Galaxy S4

How has Samsung’s ‘life companion’ weathered three months in the hands of an AC editor?

It’s been a little over three months since we first reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S4, and a great deal has changed in that time. The phone has launched on countless carriers around the world, allowing us to experience Samsung’s latest on different networks and in different settings. Its firmware has been updated, eliminating most of the niggling performance issues we pointed out in our original review. And the Google Play edition GS4 has given us a fresh perspective on the device, as well as a new option for Android purists.

In recent months I’ve been hopping back and forth between the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, but the GS4 has never been far from my side. And it’s fair to say my overall opinion of the phone has changed since we wrapped up our review. So check past the break for some long-term thoughts on Samsung's Galaxy S4.

Galaxy S4

Plastic and PenTile

Having been a little underwhelmed by the “black mist” color Galaxy S4 I reviewed on Sprint, I opted for “frost white” when it came time to choose my European GS4 model. I’ve used assorted Samsung devices in various colors, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the manufacturer’s glossy plastic designs just look better in light colors. The smudging and fingerprints the phone invariably picks up with daily use are less noticeable, and the diamond pattern on the back cover is a little more subtle. The trade-off with the white version is that the front bezel is (rather obviously) highly reflective, which can cause visibility problems in bright sunlight.

We’ve been critical of the GS4’s glossy, plastic-based construction in the past. We’ve said it feels cheap, not as “premium” as rivals like the HTC One. I’ve even seen one or two other reviewers use the word “slimy.” And while I still prefer the way the HTC One feels in the hand, it’s worth clarifying the difference between materials and build quality. Glossy plastic doesn’t make for the best-feeling handset, but it does make the GS4 incredibly light and impact-resistant.

GS4GS4

My European GS4 has sustained a couple of knocks, most significantly from shoulder height onto a hardwood floor. To my relief everything remained in one piece, and the plastic battery door stayed in place, sustaining a couple of sizeable impact marks in the process. I replaced it at a cost of around £10 — that’s not something I’d be able to do with a metal unibody or glass-backed device. Sometimes plastic has its advantages.

In our review I bemoaned the lack of adjustable automatic brightness levels on the GS4, and sure enough, this was fixed in a software update. (In fact, some versions of the phone shipped with this option already present.) A higher base brightness level has allowed me to better enjoy the GS4’s bright, bold SuperAMOLED display. LCD-based rivals still offer better daylight visibility, but its tough to beat the vibrance and super-vivid colors of the GS4’s AMOLED panel.

SD card slot

A word on storage ...

We touched on it briefly in our original review, but we should again point out the 16GB Galaxy S4’s meager amount of available internal storage. Nine gigabytes and change isn’t a whole lot of storage when you’re paying several hundred dollars for a high-end smartphone. To Samsung’s credit, it’s clawed back a little more available storage on the European GS4, and introduced the option to move certain apps to the SD card in the latest firmware. On one hand it’s an ugly, hacky answer to this particular technical problem. On the other, it’s the best solution available to users, and a pretty effective one at that.

Next time around, though, there’s no excuse for not offering a 32GB base level of storage.

Galaxy S4

Losing the lag

When we first reviewed the Galaxy S4 back in April, it had some noticeable performance issues. Samsung was taking Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 600 chip — silicon we’d already seen powering a slick, smooth experience on other devices — and delivering a much less responsive UI. On our original Sprint review unit, lag and stutters were commonplace, to the point where the device often seemed slower than the last generation of Samsung phones. Rivals like HTC, for instance, seemed to be getting a smoother experience out of lesser hardware. And it wasn’t just lag — the initial GS4 software seemed more than a little crash-happy.

Fortunately, a couple of software updates later, these performance and usability issues are mostly fixed, and TouchWiz on the GS4 is about smooth and responsive as other high-end Android handsets. It’s disappointing — puzzling, even — that Samsung shipped software in this state on a flagship product, but at least it was remedied relatively quickly.

Hover touch (Air view)

Look at all these features I will never use

The latest iteration of Samsung’s TouchWiz software is packed a bewildering number of features — so many that there’s now an extra step in the setup process explaining what everything does. The major new additions in the Galaxy S4 include Air view, Air gesture, Smart Pause and Group Play, to name but a few.

