The smartphone market is booming everyday. The choice to purchase which phone is becoming more
and more complex too. The question is, what would you like to have in your next smartphone and what you are going to trade-off to get that is a once personal decision or opinion. But, here we have sorted a list of Top 10 Best Smartphones one should have a look before going to make a final decision on their next smartphone.
Here, we go with Top 10 Best Smartphones-
10. Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini have a vibrant screen, bright and clear enough, added to the fact it’s only 4.3-inches large, mean the S4 Mini is a lot easier to hold in the hand, and the camera is as powerful as we’d expect on a phone of this size and price point.
9. Google Nexus 4
Top of the line chipset, an excellent screen and the latest Android version – does it get better than this? Well, if you are Google, it actually does. The Nexus 4 is a proper flagship smartphone, but with a mid-market price tag. A fast-track pass to future Android updates only comes to sweeten up an already great deal.
8. Apple iPhone 5C
Apple iPhone 5c is a very solid smartphone – we know it well because we’ve spent a year with its previous alter ego, the iPhone 5. We didn’t find any difference between the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5 that goes beyond the exterior. Sure the battery has grown by 70 mAh, but that’s not the kind of difference you can feel in real-life usage. So had the iPhone 5c become the midrange smartphone that rumors tipped it to be, it would have been a real winner. However, its pricing puts it on par or well above than just about every smartphone on the market – barring its own 5s sibling – so things look a bit different.
7. Samsung Galaxy S4
The big 5″ screen fits into a very compact body (same footprint as the Galaxy S III and slimmer), the new 1080p Super AMOLED matrix offers a significant improvement in image quality, the 13MP camera is one of the best around and, performance-wise.
6. Apple iPhone 5S
Apple is the screen – a big screen (4.3-4.7″, perhaps) is a must for a high-end smartphone with aspirations for multimedia consumption, gaming and productivity. The resolution could use an update too – the PPI was stunning in 2010 when the iPhone 4 was announced, not so much today. We guess we have to wait until iPhone 6 to, hopefully, get that wish granted.
5. Sony Xperia Z
The Xperia Z is a burst of confidence and inspiration that will rally the troops and send a warning to the opposition. The Xperia Z seems to have all the best technology currently available under the hood. The Sony Xperia Z is stuff geeks’ dreams are made of, it’s designed and built to the highest standard and has raw processing power to spare. IP57-certified – on top of that – for dust and water resistance, it’s tougher than most competitors. High-end smartphones aren’t quite fit for the beach or white water rafting, but the Xperia Z won’t be at odds with your active lifestyle.
4. LG G2
LG G2 is powered by the best mobile chipset available, it has a beautiful big screen with almost no bezel to speak of, and it even runs the latest Android version. But that’s not what the LG G2 is going to be known for. No, the G2 will be remembered as one of the few devices to bring true hardware innovation for the first time in many years. While most makers just keep on pushing the number of CPU cores or go overboard with screen size, LG takes a fresh approach to how you interact with a big-screen phone in the most natural way.
3. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Galaxy Note 3 phablet continues the tradition of being the current generation’s Galaxy S phone on steroids – a large 5.7″ screen (in a body the size of the Note II), choice of Snapdragon 800 or Exynos 5420 chipsets, 2160p (a.k.a. UHD) video recording, USB 3.0 (a first on a pocketable device) and Samsung’s ever-growing list of software features available right out-of-the-box.
2. Sony Xperia Z1
Sony is using the best chipset on the market, the Snapdragon 800. TheIP58 certification, which means the phone will easily go swimming with you so you can take it in the pool or wade into the sea. Water resistance is good all year round, not just summer vacation – a spilled glass can turn a $600+ gadget into a paperweight.Sony Xperia Z1 is a reasonably powerful camcorder. It captures 1080p videos at just under 30 frames per second with a good bitrate of 17-18Mbps with stereo sound recording with a bitrate of 132 Kbps and 48 kHz audio sampling rate.
1. HTC One
Arguably one of the most exciting pieces of smartphone design in recent times, the HTC One is also properly powered and flaunts a screen that should please even the most demanding eyes. It also brings an overdue redesign of the Sense UI and a new camera that takes a completely new approach to mobile photography.
So, here ends our list of Top 10 Smartphones. Which one is best for you? Is still your decision to make.
Samsung’s smaller Galaxy S4 Mini is lighter on features than the original flagship.
If Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is more phone than you think you need, the electronics giant has just offered up the smaller, more midrange — and surely cheaper — Galaxy S4 Mini.
Like a decaffeinated beverage, Samsung is hoping to give its lighter smartphone much of the same GS4 taste with just a little less oomph. Although the Mini has stepped-down specs compared to its flagship family, like a lower-resolution screen and an 8-megapixel camera instead of a 13-megapixel shooter, it’s no slouch when it comes to the Galaxy S4’s core features, like a built-in TV remote control.
As with the Galaxy S3 Mini that came before, this version is aimed more toward the mass market than the high-end sector. Here in the middle, the Mini plays the role of the lower price option compared to the marquee Galaxy S4, without sacrificing too many of the superphone’s more defining features.
The CNET crew will first get our hands on the smaller smartphone in London at the June 20 launch event, and we’ll have more thoughts to share when we do. Until then, here’s what we know about the phone, and how it should stack up against the original Galaxy S4.
Design and build Samsung’s modest Mini is a wee bit shorter, thicker, and wider than the svelte Galaxy S4 but clearly cut from the same cloth. Like the round-shouldered original, the Mini retains its curved perimeter, metallic rim, and rectangular home button, and also comes in black and white versions.
Specifically, the global GS4 Mini stands 124.6 millimeters tall (4.9 inches) by 61.3 millimeters wide (2.4 inches) by 8.9 millimeters thick (0.35-inch) and weighs a lighter 107 grams (3.7 ounces, compared to the GS4’s 4.6-ounce weight.) A 3G-only, dual SIM version will weigh a hair more at 108 grams.
The Galaxy S4 Mini has a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen. Inside is a 1.7GHz dual-core processor.
The phone’s screen quality is perhaps the first place you’ll really notice the hardware differences between the Galaxy S4 and its little cousin. Don’t expect the S4 Mini’s 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display to look as sharp at 960×540 pixels as does the Galaxy S4’s 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution on its 5-inch screen. For all you pixel-hounds, that’s a 441 pixel density on the Galaxy S4 compared with 256ppi for the S4 Mini.
Both Galaxy screens support the same color gamut and OLED display technology, though the Mini won’t have the Galaxy S4’s ultrasensitive, glove-friendly capabilities.
From the looks of it, the S4 Mini shares most of the S4 family’s other physical attributes, including the location and shape of the camera, flash, sensors, buttons, and ports. It seems that the Mini sports the same subtle patterning as the GS4’s finish.
OS and features Importantly, the Galaxy S4 Mini runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean underneath its TouchWiz layer. Custom interfaces like TouchWiz are notorious for stalling Android update efforts, so starting at such a current OS build is crucial for keeping a phone like the GS4 Mini from falling behind the times.
With TouchWiz comes a mountain of software embellishments, like more one-touch system settings in the notifications pull-down and options like Air View, which produces an onscreen cursor when you wag your finger close to the screen.
Samsung hasn’t told us exactly which extras will take root in the Mini, but it’s safe to assume that it’s an almost identical software build as the Galaxy S4. Transporting its signature Galaxy-only abilities across devices is absolutely Samsung’s style.
If software enhancements are your thing, the presence of these bonus features is one reason to pick the Mini over any other midtier device: you won’t have the most powerful hardware, but you’ll still hold onto features like Group Play, and Samsung’s built-in apps. (For more on all these, check out this full Samsung Galaxy S4 review.)
I’m most gratified to see the GS4’s IR blaster make its way onto the Mini. This little hardware bauble turns your phone into a TV remote control when paired with the WatchOn app. Top phones like the HTC One and LG Optimus G Pro share this soon-to-be living room staple, but the Galaxy S4 Mini will be the first of its class to also bail you out when your TV remote falls behind the couch.
As for connections and communications, Bluetooth 4.0 keeps the Mini current. NFC, which makes content-sharing possible with a tap, will make it onto LTE-enabled versions of the Mini. I’m not sure why Samsung isn’t including NFC in non-LTE Mini handsets, but it likely has something to do with cost control for different markets worldwide.
Cameras and video Although the Galaxy S4 Mini may not deliver quite the rich detail of the S4’s 13-megapixel camera, Samsung is still gifting the “decaf” device with an 8-megapixel shooter, which is no resolution to sneeze at, especially the way Samsung typically outfits its camera modules. Expect high-fidelity images and smooth 1080p HD video.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini’s ports and fixtures show up in the same place as on the original S4.
