Did you catch Samsung’s Unpacked 2013 event? Boy was that cheesy. It would have been great if the Galaxy S4 was as great a phone as Samsung would have us believe, but to be honest, it feels like a bit of a letdown.
That’s not to say its a bad phone. It certainly introduces a number of innovative features that set it apart from the competition. However if you’re going to wrap it up in what is essentially a refresh of the Galaxy S3’s design, try not to set the expectations too high with the help of a hyped up Radio City presentation. But let’s get over that unnecessary bit of Broadway production and focus on what’s important: the design, specs and features.
I was really expecting a lot more from Samsung than this. Yes, we’ve been hearing for some time now that the Galaxy S4 would primarily use plastic for its body, but you would have thought that they would refresh the design a bit. But no, it still sports the same look as on the Galaxy S3 and Note 2. I can understand that they’re trying to stick to a certain design philosophy, but didn’t they hear consumers the last time around when users clamored for a more premium-looking design? I guess not. Still, it’s thinner and lighter than its predecessor, despite sporting a larger screen, so I guess that’s got to count for something, right? Anyway, you can check out the mini gallery below.
Being a flagship superphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 certainly isn’t lacking in features. In fact, it brings more than you’ll ever get used to.
- Dual Camera and Dual Video Call – If there’s anything about taking group pictures, there will always be that one person who gets left out because they’re the ones who have to take the shot. The Dual Camera feature remedies that to some extent by using the front camera to overlay an image of the one who’s taking the pictures so they too can be in the shot. It even works for videos and video calls, so Samsung Galaxy S4 users can make sure they’re always in on the action while taking a shot and video calling takes things a step further by showing users video from both the front and back cameras simultaneously.
- Drama Shot – This allows users to capture 12 shots in quick succession and then combines the whole time lapse into a single shot.
- Eraser Mode – This is a cool camera software trick that allows you to erase photobombers and other distractions that can ruin what would otherwise be a perfectly good shot. Best for public places or if you have friends who like to become friends whenever you take photos.
- Sound & Shot – This is a weird feature that captures up to 9 seconds of sound along with each picture you take. Moms will love this a lot for taking baby photos, I imagine.
- Story Album – Finally, after taking all those shots from that birthday party, you can create a scrapbook or photo album and have the option to have it developed and delivered to your address for a fee. Not sure if that would be available in the Philippines though.
- Optical Reader – This allows the Samsung Galaxy S4 to capture information from a business card, then import that information into your contacts. This would come in handy a lot for me since people like to hand out their cards at the events I sometimes attend.
- Air View – Air View simply allows you to hover your finger over certain content to display more detailed information about it. This can be useful when viewing email previews on your Galaxy S4 so you don’t have to open every single one to check if its important or not.
- Air Gestures – Many of you will probably associate this with OPlus’ Air Shuffle feature because it does work similarly. Just gesture over the phone to control certain Samsung apps. For example, you can skip a song by simply waving over the screen.
- Smart Scroll – This is one feature that has probably been leaked the most prior to the official Samsung Galaxy S4 launch, although it doesn’t exactly work the way it was originally expected to. It automatically scrolls the screen for you whenever you tilt the phone in the corresponding direction. It’s a simple feature that eliminates scrolling using your fingers or the volume rocker for things like reading e-books and web articles.
- Adapt Display – This is a cool feature that will make viewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 screen a more comfortable experience by automatically detecting what’s being shown on the display and adapting the brightness for optimal viewing or reading comfort.
- Adapt Sound – Similar to Adapt Display, it optimizes the audio to whatever content you’re listening to.
- WatchON – The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with a built-in IR blaster, and WatchON is basically the feature that allows your S4 to control your TV. It can even control certain cable boxes and DVD or Blu Ray players.
- Smart Pause – This is a neat feature that pauses the video you’re watching whenever you look away from the screen. This is basically something that was built upon the original Smart Stay feature that we first saw on the Galaxy S3.
- S Voice Drive – Simply a hands-free function that allows you to control your phone while driving without ever having to pick it up.
- S Translator – This is a feature that travelers will certainly appreciate. It translates whatever language you input and provides results in either spoken or text output. It will even translate stuff from your emails, text messages and a few other Samsung apps.
- Group Play – Allows a group of S4 users within a short proximity of each other to create a private network to play games amongst each other, among other things.
- Share Music – This is used in tandem with Group Play, allowing up to eight Galaxy S4 phones to act as surround speakers by synchronously playing music at the same time. Not sure how often this function would be used in the real world though.
- S Health – Finally, my favorite feature for last. This will satisfy a lot of health-conscious users by acting as a fitness tracker and food diary of sorts. It also sports a built-in pedometer to track how many steps you take throughout the day and can be coupled with accessories to further boost your fitness tracking and planning.
Galaxy S4 Specs
- 4.99 inch Full HD Super AMOLED Display (1080 x 1920 resolution, 441ppi)
- Either a 1.6GHz octa core Exynos chip or a 1.9GHz quad core Qualcomm chip, depending on the market (We’ll likely end up with the octa-core version, though that remains to be seen)
- 2Gb LPDDR2 RAM
- 16Gb, 32Gb and 64Gb configurations, expandable via microSD up to 64Gb
- Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
- 13mp rear-facing camera, 2mp front camera
- WiFi a/ac/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, IR blaster, NFC, GPS with A-GPS support and GLONASS
- 2,600mAh battery
- Dimensions: 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm
Is this Really the Next Big Thing?
Samsung really went out of their way to hype up the Galaxy S4, even going as far as making a Broadway-style production that would have put Apple to shame. However they should have learned Apple’s lesson by refreshing the design as well, rather than focus too much on the software features. It’s a real shame because this is a really powerful and feature-packed phone that feels cheaper than it should because of a mediocre design. At this point, the HTC One, Xperia Z and upcoming Optimus G Pro make more compelling options simply because they deliver phones with a more premium look and feel. We’re going to spend upwards of Php30k on a flagship phone after all, so at least make it feel like we’re getting our money’s worth.
Image Credit: Samsung Mobile Philippines Facebook Page
Leave a Reply