While reviewing the GS4 back in April, and using it regularly since then, I just couldn’t shift the idea that these were features designed to sell me a phone in commercials and carrier stores, rather than helping me out once I’ve actually parted with my cash. And once the novelty wore off, I didn’t find many of the GS4’s waving, gesturing, eye-tracking tricks to be particularly useful. Tapping a screen is always going to be more natural than awkwardly holding your finger an inch or so away. The same applies to waving your way through photos. It’s just easier to touch the screen — the motion required to do so and the energy expended is smaller.

And there’s plenty more stuff I was happy to completely ignore. Story Album, for instance, aims to turn all your photos into an easy-to-navigate album, complete with location and tagging info. Instead it produces something that looks like it was cobbled together in a ten-year-old version of Microsoft Word. S Voice, though improved, continues to play second fiddle to Google Now.

Multi windowGesture controls

Of course, superfluous features can be easily ignored, or disabled entirely if they’re not needed. If you want to take drastic measures, there’s even Easy mode, which allows you to live in blissful, sandboxed ignorance. But I have to wonder where this feature creep is going to end. Will the Galaxy S5 do everything the Galaxy S4 did? What about the Galaxy S6 after that? Surely, at some point, maintaining such a lengthy list of functionality has got to become unmanageable.

Instead, the really useful stuff in TouchWiz lies a little further beneath the surface. There’s the overhauled, Galaxy Camera-inspired camera app with a wealth of really useful shooting options, including the best panorama mode I’ve seen on any smartphone. The ingenious S Health app, which ties into the built-in pedometer to track exercise. And I don’t use WatchON, the IR-blaster-based TV app, a whole lot, but when I do it works flawlessly.

Realistically, it’s probably OK that I’m only using a small subset of the Galaxy S4’s monstrous feature set. And by the same token, it’s no great crime for Samsung to include all this extra fluff if it’s easy to ignore or disable.

But it did make the transition over to the quicker, sleeker, but less feature-packed Google Play edition firmware easier. And it was striking (if not entirely surprising) to see that this turns the GS4 into a completely different animal.

Galaxy S4, Google Play edition Galaxy S4

Going Google

The hardware similarities between the regular GSM Galaxy S4 and the Google Play edition make flashing the former with the latter’s software almost trivially easy. And I'll be honest — when I made the switch, it was mostly for superficial reasons. I prefer the consistent, minimalist look and feel of stock Android to the cluttered, schizophrenic TouchWiz UI — and I was willing to sacrifice the handful of features I found useful to go back to the stock OS. The small but noticeable boosts in performance and battery life, too, were welcome.

As I mentioned in my earlier write-up of stock Android on the GS4, I've enjoyed using the pure, unmolested Google experience software on the latest Samsung hardware. In fact, I think the S4's hardware and Google's software combine to form one of the most compelling smartphone experiences around. In my opnion Samsung's own software design hasn't kept pace with its advancing feature set, and the vanilla Jelly Bean experience is just more pleasant to use. There's clearly an overall vision and design language behind stock Android. You can't quite say the same for Samsung's TouchWiz.

So I'm planning on continuing to use stock Android on the GS4 personally, but at the same time I realize there's plenty of stuff in the TouchWiz software that makes it a better fit for regular "civilian" smartphone users. Hopefully future versions of Samsung's UI will bring advances in design as well as functionality, so users can have their cake and eat it too.

HTC One, GS4

A better phone, but is it the best?

That’s a really tough call, much more so than it was when the GS4 first launched. Pick up a Galaxy S4 today and you're getting a better phone than you were three months ago. Then again, that's also the case with the HTC One, which recently rolled out new features, and a new version of Android, in its 4.2 update.

There’s a lot about the GS4 that I miss when I hop back on the HTC One or Nexus 4, or any other device for that matter. And tellingly, it’s the less flashy features I seem to appreciate the most. Faster charging times — the GS4 supports Qualcomm Quick Charge and charges at 2 amps with the bundled charger — and longer battery life. The two-stage alarm app. The minimal effort required to take great photos. The gigantic screen in a small chassis. The fact that I can drop it without it suffering terminal injuries.

