Android Central

At the IFA Global Press Conference 2013 in Sardinia, Samsung brought along the Black Mist Galaxy S4 to show the gathered press

I'm on the gorgeous Italian island of Sardinia this week, for the annual pre-IFA Global Press Conference. A chance for the industry and the press to get together and look ahead to the main show in Berlin in September, in a truly stunning setting. Several consumer electronics manufacturers have partnered with the conference, including Samsung -- well, Samsung Electronics, at least. So, what's this we see here, then? Looks an awful lot like the Black Mist Galaxy S4. Nestled front and center in the Samsung booth, the soon to be released Galaxy S4 is here. And, since I've not yet seen the S4 for myself, I spent a few minutes taking a look. 

Firstly, the color. If I were to buy a Galaxy S4, this is the one I would have. Without doubt. I love white phones traditionally, but the Black Mist has the white one pegged. On the Galaxy S3, the black version had a slight purple tinge to it, as we saw at last years IFA show when we first saw it. But, the Black Mist on the Galaxy S4 has a tinge of grey to it, and held up in the right light looks closer to the color of the Titanium Grey Note 2, than to black. 

Since we already did a hands on video with the phone, there's little point in doing another. And, truth be told, the lighting at the Samsung booth here is worse than usual. So, to avoid rambling, I've put together some of my early thoughts on the Galaxy S4. 

  • Design - On the whole, I like it. I always felt the display on the Galaxy S3 was too small for the housing, and there was too much space between the display and the home button. The new 5-inch display leaves much less in this regard. 
  • Size - Honestly, I'm not a fan of large phones, from the perspective that I have small hands. But, the Galaxy S4 feels so much nicer to hold than, say, the Sony Xperia Z. It's a big phone, make no mistake, but it doesn't feel as big to hold as some of the competitors. 
  • Display - Good, but outdone by the HTC One I think.. Not really much else to say. You won't be disappointed by it,  though.
  • Software - It's still Touchwiz, and I'm not a fan, but that's down to taste. That said, there's a lot of cool stuff in there that folks are going to love. Its fast, and it's pretty darn smooth. Not a fan of how Samsung has broken up the settings menu into different tabs, but at the same time I can understand maybe why they did it that way. 
  • Build quality - Yes, it's plastic. But it doesn't offend me nearly as much as it did on the Galaxy S3. It's a fingerprint magnet, but the matte finish on the sides is much more pleasing than the shiny chrome plastic on its predecessor. Then again, it's a far cry from the construction of the HTC One. 

Summing up, would I think about buying one? Yes, I would. I've never felt the urge to pick up a Samsung phone before, there's always been something that's turned me away. One of the big attractions here is Android 4.2.2, which I'm seeing as a statement of intent from Samsung. I'm still not a fan of the physical home button, but personally I'd still take it over where HTC has put their home button on the One. It may only be an iterative design from the previous device, but it works, and it works well. 

 
There are 43 comments

Comineeyeaha says:

From everything I've seen, it's nothing that would make me sell my N4, but I'll reserve judgement until I get one in my own hands. I always thought the GS3 felt too wide with that bezel, so I don't think I would find this any more comfortable to hold. Has there been any word on what proc we should see in the US?

SpookDroid says:

It's been confirmed over and over again for weeks... The US version will be Qualcomm Quadcore, not Exynos Octacore.

metalspy8 says:

AND dont forget the GPU

patelkedar91 says:

^This.

The person who wrote this article, Richard Devine, obviously does not like the S4.

For me, I like the extra screen real estate. If it is above 400PPI, then I want more screen size. It seems dumb to pack more pixels in a screen where no one can distinguish it.

For build quality, isn't dropping aluminum worse than dropping polycarbonate?
Are you not going to put a case on your phone?

I have my Evo3D... It's a pretty crappy phone imo. However, the build material was pretty good but I didn't get to touch it 98% of the time as I needed a case on it.

jdevenberg says:

Samsung has said from very, very early on the Snapdragon 600 will be in the US version.

mwara244 says:

I thought i read that spec wise the qualcomm was higher in processor than the octocore was, wouldn't that be better for processor speeds?

