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Most helpful customer reviews
191 of 202 people found the following review helpful.
Great Phone, Incredible Performance, Not Perfect
By R. Garrelts
I recently decided to ditch Verizon and my contract with them and go with a no-contract carrier. At the same time I decided to upgrade my phone (Motorola Droid X2) and after comparing many different options settled on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Before switching to Android in 2010 I was an iPhone owner so I will also try to give my perspective on that end here.——————–Initial Impressions:The S4 is a really nice piece of hardware. Aesthetically it is light-years ahead of my old Droid. My wife settled on a white S4 which is very clearly inspired by Apple’s consumer electronics design philosophy. I settled on the ‘black mist’ phone and it’s equally impressive though a bit more rugged looking. The screen is huge and incredibly clear. In comparing the S4 to the S2-Note the phones aren’t that different in terms of dimensions. Though the phone is large it is very slim and fits easily and comfortably in my pants pocket.——————–Specifications:As I mentioned the S4 is a large phone due in no small part to the 5″ screen. The exact measurements are: 136.6(l) x 69.8(w) x 7.9(h) mm. For being packed with technology the phone is a svelte 4.6 ounces or 130 grams.The screen features 441ppi, 1080p resolution (1920×1080) and is a wonder to behold. App tiles, widgets, images and video are crisp, clear and instantly made my previous phone seem incredibly antiquated.The processor comes in two different flavors. My phone comes with the 1.6GHz, Octa-core processor though a 1.9GHz Quad-core processor is also available. The S4 features 2Gb of RAM. Memory comes in at either 16/32/64Gb built-in and expandable via MicroSD. The S4 accepts up to a 64Gb MicroSD card.——————–Operating System & Hardware:If you’re an Android fan (and I am) then Jelly Bean (v.4.2.2) is really a nice evolution from Ice Cream Sandwich and previous Android versions. I won’t launch into a full-fledged iOS vs. Android comparison here but I will hit on my favorite parts of Jelly Bean.Google:The search bar in Google has been refined and positioned to offer more than just a simple click-search function and is called “Google Now”. Now your “wall” (whenever you tap on the Google search bar) is a full-fledged hub of activity. Google aggregates important data from your email, social media accounts, weather, GPS and more to populate your wall with instantly relevant and recognizable information. At the end of my workday for example my wall is already populated with my GPS-estimated time to get home, traffic data, and route-avoidance data. If I make a purchase online the tracking data is displayed on my Google wall. If it’s a friends birthday it’ll be displayed or important appointments and tasks. It’s an incredible feature that is quickly becoming my favorite feature of my phone.Camera:The S4 features two cameras, a rear-facing 13 mega-pixel and a forward-facing 2 mega-pixel camera. The camera takes fast and beautiful photos for being so limited by the dimensions of the phone and inherent limitations. This isn’t a replacement to your Nikon SLR but it’s great for snapping quick pictures while on the go and in situations where extra gear just isn’t practical. Some of my favorite aspects of the camera include PhotoSphere that lets you take 360º and wide-angle shots and a burst-mode for firing off a rapid series of photos. Swiping while in the camera-mode will instantly bring up your photo album and swiping back will bring the camera back for snapping more photos.Keyboard:Swipe or a Swipe-like app comes standard on 4.2.2 and is even better than previous versions. The text-prediction function is very accurate and makes typing emails and texts a breeze. The keyboard is customizable to a incredible degree from key-mapping, hot-key, language settings and more. I text in Spanish to my mom and English to pretty much everyone else and the built-in dictionary adapts perfectly to my texting.Hover:This is an interesting feature that allows you to hover your finger over an item of interest and have the sized up and brought forward onscreen. It’s like previewing something (i.e. an article) without committing to opening/launching it.——————–iPhone vs. Galaxy S4:I have not owned an iPhone since the 3GS, however, have many friends who use the device and thus exposure to Apple’s products and iOS. I won’t argue the merits of either except to say that Android is a better fit for me and at this point I can’t see myself ever going back to Apple’s products. However, I recognize that to some folks Apple is the better solution. For certain I find that Apple’s iOS is simpler, probably instantly more easy to use and familiar. Android comes in so many flavors because it is customized by so many different carriers and phone manufacturers. So one’s experience with Android is heavily dependent on the phone and the manufacturer of the device unlike Apple who has control over the entire experience.——————–What I like about the S4:(+) Excellent battery life. I’m not on my phone all day. Particularly at work I do not frequently use my phone. I do however, increase my usage considerably in the afternoons, evening and weekends. I’ve been pleased that a single charge overnight will get me through my entire day.(+) Google Now. As mentioned above this is really becoming the focal point of my experience on my phone.(+) Camera. My wife and I stopped carrying our Nikon point-and-shoot camera and have been very happy with the pictures we’ve been snapping with out phones. Coupled with Dropbox (or another Cloud storage provider) we’ve got instant back-ups of our pictures and they’re already on our laptop, desktop and tablet when we get home.(+) Call quality. My carrier provides the option to make and receive calls over 4G or WiFi(VoIP) and the call quality has been really very good.(+) Ease of use. Connecting to Bluetooth devices, WiFi, wireless printers is a snap and very, very quick with the S4/Jelly Bean.——————–What I dislike about the S4:(-) Our 16Gb phones come loaded with Samsung apps that I really don’t intend on using. Out of our 16Gb, only 9Gb are open for use. Obviously the MicroSD card makes up for storage so this is relatively minor.(-) After about a week of use my wife’s S4 could no longer take pictures. We tried several troubleshooting steps but ultimately her phone was replaced by our carrier. We probably simply received a lemon but we’re monitoring our expensive phones for any additional faults.——————–Closing:Samsung has really delivered a stellar product. Coupled with Google’s excellent Jelly Bean Android OS the S4 is a great marriage of power, function and accessibility. This is a fantastic phone that we hope lasts us a few years.