For me, the HTC One inches ahead on hardware and software design. But it's a way closer call between it and the GS4 than was the case back in April, and that's a testament to Samsung's speedy software updates. For me personally, the ease with which I can transplant stock Android onto it is also a factor.

Right now, my main SIM is in the Galaxy S4, and it's still running stock Android. That'll probably change in the future, as it's prone to in this line of work, as new devices come along. Regardless, I'd be quite happy to continue using the GS4 for the foreseeable future, even if it's not quite the very best Android smartphone you can buy.

More: HTC One, two months on


Fellow Galaxy S4 owners, how've you been finding the phone? Let us know in the comments!

 

Reader comments

Samsung Galaxy S4, three months on

90 Comments

Useful when it works. It's completely useless when it only works 70% of the time. Since you can't depend on it, you might as well turn it off to save the trouble of pressing the power button when it doesn't work. One more gimmick to the trash.

I do agree. It's a meh feature.

Rooted S4 - best device out IMO. Just installed a ROM on this thing and it FLIES. Great review Alex.

Same here. I rooted it first day, hoping getting rid of some bloat would get rid of stutter. Didn't so I flashed some ROM and I'm sticking with CM 10.1. Can't go back. Like multi window the best, but not worth nasty TW.

Hah, CM is always a good choice.
I went with a debloated TW ROM and installed Nova Launcher.

With both the S3 and S4, I found Smart Stay (keeps screen on by looking at your eyes) to be a great feature. Yes, it doesn't work well in the dark (duh) but otherwise it's very useful...no good reason to turn it off IMO.

I also like some of the air gestures, specifically Quick Glance and Air Call-accept. With the former I can get the time (notifications I get via Light Flow sound/light) easy in certain situations like laying on the couch and passing my foot over the phone real quick. Air Call-accept is genius when I'm washing dishes! Accept the call and put it on speakerphone without having to quickly wash the soap off and dry my hands? That's a keeper.

But yeah, pretty much everything else is disabled.

I totally agree with you when it works it is a good feature but it don't work all the time which makes a good feature frustrating !

And once the novelty wore off, I didn’t find many of the GS4’s waving, gesturing, eye-tracking tricks to be particularly useful. Tapping a screen is always going to be more natural than awkwardly holding your finger an inch or so away.

So I'm going to say they were useless to him. Did you read the whole article?

Yup. read it all. Including the eye tracking part, but I was more curious about the specifics about why it wasn't useful especially since its a more background oriented feature. But it does make sense. I have the problem of my screen shutting off prematurely a lot and was curious how good of a solution this was.

I have an S3, and I love Smart Stay when it's not dark. It doesn't really work in the dark, but easy enough to disable it when needed...

Posted via Android Central App

You are better off downloading screebl from the play store. It works using the accelerometer. When the phone is at a certain angle (set by the user), it will stay on, unless you power off the device, or set it to an angle that is not in the setup to "stay on". It's worked great on the phones I've had in the past. I haven't use it in awhile. It's free.

I do have the HTC One and the SGS4, I prefer the HTC One over the SGS4, even the SGS3 way preforms better the SGS4. The GS4 always has a hick up and the UI most the time freeze up and the only way to get it to work fine , you have to rest the phone to the factory rest, which is not acceptable to all user. I do regret my purchase to the GS4. GS4 Has a lots features most of them useless.

I'm an HTC One owner myself as well. What carrier version of the GS4 do you have? My wife has the AT&T GS4 and has been using it for 2 months. She's a relatively heavy user with Facebook running all day and things like that, but it's never needed to been factory reset. I don't think she's even rebooted it in those 2 months because she never reboots phones. I used it the other day - the UI has that typical Samsung feel to it (I used to be a GS2 and GS3 owner) - it's relatively smooth but still has a little lag every once in while.

32 gb base model is not just a Samsung issue. It is industry wide. When this becomes the norm, everyone can stop complaining about sd cards. Sadly that is more than likely next year's feature

Posted via anything but a Nexus phone.

Agreed, hoping that it is a near future, but we shall see. I think the SD Card argument is weighing on all of us.

Posted via only a Nexus phone.

