Samsung Galaxy S 4: Taking a Close Look at the Next iPhone Challenger

1 - Samsung Galaxy S 4: Taking a Close Look at the Next iPhone Challenger
2 - Galaxy S 4 Fits Easily in the Hand
3 - The Smartphone as a Life Companion
4 - Access the Time, Weather and Search at a Glance
5 - Galaxy S 4 Displays a Grid of Icons
6 -Tab Provides Instant Access to Basic Functions
7 - Galaxy S 4's Rear-Mounted 14-Megapixel Camera
8 - You Can't Do This on an iPhone
9 - Getting Inside the S 4
10 - Camera, Video and Volume Control Are on the Left Side
11 - Microphone and Micro-USB Ports Are on the Bottom
12 - Power/Lock Button Is on the Right
13 - Headphone Jack, Microphone Port and Infrared LED Are on the Top
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Samsung Galaxy S 4: Taking a Close Look at the Next iPhone Challenger

by Wayne Rash

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Galaxy S 4 Fits Easily in the Hand

The white case on this Samsung Galaxy S 4 shows off how slim the borders on the screen actually are. Despite the 5-inch screen, this phone is only marginally larger than the BlackBerry Z10, which has a 4.2-inch screen. Compared with an iPhone 5, the screen seems huge.

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The Smartphone as a Life Companion

Samsung bills the Galaxy S 4 as a "Life Companion" and says it will give its users a richer, simpler and fuller life. During the testing of this phone, I didn't get any richer, and nothing happened to simplify my life, which was already pretty full. However, Samsung says that using this phone will connect you with what matters in life, such as your friends and family. It does indeed connect you easily, and the phone calls are quite lifelike, which is an improvement over some smartphones.

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Access the Time, Weather and Search at a Glance

You can access the phone's features in one touch along with mail and Internet access. The apps are another touch away. This is the default home screen of the Galaxy S 4. However, like most Android phones, you can change how this looks and what apps appear on the home screen. Above the screen you see the light, proximity and gesture sensors, the 2-megapixel camera, and an LED that alerts you to things like email or messages. The action of the LED is customizable. At the bottom of the screen is a home button that also invokes the voice command.

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Galaxy S 4 Displays a Grid of Icons

You get three screens of app icons when you take the phone out of the box. As you can see, Samsung includes its voice dictation apps including S Voice and S Memo. Google searches are also voice-enabled. You can create folders for apps you want to keep together. At the top of the screen the status icons remain, so you can see the time, the connectivity status, the temperature in your location and the battery status.

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Tab Provides Instant Access to Basic Functions

There's a tab on the side of the screen that presents a few basic functions for quick access. You flick the tab open with your finger. It closes by itself if you don't do anything after opening it.

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Galaxy S 4's Rear-Mounted 13-Megapixel Camera

Turn the phone over and you'll see a 13 (yes, thirteen) megapixel camera along with an LED flash. Those slots at the bottom are a speaker port. This back is removable.

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You Can't Do This on an iPhone

The back of the Galaxy S 4 comes off to reveal the 2,600-mAh battery. Samsung sells an external battery charger so that you can keep a fresh battery on hand for when the large screen and multiple communications options ultimately drain it. Removal of the back is quick and painless.

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Getting Inside the S 4

You have to remove the battery to remove the SIM card, as is the case with nearly every phone. The SIM slides out easily. There's also a card tray for a micro SD card. The black rectangle below the battery pack is the speaker.

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Camera, Video and Volume Control Are on the Left Side

The long bar on the left side of the phone (as you look at the screen) is the volume control, which controls how loud the ringer and the earpiece sound. This control can also operate the camera zoom feature and a variety of other camera and video functions.

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Microphone and Micro-USB Ports Are on the Bottom

This phone keeps it micro-USB port on the bottom. That tiny hole to the left is one of the microphone ports. You use the micro-USB port for charging the phone and for data transfer.

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Power/Lock Button Is on the Right

The small button on the right side of the phone is the power/lock button. The small notch below and to the right of the button is the slot that you use to open the back of the phone. You can open the phone with a finger nail or a small screwdriver, and then carefully pull the plastic back off as you move your hands around the perimeter of the phone.

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Headphone Jack, Microphone Port and Infrared LED Are on the Top

The large hole on the right side of the top is the headphone jack. Next to that is a tiny microphone port. On the left side of the top is the opening for the infrared LED that's there so you can use the phone as a remote control. Yes, the phone includes a complete television directory and integrated remote control. For many customers, this is a necessary capability to make the Galaxy S 4 a true life companion.

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