204 of 233 people found the following review helpful.
Awesome phone, incremental upgrade from SIII
UPDATE: 10/8/2013:An updated NFC Tag from Whiztags is just awesome, has 450 bytes of memory and I use several of those in office and home with my Samsung Galaxy S4 NFC tags – Topaz 512 Chip – 10 Pack + Keychain + Free Bonus Tag – Android Writeable & Programmable – Adhesive Sticker Back – Samsung Galaxy S4 S3 Note 3 – HTC One First One X Droid DNA – Sony Xperia – Nexus – Smart Tags – Best Money-Back Guarantee!I have been using TechMatteTM Qi-compatible Wireless Charger for the Nexus 4, HTC 8X, HTC Droid DNA, Nokia Lumia 920, LG Optimus Vu2 (With AC Adapter and Micro USB Cable). and TechMatteTM Qi-standard Wireless Charger Receiver Coil for SAMSUNG Galaxy S4 SIV for wireless charging and they are very convenient for charging by placing on the mat.UPDATE 9/15/2013:I thought I will update since it’s been a while. We have two Galaxy S4 in the family. One black and one white both unlocked. There has been few firmware updates to the 9500 International series. I have been asked about the heat issue. Other than normal electronic heating feeling, it does NOT get super hot etc. In the initial days some people had issues, but apparently firmware has patched it. Version 4.2.2, BUILD: JDQ39.I9500XXUAMDX. Kernel 3.4.5-526212. I use Battery Widget Pro and has been watching battery usage. Easily for a day with normal usage. If I use video streaming and use NAVIGON indiscriminately, of course battery usage will shot down. Camera app does crash with latest updates. If I don’t use camera for a day and use it, sometimes it crashes and phone reboots. After that no issue in subsequent sessions. I have been using NFC a lot. I got the WhizTags NFC tags – NTAG203 Chip – 10 Pack + Keychain + Free Bonus Tag – Android Writable & Programmable – Adhesive Sticker Back – Samsung Galaxy S4 S3 Note 2 – HTC One First One X Droid DNA – Sony Xperia – Nexus – Smart Tags – Best Money-Back Guarantee! which is awesome. I use in conjunction with NFC Task Launcher App. Samsung also has TecTiles App. When I go to office I tap a NFC Tag to get the settings I desire – eg vibrate, wifi on etc. At CAR different instructions and so on.Get a spare battery if you are using phone in an intense manner or if you are on long road trips or for just peace of mind. Timetec 2*2600mAh High Capacity Li-ion Battery for Samsung Galaxy S4 S IV SIV, I9500. Samsung Galaxy GT-I9500, Verizon SCH-I545, AT&T SGH-I337, Sprint SPH-L720+Free Bonus TimeTecTM Multi-purpose USB Travel Charger is a great choice.Another great gadget to have in your backpack while traveling or at home is an excellen remote for this phone. Yes a remote for media and camera. I have reviewed it at Satechi BT MediaRemote Bluetooth Multi-Media Remote Control (White) for Samsung Galaxy S2, S3, S4 / Note, Note II / Galaxy Tab / Galaxy NexusORIGINAL Review:Galaxy S4 is an incredible phone. I have been using this unlocked S4 for past 2 days helping a friend to migrate from iPhone 4S. My friend has been on iPhone and it also gave me a unique perspective. I used iPhone for couple of years and been using Android for past 3+ years.I have used Galaxy S3, Note II and for me S4 is more like a S3s If you have a Galaxy S3, it is perfect and there is no need to move to S4. The new features are more like minor upgrades for me. Just like Detroit rolls out new cars every year, phone manufacturers have found excellent way to make yearly upgrades.Battery came for almost a day. The video playback was crisp and my friend was amazed at the customization options. It is heaven for a iphone user to come out of shackles and explores the wonderful world of Android. It sure sounds like it is for geeks, but Samsung has created lot of ways to simplify and make it less intimidating. The EASY mode is for one such reason. Samsung’s addition of all those apps (commonly referred as crapware) is not as bad as HTC or LG. Android experience is classified as pure vanilla in phones like Nexus. Vendors like Samsung have added a whole lot of extra programs.5″ HD Super AMOLED 1920 x 1080 display (441 ppi) is just plain gorgeous. 13 MP camera takes ginormous image sizes. I put a 64 GB microSDXC card SanDisk 64GB Mobile Ultra MicroSDXC Class 6 Memory Card with SD Adapter – Retail Packaging as my friend wants to take lot of movies (built-in 2 GB RAM, 16 GB ROM). No stuttering, and very smooth playback of videos captured in varying light conditions (HD Playback; HD Recording). Compatible video types are AVI/DIVX, WMV/ASF, FLV, MKV, MP4/3GP, WEBM. HDR and Panaromic photos were incredibly sharp. Compatible audio types are: AAC, AMR, MP3, OGG, WMA/ASF, 3GA/M4A, FLAC, WAV. Google Music, PlayerPro Music player are producing excellent music. Audio/Video is one section where S4 has nudged S3. For a normal user, if you are not into lot of video processing this does not matter.S4′s infrared sensor is the same technology as TV remote control, so with WatchON you can change the