It looks somewhat flimsy when removed, but we've taken it off many times without cracking or breaking it. The Galaxy S4 is among the best-looking plastic phones we've ever seen then, something you could still claim today. It's a decent evolution from the S3, ironing out plenty of the minor flaws that its predecessor had. These include a USB port that didn't look very well cut out and a rear case that had quite a loose fit; with the S4, it feels that much more finished and as though more attention has been paid to the detail.
Having said that it's a very conservative design. Purely from a look and feel perspective we prefer the aluminium HTC One.
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The curved back and sharp corners make it look far more striking that the rather amorphous blob of the S4; plus HTC has squeezed in a pair of front mounted speakers onto the One, as we'll discuss later. However, as a piece of practical engineering the S4 is simply superior, because it fits a noticeably larger display into a similarly sized handset.
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- Samsung Galaxy S4 Design!
You simply can't get more screen than this in your pocket for the size or weight - everything else heads into phablet territory. The S4 is better designed from an ergonomic point of view too. The power button at the top of the HTC One is beautifully designed, doubles as an IR blaster and responds reliably when you press it - once you've got the hang of where it is. The problem is its position; having pressed it with your forefinger, you can't then reach the buttons below the screen with your thumb.
The S4's right-hand-side power button has a far more traditional and boring look, but at least you can use the handset one handed without having to shift your grip constantly. Samsung Galaxy S4 review: Still worth buying in ? The Gorilla Glass 3 protective screen, meanwhile, does its job, with no visible marks left on the screen having let the handset rock about our pockets in company with keys and coins, two things we do not recommend you do on a regular basis. Compared to the S3 it replaces, it has a slightly squarer, flatter finish, while the faux-metal trim on the outer edge is a simple alteration that gives the S4 a visual one-up on the S3.
More striking is incredibly slim bezel — the reason the S4 is no larger than the S3 despite its extra 0. It looks fantastic and is a welcome improvement, even if it results in accidental presses from time-to-time. It may be more resilient to knocks and drops than the glass backing found on the likes of the iPhone 4S and Google Nexus 4 , and less likely to show scratches than the brushed metal of the iPhone 5 and HTC One , but the plastic back panel of the Samsung Galaxy S4 feels unnecessarily fragile, flexible and a likely snap hazard.
There are also hubs for Samsung's featured programs, and the commercial music and video Hub that's run by 7 Digital. Samsung Link looks new, but really isn't. Samsung also includes branded versions of its own translator, a calories and exercise app, and Watch On, its TV remote-plus-video-rental app more on all these later. A special version of Flipboard is installed; this build takes advantage of Samsung's Air View functionality to preview content when you hover over it. The Story Album app is new as well.
Samsung Galaxy S4 review | Expert Reviews
You can use it to create narrative albums with photos and text, and print buy a photo book through the service Blurb. I'm generally a fan of Blurb and of anything that makes it easy to put those camera photos to practical use. However, I didn't appreciate the app popping up notifications to "suggest" albums for me to create and books to buy. I'm about to dive a little deeper into the heaps of Samsung apps and software features, so keep reading for more, or skip ahead for details on call quality, processor performance, and battery life.
Eye-tracking and gestures Eye-tracking software sounds like a cool, futuristic power for controlling your phone with your peepers, but that's really only partway true. It isn't so much that the cursor or text follows the movement of your eyes, which you probably wouldn't want anyhow, if you think about it. More generally, the software knows when you're paying attention and when you avert your gaze. Smart Pause and Smart Scroll are two features that build off the Galaxy S3's optional Smart Stay feature, which kept the screen from dimming when you looked at it. In the GS4, tilting the screen up or down while looking at it scrolls you up or down, say if you're reading a CNET story, of course.
As a daily commuter with one hand on the phone and one on a hand strap, I think this could be a more convenient way to catch up with news while on the train or bus. With Smart Pause turned on, videos pause when you look away and start up again when you focus back on the screen.
I really like the idea of Smart Pause, which halts a video you're watching when your eyes dart away, then resumes when you start paying attention again. Smart Pause was more responsive and easier to control than the scrolling, which experienced some abrupt motions and a short lag time. While you can make googly eyes at the GS4, most gestures are still reserved for your fingertips. Hover your finger and you can preview a video clip or image from the photo gallery, glance at browser tab thumbnails, find your place on a video timeline, and check out an e-mail.
You'll also be able to magnify calendar events and get a closer look in speed dial. As I mentioned above, Flipboard has built a customized app to work with Air View that lets you hover over a tile to see which articles lie beneath. In addition to hovering with a fingertip, you can wave or wipe your whole hand in front of the screen and sensor near the Samsung logo to navigate around. For example, enable this gesture and you can agitate your palm to pick up the phone or switch songs in a playlist.
Steadily sliding your hand back and forth can advance photos in a gallery, or browser tabs.
Samsung Galaxy S4 review
You can also scroll up and down in a list. The feature was a little jerky and jumpy when I tried it, but it did work. As with eye-tracking, you'll have to wait a half-second to see results. Luckily, air gestures are sensitive up to 3 or 4 inches off the top of the phone, so you have a little latitude Samsung really envisioned using these gestures in specific scenarios, mostly when your hands are already full with something else. For instance, you'll probably never wave your hand over the phone to answer it unless you're in a car, but when you do, it'll automatically pick up in speakerphone mode.
If you have Bluetooth pairing, it'll kick into the car's Bluetooth if you answer that way. Likewise, passing your hand over the sensor to advance music titles works best when your phone is docked on your desk. To use it, fire up the Watch On app -- which, also like the HTC One's app, is powered by Peel behind the scenes -- and go through the reasonable setup process. Once you're good to go, you'll be able to pull up remotes for your TV and DVR, plus a universal remote. There's a Netflix tie-in as well, but I was also able to use my usual Netflix setup through the TV's extra tools.
I found Watch On easy to use, and within a few minutes I was flipping through live TV listings, playing shows through Netflix, and setting up new DVR recordings using my phone.
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If there's one area of the controller that could use some work, it's the visual cue that you can scroll down the remote's interface for even more button options. The remote did hang once, and I had to close the app and reboot it to get things going again. However, I blame the TV, which sometimes does that, more than the remote. In addition to browsing, Watch On bundles a recommendation engine that churns up suggestions as you use it. You can also switch over to the On Demand tab to access show rentals. If you're feeling social, you can give on-demand shows a thumbs-up or thumbs-down and recommend listings on Facebook and Peel.
I'm not as big a fan of the interface for the universal search results. I'd love icons on the results page to display at a glance what kind of content it is without first having to click on the result for more details. This would be a natural fit for hovering with Air View. One scenario is watching a video you caught on your phone's camera on the big screen.
Another is wanting to continue watching your show even when you leave the room to do something else. Oodles of extras If you thought Samsung couldn't add more software features, think again. Here are a few more:. The Note 9 is a terrific phone, but Samsung is clearly holding back for The Pixel 3's camera already makes it a standout -- but useful Google software elevates Featuring a novel in-screen fingerprint reader, the OnePlus 6T is neck-and-neck with other Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic.
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Samsung Galaxy S4 review: The everything phone for almost everyone By Jessica Dolcourt March 7, Samsung Galaxy S4 white frost Part: