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Samsung Galaxy S4 Review – 10 slick features of this amazing new smartphone which deserve more attention [Video Review]

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The Samsung Galaxy S4 is sleek, powerful and probably one of the most impressive mobile phones ever released. It’s not just the headline features which make this product so special, but the fact that Samsung is clearly willing to continue pushing the envelope in terms of experimental features and services. Where its rivals seem to remain focused on hardware specs, Samsung is clearly transitioning itself into a full services supplier, using its handsets as the engine to drive more branded app adoption.

Samsung likes taking chances. We first saw this in evidence with the original Galaxy Note. While all the mainstream journalists were falling over themselves laughing at a 5.3 inch screen size on a cell phone, the public quietly went out and bought the product in the millions. They liked the part tablet, part phone concept a lot, even if it looked a little crazy. Because it worked.

We believe the same thing is happening now with the Galaxy S4. Carping on about the cheap looking back panel really misses the point that this is not so much a mobile phone, as the first of a line of mobile platforms, which are clearly designed to deliver more than just calls, texts and data. This is the first personal lifestyle computer.

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We also suspect it’s no accident that Samsung has embedded more sensors in this phone than in any other handset on the planet. It’s a deliberate policy to test what works and what doesn’t, to see which applications and features the public likes and would like enhanced as phone processing and battery life improves.

The sensor count on the S4, especially bearing in mind the phone’s ultra slim size, is nothing short of spectacular. We’re talking nine – accelerometer, RGB light, geomagnetic, proximity, gyroscope, barometer, temperature, humidity and gesture (motion). Throw in the twin cameras, GPS, Bluetooth 4 with ultra high quality aptX audio, ultra high speed WiFi AC, NFC and an IR LED remote controller all hooked up to that quad core 1.9GHz processor, and you have a phone which is more powerful than many people’s existing laptop.

Think about that for a moment.

Anyway, in the video above we take a look at a few of the lesser known features of this remarkable new smartphone and try to give a flavor of why we believe it retains Samsung’s lead as the top phone maker of the moment. We do like the company’s attention to detail a lot, it reminds us of the best engineering companies such as the old Hewlett Packard or Apple. We also applaud the company’s decision to retain the oh so useful microSD slot and removable battery which other manufacturers (cough…HTC Apple and Sony) seem to think people don’t need.

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As far as we can tell, the reality is that people do prefer the flexibility and expandability of being able to a) add more storage as they need and b) extend the life of their handset by buying a new battery, possibly to cascade it down to another member of the family. It’s a matter of choice, and ultimately people like choice. But back to the phone as a platform.

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As we’ve seen with other handsets from Samsung, the company is not afraid to take risks, try things out and keep pushing new concepts to see if they stick. In the case of the S4, we believe that the combination of ‘lifestyle’ apps such as S Health, S Translator and the other on-board services, couple with the ability to share data instantly using anything from traditional Bluetooth to NFC and WiFi, means that we may be moving towards the phone as the hub of a personal data network.

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At the moment we share photos and a few files, but not much else, and it typically involves some sort of intermediate step, such as a PC or microSD card. That may be about to change, as more of these sharing oriented handsets hit the shelves. For those of you not quite sure of exactly what the new features of this smartphone are, here’s a short list.

* Smart Screen: Smart Stay (screen stays on as long as you’re reading), Smart Scroll (screen scrolls as your head tilts) Smart Pause (video stops if you look away from screen) .

* Motion: Air Gestures (hand gestures to scroll, browse content, accept calls, check data), and other motion operated functions.

* Air View: Hover gestures to preview data.

* Voice Control: Control music, camera, alarms and incoming calls with voice commands.

* Apps: S Health (health and diet app), S Translate (audio/text translation tool), WatchOn (universal remote control and program guide), Safety Assistance (emergency help app), Optical Reader (text dictionary scanner and OCR app)

* Camera: Expanded modes, including Drama (collage maker), Eraser (unwanted background element remover), Dual Shot (simultaneous front and back camera shots), Sound & Shot (instant audio attached to photos), Animated Photo (cinegraph, animated photos), Story Album (intelligent photo album).