HTC One comes with 32GB as standard, and there are still quite individuals insist on having 64GB data for their daily consumption is crucial.

HTC One w/ 32 gb isn't available to customers outside Verizon. On a 16gb phone, you have between 9-12 gb available to the end user. You can't even realistically use your phone as an 8gb iPod and have enough room for apps (saved to SD), photos and videos, documents app data backups, etc. If you like taking lots of pics/ videos you will have to offload/manage your memory quite a bit over 2 years.

32 internal would make life more comfortable. Right now, i've got the HTC Rezound with 10 of 16 gbs available to the user and I've got less than a gb open. I have the camera app set to store photos/videos on my external card. But apps like instagram, evernote, snapseed all save photos to the internal storage. The Google Music app doesn't read my external card so it streams all the music that would be accessible if it did. It also pins music to my internal card taking up space.

Needless to say a 16 gb phone with no expansion will not be on my shopping list. 32 gb internal should be satisfactory for me. In fact, i decided that 32gb is the minimum phone/tablet/iPad/iPod we will buy in the future for our family's wants & needs.

I'm running a 90% full 64 Gb SD card in my phone. 32 Gb with 25Gb or less usable will do NOTHING to make me not want an SD card slot. Especially when you have to pay $50+ for 16 -> 32 Gb and only $50 for 64 Gb Ultra SanDisk card.

Yeah I totally understand having 128GB would be awesome. But honestly, how often you need to use that 90% of the 64GB in 1 day? How about 1 week? I would guess 95+% of users don't use 20GB of static data in a week. For those who do, they change their data often anyway so they have to manage storage. I know it's cool to keep the data save there just for the sake of it. But is it REALLY THAT necessary to have more than 25GB?

When your entire Video library is 50GB and you need to be able to watch any single file in it you are in the mood for somewhere above the cloud(in a plane), anything less a 64GB internal or 16G internal with a 64GB card will not help.

Correction: "want", not "need". Granted if I have a HTC One 32GB I can have almost half the library on it and swap it when I watched them all(in 2 weeks). The problem is I prefer not to spend the time to swap 25GB of video files every other week.

If you get more space, then you'll just get higher quality videos and complain anew about lack of space. It's human nature.

Who watches more than 5 Full length movies a week on their cell phone? For those special ones who do, they have new movies that they want to swap in every week as well, so the file management is always needed anyways. I understand there are some people who use storage in their special ways that 25GB would cause them SO MUCH trouble for daily consumption, but that's really minority.

So much this.
I don't even keep movies on my phone, I do use Netflix occasionally for a lunch time TV show. If I wan't to watch a movie it is in the comfort of my house on a good sized TV or at the theater on the big screen, not hunched over a phone.

You could have stopped after the 10th word.

I don't watch 5 full length movies in a month. Probably not even in 6 months.

I've never watched even one movie on my phone. Tablet, sure, for when I travel, but with 60 inches hanging on the wall I'm not watching anything on my phone.

(My 32gig phone has 25 gig available after the OS, and of that I've filled about half, mostly with music pinned to the phone.)

He just wanted to find a way to voice that he has a 60" TV. Probably thinks it would impress people.

-Suntan

I don't watch movies on my phone at home, but when travelling for work I'm looking at 8 to 10 hours of air travel both ways, but then I often stay in (and I don't speak the local language) small towns with nothing to do when the factory I am visiting shuts down at 2:30 in the afternoon. After working out on the hotel treadmill (where I'll watch something on my phone) I'm still left with hours of nothing to do.

So I plug the mhl to hdmi into the flat-screen in the hotel room and now I can watch what I want.

Last trip I watched season 2 of Game of Thrones.

Not to mention when on vacation and we want to keep the kids from jumping around the hotel room while we try to pack the car. Plugging the phone into the hotel TV and putting on a show works great. Whenever signal isn't good enough for Netflix, it really helps to have an assorted backlog of shows available.

In short, it's fine if you don't ask much of your phone. Just don't assume everyone else has the same limited needs. Personally, being able to leave the laptop at home and know that all the media I may want on an extended trip is already on board is a very compelling feature.

-Suntan

Tech is always progressing to be bigger and better so nothing will change. When 32GBs become the norm, then there will 128GB memory cards and people will still complain about the lack of space relative to the cards.

