arrow14 Comments
  1. Peter
    Jun 11 - 8:13 pm

    Hmmn, maybe it is just me, but you didn’t really seem to have your heart in this review. You seem to be trying to rate this phone higher than it is. You mention several negative things about it but still state it is the clear winner.

    • Renai LeMay
      Jun 11 - 9:17 pm

      It’s kind of like this:

      If you look at the Nexus 4 or the iPhone 5, they’re a cohesive unit as a product. Software is unified with hardware, there’s no extraneous features. They’re elegant, zen-like smartphones which go beyond obscuring complexity to truly understanding and simplifying complexity.

      When it comes to the S4, it exceeds these models on every count, and has so many extra features and so much extra performance, that you can’t help but acknowledge it as the winner – it’s massive overkill. But that zen-like simplicity which makes me love a product isn’t there.

      The S4 is the best smartphone available on the market today. I acknowledge that. But it’s not the best phone for me personally. Because I particularly like that zen-like sense of simplicity.

      Does that make sense? :)

      It will get more of that sense of zen simplicity when they launch the ‘Nexus’ S4 model.

      • Peter
        Jun 11 - 10:20 pm

        :) I’m not sure that it does make sense. I would have thought that you could really only compare the S4 to the One since most of the other phones out there don’t have as good as specs, eg, the hi res screens and fast processors (although I don’t know much about the Sony). But you didn’t really mention much about the One at all. For example, the One has a few features that really appeal to some people like the better low light camera, the front facing speakers, the excellent metal body but it lacks the removable battery, SD card and latest Android version. If you had of brought these things up it would have made much more sense since these different qualities appeal to different users. You could of then made a personal choice. I

        n reference to the Nexus 4, I hardly think you can bring that up since it isn’t spec’ed up enough to compare and it is a bit old now.

  2. Anthony Agius
    Jun 11 - 9:44 pm

    I happen to have a Samsung Galaxy S4 here too (probably for the same reason you do!) and I haven’t read this article to far in, but I saw this “Overall the design and build quality of the S4 is superb.” and just had to come here and post that I think the S4 is a hunk of junk vs. the Nexus 4 (which I also have) and god awful vs the HTC One and iPhone 5. The S4 feels like a cheap knockoff, or a bargain basement phone, with that tuna can like back peel and the weird bump on the back for the speaker which feels like a crumb stuck to the plastic.

    So whilst you may think that the S4 has fantastic build quality Renai, I couldn’t think of a flagship smartphone on the market today with *worse* build quality than Samsungs. Flimsy and cheap and not even that light to justify the material use.

    • Renai LeMay
      Jun 11 - 10:13 pm

      “probably for the same reason you do”


      I had a review unit for a few weeks and sent it back as normal.

      As far as the build quality goes, I read a few reviews on this, and there’s quite a split out there between reviewers who like the plasticky feel and believe it’s very good quality, and those who think it’s poor quality and cheap. It seems like it’s a matter of personal taste, which is actually a rare thing for regular reviewers. However, it’s good that both the HTC One and the S4 are getting the ‘Nexus’ treatment. This means everyone can have what they prefer :)

      I agree the Nexus 4 has excellent build quality. That’s why I bought one :) I use it interchangeably with the iPhone 5 as my main personal phone.

    • Master T
      Jun 11 - 10:23 pm

      Honestly, I’d disagree on both the weight and build quality counts.

      While it’s not made of metal and glass for a ‘premium feel’, I’d honestly rather know its built of plastic. It seems strange, but my S4, Lumia 920 and Other Galaxy series handsets I’ve used have been excellent in plastic.

      Where the Lumia wins as a ‘plastic’ phone is that its both durable and strong but unfortunately far too heavy for a big user. Its a bit of a brick. That said, the One is the biggest brick of them all. It may look good and feel great in the hand, but given i’m a big user of the phone rather than a texter, light > premium materials any day of the bloody week. The One is heavy and its noticeable.

      As for software, I like the S4’s adjustments – but I think since using Windows Phone since November, I’ve been quite spoilt. The lumia is better than the s4 for texting, emailing and quite a few other things. The One? I cant text or email on it. It doesnt feel like its accurate at all when hitting keys plus autocorrect is woefully accurate at best (still compared to the Lumia or an iPhone), it feels cluttered with an overdose of Sense applications and the general battery life is … reasonable but not stellar.

