It leaked way before the official launch event and days after it was first introduced to the world in an event where the Broadway actors, not the smartphone being launched, were the highlight of the subtle and the petty among us, the buzz that the Galaxy S4 is generating both online and out here in the streets is just getting louder by the day.
There’s this line floating on the internet: friends don’t let friends buy outdated technology. That’s exactly why I’m writing this: to convince you to grab the Galaxy S4 as soon as it is available wherever you are.
I’ve not had a hands-on with the device and my analysis is purely based on experiences with Samsung hardware and Android software over the years coupled with all that we know of the Galaxy S4 as of now.
1. A display that will blow you away
I remember when the Galaxy S III launched in May last year. The greatest bone bloggers had to pick with the device then before going on to suggest the iPhone 4S as a better alternative to it was that it had a PenTile Matrix display. The same camp went dead silent when the Galaxy Note II came out spotting a better display with RGB matrix not their hated PenTile.
The Galaxy S4, surprisingly, also comes with a PenTile Matrix display. You’re probably wondering why no one is making so much of a fuss about it like they did with the S III. Well because it is the best. In fact the few lines some people complained of seeing on the S III’s PenTile screen are only imaginary here. The display is a stunning full HD Super AMOLED. 1920 x 1080 resulting in 441 pixels packed per inch. This obviously leaves the gloried retina screen in the rear hence the silence. First hurdle passed!
AMOLED displays are well known for their pure blacks. The natural colour density and saturation is what has made the AMOLED display one of the sellout features of the Galaxy S line since 2010. In fact many were worried when reports emerged that Samsung’s display factory had issues making full HD versions of its famed AMOLED displays and the same reports suggesting that the 2013 flagship will ship with a SoLux LCD display instead.
Corning Gorilla Glass 3. We all know how tough Corning’s Gorilla Glass is. Gorilla Glass 2 is the toughest out there and is the protective glass used on any smartphone worth its salt that was released in the last 12 months. Corning showcased Gorilla Glass 3 at CES 2013. Of course it goes without saying that the Gorilla Glass 3 is now the latest and the greatest. It is the protective glass covering of the Galaxy S4.
At 5 inches, the Galaxy S4 has the monster display that depending on your preferences will either turn you on or make you start googling the specs of its upcoming sibling, the Galaxy S4 Mini which will have a smaller display for those who still want something small.
2. A removable battery
This is something that I never miss to point out every time a new high end smartphone is announced. It may seem callous or far-fetched but trust me, to many of us it is a deal-breaker.
The Galaxy S4 packs a 2600 mAh battery; an upgrade from the 2100 mAh battery that powered its predecessor, the S III. In as much as 2600 mAh will likely take you through a day, it’s always good to have options than to be strictly confined. You can always buy an extra battery for those moments when you’ll be away from a wall socket or your PC’s USB hub for more than 24 hours.
I spend any time I have when travelling on my devices (either phone or tablet) and as such I’m sure to drain all my juice after several hours. I don’t like compromising on my smartphone experience and thus turning on power saver (any serious smartphone has this built in. If not, there’s always an app for that) is never an option for me. I like the raw power that the device brings. That explains why I’ve lost good devices when commuting. What gives? A removable battery. Don’t remind me of those power packs that you can buy and attach to your phone as a casing. They only add unnecessary weight to your device. Even though the Galaxy S4 is thinner than the S III, you don’t want to add any weight.
3. The coolest bunch of features
You can check my preview of the Galaxy S4 and see all the features that Samsung has thrown in just to make the device standout from the rest.
4. Expandable storage
This is another one that is subject to elicit a lot of reactions. Here’s why it matters. Just take a quick look at the cost of a smartphone with 16 GB internal storage and that of a 64 GB internal storage. Yes, it’s such a gap. Have another look at your data bill or the amount of money you spend on data in a month. That should tell you that while we’re all transitioning to storing stuff in the cloud, local storage is still very important and we obviously know the more of it you have, the better.
Starting with Google’s own Android reference devices, the Nexus devices, more and more Android devices are being made without the ability to expand internal memory. All we get is some free OEM’s proprietary cloud service offering, free 25 or 50 GB Dropbox and what have you. Still there are those who will give you free 50 GB Dropbox storage and the ability to expand your storage.
Also instead of risking the security of my device by plugging it in random PCs, I prefer inserting my SD card separately, transferring the stuff I need, scanning it for any malicious software and then re-inserting it on my Droid. It is always safer. For me, expandable storage is still a big deal. I believe it also is for many out there. In such a case, the Galaxy S4 is the best high end device that will allow you to do this.
5. Android goodness
Of course you know I love Android. There are many smartphones that have been unveiled that will want to be the top of the Android breed this year. So far, I believe the Galaxy S4 is the strongest contender to top the Android charts when the year comes to an end.