It's very east to get stock android on the Htc One as well, since it too has a play edition version.
MoDaCo has this new tool out for the one called switch, allowing you to dual boot in between the GPe Roms and the Stock sense 5 roms just by restarting your phone, reminds me of my hd2 days.

I feel the same way. I love the GS4 so much but when I picked up the One I became conflicted. Both are amazing devices and each have their perks and downfalls as well.

Posted via my HTC One or S4 using the Android Central App

To be honest, they are both great phone. But HTC is the underdog and they really showed they can build a very good quality phone while Samsung focuses on marketing and gimmicky useless features that don't even work. We should show support for good designs instead.
This is from someone who has had more Samsung phones than any other brands combined.

Consumer should show support for whichever device that fits their usage model, just support the underdog for the sake of it is frivolous.

Design is nothing in terms of how well it works and how well it is supported. I love the One's design but the lack of support and functionality in some aspects is what hurts HTC the most. Simple things like a file manager and gallery app that is not cryptic on how to use. Those 2 things are very simple and Samsung has a slight edge on HTC. Those may be random examples but just show how Samsung is always ahead of throwing stuff in and making sure it's there.

Posted via my HTC One or S4 using the Android Central App

I take a half of a half of half second lag to have necessary features as opposed to relying on third party support.

Posted via my HTC One or S4 using the Android Central App

Well someone is a little biased, who said the S4 has a bad design? I should inform you that everyone has different opinions and can choose any phone that catches their eye. Everybody has the right to support any phone they like from an iPhone to Blackberry to anything. Also there is a lot more to consider from a phone than just looks.

The galaxy is a nice phone but for some reason every time I touch one I just don't feel that I'm holding something "special". I have the opposite reaction with my One. Nice post Alex!

I have been using the S4 Google Play Edition for a couple of weeks now and it is the best smartphone that I have used. I say that as an owner of every iPhone and the Galaxy S3. Samsung's robust hardware and stock Android are a compelling combination. Battery life is superb. No stutters or lag.

Although i am not running stock android i am the same as you i to have owned every iphone to date and the Note 2, but i am currently using the s4 and think overall its the best phone i have ever used.
I personally don't see the lag that people talk about, however i do find some of the features a little gimmicky and pointless but i just turn these off.

I would really like to know what software update you received that supposedly cured the lag. I have the AT&T GS4 with the latest update and mine lags like crazy. Loading the gallery takes about 5X longer than it should, as does opening individual albums. Then there's the stutters and lag throughout.

It's a shame because I really like the hardware, but when I use my HTC One or Optimus G Pro and they're completely smooth with no lag, it makes me realize how bad the GS4 really is. I finally caved and put stock android on it and it runs 200% better, but I really miss the camera features.

Then I see articles like this claiming that the performance isn't bad or that lag is almost non existent and I wonder if you're using a different device than I was.

He's got the same lag and stutter that you do. While the software updates have made it better, the phone still lags and stutters more than it should and definitely more than the One or the G Pro. I learned the hard way( HTC One X) that you just can't rely on online review sites to give you an honest review regarding a phones performance. Negatives are always downplayed in an effort to seem impartial or unbiased so as not to anger the fanboys on either side. I have the at&t S4 and even after the update there is still considerable lag. Stutter, not to be confused with lag is much better though.

Love my S4 and wouldn't trade it for an HTC One even after the excitement has worn off. Really have no complaints about it and would rather have a 5" screen in effectively the same size phone (vs. HTC One). I also like having choices for storage, today I only have a 32GB card but in a year I may want a 64GB. The removable battery is also priceless as I use my phone as a GPS when hiking, ATVing, and snowmobiling so I like to carry spare batteries. Not knocking the HTC One but you give up screen size and flexibility for fashion which IMO is stupid. Just like a typical iPhone user...

