Throughout the lifetime of Samsung's Galaxy S line, one of the biggest complaints levied against the manufacturer was -- and is -- how its plastic construction and flimsier-looking industrial design fall short compared with premium rivals from Apple and HTC.
No, Samsung sticks by plastic, and points to only a handful of Android enthusiasts who really care about vaunted materials like aluminum and glass. Yet the phone maker has also made an effort to add more "refined" touches to the Galaxy S4.
Galaxy S4 is made of more modest material than the HTC One, left, and iPhone 5.
you compare the S3 and S4 side by side, you note a more rectangular home
button, and metallic accents around the rim. The S4's 5-inch screen is taller
and the bezel surrounding the display slimmer. Its volume and power/lock
buttons are metallic-looking polycarbonate, and tooled to have slanted sides
and a flat top. Look closely, and you'll see that the gaps around these
controls are narrower, too.
metallic spines are also reworked to be steeper and less curved than the Galaxy
S3. In fact, while Samsung boasted its GS3 was inspired by nature, the GS4's
straight sides seem to be inspired by the iPhone 5 or HTC One.
Samsung's Galaxy S4, left, looks a lot like its
predecessor, the Galaxy S3.
At 5.4 inches tall by 2.8 inches by 0.3 inch thick,
the Galaxy S4 is actually 0.7 millimeter thinner than GS3, and at 4.6 ounces,
it's 0.7 ounce lighter as well. Yet, the S3 and S4 generations still look so
similar, you might not know the difference if you're not looking closely. When
in doubt, flip the S4 over to see the new tiny black-and-silver diamond design
on the black mist model, or a similar pinprick design on the white frost
edition. As with the Galaxy S3's brushed-plastic backing, the newer generation
is so reflective, you could use it as a makeshift mirror.
The Galaxy S4
is a little large for more snugly-fitting pockets.
blaster turns your Galaxy S4 into a universal TV and DVR remote.
worked on making the GS4's volume and power buttons look more high-end.
notifications shade on the Galaxy S4 adds a heap of new one-touch settings
options; you can reorder their positions in the edit menu.
Swype and the
default Samsung keyboard are two options. You can also input voice and
Swype and the default Samsung keyboard are two
options. You can also input voice and handwriting besides.
You can choose from a couple of widgets on the lock
screen, but better swipe on top to unlock to the app.Easy Mode vastly
simplifies the Android experience on the home screens and within certain key
Samsung's Watch On app has a universal remote, as
well as separate controls for your TV and DVR.Setting up a Group Play session
is pretty painless; the lead person can control aspects of the share, like
volume and surround sound.A bunch of people can play games over Group Play,
like poker, while sitting in the same room.
With Google Translate, S Translator doesn't seem
strictly necessary, but it worked well enough during tests.
The S Health app tracks calories in and out, and can
sync with compatible accessories like a fitness band and heart rate monitor.