      Personally, I’d go back to the Lumia as soon as a new one arrives; I think I’ll get off the android bandwagon. But If I have to choose between an S4 and a HTC One? S4’s still a better all round fit.

      • Peter
        Jun 11 - 10:27 pm

        I don’t get too concerned about things like the keyboard and email as you can just install Google keyboard or Swiftkey and Gmail and you are fine. I’ve played with a friends S4 and it seems sluggish with the scrolling. No doubt they will probably fix it with an update.

  3. Douglas
    Jun 12 - 10:08 am

    How big will these screens get?

    A few ppl here in the office (and myself) were lured from iphones to a couple of the Android specimens (both HTC and Samsung were tried) and most of us have moved back to the iphone 5.

    I asked around the office for reasons and the most overwhelming response was:
    -The bigger screens look enticing, but they don’t sit well in a suit pocket, and it is very hard to use single handed when standing on a crowded train or bus.

    • Peter
      Jun 12 - 10:22 am

      Like everything, it is all about choice and it is obvious that there is a big market for bigger screens hence the popularity of large screens on Android devices. A lot of women carry their phone in their handbag and thus a bigger phone is better for them. Also, people are using their phones more and more as computers and social network browsers and so having to use them one handed is not a requirement. I think that it will become more and more common for phones to come in a small, medium and large size.

      You do make a good point though in that some users who have to stand on public transport require easy one handed use and thus the iPhone is excellent for that.

      • Renai LeMay
        Jun 12 - 12:54 pm

        I will note, however, that even the iPhone 5 screen size is a little big for one-handed use at the top of the screen. Apple really nailed the one-handed scenario with the original 3.5″ screen size for the models before the iPhone 5. However, I guess things have moved on a little now — many people use two hands most of the time, etc. The 5″ screen sizes of the new superphones are definitely too large to easily use in one hand.

  4. Brendan
    Jun 12 - 12:25 pm

    The thing that gets me about these phones is the build quality. I’m sorry, I can’t agree on a few points, but you’ve nailed the “zen like” nature of iPhone. Particularly the 5.

    It’s not the best phone now, sure, it’s been out for a while and Samsung has taken great joy in apeing a few design queues. But it is a nice phone, has a great screen. I’ve held one and then my existing 5 and it’s.. nope.

    If the build quality was there, and maybe the app base a but better, I’d be sold, I really would. But it just feels cheap. I would be terrified of dropping and have it explode; my prior iphones are like tanks and whilst I have no interest in dropping and tossing around for fun, it’s that solid construction and form factor that work for me.

    I also struggled a bit with the size of the display – huge is great, but only if it’s comfortable to use and the current size war between android handsets to see who can cram the biggest display in is hilarious up until you try and man-handle the things with one hand. It can be awkward.

    And it’s stuff like that, not just raw specs that matter to an idiot like me. I couldn’t really care less if I had something powered by Apple or Google. It’s the build and usage that i’ll fall back to – and whilst Samsung get close.. they can’t help trying to outdo everyone and sort of fail in the process.

    It’s an awesome handset. I just can’t fall for it.

    • Peter
      Jun 12 - 1:16 pm

      I’m really surprised that you said this, “… my prior iPhones are like tanks and whilst I have no interest in dropping and tossing around for fun, it’s that solid construction and form factor that work for me.”

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t some of the iPhones have a glass back as well? I’ve never seen more broken phones then iPhones – that is where either the front or back is broken after it has been dropped. I can’t fathom have a designer would put a glass back on a device that is prone to dropping.

      • Brendan
        Jun 13 - 5:52 pm

        The 4s and 4 were glass, both sides. They bounced. Samsungs (certainly in the past) explode or suffer catastrophic cracking.

        Sure, I’d use a case (in either case) but there’s a distinct difference in build quality. And I’ve not actually seen too many destroyed iPhones, including the all glass jobs.

        The 5’s are an all-metal back, anyway.

        Quite a few people I know have gone through smashed android handsets, though.

        My point stands; Samsung are starting to produce some nice handsets, but by using cheap construction all the effort is a bit pointless.

  5. Simon
    Jun 14 - 12:08 pm

    Good article, I’d disagree with you on the build quality of the S4, but I did laugh at this:
    ‘If these features had been developed by Apple, you know they wouldn’t have all made it into a finished product for sale. Apple, with its strict quality controls, would have ensured they came to their final, polished, developed form, before launching them.’
    What, like Apple maps and siri?!!!

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