The benchmarks definitely confirm that: http://community.futuremark.com/hardware/mobile/

^ quad-core version of the S4 at number 2, octa-core at number 14 (at the time of this post). Real world performance should be the same. I doubt you'll notice any significant difference in performance between these two versions. Octa-core might get better battery life since it'll use it's low-end, power-saving cores for basic tasks.

Greigyboii says:

I see that Facebook Home is installed on this device --- why isn't that being used as the launcher? (curious!)

fightcrazy says:

Why the hell would anyone want that launcher on a flagship phone like the SGS4?? That alone would kill at least 1/2 the sales. I would never own a phone with that childs launcher.

MERCDROID says:

This.

xKrNMBoYx says:

I agree. I tried it out when it officially released and while I find it new and cool, I got annoyed by it quickly. I check my time by pressing the power button to see the lock screen but the lockscreen is replaced by facebook home. I wouldn't mind so much if all photos were clean and colorful, but you know a lot of pictures on facebook are crappy phone photos with a lot of pixelation and noise.

Jay Holm says:

I don't like black electronics,
I prefer silver or white, more
more stylish & elegant.

kingofcoffee says:

seriously??nothing beats sammy..looks before performance? what a joke.

mjolnirxz says:

if you think thats a joke, you obviously dont understand how the real world works. Fashion, designer labels come instantly to mind, and its a multi billion dollar industry that stresses looks over 'performance'. For the majority of the consumers out there, they dont konw what dafuq a snapdragon or exynos is, as long as it is smooth thats all they care about; a driving factor for apple's earlier success. For them, the phone that looks better wins.

xKrNMBoYx says:

This..+1000

Any thing in the world relates to this. When someone goes out to buy something for the first time they don't know about all these specs. The logo/label and aesthetic design is what they get persuaded most by (even if they don't want to.)

Nothing beats Sammy? Looks before performance? Well, if you're the HTC One, you've got the same performance and better looks, so the One wins. That beat Sammy, seriously.

barondebxl says:

Well that's a very narrow minded thought process you have. What about battery life? Storage? removable battery? More features? DDr3 ram? Gorilla glass 3? android 4.2.2 out of the box? 13 MP camera?

StuartV says:

The One has the same performance?

How fast is it when you load it up 80GB of music and videos for offline viewing/listening? Oh, right. You can't do that with a One.

How fast is it when you've been running it for a couple of days with no chance to plug it in anywhere?

How do those 4MP pictures from the One look when you blow them up to poster size?

Nope. I don't think the One matches the S4 performance in all areas. OTOH, the S4 does have the One covered in all its areas.

Ergo, S4 > One.

xKrNMBoYx says:

You're right on all points, except who and why would someone want to blow up a picture from a camera phone (which are all crappy when enlarged to 100%) to a poster size. That's what the good cameras are for.

kingofcoffee says:

meaning a like a lot more than a nice chic phone.

c0ldburn3r says:

I was torn between black and white, now I want black with a white speck case.

Why does everyone knock the plastic? I will take plastic over signal inhibiting metal any day and the flexibility that plastic gives during drops.

mjolnirxz says:

Yes, metal weakens radio signal compared to plastic, which is why through clever engineering, there are special areas where they use a different material to work around the problem. plastic may be more shock-friendly, but i am not going to sacrifice the looks and feel for something that has a small chance of occurring. if i were more paranoid though, i wouldve gotten insurance anyway.

TomStretton says:

Still, most of us are paranoid about our new phones getting a scratch that, though may be hard to see, we know is there in the back of our mind. So we buy a case made out of plastic much cheaper than Samsung's polycarbonate back cover.

Every one of my friends with an iphone like to boast about the premium feel. Though they are covering it up with a shitty case, they don't have anything to say back to me after that. It's funny how easy it is to scratch an iPhone, as well as how often opening a new box will reveal a brand new iPhone covered in nicks and scratches on the bezel.

