Over in the performance section, we have to award the Galaxy S4 with as many stars as possible. For GadgetGuy, this means applying a maximum of five, but if there were more to choose from, we’d probably feel justified in providing an extra because – simply put – this is one of the best performing pieces of equipment out there.
Let’s start with the usability, and thanks to Samsung going with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon, this phone flies.
Run one app, run five apps; hell, why not go the whole hog and run ten, because this phone doesn’t mind, and it will take all of it in stride. With 2GB RAM being that magic number Android seems to prefer and 2GB included, plus the fastest Snapdragon chip available to date in Australia, the Samsung Galaxy S4 performs brilliantly.
Games, apps, social networking, whatever: this phone will take anything you throw at it, and based on what we’ve experienced, should work that way for at least the next year, and probably more.
Network speeds are also awesome, and thanks to the wonderful high-speed 4G LTE connections on offer in Australia, you’ll find the S4 is capable of downloading things very, very quickly.
At most, we managed around 50Mbps, though generally we found our speed test sat around 30Mbps while running it in Sydney’s CBD on the Telstra network.
And then there’s the battery life, which just managed to surprise us, offering up to two days of life in our tests, and that was without power saving switched on. LTE speeds with two days of life is generally unheard of, and we only experienced something similar when we last reviewed Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2, which features a bigger battery.
Use your phone a lot – and we mean it – and you’ll manage a day of life, but everyone else should see a day and a half all the way up to two days, which is fine by us.
Some of the software bits and pieces added Android are excellent too, and welcomed with open green droid-like arms.
The Swype-like on-screen keyboard feels faster than it ever did, and we hear one of our favourite pieces of software – SwiftKey – is actually sitting underneath driving everything, even though the look is from Samsung’s now four-year old virtual keyboard.
Dropbox still includes 50GB storage with a Galaxy S4 purchase, and Navigon still has turn-by-turn GPS navigation software, but now Samsung is throwing more into the mix with the inclusion of Samsung Hub, which allows you to purchase books, apps, learning titles, and even movies in a system outside of Google Play.
A health app is also on here too, in case you’re looking to get in a little bit of shape without purchasing any extra hardware, though Samsung will be releasing fitness bands and scales later on to compliment the solution.
One other nifty and useful application is “S Translator” which looks to be an ideal program for anyone travelling to a foreign country.
While data is a requirement, S Translator allows you to type a phrase or speak into the application and have your words translated to a different language. Not all dialects or languages are supported, and as of the time of testing, Brazilian Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish were the only options.
WatchOn is another neat application, downloading show schedules from an electronic program guide (EPG) and connecting with your calendar to remind you when to watch certain shows.
Samsung has also provided a programmable remote control for your home theatre to use with the infrared in this phone, and while it’s functional, we do think that the interface provided on the HTC equivalent is better.