So, I used to have an iPhone 4, and now I have a Galaxy S4. I've been using this thing non-stop for the last few days and I wanted to do a write up about it, especially since I've had people ask me about the switch. I got my iPhone 4 when it first came out back in 2010. I've more recently used iPhone 4S's and 5's and they're, well, the same thing but a bit faster. While I was very frustrated at the horrible performance my dated iPhone was providing me on iOS 6, and dreading what it would do when faced with iOS 7, I was also getting bored of iOS in general and was enjoying my Nexus 7 as a replacement to my iPad 1, so I moved to Android for my phone too. Here's why. The Hardware The first thing you notice about the S4 is how amazing the display is. First of all, it's MASSIVE. Coming from an iPhone, you will astounded at this display. You may see people nitpicking about how AMOLED is oversaturated and how pentile is bad or whatever but honestly, in real life, none of that matters. This screen is awesome. And if you do find it to be too saturated, you can adjust that in the settings. This phone is of course made of plastic. I had a plastic case on my old iPhone anyway and I'm not bothered by this. The upshot of the plastic on this phone is that it's very light and feels nice in the hand. The back feels nicer than the S3 too somehow. It just doesn't get as slippery. Plus despite what some term a cheap feel, it is a very durable material. As far as the actual specs go, this thing blows its competition out the water. I have the i9505 model, so it has the Snapdragon 600 CPU. And this thing flies. There is zero lag, zero waiting for apps to open, zero anything, things just happen straight away. Coming from the iPhone 4 to this is like night and day. It's a powerful phone and it shows. The Software This is something I wasn't expecting to like. I have owned phones like the Sensation and even the OG Galaxy S and I hated the skinned Android on those. The first thing I did was hit up xda for a custom ROM. But TouchWiz on the S4 actually adds to the experience. I actually kind of prefer it to AOSP, which now seems very stripped down and lacking in functionality in comparison. One of the things I love is just how customisable TW is. Go into the settings for Samsung's air gesture features, for example, and you'll have the name of the feature with the on/off switch. But tap that setting and you get to fine tune exactly which parts of the feature are enabled. Tap those and you get even more settings. The way it lets you choose exactly what you want the phone to do is brilliant. There's even a built in power saving mode which underclocks the CPU. Another little customisation detail is the ability to select separate wallpapers for your lockscreen and your homescreen - something you can of course do on the iPhone, but not on AOSP. My only issue with all these settings is there's no real visual cue telling you if an option has more settings if you tap through or if it is just a simple on/off switch. But that's a minor nitpick. There is of course a lot of bloat on this phone, and although you can't remove it without rooting, you can disable it in the settings if you don't like it. For example, my phone came with Flipboard and Trip Advisor apps, neither of which I had any intention of using, so I simply disabled them in the app manager settings. The Little Samsung Gimmicks When I first got this phone, I spent all day playing my music on my TV through DLNA. It's a cool feature, but it's also very unreliable. It kept disconnecting every few songs and sometimes it wouldn't connect to the TV at all. The same happens with my friend's S3, so either the TV I'm using is crap for DLNA or the protocol itself is less than solid. Maybe the Chromecast isn't so useless after all. I haven't yet, and probably never will, use features like S Health. But I have taken time to try out Samsung's gesture and eye features designed so you can interact with the phone without touching the screen. Some of these are, of course, just gimmicks that look cool in the shop. I guarantee you that you will turn off the eye scrolling feature very quickly because it's unreliable and simply annoying. Likewise, there's a feature for skipping music tracks by waving your hand in front of the phone which I quickly disabled because if I was walking while playing music on my phone, and I got it out my pocket, it would change the song. However, some of these are also genuinely useful. My favourite use of gestures on this phone is the feature that allows me to check my notifications while it's on a table and in standby mode. You simply wave your hand over the phone and it gives you the time, date, number of missed calls and new texts, battery life, and app notifications. I'm sure this runs down my battery since the sensor has to be on all the time, but it's too cool for me to turn off. Another one is the feature that detects when you've picked your phone up and vibrates if you have a new text. So you don't have to worry about missing messages. I've also been using the feature that lets me hover my finger over the screen for additional information. So