One of my friends managed to scratch his iPhone's bezel when putting a case on it. He took it to the apple store to complain and they said they can't do anything because "It's the nature of the product".

Gearu says:

Sounds like fixing it...

would cost a...

premium...

IceDree says:

Its the not the plastic, its the finish on top of it

DWR_31 says:

Android 4.2.2, has anyone looked for Photosphere yet?

barondebxl says:

Photosphere is only for nexus devices.

thdarkshadow says:

Hmm I think I will be getting the white version because I have never owned a white phone before and it looks as good as black if not a little better IMO. still wish my carrier had anything but Samsung so I could have fashion not just power. Call me crazy but I'd sacrifice performance (CPU, GPU And even some battery life) for good build quality

IceDree says:

"so I could have fashion not just power. Call me crazy but I'd sacrifice performance (CPU, GPU And even some battery life) for good build quality"
You are not alone.

Jay Holm says:

If "fashion" is what you care about then get
an IPhone!

If you don't care about fashion, you're an iDiot. See how that works?

fightcrazy says:

The SGS4 is the phone of the year. I prefer the polycarbonate device over any metal made phone. Metal without a doubt interferes with radio signals. It could screw up your data and GPS connections and that alone just sucks. Not to mention they just don't hold up, look at the iPhone 5, after just one week they are a mess, out of the box they are all scratched and nicked, after just a few weeks my sister's iPhone 5 looks like it's 3 years old. My SGS3 and Note 2 still look brand new and I don't use a case. I will admit the HTC One looks pretty damn nice, most people put a case on their phone, personally the SGS4 is absolutely stunning, the phone is a beast, nothing can touch it IMO. Innovation, innovation and yes more innovation. Samsung is the only company giving the Android customer what they ask for, not to forget the Samsung phones always get great developer support, it just has it all.

Adamsville says:

Samsung has also used plastic, and is notorious for having bad radios; with crappy GPS and data connection.

MERCDROID says:

I have experienced these bad radio issues that you speak of, neither from my previous S3, nor from my current Galaxy Nexus.

Gator352 says:

Really? Two evo's and all 3 evo 3D's I went through couldn't keep a connection even if it was stuck to it's ass.

pappy53 says:

It sounds like your sister needs to learn to take care of a phone.

troyboytn says:

Damn, will you people please, please, please just shut up about how the GS4 looks compared to the One..... 9 out of 10 you the same people who go on and on about this will be purchasing a case to cover whatever phone you buy anyway, so all this is a complete null point! Seriously!!!! This argument is getting just as old as SD or no SD storage or removable or no removable battery.

Gator352 says:

Agreed!

And will probably be buying a new phone next year anyway.

metalspy8 says:

US galaxy s4 will be OKAY, International is a BOSS 8 core CPU, POWER VR GPU...Come on better games better everythong..please correct me if im wrong dont feel like looking it up??? Everyone should wait for the GN3 instead(if big phones arent a biggie) Rumor is that the GN3 will sport the same size as Gn2,But with a smaller bezel..

Dutchmasta says:

you are such a sucker for numbers... there is a previous post that links a comparison of benchmarks of many android phones; the S4 600 and octa-core models included. the S4 model appears to have outperformed the ocatacore model slightly. also, if you would have read more about the Sammy octa-core chip you would know its not actually one chip with 8 cores but a SoC (system on a chip) with 2 chips that have 4 cores each. one slower, more power-sipping chip for light processes that saves battery life... it's ignorant posts like this that really make me wonder about peoples' intelligence. do you really think what processor that a phone has makes ALL the difference on how good the phone will be? the original duel-core S4 processor would still drive any application/game this phone runs just fine actually, what makes you think that the newer S4 will just be OK? what knowledge did you base your post on? i am going to guess that there wasn't any.

Dutchmasta says:

i am just going to guess that you want a phone with an 8 core processor so you can brag to your friends at school that your phone has a 8 core processor. that's it.

zakth says:

I don't see why people are so concerned on what the phone is made of and what the phone feels like in their hands when 80% of people are going to slap a rubber case on it anyhow....