First Reviews of Samsung Galaxy S4: Great Screen, Gimmick Features, Bad Plastic Design

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The reviews for the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung's next flagship Android smartphone, are out. The company announced the device at an event in mid-March and boasts a 5" screen, a 1080p display that Samsung calls "Full HD Super AMOLED" and more.

    The overall consensus is that the Galaxy S4 is a solid upgrade over the previous S3 but that its plastic casing and minimal upgrades keep it from being great.

    Image via EngadgetHere is a collection of some of the early reviews:


    - "I found Samsung's software often gimmicky, duplicative of standard Android apps, or, in some cases, only intermittently functional."
    - "Its screen and camera resolution beat the iPhone 5's and I found its pictures to be slightly better than those from the Apple phone, which is nearly a year old."
    - "Still, compared with the iPhone 5, with its 4-inch screen, the S 4 is 30 percent larger and 17 percent heavier."


    - "It retains the same rounded-rectangle look, with metal edges and a slippery, finger-print-trapping plastic back that looks like it belongs on a far more downmarket phone."
    - "Battery performance on the S4 is among the best we've seen from smartphones this year, though it's still not anywhere near as everlasting as the RAZR MAXX HD."
    - "Sound on the S4 is another problem. It still has just one tiny, tin-can-sounding speaker on the bottom back of the phone."


    - Smart Scroll, which tracks the movement of your head to scroll through pages, is a "great idea" in theory but is "frustrating for several reasons" including limited compatibility with apps and bad tracking in badly lit areas.
    - "Many of [the new camera modes] are great for showing off at parties with little usefulness elsewhere, but we found ourselves using a few of them on a more regular basis."
    - "In general, the GS 4 performs amazingly well, but there's a catch: when Air View and Air Gestures were enabled, we noticed the phone acting a little sluggish even in the most basic of tasks."

    The Verge

    - "The GS4's 5-inch, 1920 x 1080 display is big, beautiful, and seriously eye-catching."
    - "Samsung's Galaxy S lineup has never wanted for power, and neither does the Galaxy S4 -- it's an impressively fast and powerful phone, capable of handling anything I threw at it."
    - "For some reason, Samsung has always had trouble with screen brightness settings -- the GS4 can never seem to decide how bright its screen should be, changing suddenly and drastically often and without warning."

    The Samsung Galaxy S4 launches on April 26 for AT&T and a couple of days later for T-Mobile. The 16 GB base model will retail for $200 with a two-year contract for AT&T and $149.99 down with monthly payments on T-Mobile's unsubsidized smartphone pricing. The device is also set to launch on Verizon and Sprint, but launch details for those carriers have yet to be announced.

    Article Link: First Reviews of Samsung Galaxy S4: Great Screen, Gimmick Features, Bad Plastic Design
  2. macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2011
    Charleston, SC
  3. macrumors 6502


    Sep 19, 2010
  4. macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2008
    I like how all the bad aspects of the phone are highlighted. Then again, this isn't Samsung Rumors, hehe.

    It looks to be a powerful phone, but as usual it doesn't really live up to the hype for me. Apple will always have that "magical" and mystifying edge to put something just as cool out. Can't wait till June's WWDC.
  5. Stella, Apr 24, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013

    macrumors 604


    Apr 21, 2003
    I thought the display on the S4 ( having seen it first hand ) is much nicer than that of the iPhone.

    Also I found the UI was very smooth and fluid, just as you'd find on the iPhone.

    "Sound on the S4 is another problem. It still has just one tiny, tin-can-sounding speaker on the bottom back of the phone."

    Just like the iPhone's speaker.

    But... the phone is far too large IMO.
  6. macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2008
    Daz wut she said!! *ahem*
  7. macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    I haven't read all the reviews - just the summation on MR (so far). Tell me - is it an accurate headline that many of the reviews comment on the features being gimmicky and/or "bad plastic design"

    Or is that an MR editorial comment? I only read one comment in their article that spoke to the build. Curious...
  8. macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2002
    Columbus, Ohio
    Apple, take note: a quality 5" screen exists

    If Apple's resistance to a larger screen has truly been that the quality isn't good enough, well, that's not really the case now.

    So, if people truly want a larger screen (seems like many do), why not make it available. You could have two options (might be good to make the ratio the same, though, for scaling).

