AT&T Galaxy S4

My time has finally come. It's time I put down ... the other phone I've been using and pick up the Samsung Galaxy S4. Alex Dobie did a stellar job with our deep-dive Galaxy S4 review on Sprint's variant, and now I've got AT&T's in house. 

Hardware-wise, we're not really looking at anything different here. Same 5-inch Super AMOLED display. Same Android 4.2.2 with Samsung's TouchWiz atop it. Same 1.9 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor. Same paltry 16GB of on-board storage space -- only we know that's not quite true

Where AT&T differs from Sprint, aside from a handful of AT&T-specific applications -- of course is in the network. So we'll see how this thing handles a day of proper LTE versus spotty EVDO. Like many of you, I'm particularly interested in the camera. Will it be a better all-around choice? Will I miss Zoes and Video Highlights too much? Will I, like so many of you, be underwhelmed by an iterative design instead of a radical overhaul?

Only one way to find out. Time for the Samsung Galaxy S4 to live in my pocket for a few weeks. Join me in our Galaxy S4 forums, will ya?

Hit the break for a quick video intro.

 

Reader comments

AT&T Galaxy S4 unboxing

44 Comments

>"Where AT&T differs from Sprint, aside from a handful of AT&T-specific applications -- of course is in the network. So we'll see how this thing handles a day of proper LTE versus spotty EVDO"

Phil, instead of criticizing Sprint's network every chance you get because it is not good WHERE YOU ARE, why not focus on the phone instead? (I can point out at least a half dozen times now where you did this lately). Would your coverage be reversed if you were in a poor coverage 3G AT&T area and in a Sprint "proper LTE" coverage area?

Everyone knows that Sprint's LTE rollout is not progressing as fast as we would like (I bet the rollout would be a lot quicker if Sprint charged the incredible rates AT&T does), but that is the cost of having the first 4G in the country (WiMax), making them last on LTE. And we all know that Sprint's 3G is greatly overloaded in many areas. But Sprint's *coverage* is excellent, has great phones, support, and pricing, and those that have Sprint's LTE (and revamped 3G too) can assure you the experience with the HTC One or the Samsung GS4 will be similar as on AT&T's LTE or Verizon's LTE...

Just saying...

+1 for this, Couldn't be happier with the performance of my Sprint GS3 throughout the Chicagoland area LTE is rocking for me.

You just wrote more about it than I did. And it's not like you have to go far to find folks unhappy with their Sprint service. And it's not like I've never used Sprint outside my hometown -- including a number of cities in the past several weeks.

And all that's a shame, because I like the company a lot. I like everyone I've ever worked with there. And if you think it affects our coverage of a phone, feel free to go ask the folks who thought I was crazy for sticking up for the EVO 4G LTE.

That dog don't hunt.

If Sprint's good where you live, then by all means, use it! But for many -- MANY -- people out there, in some major metro areas as well as rural spots, it's not.

>"You just wrote more about it than I did"

Not if I added up the last several times you did :) Well, maybe.... but anyway, nobody reads this as much as articles (well, maybe you did, which is certainly good that you do read the comments).

I am not saying it overly affects the coverage of the article, but it is an unnecessary and perhaps even "mean" side comment that has been slipping into articles in ways it just isn't needed. Sprint 3G speeds here sucked horribly, for years, on Sprint, until LTE just hit the last few months. The wording you chose could allow someone to infer there is no other experience on Sprint, which of course is not accurate.

In any case, you don't have to go far to find people who hate AT&T's customer service and/or pricing. But if you didn't put THAT in the article. Sounds kinda silly to have any of it in there at all:

"Where AT&T differs from Sprint, aside from a handful of AT&T-specific applications, worse customer service, limited/capped data plans, and much higher pricing -- of course is in the network. So we'll see how this thing handles a day of AT&T's much larger LTE coverage versus the spotty EVDO coverage I had in my area for the Sprint Galaxy S4 review since I was not in an LTE area."

I agree with every word. Android Central in general is anti-Sprint. Just look at Alex's Sprint trash talk...coming from someone who I guarantee has never used Sprint outside of NYC.

