Samsung Galaxy S4
There are lots of new features and functions in the S4. Here is a selection of the best and worst of them.
The screen is simply awesome at full 1080p resolution it’s crisp and sharp. As it uses OLED technology it is not as bright as the LED screen used in the iPhone but it’s not something you are likely to see unless you run them side by side. Both are the best in class and it would be hard to choose one over the other on technical merits.
This could be a useful feature but requires application support, it allows you to hover your finger over an item and get a preview of the item. The S4 has support in the email, calendar, stock browser, gallery and phone. If this where expanded into the android base image by Google then developers would pick this up and give it the support it deserves.
This has multiple functions but simply feels broken. This function allows you to wave your hand in front of the device to perform many of the functions a simple single finger swipe does. All good so far, there could be numerous reasons for not wanting to use your fingers on the screen. But to get it to work you find yourself exaggerating moves to prevent the device misreading your hand waving. Let’s hope in a future update this can be fixed in the same way Smart Stay didn’t quite work on the S3 but is improved on the S4.
Allows the screen to stay on whilst you are looking at it, on the S4 this works well and allows you to switch the screen off faster than normal but still have it stay active whilst you are looking it. This is essentially a power saving feature and as anyone with a smart phone knows the screen is the biggest power draw so this is a great plus. This can have issues with glasses wearers if you aren’t looking directly at the screen.
This is the video counterpart to Smart Stay so when you look away it works ok but you need good even light to get repeatable results.
Another feature that needs in app support but it allows you to scroll by looking at the screen and either tilting the phone or your head up or down. This feature is functional but I found it slow to use as you needed to look at the centre of the screen and wait for the feedback icon to appear before tilting the device or your head. Additionally the scroll speed was fixed so it was always felt quicker and smoother to just use finger swipes.
At 13megapixels the camera has a full 1080p video recording function and allows you to take full resolution still photos whilst you are recording video. Other camera features of note are High Dynamic Range photos which combines uses multiple exposures combined to give greater tonal depth to a photo. This technique is used by camera enthusiasts to produce the eye popping image you often see in magazines it does require a steady hand for best results. Best photo which takes a series of photos and lets you pick the best. Best face does the same as best photo but for group shots. Sound and shot allows a short voice recording whilst taking a picture if you want to annotate a picture. You can also choose to activate both the front and back cameras at the same time allowing you to appear in the photo you are taking. There are a number of framing options but as the front facing camera is aimed at face capture you essentially appear as a floating head in the picture taken by the rear facing camera.
The phone has a built in infrared transmitter so you can use it to control your TV and satellite/cable box. Performance With 1.9 GHz quad core processor the phone has plenty of speed to handle anything I threw at it. I never once felt I was waiting for the phone under normal use. It truly is a joy to use. Being a dog owner I use Rain Alarm twice daily to decide what to wear whilst walking the dog. Since getting the phone it is easier and faster to load this on the phone than the normal web browser even with the computer switched on.
The Galaxy S4 has been a joy to use and I would have no hesitation recommending it as a great phone with plenty of high performance features to keep you happy. Without any protective case it felt manageably big in my jeans pocket. With the cover on it felt a little too much to leave in the pocket and spent more time on the desk.