    I have an iPhone 5 and I'm fine with the size, but I don't understand the excuses for not making a larger option available as well.
  9. macrumors 68040


    Sep 24, 2010
    oh look, here comes the Android bandwagon. Looks full and they're all angry!!
  10. macrumors member

    Apr 5, 2010
    Germany / Niedersachsen / Großburgwedel
    Is it so hard to raise the bar in manufacturing, strip the gimmicky "features" and only include the ones that make at least some sense, fit a screen that doesn’t require both hands to be used and rework TouchWiz - or better yet, ditch it altogether?

    From the specs of the internals, this seems like it could have been a great Android device but there’s just too many drawbacks for me but Samsung does a great job at advertising their phones, so this thing will sell in the millions.
  11. macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    Actually - it sounds like it is a really good device. I don't believe you are "forced" to use the "gimmicks" any more than you are "forced" to use Siri or Newstand or other Apple Apps (or Apps on any other phone for that matter)
  12. macrumors member

    Jul 25, 2012
    Leave it to Samsung to make a high end smartphone feel cheap and gimmicky.
  13. macrumors 6502


    Feb 19, 2011
    From all the reviews I've read, the S4, aside from the screen, seems like an S upgrade on an iPhone. It essentially looks the same as the S3, its got the same plasticy materials, all thats there is a nicer screen and better camera, all the other features seem like Siri, you may or may not use them once in a while. And if you don't, its basically a slightly better S3.

    Don't get me wrong, that thing gets better Geekbench ratings than my Dads PC, its a powerhouse, I would just stick to the S3 currently, see how reviews pan out.
  14. macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2008
    Essex (UK)
    The HTC One looks to be a better Android proposition to me.

    I'm sure Samsung will have a sales hit on their hands either way.
  15. macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2010
    I have a Samsung Note 2 and played with the s3. I have not touched an s4 yet but I assume they are talking about the almost flexible (when it shouldn't be) plastic housing. Was thinking about the s4 and decided against it till they go the way apple and HTC have done. The plastic starts to creak after a very short time and just feels cheap. My note 2 still has plenty of room for more demands from the software so I would be surprised if the s4 was anything but overpowered. Lastly the gimmicky features... That's Samsung. Under perfect conditions they actually work pretty good but for most real world application they are something I can't rely on.
  16. macrumors G5


    Nov 14, 2011
    Lets hope HTC can gain some traction here. If only they had a $12B ad budget. :(
  17. sulpfiction, Apr 24, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013

    macrumors 68030


    Aug 16, 2011
    Philadelphia Area

    I just can't get past the cheap plastic build.

    When are these other companies going to realize that build quality is just as important as performance and function?

    Also too many gimmicks that are half baked and only work ideal conditions.

    The S4 will sell very well, but it doesn't appeal me at all.
  18. macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    I have no issues with my Skyrocket build. My comment was more about the published reviews though. If one article calls out the build - is it legit for another publication to imply that the "reviews" (plural) mention bad plastic design? Like I said - haven't had time to check other reviews. But I only saw that in one. Same for gimmicky software. Which in my mind is a minus - but there have always been features on my phone I've never used anyway
  19. macrumors 68000


    Jan 30, 2008
    Dear Samsung, please buy HTC and incorporate the best of the One into your S5.
  20. macrumors 68020

    Jan 22, 2009
    The "small" iPhone screen is just fine, don't want to sew in an expanded pocket to hold the Galaxy (pun intended)

    The one thing I really wish out of my iPhone is more battery life!
    I want a fusion reactor for at least 12 hours of run time (more astronomic humor)
  21. macrumors 65816

    Aug 13, 2011
    So I am not the only one scratching his head about this comment ..
  22. cheesyappleuser, Apr 24, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013

    macrumors 6502


    Apr 5, 2011
    They talk about people using the phone. The quality of the phone itself would get damaged because the phone would be too large; it's not about the technology. And, when you talk about screen sizes, think of what happened with the 17" MBP.

    Apple does this every two years; why should it be different with Samsung?
    And the whole market is maturing... There is still lots of room for development but don't expect the breakthroughs from previous times.
  23. macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    My skyrocket never asked me to sign up for anything. I entered my account and that was it.
  24. macrumors 6502


    Apr 5, 2011
    That was your phone. But it is undeniable that you have more experience than I do; I have never set up an Android :p
  25. macrumors regular

    Jul 7, 2010
    American in Pisa (Italy)
    Not a compelling phone

    Some will go for the bigger screen, but I prefer a streamlined quality experience.

    Some prefer a loaded GM car, and some of us prefer something more refined, even if it has less gimmicks.

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