I'm sure Sprint is great... in the 5 areas that it actually works reliably :) LMAO!! Sprint blows, dude. Get over it.

Lets do the math real quick here:
AT&T:
$60 ft700 with rollover, so you start with 1400 min
$30 family text unlimited mobile to any mobile
$9.99 additional line
$60 data for 2 lines 3gb each
$159.99 total
or
$160.00 mobile shared 6gb with unlimited talk and text

Sprint:
$149.99 for 1500 min and mobile to any mobile with unlimited data and texting unlimited for family.
or
$209 unlimited everything for sprint.

Very rarely do anyone need 1500 min and I would rather have a quality data speeds that I could actually use than quanity, I went to the sprint store to check out there unlimited data and I couldn't load a youtube video after 5 min(time is money)! Do your homework before you say a carrier is way too expensive.

sprint is horrible in my area...and the coverage went from bad to worse to straight awful and its a shame too because i really like sprint. they always gave me great customer service, allowed me to upgrade ahead of schedule, and were always willing to be helpful. but i kept getting the same excuse for over 6 months "a tower is down in your area and there's a ticket to fix it." i have a child in school and with dropped calls, texts not going through, and missed calls enough was enough. i switched to verizon where coverage is great. i wish sprint could have gotten their act together...i'd still be with sprint. and while its true they are they only carrier with unlimited data...it served me no good when coverage was so bad i couldn't connect to the internet unless i was connected to a wifi network.

now as far as the S4 goes...well i'm still waiting for mine to show up from verizon. i'm using an LG phone i bought off of craigslist in the mean time so i could pre order the S4 at the upgrade price. is it may 30th yet **sigh**

I was with you right up to this part:"...can assure you the experience with the HTC One or the Samsung GS4 will be similar as on AT&T's LTE or Verizon's LTE..."

When I was in Baltimore I was seeing speeds of 2-5mbps down. I tweeted about it and got this reply from Sprint:

"Expect LTE speeds of 6-8Mbps download/2-3Mbps upload suitable for audio/video streaming. Still testing in your area! *JAC"

That said, I have heard people are having a better experience in some of Sprint's other LTE cities.

And here I am getting from 5Mb/s to 30Mb/s with an average probably around 11, and this is on several different towers and at different times. Performance is going to vary from place to place.... just like any network.

The big question is will it last? Only time will tell. My friend said he watched Verizon's LTE speeds in this area drop in half, then by half again as more people started using it.

Lately I've been taking every chance I get to criticize Sprint too, because it SUCKS! I live in Houston, where both WiMax and LTE have been since the beginning. I almost never remain on a 4G signal though. It bounces between 4G and 3G constantly, all over the north part of the city at least. Sometimes the signal is lost altogether for 10-20 minutes at a time. And when I DO have 4G, the speeds are awful...I'm talking <1Mbps most times. 3G, of course, is even worse.

I'm on the Sprint Friends and Family Plan!... I have to say that the Sprint coverage is spoty and even worse in my Apartment till I got an AIRAVE but once I leave my place it's SO spoty. Sadly I can't judge LTE cuz I'm still on the Galaxy S2 but my upgrade is in July and if I don't get the Galaxy S4 I'm gonna get the Note 2!
Unfortunately there isn't a Sprint phone that's gonna work well till Sprint AMPS up its coverage!

I have the very same experience with Sprint here in Miami. Absolutely no service in our condo. Sprint remedied it with their Airave box but as soon as I leave the house its patches of service as I drive along. They pissed me off first by choosing not to offer the BBZ10 and now by over pricing the SG4. Did somebody say Sprint and customer service in the same sentence?

I was a sprint customer since 2003 til the end of 2012. For the most part I was happy with sprint; but in the last 2 years the network just kept getting worse day after day. They failed miserably with their wimax attempt at 4G, and they are failing with the roll out of their LTE network. And when people criticize Verizon's or AT&Ts rates, the difference in price is really not more than about 20 bucks for most folks, unless you live in an area where you have LTE coverage from sprint and you are using 10GB of data or more. I personally don't use more than 3-4GB of data with two smartphones since I'm most on wifi at work and at home, but when I do need to use data I like to be able to do what I need. For 2 phones with 4GB shared data, unlimited calls and texts on Verizon I'm only paying $10 more than what I was paying with sprint with "unlimited data", but the difference in quality over all it's really worth more than that. At 15-75 kbps most of the time it really doesn't matter if I have unlimited data because I couldn't do anything.