TV channel from your phone. My friend was shocked to see this feature. Having used Android for a long time, I explored all new features one by one. My friend is still getting used to and feels this is too complicated. I broke down into lot of sub features and told my friend he may not use 50% of features, but told him to explore one feature at a time and focus on that.Games were very buttery, this phones runs ARM®-based octa-core mobile CPU. This is apparently world’s first! Inside this chip is Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR SGX544MP3 GPU. I tried several car racing games and performance was phenomenal. People on the XDA-Developers forum report seeing smearing and ghosting when scrolling on the phone. This especially occurs to people when scrolling among darker colors, which begin showing up as purple. I tried hard to see if I could on the S4 I was testing with my friend and I could not see it. I am sure these can be upgraded with software over due course.Air View and Air Gestures – are they worth it? Air view is similar to how the S-pen on the Galaxy Note 8 works. Simply hover finger a few millimeters above the screen and in supported apps, you’ll see a preview of content. This works with many of Samsung’s built-in apps, including the photo gallery, the dialer, Samsung’s browser and email client. It also works with Flipboard. Air View works by cranking up the capacitive sensor on the screen. Another new feature is Air Gestures. This uses the IR sensor on the top of the phone to detect movement by your palm or finger. One can flip between open tabs in Samsung’s browser app, skip to a new song in the music player and do many other things. I say these are still in works and sometimes not very efficient.GPS was spot on and I tried multiple GPS apps. It was bright outdoors (had to crank the brightness all the way up). I tried multiple apps to demonstrate to my friend. In the end, my friend was impressed with what all Android and in particular S4 had to offer. Smooth and Stunning display!I tried following apps and they just worked awesome.Amazon MobileAndroid StatusAndroidifyAngry Birds (Space/Seasons)Asphalt 7Amazon App StoreBoxCar Maintenance Reminder ProChromeCNET TVNAVIGON (from Garmin – offline maps)Google Navigation/Earth/MapsGoogle Currents (nice way to read News)Draw SomethingGoogle DriveEbayLinkedinGoogle MusicTapatalk (awesome forum browsing app)OverDrive Media Console: Library eBooks & Audiobooks (public library consumption of media)Microsoft One Note (legacy docs, skydrive of 25 GB is good)Subsonic Music StreamerTerminal Emulator (still need to use vi, yes this is it)TweetCaster Pro for Android (excellent twitter client)Twit.TvTriggerGoogle VoicePlenty of WidgetsAsk questions, the review cannot do justice to Galaxy S4. I will be glad to answer any questions.
257 of 297 people found the following review helpful.
USA CUSTOMERS BEWARE !!!
By Grace D.
I recently bought the Galaxy S4 from FGS Trading thru Amazon. Unfortunately the phone broke down only after a few weeks of using it. I called Samsung USA to schedule a repair and was SHOCKED to hear that it can’t be repaired here in the USA because the phone that was sold to me is an AFRICA phone !!! Any repairs will have to be made in AFRICA!! UNBELIEVABLE!! I live in the USA and bought this phone from a third party merchant thru Amazon which both are also from the USA. I do not think that it is unreasonable for me to expect that the phone can at least be repaired here in the USA. I am even willing to pay out of pocket to get it fixed here in USA. It is unthinkable that I have to ship this phone halfway around the world to Africa just to get it fixed!!!I bought the phone for $616 and AT&T sells it retail for $640 (without any contract). So its not like a “you get what you pay for” kind of deal. The price that I paid is very close to the AT&T retail price, its not like half price or anything like that. If it has been properly disclosed in the listing or product description that the phone can only be repaired in AFRICA, I would have NOT bought it at all. Not at $616!! Would you???International version phone simply means that it is a GSM (multiple frequency bands) phone which can be used while travelling abroad. Thus avoiding those pesky and pricey roaming charges that the phone companies charge. International version does not in any way means no US warranty. If it is, why not just simply state “No USA Warranty”? Warranty is probably one of the last things that will be on a user’s mind. But don’t take it for granted.Always assume that the phone is from AFRICA and there is NO WARRANTY in USA. Do not get SCAMMED like me!!! For USA customers, buy it from AT&T or T-Mobile and ask them to give you the unlock codes. Since you are paying full retail price without any contract, you do not need to wait a few months to get in unlocked. Instead, you can ask for the unlock codes right away. I am now out $616:(
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