In the world of Android smartphones, there is Samsung, and then there are the others. It is not only the biggest smartphone vendor in the world, but also arguably makes the best-selling Android smartphones. The Galaxy S 4 which was just announced this morning in India is the successor to the Galaxy S III which had the distinction of being the best selling Android smartphone in the world. But, it lands in an incredibly competitive market. HTC has just released the mighty impressive One which pushes the boundaries of an Android smartphone with its innovative photography skills and also beautiful aluminium chassis and then there is the Sony Xperia Z which is not only waterproof and powerful, but is also rather affordable when one takes into account the feature set. The Galaxy S 4 for its part improves upon an already superlative product, we went hands on with it, read on to find out more. Also Read - Review: Samsung Galaxy S 4
[nggallery id=241] Also Read - Alleged photograph of the Galaxy Note III appears in the wild
With the Galaxy S 4, Samsung retains the plastic chassis to the ire of many reviewers who find to be cheap. That said, Samsung has refined its polycarbonate chassis and one can even say that from the front and the sides, the Galaxy S 4 looks rather nice, with its faux chrome sides. But it is the back that really brings one back to reality as the glossy plastic just does not manage to match the build of the HTC One, which has an aluminium frame. Samsung has added a new stippled pattern on the back, which is more visible on the black model than the white one. The white model is also more attractive as the back plate is not that glossy and it does not attract a lot of fingerprints. Also Read - What's inside the Samsung Galaxy S 4?
Samsung has amazingly managed to cram in a bigger screen in a frame that is lighter, thinner and slightly smaller than its predecessor. It feels incredibly light. Not iPhone 5 light but still very light. The device is very comfortable to use, and the design like most Samsung phones is very ergonomic.
Internally, the Galaxy S 4 offers cutting edge specs. Its 1080p 5-inch display is just down right beautiful. As it uses Super AMOLED technology, the colours may not be as natural as say as an HTC One, but nonetheless it looks stunning. There is even a toggle switch that allows the user to set a different colour tone, so a photographer could use the Adobe RGB mode which delivers more natural colours and this offsets the disadvantages of AMOLED technology to some extent. But for the average consumer, this is just a brilliant display.
The Indian model actually uses the Exynos 5 Octa processor which has four 1.6GHz Cortex A15 cores and four 1.2GHz Cortex A7 cores. It also has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory, though approximately only 9GB is available to users. This means performance should be silky smooth. In our short time with the product the same was true and the Galaxy S 4 was just buttery smooth. We even ran the Quadrant benchmark on it, and it scored in excess of 12,000 which is just mind-blowing.
The 13-megapixel camera on the Galaxy S 4 has a wider f/2.2 aperture, and in our short stint we found that the image quality was comparable to the iPhone 5. However, we were testing the product under bright lighting conditions, so this would not be a fair assessment. Samsung has packed in a gaunt of features in the camera like Sound Shot, Eraser, Drama Shot and all these convert to nice value adds. It even takes the camera UI from the Galaxy Camera, which gives the Galaxy S 4 the most tweakable and exhaustive camera UI of any Android smartphone.
Other features that are part of the TouchWiz skinned Android 4.2 experience are S-Health, S-Voice, Story mode, Air View from the Galaxy Note II and Air Gesture that allows the user to wave his hand over the device to scroll images. It even has Smart Stay that tracks the users eyes and hand movements to scroll stuff on the device.
Samsung packs in an 2,600 mAh battery in the device, and it says that the screen consumes 14 percent less power than its predecessor which means that it can deliver an extra 2 hours of battery life. We could not test this claim, but considering the bigger battery this could be possible.
Overall, the Galaxy S 4 looks like an impressive device, which is what one expects it to be. It will disappoint some because of its plastic build, but the real sucker punch comes in the form of its Rs 41,500 price which lower than what many expected and it will be available across stores through out the country. Watch out for our final review.
Photographs: Harshita Rastogi