Samsung Galaxy S4 keeps calm, carries on with big screen

whitesmoke_35627724_15_610x436

If you’re looking for Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 to define a novel new era of smartphone greatness, it’s time to temper your expectations. The brand-new flagship smartphone, which runs the latest Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, improves hardware significantly and it piles on the features.

Compared with the extremely successful Galaxy S3 that came before, it’s a firm stride forward rather than a giant a leap, but it raises the bar again for Samsung’s competitors. And by super-sizing the screen and packing in so much specialized software, the GS4 sets itself even farther apart from the iPhone.

[colored_box color=” grey”]Apple iPhone Still A ‘Work of Art,’ But Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Ups the Smartphone Ante
Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 may not be a game changer (with some reviewers calling it “meh” and “completely amazing and utterly boring.”) But the smartphone may have just enough new features to lure over iPhone users and steps up the pressure on Apple CEO Tim Cook and his team to deliver a groundbreaking new phone this year.[/colored_box]The Galaxy S4 handset steadily draws from the same design language as the S3, but takes almost every spec to an extreme — the screen is larger (5 inches), the resolution greater (1080p), the battery capacity higher (2,600mAh), the processor faster (1.9GHz quad-core or 1.6GHz octa-core), and the rear-facing camera stuffed with more megapixels (13, to be exact). But, once you’ve gone through the features checklist (which also includes lots of internal and external storage space and RAM), it’s the software extras that Samsung continues to lean on to keep its phones one step ahead of the competition.

The problem is, based on my brief time with the Galaxy S4, very few of the extensive list of enhancements stood out as a killer, must-have, cannot-possibly-live-without feature. The TV control app that works with the IR blaster is perhaps one exception (the HTC One has this, too), as are a handy translation tool and eye-tracking and gesture capabilities that allow you to pause a video when you stop paying attention and let you hover your finger over an item to preview what it is. Many other software additions are semi-interesting ideas that some power users may enjoy once they’ve figured them out, but which will hardly convince a prospective buyer to pick the GS4 over, for instance, the HTC One, Nokia Lumia 920, or iPhone 5.

After using the device at a briefing (along with several other journalists), I do think that Samsung has accomplished what it’s set out to do in pushing its Galaxy brand forward. Fans will find a familiar, appealing smartphone that’s packed with hardware and software features — albeit more than one person would ever use.

Click here for review by CNET

whitesmoke_35627724_36_610x436
You can control the Galaxy S4 by waving your hand in front of the camera sensor.


Stay up to date with the latest stories by signing up to our newsletter, or following us on Facebook.