The 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera should also pull its weight for casual self-portraits and video chats.
Shutterbugs will also get a nice, large helping of Samsung’s photo software, including panorama and HDR modes (that’s high-dynamic range), night mode, burst shot, and several others that help pick the best of the bunch.
While the new Sound & Shot mode makes an appearance (that records an audio clip to narrate the still, but plays back only on GS4 phones,) the new dual-shot mode — which uses both front and rear camera captures in a single picture — does not.
Performance While it’s tough to guess how well the Galaxy S4 Mini will perform all around the world, the specs do tell a promising story. First up, there are up to six bands for global LTE support, plus HSPA+ 42 speeds, and 3G and 2G fail-safes.
LTE-ready builds of the Mini won’t come to every market, but if you’ve got LTE phones where you live, that’s the version you should expect to see when and if the handset lands in a store near you. Otherwise, you’ll get a 3G version of the phone, and, in some markets, even a dual-SIM device. The double-barrel configuration has its benefits, but don’t hold your breath for a dual-SIM Mini to hit every country (sorry, U.S.).
Now what about raw computing power? Unlike the superpowered quad-core or octa-core Galaxy S4, the GS4 Mini will pack a 1.7GHz dual-core processor under its hood. That’s completely respectable, depending on the chipset’s make and model, and I’ll guess that most people won’t miss the Galaxy S4’s high-octane gaming speeds.
The phone’s smaller screen size is one explanation for the Mini’s 1,900mAh battery, which should still keep the phone charged during the peak hours of the day. Unsurprisingly, there’s a smaller bank of storage on this lighter device — 8GB, with closer to 5GB for the phone owner’s content. However, a microSD slot holds up to 64GB extra.
In terms of RAM, The Galaxy S4 Mini splits the difference between the GS4’s 2GB quotient and midrange device’s 1GB capacity with 1.5GB RAM.
Which to buy: Galaxy S4 or Galaxy S4 Mini? Without pricing or availability details from Samsung and its global partners, it’s hard to make a value judgment about which is the better deal. (I’ll update this Galaxy S4 Mini first take with that information as soon as Samsung loosens its lips.)
From the looks of it, the Galaxy S4 Mini has the ingredients to deliver a very solid smartphone experience at a more affordable price, though the screen quality and battery life could flag compared with the real S4 deal. More serious mobile gamers and camera snobs should stick with the fully loaded Galaxy S4.
That advice also goes for anyone who consumes a large amount of reading and viewing material from their phone screen. The GS4’s, while fairly reflective, will still trump the Mini’s lower-res display.
Still, if you like the sound of a surely less expensive device that keeps most of its key features, and you don’t mind some toned-down specs, hold off for the moment until more information about the Mini pours in.
Samsung has launched its Galaxy Mega large screen smartphones in the Indian market. The Galaxy Mega 5.8 will be available across the country within a week from today for a price of Rs. 25,100 while the Galaxy Mega 6.3 will be available in mid-June for a MRP of Rs. 31,490.
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 is a dual-SIM device that has a 5.8-inch screen with qHD(540×960 pixels) resolution. It is powered by a 1.4GHz dual-core processor alongside 1.5GB RAM and features an 8-megapixel rear camera, as well as a 2-megapixel front facing camera. The phone comes with 8GB expandable storage and has a 2,600mAh battery. It runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box.
The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 sports a 6.3-inch 720×1280 display and features the same camera as that of Galaxy Mega 5.8. It is powered by a dual-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz. The Galaxy Mega has 1.5GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and A-GPS. The phone comes with a 3,200 mAh battery and runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The phone comes with 16GB internal storage capacity and has a microSD card for expanding the storage up to 64GB.
The GALAXY Mega smartphones will offer split screen capability for a variety of applications including email, messages, ‘MyFiles,’ ‘S Memo,’ ‘S Planner’, amongst others. The devices will also feature the much touted ‘Air View’ feature, that lets users preview information in emails, photos in Gallery, and speed dial contacts without opening them.
Do you think Mega will able to leave mark as Galaxy S’s and Note series? Leave your comments below
We’ve been bringing readers news and leaks on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, expected to be the next flagship device release for the giant manufacturer. This is due later this year, probably heading for a fall release and if you’ve been trying to keep up with all the rumors it can be difficult with so many sources. However we came across a short and sweet video summary of leaked & rumored specs, which also gives a look at various Galaxy Note 3 concept designs and we thought we’d share it with you. Along with this we’d like to know what would be the deal breaker for you on the next Galaxy Note?
While some of the rumors we’ve brought you are mentioned again on this video summary it’s convenient to have a shot of everything all at once. It’s also interesting to see some of the Galaxy Note 3 concept looks from designers and we wonder if any of the creations shown on the video are designs that you would like to see for the real deal?
The release date has not been confirmed but this video compiler mentions a September release, around the same time as the iphone 5Sis expected. As for specs, as a brief recap there have been rumblings of a 5.9-inch full HD Super AMOLED display, 13-megapixel camera, Octa-core processor, Mali 450 GPU, 3GB of RAM, and Android 4.3 or 5.0 Key Lime Pieskinned with TouchWiz.
A flexible display has been speculated many times but at this point it’s difficult to predict anything as far as this is concerned. A good point is raised at the conclusion of the video regarding whether, if these specs are accurate, consumers will find it worthwhile upgrading from the Galaxy Note 2 and we’d really like to hear from our readers regarding this.
Are you one of the many enthusiasts of the Galaxy Note 2 and are you considering upgrading to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 when it appears? What for you would be a deal breaker on this? Please head back to us with your comments as we always appreciate views from our readers.
The Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active has been in our rumor mill for quite some time. The latest leaked shots reveal that the Active will be a tougher dust and water resistant version of the Galaxy S4 flagship.
The specs are expected to be the same and the live pictures below confirm it – the device is running on a quad-core 1.9GHz processor with Adreno 320 GPU, which most definitely means a Snapdragon 600 chipset. The screen supposedly has the same size and resolution as the original Galaxy S4 – a 5.0-inch 1080p unit, though it’s unclear if it’s a Super AMOLED one or not. Strangely enough, the reported pixel density of the phone is 480ppi, so the display might actually be smaller.
Our tipster also confirmed to us that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active has an 8MP rear camera, which is a downgrade from the 13MP sensor of the Galaxy S4.
Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
Despite the similar specs, the Galaxy S4 Active looks nothing like the original. It comes in a metallic shell with bolts on the back, and there are also three hardware buttons below the screen.
There is no official info on the Galaxy S4 Active yet, but as it turns out the handset has been showcased recently in Croatia, so an announcement is imminent.
The Nokia Lumia 925 is the second flagship phone Nokia has added to its Lumia lineup in a week. While the Lumia 925 shares many key specs with the Lumia 928 — screen size, processor, and camera resolution — it sports a metal design and, crucially, will be available outside of the U.S.
It’s due to go on sale in the U.K., Europe, and China starting in June, with an estimated price of 470 euros before taxes — expect that number to vary wildly once local taxes are applied.
Design Rumors have been circling for months now that Nokia has been toying with the idea of using metal in its phones. The chassis on which all the crucial components are mounted is metal, with thick metal banding present around the edges of the handset.
Rather than opt for an all-metal design though, the 925 has a poly-carbonate back plate. It’s a shame not to see a single-piece metal construction. We’ve already seen this on the HTC One and iPhone 5, both of which are unquestionably stunning phones.
That’s not to say the 925 doesn’t look good though. Far from it. The metal edging feels firm and curves nicely to join the rounded edge of the screen. The back panel doesn’t give much flex when you press on it, making it feel much more solid and secure than the plastic body of the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Display: The GSM radio supports 850/900/1800/1900 bands. There’s also WCDMA support for 850/900/1900/2100, and LTE support for 800/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz.
The 925 packs a 4.5-inch display, which is physically the same size you’ll get on both the 920 and 928. The 925 and 928 however use OLED screens, rather than standard LCD which promise richer colors and deeper black levels as they don’t need to be back lit as do cheaper screens.
Nokia already has good form for squeezing vibrant screens into its phones though — its “ClearBlack” technology on the 920 and other phones is excellent. In my demo with the 925, the screen certainly looked impressively bright and bold, but I was seeing it in a dimly lit office — in those conditions, even a poor screen would shine like a supernova.
It has a resolution of 1280×768 pixels, which again is the same as you’ll find on the 920 and 928. It’s a shame not to see a push for a few more pixels — it would help the 925 stand out as a clear flagship against its brothers — but it did make the Windows Phone 8 interface look extremely crisp, so it would be wrong to suggest it’s lacking pixels.
