Samsung Galaxy S 4: Forget the Hype, Try Out the Advanced Features

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-05-13 Print this article Print
Samsung Galaxy S 4

On the other hand, searches are fast and accurate. I ran across problems using the phone to find a good restaurant because it summoned, which seemed to have a great deal of outdated information. But I could have used a different database and it would have been nice if Google had integrated the search results more completely.

But that's a quibble. The Galaxy S 4 was quite intuitive for most things. There was a problem where the phone briefly thought it was in Iceland rather than near Washington, D.C., but that was quickly fixed by giving the internal GPS a better view of the satellites. The phone comes with a short introduction to all of the new features, which you should make sure to watch when you're starting up because it does not seem to be available once the set-up process is complete.

In addition to the usual things that phones do, the Galaxy S 4 also includes WatchON, which is universal remote control software for your home theater. There's also a television guide for most cable systems and most set-top boxes, and there's a tiny infrared LED in the top of the phone for sending command signals.

And, of course, there's the phone's camera. Samsung makes a big deal out of claiming that you get professional-quality photos from this phone with its 13-megapixel camera. You don't. You get very good photos, considering it's a phone, but there are other phones that do as well or better. In addition to comparing photos from the Galaxy S 4 to photos from the Nikon D-200 that I used to take the photos in the slide show that goes with this review, I also compared it with photos taken with professional-grade cameras.

To find some examples of such cameras I called Eldar Tariverdi, owner of Photocraft near Washington, D.C., where many of the working photographers here buy their gear. I also spoke to Sally Wiener Grotta, the legendary professional photographer who created the American Hands collection. Both pointed to cameras such as the Nikon D-800 or the Pentax 645 as examples of what to expect from professional-level photography. There is no phone, including the Galaxy S 4, that takes professional-quality photos.

The important thing to know here is that if you want a phone that will take nice snapshots, then the Galaxy S 4 will do the trick. While the Galaxy S 4 does have a 13-megapixel image sensor, there's more to photography than pixels.


Once you learn to ignore the hype that accompanies this phone, you begin to realize that this is a very nice phone on its own right. I found it a pleasure to use and vastly easier to type on than the iPhone 5. While there are features on the Galaxy S 4 that you'll probably never use, it's still a nice upgrade from its predecessor, the Galaxy S III.

Because it's such a nice phone, there's every likelihood that this phone will sell as well as the Galaxy S III. This means that the Galaxy S 4 will probably give the iPhone a serious challenge. This is good, since strong competition gives rise to sustained innovation, and Samsung demonstrates some real innovation in the design of this phone. In short, I like this phone a lot.


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