Mobiles & Tablets

Samsung Galaxy S4 preview

R. Srinivasan March 27 | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on March 25, 2013

The new Samsung Galaxy S4 is held together with an Apple iPhone 5.   -  Bloomberg

Samsung Galaxy S4   -  Bloomberg

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It’s been proven that the only device that has been able to give the Apple iPhone a run for its money has been the Galaxy S series from Samsung. Each avatar in the Galaxy S series, through the years, has been sleeker, faster and sexier. We got our hands on the latest Samsung Galaxy S 4 in the Big Apple and can’t wait to tell you about it!

Ok, we need to start with a disclaimer first. This is NOT a review. Oh yes, Smartbuy was there (right up front!) at the Radio City Music Hall in New York’s hallowed Times Square, when Samsung ‘Unpacked’ the latest – and smartest – addition to its Galaxy gallery, the Galaxy S4. And yes, we did get to play around with it for a little while. But it was only a little while, not long enough to put the phone through its paces.

But that was long enough for us to get a feel for the real thing. And we have just one word to describe it. On second thoughts, make it two – wicked cool!

Forget whether this phone is better or not as good as the Apple iPhone 5 (those comparisons will have to wait for the full test, anyway) – when you pull out the S4 before your friends and start playing with it, you’re bound to attract attention.

Design elements

Let’s start with the looks first. Overall, the design is a continuation of the S III – in fact, when I placed my Samsung Note II on the table beside the S4, I could tell the two apart only by the larger screen size of the Note II. It has the same capsule-shaped home button at the bottom, a similar large volume rocker on the left and the same awkwardly placed power button on the right side. Given the S4’s size – the Super AMOLED full HD screen measures a full 5 inches on the diagonal and is packed into a chassis that’s just 136.6 mmx69.8 mm. This means that the screen is just large enough to not manage easily with one hand. And that the power off button can be accidentally pressed in the middle of that important call from your boss!

But that’s a minor quibble. Side-on, the S4 starts looking like a new phone – much more like the more angular iPhone 5, thanks to the metallic looking (it’s actually composite plastic) banding round the sides. And its thickness. At just 7.9 mm, it’s one of the thinnest phones around, and weighs, we were told, just 130 gms. It definitely felt light, much lighter than my Note II.

The feel is also more secure, thanks to the stippling on the back cover, which provide a more grippy feel. But those expecting a sturdier all metal build will be disappointed, although Samsung claims the new composite casing, and the Gorilla Glass 3 on the display, make the S4 a pretty tough cookie, quite capable of sustaining an accidental drop or two.

The screen is very sharp looking. It is a Full HD, 1,920x1,080 resolution, with a pixel density of 441ppi.  Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens have always been the brightest ones around. The incredible pixel count steps up the sharpness a notch. The viewing angle is great too – the screen was readable almost side on!

Under the hood, the phone will pack either a 1.4 GHz quad core Snapdragon chip, or Samsung’s own octa-core processor running at 1.6GHz (depending on LTE/non-LTE markets, I am informed). The one I saw was the octa-core version, which ran very smoothly, and was fast enough to handle all the tweaks that Samsung’s added to the Android 4.2.2 Jellybean OS.

One of the most talked about tweaks is bound to be the new ‘smart screen’ feature, which can be turned off or on through the settings menu. Once turned on, several things begin to happen. The front camera – a hefty 2 megapixel one – switches on, enabling the eyeball tracker. Once you move your eyes away from the screen, a video you happen to be watching automatically pauses – and resumes when your eyeballs face the screen again!

The screen also then ‘senses’ your fingers or hand. You can preview emails, pictures or videos by hovering your finger over the screen (the Note’s stylus does the same, but this is cooler!). And you can scroll through web pages by ‘swiping’ your hand right or left a few inches over the screen. You can also use the hand swipe to answer the phone without touching the screen.

Snappin’ away!

The camera tweaks are fun too. The 13 megapixel rear camera shoots HD video. A new feature enables you to insert yourself into the still or video you are shooting in a PIP mode. This also works in video chat mode, which now supports three calls at the same time. You can also add a couple of seconds of live sound to a still picture!

The ‘S Voice’ voice recognition software still works best with an American accent – but hooked via Bluetooth to your car audio, switches automatically to drive mode, reading out texts and alerting you on calls.

The phone also packs a host of new sensors, including a humidity meter, a barometer and an infrared blaster which allows you to control your TV or home theatre. There’s also NFC and a push feature which allows you to hook up as many as 8 phones in a room to pump out the same audio track, for instance, in case you throw an impromptu party and there is no music system handy! All in all, the S4 promises to be a whole lot of fun.

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Published on March 25, 2013
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