Camera Nokia has given the 925’s camera a couple of small tweaks, too. It uses the same 8.7-megapixel sensor as its predecessor, but Nokia explained that it’s improved the optics in front of the sensor. As well as the lightweight plastic lenses — low weight is needed for the optical image stabilization — the 925 uses a sixth glass lens which Nokia reckons gives better clarity, especially in daylight.
Nokia has also apparently improved its camera firmware to give better noise reduction in low-light situations. Until I can give the camera a thorough test, I can’t comment on whether these tweaks are worthwhile. The Lumia 920 was already an excellent low-light performer, so let’s hope Nokia hasn’t messed around with that too much.
You will find some new camera software on board, chief among which is called SmartCam. This app (also integrated as a camera lens) takes a burst of 10 images that you can then edit into an action sequence, change the faces, or choose the best image from the bunch to save. We’ve seen these functions already on the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. Unlike the Galaxy S4 though, you choose how to edit the images after you’ve taken them, rather than choose a setting to shoot in beforehand.
I’ve played around with the action sequence modes on other phones and found them to be a lot of fun — so long as you have a particularly exciting scene to capture. Nokia’s effort seems to work in much the same way, but with what seems to be a more stripped down, easier to use interface.
You can set the camera to automatically load in SmartCam mode, or you can pin the icon to your home screen to get access to it quickly.
One thing you will need to bear in mind though is that the Windows Phone 8 app store is still very understocked. You can find the odd jewel — Netflix, Spotify, and Skype are all available — but many big titles are missing, and WP8 devices are generally at the end of the queue for receiving new apps.
The 925 is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor which — surprise, surprise — is the same engine that’s inside the 920 and 928. It’s easy to argue that Nokia needs to ramp up its processor if it wants to properly compete with the quad-core phones, but given that there’s very little you can find in the Windows Phone store to tax a phone, it probably doesn’t need to. I found swiping around the interface to be perfectly swift, but I’ll reserve judgement for the final review.
With its new metal parts, the Nokia Lumia 925 is a sleek and attractive addition to the Windows Phone 8 range. Does it excite, though? No. It shares most of its key specs with the older Lumia 920 which doesn’t really stack up well against the elite competition such as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.
We’ll have to wait and see if the slight tweaks to the camera and the more sturdy build will make the 925 a serious smart phone contender.
The smartphone market is packed with some amazing devices at the moment.
Here is a list of some on the best smartphones to choose from. I hope it may give you some idea what to choose? Best of luck…
Here’s the current Top 10 Best Smartphones!
10. Nokia Lumia 920
The Nokia Lumia 920 is one of the best Windows phones. The smartphone market previously consisted of Android handsets, Blackberry devices and Apple iPhones. However, Windows phones are rapidly rising to the forefront. The Lumia 920 runs the Windows Phone 8 operating system on a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU. It features an 8.2MP rear camera with LED flash and a 1.3MP front camera. It has 1GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. There is no option for extra removable storage unfortunately. The battery life can leave the phone running in standby mode for 400 hours. The device is one of few that can be recharged wirelessly, using a special charging pad.
9. Samsung Galaxy S3
It’s a tough choice putting the S3 at number 9. It’s still a brilliant phone, but now the follow-up S4 has been released, it has to fall back a few places. It was less than a year ago since the S3 was first released, but it seems less relevant due to the revolutionary new S4. However, the phone is still an advanced gadget. It runs the most up to date Android (4.1 Jelly Bean) and can be purchased with either 16GB or 32GB of storage. There’s also an option to add an extra 64GB of removable storage via a microSDXC card. Overall, a great smartphone, but, as good as it is, it’s not a patch on it’s successor the S4.
8. Samsung Galaxy Note II
The second Samsung device on our list is the Galaxy Note II. The phone is one of the larger sized handsets on the market. It’s sometimes known as a phablet (a hybrid of Phone and Tablet), due to it’s large 5.55 inch display. It’s rear 8MP camera and 1.2MP front camera is typical amongst current smartphones. The Galaxy Note II can be bought with either 16, 32 or 64GB of storage, and a memory card of up to 64GB can also be added. The phone is 4G LTE compatible and runs the latest Android operating system.
7. Sony Xperia T
The new Xperia Z has somewhat overshadowed the previous Sony attempts. One of their better previous handsets, was the Xperia T. The phone was introduced in August 2012, and runs on the latest Android operating system. It’s rear camera is 13MP and has a zoom of up to 16x. It can record 1080p HD video, whilst the front 1.2MP camera can record 720p HD video. The Sony Xperia T runs on a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU and comes with 16GB of storage. The option of a 64GB microSD card is also available. It has a 4.55 inch HD, LED backlit display.
6. Google Nexus 4
Google Nexus is an exciting brand. Google owns the Android operating system, so for them to be making their own phones is a good sign. The Nexus 4 is their most recent smartphone design. Obviously, it runs the most up to date operating system Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. It packs the typical smartphone camera specs – an 8MP rear camera, and a 1.2MP front camera. The phone can be purchased with either 8 or 16GB of storage and has a 1.5 GHz quad-core Krait CPU.
5. BlackBerry Z10
BlackBerry always had a unique style. Every phone used to come with a QWERTY keyboard, but the Z10 sees the manufacturers step away from their well-known image to attempt a more conventional design. The Z10 looks nothing like a BlackBerry. It looks like your typical smartphone. However, it’s a lot better than a typical smartphone. It runs the BlackBerry 10 operating system on a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU and it comes with 2GB RAM and 16GB of storage. A microSDXC of up to 16GB can be added as removable storage. It has a typical 8MP rear camera and a good 2MP front camera. Another plus point is the built in BlackBerry messenger, a free way of messaging friends. BlackBerry reach out to typical smartphone users with the Z10, but they have also stayed faithful to their original market by releasing the Q10. The Q10 pretty much has the same specs as the Z10, but comes with the classic QWERTY keyboard.
4. iPhone 5
The original iPhone was quite revolutionary and unique, but the brand is starting to fade. Shares in Apple have worryingly dropped to their lowest since December 2011. Don’t let this put you off though. Although, the phone can is beaten in specs and features, it’s still a top quality high-end smartphone. The iPhone 5 has a 4 inch retina display, and comes with an 8MP rear camera and a 1.2MP front camera. It’s compatible with 4G LTE for fast internet speeds and can be purchased with either 16, 32 or 64GB of storage. It runs on iOS 6.1.3 and has a 1.3GHz dual core CPU.
3. Sony Xperia Z
We love this phone. It features everything great about sony. The PlayStation and the Walkman are among the Sony brands featured on this water and dust proof handset. It’s rear camera is an amazing 13.1MP and can record 1080p HD videos. The 2.2MP front camera can also record in 1080p, which is rare for front facing cameras. The device runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on a 1.5 GHz quad-core Krait CPU. It has 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a memory card slot for up to 64GB of removable storage. The battery life is great too, with up to 550 hours of standby on one charge.
2. Samsung Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the amazing follow up to the S3. Not only does it have some great specs such as a 13MP rear camera, a 2MP front camera, a 1.6 GHz quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU and 4G LTE compatibility, but it also has some unique features. The front camera has the ability to track the movement of the users’ eyes, meaning that videos automatically pause when looking away, and pages can be scrolled automatically as the user gets to the bottom. Although the plastic design leaves the device less visually appealing than others, it has a beautiful full HD 5 inch display. Overall, the S4 is a great phone that is expected to be the best selling of 2013. For our full report on the Galaxy S4, click here.
1. HTC One
Retaining it’s top position from last month’s countdown is the HTC One. Taiwanese manufacturers HTC have always made fantastic phones, and there are no exceptions for the HTC One. This aluminium cased phone packs a 2.0 μm 4 MP rear camera. 4MP sounds bad in comparison to other smartphone’s rear cameras, but the designers claim that the use of ultra pixels make superior photos. The front 2.1MP camera can record in 1080p HD, as can the rear. The phone doesn’t have options for removable storage, but does ship with either 32 or 64GB of built-in storage and 2GB of RAM. The phone’s operating system is Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean which runs on a 1.7 GHz quad-core Krait 300 CPU.
KOREAN PHONE MAKER Samsung’s Galaxy S4 smartphone has arrived, and while it faces serious competition in the Android arena from the HTC One and the Sony Xperia Z, it also has another competitor, Apple’s iPhone 5.
Admittedly the iPhone 5 is a few months older than the Galaxy S4, but with its high-end specifications and its continued ability to attract smartphone buyers, the latest iPhone is arguably one of the Galaxy S4’s fiercest rivals.