Wow...the two things you do with your phone the most is hold it and look at it. And you don't understand why the beautifully designed and crafted HTC One is a big deal? Sometimes the simple things that make something just nicer to own. Let's face it. Most phone users want something that is a pleasure to look at, hold, and use. It needs a nice screen, nice speakers, nice camera, etc. All the "other stuff" for 99.9% of the consumers out there just doesn't matter (why do you think the iPhone is popular...nobody cares about removable batteries and SD cards). Of the simple things that almost everyone wants, you want to kind of discredit it as saying you don't understand. Well you should understand. You don't have to have those things yourself or want those things yourself, but you should at least understand the other side of it. I don't even own an HTC One and I appreciate the time, effort, and money spent to design and manufacture such a terrific phone. It's cool if that's not important to you. But to say you don't understand why these things are important to most people is really the strange thing here.

"Wow...the two things you do with your phone the most is hold it and look at it."

Holding the phone - I have a case. How the phone feels stock is irrelevant.

Looking at the phone - I'd rather look at a 5" than a 4.7".

"And you don't understand why the beautifully designed and crafted HTC One is a big deal?"

The design is so overrated. I'd take the S4 any day.

"Most phone users want something that is a pleasure to look at, hold, and use."

I'd say the S4 has all of those.

"...you want to kind of discredit it as saying you don't understand."
"But to say you don't understand why these things are important to most people is really the strange thing here."

Nowhere in his post did he say he didn't "understand" the other side. He simply said "you give up screen size and flexibility for fashion".

In order for a new interface mechanism to replace an existing paradigm it has to be better; faster, more efficient, or superior in other ways. This is how touch is replacing mice and physical keyboards. However, hovering your finger and waving at your phone is not more efficient than simply swiping and tapping. Thus it's simply a novelty not something that is going to uproot the existing ways we interact with devices. It has nothing to do with change.

Exactly. When you finger is already 1 cm away from the screen while holding the phone, why use another hand to hover or wave?
Did the marketing get you?

Why do care so much? Jeez. You choose whatever god damn phone you like and let other people choose what they like.

Posted via Android Central App

I would have to disagree with the statement about the panoramic photo feature. I recently swapped from an iPhone 4s and while the image quality was worse, iOS's panoramic feature was pretty damn flawless. My S4 has a hard time stitching together panoramics with lots of blank space i.e. large walls, cloudless horizons. It tends to give an error and crap out, my iphone never did that.

I have both a touch wiz S4 and a Google edition S4 and likr them both...for different reasons.

Sent from my GT-I9505G

My S4 on Verizon runs smooth with touch wiz. The plethora of settings and options are part of why I love android so much. Being able to customize and use your phone in different ways throughout its life is what keeps it interesting. The HTC One definitely has a better design, but the camera is not nearly as good as the S4. I would much rather have an amazing camera with a mediocre design, than have an amazing design with a mediocre camera. Also, the 5 inch display is outstanding, in my opinion 5 inches is the "sweet spot" when it's coupled with such thin bezels.

Posted via Android Central App

I'm sure Samsung engineers are already hard at work designing the S5.

Is it just me or does every top-of-the line Android phone only last
5 to 6 months before people start to lose interest in it?

No SW update for T-Mobile US? :-( Its probably because the Wi-Fi calling is baked into the firmware, but that sucks.

Can you move Apps to SD? I can on the Verizon version & its really helped out a lot, I just have a SanDisk 16GB card I've had for years in there.

When I get some more money I will buy a class 10 32GB card. I bet stuff will even be faster, then!

I traded my HTC one for an s4 last week, I've all the other galaxy phones and liked them a lot... Not the S4, it just felt like the cheapest handset out of all the galaxy line, flimsy, was impressed by the screen, especially outdoors, and the system lag irritated me, I traded it today for a nexus 4 and cash, I'm not a Samsung phone hater but I really didn't like the s4 at all, I prefer the note 2 over the s4 to be honest

Posted via Android Central App

I'm very happy with my S4.
Already flashed some roms, all TW until now. I'm on XXUMGA now, with Omega's rom from xda, and 3minit framework which give me a LOT of costumization to match my desires.
One day I'll move to stock android 4.3 but for now TW is packed with a lot of features that i use. Slow motion recording, better panoramic photos, etc..

I actually found he HTC one a bit pretentious I used it for the full two weeks before coming back and getting my S4 and i couldn't be happier

Posted via Android Central App

I have a note two and will agree that many of the features are fluff, but I really like smart stay, and if you find a use for the dual screen mode it is hard to live without.
I have one small screen at the top watching my toddler over an IP cam fall asleep and not run out of the room and read articles on android central in a browser on the bottom.

