I’m sure you’re dying to know how I’m getting on with the S4. How many of you struggled to sleep last night with the anticipation?
Where to start? That screen, OMFG that screen. 5″ of bright full 1080p HD. I played the classic Big Buck Bunny 1080p video and everything was crisper than crisp. I haven’t used it in bright sunlight yet but I’m sure it’s as crap as all modern phones.
How does the phone look? I couldn’t give two hoots. I buy phones as tools, not fashion accessories. Having said that, I wouldn’t be seen dead with a white one
The lightness of the S4 can be disconcerting when the buzzer gives haptic feedback but I’ll happily take lightness over a brick in my pocket any day. Oddly, the phone doesn’t feel big at all. In some ways it feels smaller than the HTC Sensation.
Whilst I always hated HTC Sense and far prefer the Stock AOSP Android experience, I don’t find TouchWiz that objectionable. Given that I spend 95% of my time on a phone inside apps, it doesn’t really affect me that much. It still has the powerful system-wide sharing features of Android and the still excellent (but now very cluttered) notification bar.
Of course it comes with a ton of Samsung junk Apps, just like HTC. I tried them all (Hub, Fitness, Story Book etc etc) but just can’t see the point of using single-vendor apps when I can use third-party ones from Google, Endomondo, Evernote or Amazon and bring everything with me if I switch to another vendor in the future.
Games, as you’d expect are blazingly fast and look gorgeous. I did find one or two that crapped out at launch tho. I’d love to know why.
I’ve read a lot of negativity about the “gimmick” features involving hand swipes and eye tracking but I was surprised to find that I really liked both.
By tracking the location of your eye, it can auto-scroll web-pages etc when it notices your head tilt. I was easily able to start, stop and rewind a web-page using it. The big down side is that it only seems to work in Samsung apps. I’d love to see this in Twitter apps in particular.
The hand-waving is more gimmicky and allows you to scroll through photo albums etc. I just liked the ability to check the lock-screen for messages/missed-calls by waving my hand over the phone on my desk.
I’m looking forward to trying out Bluetooth 4.0 on my Fitbit. I don’t think the sync is currently working but they said on Twitter that they are going to test this week. I also don’t know if Android finally has BLE support to avoid big battery drain on connected devices. I’m a big fan of the idea of NFC for payments so I’ll give that a go when I have a chance.
Another gimmicky thing that I like is the IR blaster built into the headphone socket. My eldest daughter thought it was pointless but I liked being able to change channel/volume on the TV without hunting for the remote.
One annoyance, not specific to the Galaxy is the term “16GB”. This is total storage so you only start out with 9GB user storage, which I have already filled. Hence the absolute need for an SD card slot. I have a 32GB microSD on the way from Amazon. Side-note: This is a UHS-1 card which has 48Mbs throughput in certain cameras. Standard Class 10 SD is only 10Mbs. So I’d love to know if Samsung has implemented a UHS interface on the S4 or if it’s normal SD.
A big word of warning on the Dropbox integration. I just discovered that 4GB+ of the storage used on the phone was because it decided to auto-sync everything from Dropbox. Everything! Eventually I ran out of storage on the phone and it stopped syncing. To avoid this, disable the “DocumentSync” feature in Settings->Accounts->Cloud. Stupid stupid default Samsung, what were you thinking?
The phone is LTE and it should be fun to check out the download speeds the next time I’m in London. Given that I’m in Old Chapel, I can’t even get GPRS without major arm-waving. I’m looking forward to the 30Mbs that Pat Rabbitte has personally guaranteed we’ll all have, as a minimum, by 2015.
And now, back to reality.
I haven’t had much chance to try out the camera. But the few initial pics were superb. I’ll definitely be giving 1080p 30fps video a try out this week. Here’s a quick example in bad light in my office:
A few other notes. The charger is 2 Amp and a useful compact size. The charger cable useless at a metre too short. The phone uses microSIMs so make sure you leave the shop the right kind.
I’ll try out some of the more obscure features in the next few weeks and then promptly forget about them.
Vodafone will force you to “upgrade” to Red Essentials at a minimum if you are on an older cheaper plan. So I’m now paying €5 a month extra for 500MB a month less data. You stay classy Vodafone.
One final note to Samsung. It would be a huge help if you’d do a phone-specific Samsung-branded sports armband, particularly since you now have this sports app. I’m really shooting in the dark with ordering on Amazon.
Look, you can’t really go wrong with most mid to high end Android phones nowadays. If you get the S4 or the One or the Z or the Nexus4 or the whatever, you’ll probably be more than happy. The S4 packs an amazing raft of features into a pleasantly small package. I think I’m going to be happy with it for the next two years.