DesignAs we pointed out in our Samsung Galaxy S4 review, Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone failed to win us over when it comes to design.
The firm hasn’t budged from the design strategy it introduced with last year’s Samsung Galaxy S3, encasing the Galaxy S4 in a fully plastic casing that feels pretty cheap in the hand. We got our hands on the black model, and we found that its flimsy battery cover proved to be a nightmare for picking up fingerprints and grease, and its lack of grip often saw us losing hold of the Galaxy S4.
Although it feels cheap, the Galaxy S4 casing is pretty tough and has protected the phone from a fair few drops and near death experiences during our time with the phone. Another bonus is the handset’s size, with the phone measuring a neat 137x71x8.6mm despite the handset’s large 5in screen.
The iPhone 5, on the other hand, boasts an aluminum backplace that feels much more luxurious and expensive than that of the Galaxy S4, despite Samsung’s flagship smartphone actually costing around £50 more. It’s also impressively small, weighing just 112g compared to the Galaxy S4’s weight of 133g. The Samsung Galaxy S4 doesn’t feel hefty, but the iPhone 5 will sit a bit more comfortably in your jeans pocket.
While the iPhone 5 is the clear winner when it comes to aesthetics, its aluminum casing can be prone to picking up scratches, although our phone has remained pretty much unscathed thus far.
The display on the Samsung Galaxy S4 is undoubtedly one of the smartphone’s highlights. The handset features a 5in 1080×1920 Super AMOLED screen with a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch (ppi), which translates to excellent vibrancy, good colour balance and decent viewing angles, although the display did often struggle in bright sunlight. We also found the display wasn’t quite as bright as those of some competing devices such as the HTC One.
The iPhone 5’s 4in 640×1136 Retina display with 326ppi sounds pale in comparison to the full HD screen found on the Samsung Galaxy S4. However, although the iPhone is older than the Galaxy S4, it’s hard to criticise the handset’s screen, which also offers good viewing angles, crisp text and great colour clarity.
However, thanks to Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology, we think the Galaxy S4 might edge out the Iphone 5 with its deep blacks and impressive colour reproduction.
In terms of size, we found ourselves more comfortable operating the 4in screen of the iPhone 5, with our fingers and thumbs able to easily reach all corners of the screen. However, as smartphone screens are becoming bigger, the Galaxy S4’s larger 5in screen is likely to appeal to media hungry buyers.
Winner: Galaxy S4.
Performance The Samsung Galaxy S4 breezes through the performance category too, featuring a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.9GHz processor. In addition to performing well in benchmarking tests, the Galaxy S4 was a pleasure to use. We noticed no lag when opening apps, the phone handled multitasking well and, overall, it proved to be one of the fastest smartphones we’ve ever used.
The iPhone 5’s dual-core 1.2GHz processor might sound measly in comparison, but six months after the handset’s release we still haven’t encountered any issues with the its performance. That’s probably because all iOS apps are optimised to work on the iPhone, whereas Android applications are designed to work on hundreds of different smartphones.
This is the story of a little smartphone series that grows up and, three years later, positions itself to take over the world. The device in question, the newest addition to that lineup, doesn’t really need much of an introduction thanks to some of the most successful marketing campaigns in the world. We’ll be happy to give it anyway: pictured atop this very text sits the Samsung Galaxy S 4, the latest and greatest flagship out of Korea. This is the hero, the device chosen to lead the charge for Samsung as it ventures deeper into 2013, and it’s fitted with the best of everything: a 1080p Super AMOLED display, 1.9GHz quad-core (or 1.6GHz Exynos 5 Octa 5410, depending on market) chipset, Android 4.2, 13MP camera and a wide assortment of brand-new firmware amenities, to name just a few.
Despite the fact that its predecessor sold millions upon millions of units in the past year, the Galaxy S 4 isn’t alone in its quest for global Android domination this time. HTC, the underdog of the fight, has launched the One, a flagship that rivals the GS4 in almost every way and does so in a physically attractive package complete with a solid aluminum build. Where do these two devices stand in comparison to each other? Does the GS4 reign supreme? Will its onslaught of new software features send the phone to the top of the pack? These answers and more await you after the break.
Samsung Galaxy S 4 review
If your first impression of the Galaxy S 4 was like ours, we’re guessing you had a hard time differentiating it from last year’s flagship model. Take a closer look, however, and it becomes more apparent that Samsung’s design team didn’t actually use the past year to catch up on the sleep it lost crafting the GS3. The phone maker kept to the same overall style, but it made a few crucial tweaks along the way to improve its fit and finish.
Samsung’s choice of build material wasn’t one of them. If you were a critic of the GS3’s plastic construction, you’ll be disappointed with its successor — the company’s continuing its long-standing tradition of keeping metal out of the assembly lines, building the frame, back cover and faux-chrome edges with polycarbonate. It’s similar — though lower-grade and not machined — to the type of plastic you’d enjoy on flagships like the Nokia Lumia 920 or even the HTC One X+, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary for Samsung. The biggest benefit in using this type of material is that it offers a little more give when you drop the phone. It’s still plenty sturdy, and it feels like it’s just as durable as the GS3 or Galaxy Note II. This may be ideal for a large number of potential buyers, but we still prefer the HTC One’s premium build quality and visual appeal, thanks to its use of high-grade aluminum through its entire unibody chassis.
The GS4 uses polycarbonate and is pretty sturdy, but the HTC One still has a more premium build quality and visual appeal.
One of the subtlest tweaks to the design in the GS4 may also be one of the most effective: the Gorilla Glass 3rests just a hair below the edge of the screen. This tiny move makes the screen a tad less vulnerable than the GS3, which features glass that sits slightly above the edge. This won’t guarantee your screen’s safety when you drop your phone, but it at least increases the likelihood of it surviving an impact at an angle.
Another design shift is in Samsung’s choice of decor. At launch, the GS4 will be offered in Frost White and Black Mist, and both colors feature a cross-stitching pattern across the front and back. This style is sufficiently subtle on our white review unit and adds a little extra personality to an otherwise plain and glossy device. It stands out more on the black model, however, to the point where it’s a bit of an eyesore. When it comes to comparing the darker-hued versions, we much prefer the brushed-metal look on the blue GS3. (In full disclosure, we’ve spent far more time with the white unit, so our views of the black version are based on first impressions we had prior to our review.)
Although it technically has a larger display than its 4.8-inch predecessor, the 5-inch GS4 is actually narrower (69.8mm wide, versus 70.6mm on the GS3) because it only adds vertical screen space and has skinnier bezels on each side. The GS4 loses most of the well-polished curves prominently featured in the past-gen flagship, as it’s designed with broader corners and a filled-out back, both of which are signs that Samsung has veered away from its “inspired by nature” mantra. Fortunately, this means we finally get to say goodbye to the pebble look and feel: the edges are straighter from top to bottom, giving our fingers more surface to grasp onto, and the back cover fits flat on the faux-chrome edge instead of curving around it like waves of the ocean. The entire surface is still slick and glossy, but even so, it’s still easier to wrap your hands around this device. Measuring 7.9mm (0.31 inch) thick, the Galaxy S 4 is 0.7mm (0.027 inch) thinner than its older sibling. It’s also a mere three grams (0.11 ounce) lighter. All that said, the difference between the two devices isn’t noticeable unless you’re closely inspecting the pair side by side.
Whereas the home button was almost completely flush with the rest of the body on the GS3, the S 4’s is raised a fair amount. On one hand, physical buttons are much easier to press this way; on the other, it stands out above the rest of the screen so much that our fingers catch on it as we swipe down on the display. It’s an aspect of the phone we can get used to, although it’s unfortunate that its placement interrupts the design flow. As for the rest of the front side, the menu and back keys flank the home button on the left and right, respectively, which is completely opposite of the layout used on a large number of OEM Android devices. Along the top of the screen, you’ll see the 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera, earpiece grille and an assortment of sensors.
Flip the phone over and you’re presented with a slightly raised camera module on the top with an LED flash just below, and a pair of slits over the mono speaker sitting near the bottom; the plastic between them is raised to prevent sound from being muffled when the phone is lying face-up. The obligatory logos are here as well: “Galaxy S 4,” located just above the speakers in traditional fashion, and the carrier logo (T-Mobile in this case) underneath the flash.
Samsung prefers to make the back cover removable, meaning you have easy access to the 2,600mAh battery (which doubles as the NFC antenna), along with the microSDXC and micro-SIM slots — as well as contacts for inductive charging — just above it. We expect to hear more about the phone’s wireless charging options from Samsung eventually, but all we know for now is that the company plans to sell an optional back cover with this capability built-in. (Given Verizon’s interest in Qi, we won’t be surprised if its version of the GS4 launches with the option.)
