, files, movies and other content to keep your inbuilt storage free.
Spare batteries standing by
While battery life is better than it used to be, as I noted in my video from yesterday, it’s still not quite up to snuff for some of us. A full day of normal to heavy usage is still just out of reach. But the added benefit of Samsung’s penchant for plastics and removable battery doors is, likewise, removable batteries.
Buy a few spares to throw in your pack, pocket or purse and you could have another full charge waiting to be devoured. Of course, you can just carry around a portable, battery-powered charger and get a similar effect. But the advantage to spare batteries is not having to wait, other than for the phone to reboot, of course.
Full 13-megapixel images
UltraPixel was a big gamble by HTC. The performance of the image sensor has been pretty well received. Even at 4-megapixels, images are fairly comparable to even the 8- and 13-megapixel counterparts.
But it’s still difficult to get over the sheer size – or lack thereof, really – of the images. I will remain skeptical until I get my own hands on one.
The Galaxy S 4 has a 13-megapixel camera. If the Galaxy S III is any indication, the Galaxy S 4 will also be among the top smartphone cameras around. Samsung has previously used Sony’s image sensors, so there’s reason to believe it’s utilizing an Exmor RS sensor this time around, likely the same one used in Sony’s pair of flagships. For what it’s worth, the Xperia Z held its own in our camera tests.
Preliminary looks at the Galaxy S 4 camera samples reveal that the S4 will be just as potent as its predecessor in image sensing. Best of all, image output is a full 13-megapixels, or a max of 4,128 x 3,096 pixels, and it’s packed to the brim with complementary software features.
Not all the features are gimmicks
Last Friday, I asked if Samsung’s software features on the Galaxy S 4 are gimmicky. My answer – and the general consensus, judging by the comments – is that they’re hardly more than a marketing ploy, that most are features that no one will ever use. It’s hard to dispute that, honestly. But not all the features are gimmicks – there are a few diamonds in the rough. And, depending on how you plan to use the device, some of the more gimmicky features might actually come in handy.
For example, say you’re a mechanic or a cook. Generally, your hands stay pretty dirty throughout the day. With Air Gesture, Air View, Smart Pause, Smart Stay and Smart Scroll, you can control your device without ever having to touch it and make a mess of the display.
Point being, everyone has their own set of use cases, and while, yes, most of the features are gimmicky, some of them will certainly prove useful for people around the world.