Alex- I'm surprised you didn't make mention of 4.3? Is the S4 supposed to
get the update? I guess it's nice knowing you like or dislike this phone or that but, digging and posting confirmation of this info would've been a
great "get"
Lemme know, huh? I'll be listening ;)

The latest firmware updates has really sorted the s4 out..god knows why Samsung didn't release it with a working fw...I've personally never had a storage issue, I have a 32gb sd card that hold all my photos,videos and music and I use the built in 9gb for just apps..have over 100 apps including games and still have 4.5gb available and thats without using app2sd..I don't play big games like GTA or modern combat on my phone, just don't like playing those type of games on a small screen let alone using touch control, If I do play those type of games I use my nexus 7 but even then its just not as enjoyable with a touch screen...am a happy with my s4 definitely but is it a must upgrade from the s3, not really but if you can then yh, the 2gb ram really does make a different..as for the htc one it's great looking/feeling device, my brother has it and he thinks its OK but looks like his going to sell it and go back to iPhone or get a note 3..

Posted via Android Central App

Fantastic write up. The storage point is valid and in the future 32 gb should be the base. The phone has changed in 3 months and is still a great choice. It may not be the HTC One but that's why we use android, plenty of choices.

Posted via Android Central App

Interesting update thank you!

A week ago I may have agreed with your comment about not needing to wave one's hand above the screen --and touch is better. However, when showing pictures to someone the other day, I gave them the screen and scrolled through by waving my hand over the pictures at the right moment to move on -it was very useful and surprisingly less invasive than touching the screen while the were holding it -yet more efficient than saying "ok, next picture..."

Also -I actually used the Samsung "Erase" option in taking pictures of our group on a crowded, busy street and the feature was fantastic -and worked better than the commercials! That was quite enjoyable!

Finally, one question: why do you say HTC One hardware is better? HTC One lacks an external SD card, its smaller battery is not changeable, its CPU is slower, and its screen is smaller. Also, I heard (but have not checked) that HTC One ram is DDR2 type vice DDR3 int he S4.. . The aluminum shell for the One is pretty, but that's not what I think of when talking hardware. . .

Thanks for the article -it made me think of flashing the GE roms on my (two week old) S4 i337.

All interesting comments...I'm switching from Verizon to ATT and in the process getting brand new S4. Looking forward to the screen alone. I know Alex mentioned an easy mode but can the various S-features be turned off individually?

Posted via Android Central App

Funny, I just switched from at&t to Verizon. Got new S4. LTE coverage in Western NY is spotty with at&t.

Posted via Android Central App

I'm sure their 4G coverages are comparable here in the NYC/Northern NJ metro area. Losing my unlimited data plan if I upgraded with Verizon & ATT had a better deal so if Verizon has no customer loyalty than why should I. Yeah slightly bitter about it lol :-)

Posted via Android Central App

Yes, easy mode is for folks who never saw a smart phone -and BTW it's a really nice setup-- but every single feature can be turned off or on individually without issue.

It's got great battery life and even with everything on (I was bored) it still lasted the whole day from 06:30-23:00,

you will like it.

Im an owner of a GS4 but i can say this .....Iould like to take all the galaxy s 4 internals and cram them into the htc one body therefore i cant complain about which is better...

You say the S4 has been your go to phone. The case design has proven itself to you - screen size, weight, and durability. The performance problems from when it first came out have been addressed. You don't much like TouchWiz but take that away and the fit between internals and the software is amazing. You refuse to be really impressed. But you'll keep on using it instead of the "very best Android phone you can buy." I think you're in denial. You make a very clear argument for the S4 as the phone to have but then you can't bring yourself to admit it.

I heard enough. I was on the fence about flashing cm on my s3 but now I'm going for it. Im in sprint and don't have 4.2 yet.

I just upgraded from Verizon's SG3 to the SG4! Both phone's are great! Samsung Galaxy S 4 is a great phone! It's fast on wifi and 4GLTE! Not just the makers who make the phones to be good but the carrier's too!