Going around the faux-chrome edges, you’ll find the volume rocker on the left, power button on the right, micro-USB / MHL 2.0 connection port on the bottom and the 3.5mm headphone jack, mic and infrared transceiver on the top. It’s refreshing to see infrared resurging in popularity, as we’re now seeing it in several flagship devices, though it’s used in a completely different way now than in the days of the Palm Treo and other IrDA-clad devices. Which is to say, the primary reason for the tech used to be focused on data transfers and “beaming,” and now it’s simply offered as a universal remote.
Samsung Galaxy S 4
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm (5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches)
4.59 oz. (130g)
1,920 x 1,080 (441 ppi)
Full HD Super AMOLED
2,600mAh Li-Polymer (removable)
16 or 32GB
MicroSDXC (up to 64GB)
1080p / 30 fps (rear); 1080p (front)
Varies by region and operator
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600
MHL 2.0, IR transceiver, DLNA, WiFi Direct
Android 4.2.2 (TouchWiz)
In the last two months, Sony and HTC have both released flagship phones, each with a spec sheet-topping 1080p display. Although both looked great on their own, the HTC One bested the Xperia Z in nearly every possible way. But now that Samsung is finally tossing its hat into the ring, will its 5-inch, 1080p Super AMOLED screen top the LCD used on its bitter rival?
In short, the two are incredibly close, and you’d probably be happy with either one. But let’s dive into more detail about how they differ. AMOLED panels are generally more saturated in color than their LCD counterparts, but we were a little surprised to see the level of color toned down from the GS3; so much, in fact, that most images we viewed matched the natural color reproduction we enjoyed on the One. The blacks were still darker on the GS4, while the whites were brighter — and viewing angles better — on the One. Blues looked the best on the GS4, but the reds were a little too saturated for our taste. Yes, the world of 1080p smartphone displays is a nitpicker’s heaven, but unless you have an aversion to AMOLED panels, you’ll be amazingly happy with the crisp text and vibrant visuals. Lastly, to make sure we avoid any confusion, it is indeed a clear improvement over the 720p display on the GS3.
The new Synaptics ClearPad in the GS4 is capable of detecting your finger from 2cm away.
Additionally, the GS4 uses an advanced capacitive touchscreen powered bySynaptics, also known as ClearPad. This particular screen features a new tech dubbed “3D-Touch” which gives the phone the ability to detect your finger from up to 2cm away. Not only does this make it possible to use Air View without an S Pen, it also allows cold-weather folk to touch the screen while wearing gloves if you’ve activated the “extra sensitivity mode” in the settings. (In case you’re wondering, an S Pen won’t work on the GS4 due to the lack of Wacom digitizer, but we’re told that the C-Pen and other capacitive styli should function perfectly fine.)
Despite the fact that Android received nary a mention in Samsung’s GS4 launch event last month, the device is actually one of the first smartphones (outside the Nexus 4, of course) to run Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, the most recent version of Google’s mobile OS. Considering it was introduced nearly six months ago, this is a pretty huge deal — not to mention yet another scathing reminder of the lengthy waiting period Android fans endure between updates.
The GS4 runs Android 4.2, which is still rarely used in brand new devices.
Since the GS4 uses Android 4.2, it offers many of the same additions introduced with the refresh — but not all. One feature that didn’t make the cut is Photo Sphere, a clever camera option which lets you stitch together panorama photos aligned both horizontally and vertically. You also can’t use the stock Android keyboard, though Samsung’s collaboration with SwiftKey is definitely an acceptable alternative. What you can do, however, is take advantage of expanded Google Now features, use the Daydream screen saver and pull down the notification bar with two fingers to access the quick settings notification bar. (In fact, Samsung’s TouchWiz version boasts even more toggles to choose from in this menu, and you can customize the order in which they appear.) Lock screen widgets will also be at your disposal every time you wake your phone up — and Samsung has even developed a few of its own, such as widgets for WatchON, Samsung Music and a customizable grid of your favorite apps.
Samsung Galaxy S 4 screenshots
As is the mantra of every Galaxy device, the GS4 uses Samsung’s TouchWiz skin atop nearly every possible aspect of the firmware. And whether you love the proprietary UI or not, its overall layout is nearly identical to what you’ll find on the GS3. You can still use up to seven home pages, and you’re treated to the same app menu, options and gestures. Even the standard notification bar looks exactly alike. Samsung is a fan of consistency, and many TouchWiz enthusiasts will appreciate the minimal learning curve required to make the jump to this device. Simply put: if you enjoyed the firmware on the GS3, your experience with its successor will be just as rapturous, if not more so. If you’re hoping to run custom ROMs in place of TouchWiz, you may have to wait for a little while since Samsung has confirmed to us that the bootloader is locked.
With another flagship Galaxy device comes yet another wave of brand-new software gimmicks perks. This shouldn’t stun anyone who’s already familiar with Samsung; the company’s been cranking out onslaughts of new gesture- and motion-based features — alongside a variety of other apps and services — with each new version. Some are useful, but even more are simply party tricks that seem to be designed for their wow factor.
The feature that has arguably received the most attention is Smart Scroll. The front-facing camera detects your eyes and then tracks the movement of your head, in much the same manner as most other Smart features. If you tilt your head down, the page you’re looking at scrolls down; tilt your head up and the screen scrolls up as well. It’s a great idea, in theory, but we ultimately found it frustrating for several reasons. First, it only works in specific apps. For instance, the stock internet browser supports it, but Chrome does not, and we couldn’t scroll through Samsung’s menus using this method, either. (There’s no word on whether this feature will be incorporated into an SDK eventually for third-party developers, but we’re optimistic about it.)
Smart Scroll is a fun idea in theory, but our neck got tired more quickly than our fingers when doing the same task.
Second, it won’t work in a dimly lit area since it has to pick up your eyes. Third, your face can’t be too close or too far away — you’ll get the best results from between two and three feet away. We also grew quickly tired of bobbing our head up and down to do an activity we can easily do with a flick of a finger. Lastly, it doesn’t always work as promised. In some cases, tilting your head up offers no results, regardless of how smooth or jerky your facial movements are. Other times, the screen scrolls down even when your face is out of the camera’s line of sight. On several occasions, even, the screen simply stopped scrolling mid-page, despite the fact that we hadn’t moved or blinked. (In full disclosure, we have only reviewed the T-Mobile model, so it’s possible that the experience may vary on the unbranded GS4. We will update this review if we find differing experiences with other models.)
Right up there amongst the highly touted GS4 services is a feature called Group Play, a P2P networking tool that expands on the features introduced in Group Cast last year. In this mode, your phone establishes an ad-hoc WiFi hotspot. When one or more GS4 devices are within range, all of them can be connected to each other, giving them the ability to share music, photos, docs and even games with each other. While sharing photos and docs in this fashion are par for the course, Group Play adds some interesting twists to the music and games arena. Instead of simply sharing the song with a friend, this feature lets each phone act as a different surround sound speaker, with the master unit in charge of which songs to play. For games, the feature gives you and a friend the chance to go head-to-head against each other, though this isn’t anything we haven’t seen already.
Since GS4 units are a bit of a rarity these days, we didn’t get to test this particular feature much aside from a few minutes when we first received our device at a press briefing. During that experience, everything functioned exactly as advertised and we had no trouble sharing music. Given that you probably won’t have a lot of friends picking up GS4 units right away, Group Play is a difficult feature to recommend; once the flood of excited consumers start pouring in — not to mention devices like the Note III that seem like locks to receive the service when it launches — it will become infinitely more functional. Until that happens, however, it’s no better than vaporware.
The next “smart” feature Samsung boasts on the GS4 is Smart Pause. The phone pauses the video or movie you’re watching any time your eyes look away from the screen. This is another feature that doesn’t appear to be universal: it worked well in the pre-loaded YouTube and Samsung Video apps, but it didn’t register in Play Movies and third-party players downloaded from the Play Store. This feature performed fine in regular light, but if you want to (or have to) watch a full-length movie in the dark — you know, the preferred setting for watching movies — it’s probably not going to work out so well. Of course, we aren’t smitten by the idea of having the video stop anytime we close our eyes or briefly take our gaze away from the screen, so it’s nice that the feature is turned off by default.
