Early Impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S4

As you are probably aware, I started my coverage of the Samsung Galaxy S4 a few days back on my channel. Whilst I am still working on my Full Review, which will take the form of a video, now is a good opportunity to share my early impressions of some of the features.

Form & Size
Before handling the device I thought it would be too big, but to my surprise, even though it sports a 4.99-inch screen it feels good in the hand. Samsung have done a superb job here, concentrating on a design that was not broken in the previous version and making the bezel around the screen super thin.
One of my earlier dislikes of the Galaxy S3 was the very thin battery cover. I am happy to say that has been addressed to and the cover on the S4 is thicker and feels more robust.
The materials used seem to have changed too. Yes, this is primarily plastic, but it feels more rigid. The silver band around the edges looks nicer and the overall quality seems to have improved. Maybe it is just the type of plastic used, but whatever Samsung have done, they upped their game.
The large screen really does impress too, with its 1920x1080 resolution. This gives plenty of screen real estate for browsing the internet and emails. Where it really does shine is watching videos… the Galaxy S4 is certainly a smartphone that I could watch a full length video on. 

S Health
I love my Fitbit, which is a small device that I use to track my daily activity. It keeps a tab on my steps, sleep and food consumption (via an app). Samsung have developed their own app that uses the internal sensors of the Galaxy S4 to do more or less the same. It does not offer constant monitoring, instead you stop & start the app when you go for a walk or run. In addition you can also track food or calorie intake. The interface looks nice and from my early tests it seems pretty accurate, more or less mirroring what my Fitbit does.

Smart Pause & Air Gestures
These two features may seem like a gimmick, but they are quite useful. Smart Pause is great for watching videos. The most basic way of describing it, is you watch a video, look away to talk to someone in the room and the video pauses. Look back at your Galaxy S4 screen and it instantly resumes. OK, I know you could tap the pause icon on the screen, but the feature actually works very well.
Air Gestures is another great feature, but one that I will probably use a lot less. It allows you to wave your hand across the sensor on the device and have it move between photos (for example). If I am doing an action with my hand, in my opinion I may as well swipe my finger on the screen.

Whenever a new smartphone is released many third party manufacturers release cases and accessories in the following weeks. What amazes me with the Galaxy S4 is just how many were available prior to and on launch day. Cases, chargers & screen covers, all made to enhance your experience. My favourite so far is the Official S View cover (see video below), because not only does it protect the phone, but also changes the display when closed to show just the clock, date & notifications. In addition, when you open the front cover, the Galaxy S4 wakes up and springs into action.

Battery Life
Although a little early for me to pass judgement (I will do that in my full review), things seem pretty good. With my iPhone 5 I just about manage a full days use between charges. In my first couple of days with the Galaxy S4 I had no problem getting through the whole day on a single charge. That is pretty impressive, considering the screen is brighter & pushing a lot more pixels, plus there is a quad core processor in this beauty of a smartphone. Add to that the fact that you could always carry a spare battery if you really need to. All this equates to a very good proposition, if you rely on your phone for long periods of time between charges. 

All in all my early impressions are very positive. I test smartphones pretty much every day and can honestly say that the Samsung Galaxy S4 has caught my attention. It really could be the best smartphone of 2013. 

Is this the Samsung Galaxy S IV or is it in disguise again?

Mere days before Samsung unveils its newest phone, a Chinese forum post has offered some purported shots of the Galaxy S IV. Now it's worth mentioning from the outset that Samsung plays a good game of subterfuge. It masked the Galaxy S III ahead of its reveal last year in a blockier plastic frame and it could be that this phone, with a very Note-esque face and outline, is also a filler ahead of the final reveal. It could also be yet another phone that will slot in elsewhere in Samsung'sever-expanding Galaxy family, or even a Shenzhen knock-off that's jumped the gun -- we spotted that the front-facing camera hole doesn't quite align properly.

However, with that said, there's still plenty here to muse on. The shots appear to be taken in a phone unlocking shop somewhere in China, with this GT-i9502 model apparently bound for carrier China Unicom. Interestingly (at least for a flagship), it appears to be a dual-SIM version, with the mono-SIM version apparently picking up model number GT-i9500 -- a number that would fit in with the series so far. According to the leak, it's running a fresh version of Android (4.2.1) with a 1080p display (no word on dimensions just yet), 2GB of RAM and a 13-megapixel camera on the back. The mention of a "5410" CPU suggests it's Samsung's Exynos Octa chip powering it and while AnTuTu might only recognize that as a quad-core chip, we noted during our hands-on with the new chipset that only four cores were being used at a time. We're still hoping Samsung's final design pushes the envelope a little further than a repositioned camera sensor and a new glossy texture -- we've added a shot of this after the break. Rest assured,Jeremy will be letting us in on the big secret later this week.

[Source: Engadget]