if, for example, you're in the music app, and a song title is too big for the screen, you hover your finger over it and you get a little bubble with the full title. These things make the phone genuinely better to use while also having a sort of sci-fi feel about them. That's exactly what I like from a phone like this. Turn off the over the top crap that barely works, keep the more subtle things like this on, and you've got a nice experience. One Samsung feature that simply will not work for me, however, is WatchON. The bit that lets me use my phone as a remote for my TV works (and is awesome!) but the part that's meant to recommend TV shows simply doesn't display any content at all. I've updated the app and this issue still persists. I've given up on it for now. Connectivity The i9505 model comes with LTE that works in the UK. I've not yet had a chance to test this out since my network, Three, won't get LTE for another few months. In fact they're very laid back about introducing LTE. Instead they're happy sticking to their existing 3G network for now. But there's a good reason for that. This phone and my network both support DC-HSDPA+ which is essentially when the phone uses two HSDPA+ masts at the same time to improve connection stability and speed. This technology is often faster than the speeds you actually get from EE's LTE network. It's certainly a lot faster than my iPhone 4 at any rate, which can't even get normal HSDPA+, let alone LTE. I will update this post with speed tests when I go into areas with decent signal. The house I'm in right now has poor coverage on my network, but even here I get speeds of around 5kbps. My old phone got around 0.5bps in the same place so I'm really looking forward to letting this thing bust out the super fast internet in an area with a decent connection. UPDATE 'Nuff said about those HSDPA+ speeds It's also worth noting that this phone is better at connecting to WiFi too. The WiFi speeds I get on this phone are essentially the same as my MBP. Usability This is an important aspect for a lot of people. Many hold off on phones like this because they think either Android, the big screen, or both, make the phone harder to use than an iPhone. Is this true? Android isn't inherently difficult to use, as evidenced by its popularity. TouchWiz isn't either. However, it's certainly very overwhelming. Samsung throws so many features in your face that even for me it was hard to wrap my head around everything. Although Samsung does a very good job explaining these features in the settings, I feel that a lot of people will miss out on this phone's true potential because they won't have the patience to go through all the menus and work out what all the features do. On the other hand, the iPhone is a lot easier to pick up and start using, but it also does a lot less cool stuff (see the gimmicks section above). Overall, I prefer Android because it isn't as dumbed down. I can access my filesystem, I can install apps Google don't like (there's even an entire app store just for porn!), I can change all the settings to suit me, I can change default apps... All of this makes for a better experience for me. And for the average user, I don't think it makes things more complicated, because it's easy enough to not bother messing with the settings and just use the phone. The big screen does make this phone more difficult to use with one hand. That's just a fact. But the question is, does it matter? I would say no. When I use my phone with one hand, I'm just scrolling through lists or quickly checking for messages. If I want to actually type something or do anything more substantial, I use two hands anyway. So really, for me this isn't a big deal, and it feels like it's just a matter of adjusting rather than a real annoyance. You'll pick up how to deal with a big screen pretty quickly. I sure did anyway. Nitpicks I've had a few other assorted issues which aren't huge but are enough to cause me annoyance: The SMS app will convert texts to MMS after they've exceeded the length of three messages. Why? The iPhone never did this. And there's no option to turn it off without using a third party SMS app. The timestamps on the SMS app show the time the message was received, not the time it was sent as my iPhone did. This means I have no idea if a text was delivered late, which happens when I have poor signal. Samsung's keyboard is rubbish, but the Google Keyboard is far nicer and very easy to install from the Play Store. It's far too easy to accidentally press the touch buttons and the screen due to lack of bezel. I expect this will be fixed in an update soon, but the YouTube app has a bug where if you go into fullscreen on a video then go out of it again, you get a black bar at the top of the app until you quit and relaunch it: Conclusion I am very happy with the S4. It's the only phone I'd buy today. The experience, the software, the hardware... all of it is incredible. As always, Samsung's latest experimental features are a bit rough around the edges, but the overall experience is brilliant and the main stuff "just works." I recommend it to anyone in the market for a new phone.