Lastly, an app called S Translator could be the most useful of the bunch. Speak a phrase in one language and the phone is able to translate it and rattle off the translated phrase in a completely different language. If the app is having trouble understanding what you’re saying, you can choose to type it in text to get the same outcome. If that doesn’t work either, the program has a large library of preset phrases already stored. Pick the category you’re interested in — say, you need to get to the airport — and the app can teach you how to ask for a taxi (or you can just have it do the asking for you, if you’re lazy that’s your preferred style). Have a specific question or phrase you ask a lot throughout your travels? Why go through the trouble of learning it when you can just favorite it for quick access later?
OTHER NOTABLE FEATURES
We’re not done yet: there are still a few more special features worth highlighting. IR appears to be making a huge comeback, and the included transmitter found in the top of the GS4 transforms the smartphone into a remote control. The HTC One and LG Optimus G Pro do the same thing, and just like the former, Samsung is partnering with Peel — not a huge surprise, as the two companies have teamed up before on products like the Galaxy Tab 7.7. The app they’ve created is WatchON, which acts as a universal remote, entertainment guide and Netflix portal all wrapped up into one. Those last two features will vary in usefulness depending on cable provider and equipment (hint: Netflix doesn’t seem to do much good if you don’t have Google TV). We were able to use the remote function to connect to multiple entertainment systems without our fingers breaking into a sweat; in fact, we got a family member’s system set up and working faster than it would’ve taken us to figure out their own mess of remotes.
Safety Assistance may be one of the cleverest features on the GS4, but the US models won’t offer it.
We’ll make brief mention of the next feature purely on account of its cleverness, despite the fact that it won’t be available in any US models at launch (meaning, we couldn’t test it). The app we’re referring to is called Safety Assistance, a tool that you can break out if you find yourself in an emergency and need to broadcast your whereabouts (without using GPS, of course). Activating the service, which is done by holding down volume up and down for three seconds, will prompt the phone to take a picture from both cameras and automatically send them to a pre-determined contact. This will allow that person to see exactly where you’re at. Hopefully it’ll never have to be used, but something like this should be included on a large number of phones.
The Galaxy S 4 has another unique capability that we’ve yet to see elsewhere: compatibility with Mobeam. Never heard of it? No sweat. The startup makes it possible for any standard bar code scanner — grocery stores are the most popular examples, but this could extend to any scenario — to scan digital coupons stored on your smartphone. How is this done? It utilizes the proximity sensor built into the handset to bounce light into the scanner, mimicking the pattern of your coupon in the process. It’s quite possible that we’ll begin seeing this capability show up in more new devices (legacy phones can’t be programmed with this feature), but the GS4 is the first to offer this particular functionality.
Finally, the GS4 includes a pair of features called Adapt Display and Adapt Sound which function exactly as the names imply: Display is a fancy auto brightness tool that figures out what you’re viewing, as well as the environment you’re in, and adjusts the screen brightness to fit your needs. Naturally, Adapt Sound is the audio equivalent of this feature and is capable of adjusting your music or audiobook volume as you change songs or videos, making the sound consistently optimized to your preferences.
LOOK MA, NO S PEN!
One of the unique aspects of Samsung’s Galaxy Note series is the S Pen, a stylus-like device that gives you new ways to interact with the screen. Thanks to the GS4’s ultra-sensitive display, however, S Pen features are beginning to trickle down to more devices without actually needing to use the pen at all. The best example of this is Air View, which does many of the same things already accomplished on the Note 2, but with your finger acting as the S Pen. Hold one of your digits above the calendar to get a pop-up screen of the day’s appointments, above your emails to see the first few lines of text (Gmail not included, sadly), above the browser to make the text larger and above the progress bar when watching movies to preview a scene.
Samsung’s been adding fancy gesture- and motion-based tricks to its flagships for several years now, thanks to the large array of sensors made available to Android devices. In the case of the GS4, the company has incorporated a set of features called Air Gesture. We first saw a glimpse of this in the Note 2 with Quick Glance, but it’s been greatly expanded this time around. Air Jump lets you do page-up and page-down scrolls by waving your hand up or down, while Air Browse will switch you from one browser tab to another when you wave your hand from side to side. And Air Move helps you relocate icons (namely, apps and calendar appointments) to other pages by holding them with one finger and waving your free hand left or right.
Finally, one last feature that’s gained popularity in the Note series is Multi Window, and it’s fully functional in the GS4. Press and hold the back button and a tab will magically appear. Tap on it to behold a sidebar of apps that support the feature. Since third-party developers have been doing an amazing job of hopping on board, plenty of applications are already compatible.
Samsung has been mass-producing 8-megapixel camera modules for its flagships ever since the Galaxy S 2, so it almost comes as a shock that the company is ready to push ahead with a 13-megapixel model. As our experience with the HTC One confirmed, megapixel count does not a great camera make, but it certainly can’t hurt (in theory). And let’s face it: potential buyers are more likely to see 13 megapixels as favorable to Samsung’s previous 8MP modules — especially when you compare it to the One’s 4MP count, Ultrapixels or not.
Additionally, the GS4 rear camera lens uses an f/2.2 aperture, 4.235mm focal length and a 69-degree angular field of view; the 1/3.06-inch sensor offers a pixel size of 1.12 microns (compared to 2.0 microns on the One). Its 13MP resolution is set at an aspect ratio of 4:3, so 16:9 fans will need to go down to 9.6 megapixels for a widescreen option. On paper, the specs indicate a pretty solid setup for a flagship, but performance doesn’t always match up with the specs — especially now that we’ve used the One extensively and found it to be a bar-raiser in terms of its low-light results.
Samsung Galaxy S 4 camera samples
Samsung took one step forward and one step back with its camera UI. Mainstream users won’t have any problem adjusting to the interface, a lot of which has been carried over from the Galaxy Camera: it consists of dual shutter buttons (one for stills and one for video, just like HTC’s Sense UI), gallery access above and a button underneath that lets you choose from nine different modes, most of which we’ll discuss in more detail shortly. Where it regresses from previous phones, however, is in the confusing settings menu, which is found on the top-left corner of the viewfinder. Press it once and you have a small list of shortcut options, as well as another gear icon indicating you have more settings to pick from (you can also access this menu a little more easily by hitting the menu key from the main viewfinder).
Some camera modes also include a downward arrow near the bottom of the viewfinder that features even more options to choose from. Since these menus are different with each corresponding mode — and absent in some modes altogether — it may take some getting used to. Speaking of which, let’s dive into the new features Samsung has cooked up for the GS4.
NEW CAMERA MODES
As you can see, Samsung has built a reputation for offering a wide variety of lavish settings that give you an opportunity to tweak your images in a plethora of ways. With the GS4, it’s actually expanding its efforts even more, as several new camera modes have been added to the mix. Many of them are great for showing off at parties with little usefulness elsewhere, but we found ourselves using a few of them on a more regular basis. We’ll discuss each one in order of importance.
Dual-shot takes advantage of both cameras on the phone simultaneously. You now have the opportunity to shoot pictures or videos with the front and rear cameras at the same exact time, effectively creating a picture-in-picture effect similar to what we’ve already seen on the Optimus G Pro, as well as many televisions. The smaller frame — which is the front camera view by default, though you can switch views easily at any time — is resizable, can be moved to any part of the viewfinder and can take the form of a box, heart, stamp or Wizard of Oz-style floating cloud, amongst others. The GS4 even lets you do a split-screen effect, with half of the screen showing the front and the other half displaying the back. We know it’s gimmicky, but it’s one of our favorite features and we imagine plenty of people will find good use for it.
The GS4 also offers what we like to call “photobomb mode,” officially known as Eraser. It takes a series of images for five seconds and gives you the ability to remove any objects that are moving in the background. Sound familiar? That’s because it does exactly the same thing as Scalado Remove — heck, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Samsung partnered with the company to make it happen. Regardless, this is a useful feature, but there are a couple drawbacks. First, you have to actually be in this mode for it to work; if you’re in the standard camera mode and a photobomber decides to ruin your kids’ only picture with Goofy at the happiest place on Earth, you’re out of luck. Second, it occasionally acts finicky, which means that it doesn’t always pick up every moving object.
Samsung Galaxy S 4 camera screenshots
Sound and Shot is a spiffy feature to show off to your friends, but we found no use for it otherwise. In this mode, the phone takes the picture and then records nine seconds of audio immediately following it; then, that recording will play back any time you view the image. The point of this is to capture memories of the event as it unfolds, but we had a difficult time figuring out many good use case scenarios for it.
Then there’s Drama Shot, which also seems to have been designed specifically to bedazzle onlookers. It takes a series of burst shots — ideally of a subject that’s moving from one side of the viewfinder to the other — and combines them into one image. Think of those old-fashioned “action shots” of sports stars like Michael Jordan going up for a slam dunk, and you’ll get the idea. In fact, those frankly are the best use cases for this particular feature.