You are entitled to your opinion and comments (and I agree with some of it and not with other parts of it). But the whole point is that the article (and the comments) are not supposed to be about a carrier battle, just a phone.

I guess disagree. They've already reviewed the SGS4 from another carrier but now they're talking about SGS4 on AT&T so I think carrier differences apply here... Otherwise why review it again?

But that's just my opinion.

Because carriers CHANGE THE PHONES. They restrict features. They add bloatware (added software). They often lock the bootloaders. They get exclusive features. They affect updates. They change the packaging and documentation. They restrict the disabling of certain apps. They often include different accessories. They sometimes offer different colors. The pricing of the phone varies. There is PLENTY for a review about a phone on a carrier-just about the phone. That would be the purpose of such an article.

Otherwise, why not do an article ABOUT THE NETWORKS, because the differences in the NETWORK have little to do with just a single phone model.

Lighten up man... you have oversold your point. It is not like Phil said the only people that would be on Sprint's network is because they are recent college grads or broke and cannot afford a premium network. Everyone knows Sprint is a half step above walkie talkies...

Just kidding with you...

@crxssi

sorry to say that you put in into a career battle, of course.

AT&T is the largest career and day by day it's network spreading huge faster on 4G LTE. On the other hand, Sprint is on under construction, means so slow in spreading their network and specially 4G LTE. you have to admit the truth, that's all.

All the career are doing their business in a core way, they are not doing donation. all they have bad n good side. you can't just hit the writer, you can comment on article through your meaningful words.

By the way, it is obvious, that career will put some of their software, those are not too bad at least in work. Problem is, this bloatware delay OS update, if we comparison it with international update.

With all respect, truth should be accepted in a peaceful way, that's all. just remember, a human heart is also a house for the ALMIGHTY CREATOR. So please try to deal with it smooth way.

Thanks in Advance

I got this phone on Saturday, and I am telling everyone not to listen to any critic who says that just because it looks like the S3 one shouldn't buy it. I had the S3 and I was able to give it to my daughter. The S4 actually looks and feels great in my hand, I bought the flip cover with a cut-out and phone feels heavy enough, I honestly cannot even tell is not metal. I am still trying to go over the many Samsung features which I might say some are great and other are kind of silly. One of the disappointing things is the lock-screen widgets, for me at least, don't work at all when I have some kind of security lock such as a PIN or pattern.

I just signed for a two year cruise with the GS4 yesterday after watching the head to head Alex and Phil did.
Coming from the N4 which I really liked, I just had enough of no removable memory and battery.

;)

Why are all the reviews for this phone so harsh. I mean I hate Touch Wiz worn a passion but the S4 is not that bad of a phone that The Verge, Engadget, Pocket now, ect are making it out to be.

Wow, I thought people were joking, using home made eco recycled material boxes. But nope.

@Phil Nickinson

Thanks for showing us the AT&T's Smartphone flagship.

is AT&T logo they put in back side of S4?

Thanks in Advance

Almost 100% likely... I really don't know why US carriers vandalise the phones with their logos... if mobile carriers tried that stunt here, ppl just wouldn't buy from them....

Phil,

Would you be able to compare the Sprint and AT&T models side by side? One of the things I noticed with the Galaxy S III was that the quick settings in the notifications menu were different from carrier to carrier - Verizon's model lacked the ability to enable/disable Mobile data, iirc. I'm wondering if this trend has carried over to the new model.

Yeah on the LED light that I saw blinking blue before you turn on the device. And I also saw an LED lights icon in the settings.

You know, I was excited about the Galaxy S4 for a few days when I fist heard about it but now I'm just like "meh, whatever". I do however really like the design of the One, sadly it's not on Verizon. I think HTC could really do well if they made a Verizon version.