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Accessories are also key to this new Samsung platform. Products like the S Band (are you picking up on a theme here yet?) and Body Scale are clearly the start of a widening range of products which will combine with Samsung handsets to offer a whole host of services for everyday living.

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We have talked about ‘appcessories‘ before, so it should be no surprise to find that Samsung wants to get into the game itself. It promises to be a fruitful opportunity for tying in customers to your brand and your product lines. So where does all of this leave the consumer trying to make a choice of phone for the future? Well in our opinion, the real choice, as ever, will be between the companies that supply the most open and extensible environment around their products.

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Those companies who choose to keep their platform closed we believe will be forced back into increasingly niche segments, while those who embrace the opportunities that open systems, tied in with intelligent product marketing choices give, will reap the rewards of customer loyalty and longevity. The Galaxy S4 is the latest indication that Samsung understands this reality better than most of its competitors, and so we should expect more ‘lifestyle’ and less ‘hardware flash’ over the coming product launches, as it seeks to solidify its position as a supplier of complete ‘consumer solutions’.

SAMPLE PHOTO GALLERY (click on thumbnails to enlarge)

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Galaxy Note (resized only) Galaxy S4 (resized only)

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Galaxy S4 Animated Photo

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Galaxy S4 Erase Photo

SPECIFICATIONS

Display
5inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi

Processor
1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor / 1.6 GHz Octa-Core Processor
The seletion of AP will differ by markets

Network
2.5G (GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE): 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps): 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
4G (LTE Cat 3 100/50Mbps) : up to 6 different band sets (Dependent on market)

OS
Android 4.2.2 (Jelly bean)

Memory
16 / 32 / 64GB memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB), 2GB RAM

Camera
Main(Rear): 13 Mega pixel Auto Focus camera with Flash & Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
Sub (Front): 2 Mega pixel camera, Full HD recording @30fps with Zero Shutter Lag, BIS

Camera Features
Dual Shot , Drama Shot, Sound & Shot, 360 Photo, Animated Photo, Eraser, Night, Best Photo, Best Face, Beauty Face, HDR (High Dynamic Range), Panorama, Sports

Video
Codec: MPEG4, H.264, H.263, DivX, DivX3.11, VC-1, VP8, WMV7/8, Sorenson Spark, HEVC
Recording & Playback: Full HD (1080p)
Audio
Codec: MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA, OGG,
FLAC, AC-3, apt-X

Additional Features
Group Play: Share Music, Share Picture, Share Document,
Play Games
Story Album, S Translator, Optical Reader
Samsung Smart Scroll, Samsung Smart Pause, Air Gesture,
Air View
Samsung Hub, ChatON (Voice/Video Call, Share screen,
3-way calling) Samsung WatchON
S Travel (Trip Advisor), S Voice – Drive, S Health
Samsung Adapt Display, Samsung Adapt Sound, Auto adjust touch sensitivity (Glove friendly)
Safety Assistance, Samsung Link, Screen Mirroring
Samsung KNOX (B2B only)

Google Mobile Services
Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Latitude Google Play Store, Google Plus, YouTube, Google Talk, Google Places, Google Navigation, Google Downloads, Voice Search

Sensor
Accelerometer, RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro,
Barometer
Temperature & Humidity, Gesture

Dimension
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130g

Connectivity
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (HT80)
GPS / GLONASS
NFC, Bluetooth® 4.0 (LE)
IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0

Battery
2,600mAh

Price Unlocked: Various from region to region.

2 Comments

  • I was very impressed with the phone and it’s capabilities. The narration was absolutely tedious. The gentleman seemed quite knowledgeable, however his lack of flow detracted from the presentation.

    • I know, not only tedious but long. Apologies.

      Best Regards,

      Nigel P.

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