Most of Samsung’s new camera modes are fun to use a few times, but offer little practical use.
The last mode we’ll discuss is Animated Photo. With this, the camera takes a five-second video clip and lets you decide which parts of the screen to freeze and which ones to animate. You can choose to have the end result go in a forward or backward loop, or go crazy and have the clip go back and forth. In other words, this is your chance to make a really fancy GIF and have certain sections of the screen frozen in time. Something you’d use regularly? Probably not. A cool feature to have? Absolutely. If we’re being honest, we had difficulty making anything look particularly artistic, but it’s fun to try, at least. Sadly, though, there appears to be no way to go back and redo your masterpiece after it’s been saved.
On top of this list of unique camera modes, the GS4 also offers HDR, Beauty Face, Best Face, Best Photo, Panorama, Sports and Night modes. Most of the scene modes we were accustomed to seeing in older Samsung phones are no longer present — the autumn colors, backlight, candlelight, sunset and several others are now incorporated into the camera’s auto mode, which means it’s smart enough to select the best scene based on each individual situation.
We’ve covered Samsung’s fancy feast of features ad nauseam, but as any photographer can attest to, those kinds of things don’t guarantee high-quality and great-looking images. But on the GS4, can you have your cake and eat it too? Are its snazzy modes and settings compensating for a greater problem, or do they simply complement a solid imaging module?
The camera is very impressive in daylight use, but the One still wins in low light performance.
Fortunately, it appears to be option number two, though performance still isn’t perfect. Let’s get the bad out of the way: although Samsung advertises zero shutter lag, this only applies to objects that are already in focus. We had difficulty capturing moving objects (children, for instance) without those shots coming out blurry; we didn’t experience this quite as frequently on the One.
Samsung Galaxy S 4 HDR samples
One of the most important aspects of having a 13MP camera is the amount of detail it’s capable of capturing, and the GS4 appears to grab just a little more of it than the same images taken by the One or the GS3. But the extra pixels do their best work when the shots are zoomed in; not only can the GS4 zoom in further than the One and GS3, it also allows for more cropping and presents more definition than the other aforementioned devices. Color reproduction is slightly oversaturated; dynamic range is noticeably better; and the images aren’t as oversharpened as the One. When it comes to daylight imagery, Samsung’s latest and greatest is pretty impressive, and bests the HTC One, which has been our favorite shooter on an Android device so far and still offers superb colors and natural light. For examples of low-light performance, we’ve included galleries of samples from both phones below so you can compare.
Samsung Galaxy S 4 lowlight samples
HTC One lowlight sample shots
There’s one missing puzzle piece, however, and that’s low-light performance. Can Samsung’s latest and greatest hold a candle to a device that doesn’t actually needany candles to pick up light? The good news is that the GS4 is better in this regard than any Samsung phone camera we’ve seen before, but it still can’t outdo the One. In fact, HTC’s Ultrapixel sensor picks up more errant light in its standard setting than the GS4 does in dedicated Night mode. That said, we noticed that the GS4 does a better job with what little amount of light it can grab, using its higher resolution to smooth out noise. Lastly, despite the fact that the One has an amazing LED flash, the GS4’s is even brighter.
Video is captured at a maximum resolution of 1080p at 30 fps, and offers a bit rate of 17 Mbps. It’s not a terrible camcorder replacement, but there’s nothing about it that really stands out either. Ultimately, it’s just your run-of-the-mill phone video capture. That said, the mic picked up excellent audio while filtering out most of the wind and other unwanted noise. The GS4 also has a stabilization feature that, much like you would see in post-production software, trims off the outer edges of the viewfinder, so those of you with shaky hands (this includes us, too) should consider at least giving it a chance. You’ll also be able to play with fast-motion (2, 4 and 8x) and slow-motion (1/2, 1/4 and 1/8) settings for quality entertainment purposes.
If the endless buffet of fabulous camera features isn’t enough of an indication, we’ll clue you in: Samsung’s no stranger to imagery extravagance, especially when it comes to producing the actual masterpiece. The exception to this rule, however, is in its post-production features. Aside from the usual set of editing tools, Sammy hasn’t done much to stand out from the crowd. As a method of changing that, the GS4 comes with a new app called Story Album, which is a lovechild of a partnership Samsung created with self-publishing outfit Blurb. The service does exactly what the name implies; in short, you bundle a bunch of pictures together, create a photo album out of them and then use your phone to order a physical, professional-style version of that collection — whether it be in hardcover, softcover or magazine format. Pick one of five layout designs, add your own captions and select which images you want to include in the album. Blurb claims that these photo books will be offered in up to 75 countries, so pricing may vary — in the US, you’re looking at a minimum of $9 for a 20-page 5 x 5-inch book. We enjoyed slapping together a bunch of albums, though sadly we haven’t had enough time to order one yet.
PERFORMANCE AND BATTERY LIFE
Generally speaking, flagships feature the latest and greatest components available at the time of their release. As you may have guessed, the Galaxy S 4 continues that tradition, as evidenced by both everyday performance and synthetic benchmarks. This particular smartphone comes in two distinct flavors: one that uses a 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset and one that debuts Samsung’s octa-core Exynos 5 chip clocked at 1.6GHz, the latter of which takes four Cortex-A15 processors and pairs them up with four A7s. Despite the fact that the Exynos chip offers LTE compatibility in all 20 frequencies, the US carriers have all gone with the Snapdragon model.
As a result, our conclusions on the phone’s performance are based on tests with theSnapdragon 600, which is paired with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB RAM. This is the same chip the HTC One and LG Optimus G Pro use, though the GS4 is clocked at a faster speed than both of them. The CPU features Krait 300 — a bump from the S4 Pro’s Krait 200, which results in a 15 percent improvement in instructions per clock (IPC) and a “speed-enhanced” Adreno 320 GPU. The 600 is also built using a 28nm process, just like the S4 Pro, and offers 802.11ac support (in addition to the standard suite of a/b/g/n). How does it hold up against the One, and what kind of improvement does the GS4 have over the GS3? The table below holds the answers, so let’s take a quick look.
Samsung Galaxy S 4
Samsung Galaxy S III
SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms)
GLBenchmark Egypt 2.5 HD Offscreen (fps)
SunSpider: lower scores are better. Samsung Galaxy S III was benchmarked on Android 4.1.
Although it’s only been one year since the Galaxy S III was launched, the smartphone industry has been the proud recipient of some hefty improvements in processing power — and it’s not over yet. The once-dominating force of a Snapdragon S4 chipset is now eclipsed by the Snapdragon 600, and we have a feeling history will repeat itself later this year as soon as the 800 is unleashed into the world. Think about it: out of the six benchmarks above, the GS4 managed to set records in five of them, with the One (the previous record-breaker) not too far behind.
The GS4 holds the record in five of our six benchmark tests.
In our review of the HTC One, we witnessed one of the most powerful smartphones we’ve ever used — and since it uses the same chipset clocked at a higher frequency, the Galaxy S 4 is in similar territory. In general, the GS4 performs amazingly well, but there’s a catch: when Air View and Air Gestures were enabled, we noticed the phone acting a little sluggish even in the most basic of tasks. It would complete those tasks every time, but we couldn’t help but notice some stuttering. This seems to indicate that Sammy’s razzle-dazzle features are processor hogs and aren’t worth enabling unless you use them on a frequent basis (as unlikely as that may seem). On the gaming side, the Adreno 320 works just as well here as it did on the One; while GLBenchmark ranks the GS4 higher, you likely won’t be able to tell a large difference when playing more graphic-intense titles likeRiptide or Asphalt 7.
Samsung’s bumped its battery capacity to 2,600mAh (up from 2,100mAh on the GS3), but its more elaborate componentry (higher-res screen, better camera and more powerful processor) tend to suck down more energy. With this balance in mind, we weren’t surprised to find that battery life measured by our rundown test (video looping with 50 percent brightness and other standardized settings) was only marginally better. All told, it made it through one complete cycle in nine hours and 15 minutes. If we’re comparing T-Mobile versions, this means the GS4 bested the GS3 by 17 minutes. This is also above average for an early-2013 flagship phone; since we’re in the habit of comparing to HTC’s pride and joy, the One snagged six and a half hours on the same test. In full disclosure, we weren’t able to test out the GS4 in an LTE area, though the phone had a full HSPA+ signal. As for real life, we typically got around 14 or 15 hours of regular usage before it was time to recharge. This means that power users should be able to make it through a full workday with a little extra to spare for the commute, and nearly everyone else will likely get pretty close to bedtime before the phone gets in the red.