Shipping with Android 4.2.2 that is heavily skinned with TouchWiz UI and an obvious update to Android 5.0 when it is released, the Galaxy S4 is not in any way lacking when it comes to Android goodness.
Mesmerized by how Google Now is able to accurately report to you the best route to work every morning? Can’t do without Google Apps? Invested heavily on apps n Play Store? The Galaxy S4 is sure to be your best bet. It brings two worlds together: Samsung’s handy features baked in and Android’s vast world of options.
Of course the openness that is associated with Android remains key here. Not a fan of TouchWiz UI? Nova Launcher and the likes are at hand to give you a full stock experience even without bothering with custom ROMs and rooting. As far as customization goes, you’re sure to be limited only by your imagination.
6. The return of the IR blaster
This is not a feature that everybody will be interested in but thanks to its inclusion in the Galaxy S4, you could soon see it pop up in many new smartphones.
What does an IR blaster mean for you? TV remote controls use infrared for you to easily fast forward or rewind episodes of Scandal from your sofa. The same here. Being what Samsung believes is your ‘Life Companion’ the Galaxy S4 will utilize its IR blaster, IR Gesture sensor and an app, WatchON o make your Life Companion also your TV companion.
IR blaster takes advantage of the built-in IR Gesture sensor. If the TV controlling is not what you’re interested in, you’ll be happy to know that it is the same sensor that will enable some other built in features of the device that I’ll highlight later on (Hint: played games on the Kinect? Notice carefully how you control the game. That’s how the IR Gesture sensor works).
7. The fastest!
The Galaxy S4 will pack the best of mobile processors out there. The Exynos 5410 Octa-core processor and the quadcore Snapdragon 600 have already been benchmarked and beaten every other device using other chips hands down. Numbers don’t lie. You can be pretty sure performance is guaranteed. Speed is critical in smartphones and particularly Android smartphones. With apps that require all that horse power a smartphone can produce increasing by the day and the HD displays requiring a lot to render everything as required, the 1.6 GHz clocked Exynos 5 chip and the 1.9 GHz clocked Snapdragon 600 will take in anything you throw at them and output the result faster.
There’s been growing discussion over which region will get which chip in the Galaxy S4. Well, apart from the bragging rights like “my device has 8 cores”, there isn’t much of a difference in the two processors that Samsung will be using on its flagship device. I don’t intend to be too technical but here’s why: the Exynos 5 Octa uses ARM’s new power saving technology etched in the big.LITTLE architecture thus CPU makers using ARM’s chip architecture have the option of having two quadcore processors; one utilizing 4 Cortex A7 cores and another utilizing 4 Cortex A15 cores. The Cortex A15 cores are for high performance and use more power while the Cortex A7 cores are for low performance and use less power. Thus you end up having 8 cores that don’t act as 8 but two sets of 4 cores. They alternate depending on the task involved. If you’re playing a resource intensive game then the phone switches to the Cortex A15 high-power quadcore set and if you are doing something less resource demanding like replying to mail, playing Sudoku, tweeting etc then the device automatically switches to the Cortex A7 quadcore set thus saving your battery. That’s the simplest way of explaining it. Hence there isn’t any disparity between the Snapdragon 600 processor and the Exynos 5 Octa. It is due to issues like LTE radios that some regions will have to forfeit Samsung’s in-house developed Exynos 5 processor for the Qualcomm made Snapdragon 600.
You may be asking when the Galaxy S4 will be available. There’s no word yet on when it will be available locally but it starts shipping globally on April 26th so expect it locally any time after that. I’ll update this post as soon as there’s word on exact dates.
Those are my reasons for choosing the Galaxy S4. Did I convince you? Would you pick it over the Xperia Z and the HTC One? Let me know via comments and on social media.
**UPDATE 1** 23rd April 2013
I promised to update you on the availability of the #GalaxyS4 locally as soon there was any info on the same. Well, we are three days from the expected global launch. The African market won’t be left behind. The Galaxy S4 will launch in South Africa and will be available locally a week after.
Interested in getting your Life Companion as soon as possible? Leading telecommunication service provider Safaricom Ltd got your back. They have unveiled a micro-site with all the info you need about the Galaxy S4. At Safaricom’s Nakumatt Westgate shop you can pay Ksh 15,000 through mobile money transfer service M-PESA at first and then clear the remainder (Ksh 43,000) when the Galaxy S4 is available (by May 10th). You can find more details about the pre-order here.
The Galaxy s4 will cost Ksh 57,999 (an equivalent of $725) on pre-order from Safaricom.
**UPDATE 2** 1st May 2013
I have put up a post detailing all you need to know about the Galaxy S4′s pre-orders, pricing and availability in Kenya. Check out the article here.