On a full day of regular use, the GS4 managed to last for around 14-15 hours.
When we used the GS4 for making calls, the volume was loud, though still slightly quieter than on the One and iPhone 5. We could hear the person on the other fine, and they in turn couldn’t tell when we were walking down a busy street, thanks to the phone’s noise-cancellation capabilities. The external speakers used are louder than the GS3, but not as loud as the One’s BoomSound stereo offerings.
When a device has several variants, network performance is tricky to define, at least with one review unit. Samsung offers up to six possible sets of radio frequencies, so it’s ultimately up to individual operators to decide which one works best for their network. For example, T-Mobile and AT&T both have quad-band LTE (bands 2, 4, 5 and 17) and quad-band GSM / EDGE, but T-Mo offers 850 / AWS / 1900 / 2100 DC-HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps while AT&T’s HSPA+ bands cover 850 / 1900 / 2100. (As an aside, T-Mobile confirmed to us that its LTE antenna operates with 5-20MHz bandwidth.) Verizon and Sprint both use 850 / 1900 CDMA / EVDO as well as 850 / 1900 GSM / EDGE / UMTS / HSPA+, though Big Red’s option offers LTE in bands 4 and 13 (700 / AWS) while Sprint uses band 25 (1900). The Now Network uses a removable SIM and will unlock global GSM roaming after the first 90 days of service; we expect Verizon to offer international roaming as well, but we’ve yet to receive confirmation. The mainstream global models, the Snapdragon 600-powered I9505 and Exynos-powered I9500, offer quad-band GSM / EDGE, quad-band HSPA+ (850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100) and up to six LTE bands. All of this is a long way of saying that data performance will vary on which particular model you use, although our T-Mobile unit got speeds that were in line with the GS3 and other comparable flagship phones using the same network.
In drawing our conclusion of the Samsung Galaxy S 4, we find ourselves at an interesting junction: while our geek senses keep tingling at the thought of so many market-topping specs contained within the same chassis, we also aren’t overjoyed, per se, with excitement. The design doesn’t feel fresh, especially not next to the HTC One, but we can’t deny that it’s an improvement over the GS3. On the plus side, it has better battery life, the same smooth performance and a beautiful display, and a few diehards will like its inclusion of microSDXC and a removable battery cell. Software-wise, Samsung’s brand-new features are innovative and clever, yet most of them don’t solve any actual UX problems; they seem impractical and are (in some cases) less convenient than tried-and-true methods we’ve used in the past.
If you’re considering a move from an older Samsung device, the GS4 is absolutely the handset you want. Your learning curve will be minimal thanks to TouchWiz’s consistent UI, and besides, it’s generally a great smartphone — heck, the phone itself is the best Samsung handset we’ve used to date, and it’ll definitely give the One a run for its money. All told, both phones have different strengths and weaknesses, so one handset unfortunately won’t fit all. But when we compare it to the eye-catching look and feel of the One, we can’t help but think of one word to describe Samsung’s particular flagship entry: predictable.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is here so we’ve looked at how it compares to the HTC’s One smartphone. Read our Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One comparison review to find out more.
The Galaxy S4 is the Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone for 2013 but how does it stack up against the well-received HTC One? We investigate in our Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One comparison review.
Despite a bit of a delay, the HTC One has launched in the UK and in a month the Galaxy S4 will be released for some fisticuffs. See also: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 comparison review.
If eyeing up these two heavyweight Android smartphones then this comparison review will point out the differences which will help you decide which is the right one for you.
We haven’t seen the Galaxy S4 yet but we can accurately compare it to the HTC One based on specs, and as usual we’ll throw in our observations and opinions.
Take a look at the following two articles for more details on each smartphone:
HTC One review
Samsung Galaxy S4: details, what you need to know
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One: Design
At one point Samsung’s phones were accused of looking too similar to the iPhone, but with the Galaxy S4 and HTC One it’s the latter which looks more like Apple’s smartphone. The HTC one has a squarer look but with rounded corners and a curved back. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S4 has a more rounded pebble-like design similar to the Galaxy S3.
See also: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 comparison review.
Materials are quite different since the Galaxy S4 uses a predominantly plastic build but the HTC One has an iPhone-esque combination of glass and aluminium. HTC’s smartphone has a uni-body design and the Galaxy S4 has a removable rear cover.
If size and weight is important to you then it’s the Galaxy S4 which comes out on top at 7.9mm and 130g. The HTC One is 9.4mm and 144g, according to our own measurements.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One: Screen
Things are similar in the screen department. As predicted, the Galaxy S4 has a 5in display with a Full HD resolution of 1080 x 1920. The HTC One also has a Full HD resolution but on a smaller 4.7in. See also: Group test: What’s the best smartphone?
Going purely on numbers, the HTC wins here since its pixel density is 469ppi against the Galaxy S4’s 441ppi. In real life this difference is not noticeable by the human eye. Put simply, these are two of the best displays on the smartphone market.
Technology in use on each phone does vary, though, as Samsung uses SuperAMOLED while HTC employs Super LCD3. We haven’t seen the two side by side so can’t comment on which we think is better.
Another minor difference is that the Galaxy S4 uses Gorilla Glass 3 which its maker, Corning, says is up to three times more damage resistant than Gorilla Glass 2 which the HTC One offers.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One: Processor
The HTC One is our current record holder in the GeekBench 2 test with a score of 2721 thanks to its 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, quad-core, 1.7GHz processor with 2GB RAM.
When we heard the Galaxy S4 was coming with an octa-core processor we thought, that will be our new record holder. However, the UK model will come with the same Snapdragon 600 chip. It’s clocked slightly higher at 1.9GHz and there’s 2GB of RAM so we still expect it to beat the HTC One, but not by as much as it could have. Each has the Adreno 320 GPU so there should be little difference here.
We’ll bring you benchmark results from the Galaxy S4 as soon as we get our hands on it.
Ignoring benchmark results, it’s a similar situation as the screen – both are at the very top end of the smartphone market.
HTC One video review – One of the best smartphones there is
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One: Storage
It’s swings and roundabouts when it comes to storage. There’re more models on offer from Samsung as the Galaxy S4 comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities. HTC offers just 32GB and 64GB for the One.
However, you have to pay more for less – the 16GB Galaxy S4 costs £629 SIM-free while the HTC One costs around £510 for the 32GB model. The Galaxy S4 is the only one with a microSD card slot which swings things back Samsung’s way somewhat. (See also: Samsung Galaxy S4 price in UK; Galaxy S4 UK network availability.)
There’s no obvious clear winner here as it depends on personal needs. I would personally rather spend less for the 32GB HTC One, going on storage alone.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One: Cameras
HTC has gone in new direction with the One’s camera. The Ultrapixel camera is only 4Mp in resolution but captures 300 percent more light than a regular smartphone camera. We found the camera to be good and especially in low light situations.
HTC’s bold move makes it pretty difficult to compare with the Galaxy S4’s 13Mp camera which we expect to be a good camera. Each rear camera can record video in Full HD 1080p quality.
Things are almost identical in terms of front facing cameras between the Galaxy S4 and HTC One. They have 2Mp and 2.1Mp cameras which can each record video in Full HD.
Results are key here so look out for our Galaxy S4 review soon.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One: Connectivity
There’s nothing to split the HTC One and Galaxy S4 when it comes to connectivity. Both offer what we expect from a high-end smartphone: dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA, NFC, microUSB with MHL output, GPS and support for 4G LTE networks. Plus they both have infrared for controlling your TV and other gadgets in the home.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One: Software
Both of these smartphones run Google’s Android Jelly Bean, albeit slightly different versions. The HTC One comes with 4.1.2 (upgradable to 4.2.2) while the Galaxy S4 will ship with version 4.2.2.
More and more smartphone makers are using a more and more vanilla version of the Android interface so we would say that software is not an area of great difference. However, the HTC One and Galaxy S4 have modified versions so this is not the case.
Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface is largely the same as previous versions so fans will likely want to stick with it. HTC has gone a little crazier with Sense 5.0 including the BlinkFeed which sits next to the regular homescreens and a completely different app menu and recent apps layout to other Android smartphones.
Each firm offers plenty of their own apps and services which you’ll only find on their handset, too so this area is worth investigating and trying out for yourself so you can see which of the two you prefer.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One: Battery
It’s the Galaxy S4 which has a larger battery at 2600mAh, which is removable if that’s important to you. HTC’s battery is smaller, at 2300mAh, and non-removable. With similar core components we would expect the Galaxy S4 to go further on its battery although the clock speed of the processor is higher so the difference may not be huge.