Samsung ‘s flagship model, the Galaxy S4, has been released to mixed reviews. Most of the critics love it and praise its groundbreaking technology. Ordinary users are less convinced it seems. When the new model arrives in stores shortly, it’s been suggested that the S4 will not sell the numbers envisaged as expectation will outstrip demand. So if you’d be banking on an upgrade for months now, you’re facing something of a quandary. Should you upgrade to an S4, or should you stick with what you already have?
Like its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S4 features feature a plastic body, rather than the ceramic and metal bodies found on rival phones. However, subtle and clever improvements to the design means the phone can accommodate a larger screen while keeping the Galaxy S4’s body smaller. It’s the same height as the Galaxy S3, a little less narrow and almost 1mm thinner. That may not sound like a big deal, but it’s a significant amount when you’re slimming down from under 9mm to under 8mm.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 currently will only be shipped in black and white finishes: the Samsung Galaxy S3 was shipped in a much wider variety of shades, including blue and red. However, there are suspicions that the S4 will follow suit and introduce more colours before long.
The essential difference between the S4 and the S3’s CPUs is that the new S4 has an eight-core chip where the S3 a quad-core CPU. However, it is as you would expect slightly more involved than that.
The Exynos 5 chip of the Galaxy S4 is more like two quad-core processor jammed together – one using Cortex-A15 performance cores and the other Cortex-A9 cores, designed for conserving battery life when doing low-demand everyday tasks. The thinking behind this is that this will give the S4 better power efficiency than its rivals. However the Galaxy S4 is still much more powerful than the S3. The S3 used the same Cortex-A9 cores as the low-power set of the Galaxy S4 – just clocked a bit higher, but the new phone is much more powerful. It also has double the RAM, with 2GB against the S3’s 1GB.
The core panel technology of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is identical to that of the S3. Both use AMOLED-type screens, as opposed to the IGZO and IPS-variant 1080p screens we’ve seen, or expect, in rivals like the Huawei Ascend D2, Sony Xperia Z and – of course – the fabled iPhone 5S.
There are some technical changes, though. The PenTile array has been changed a little to help fit in all the extra pixels of the new phone. The PenTile sub-pixel type remains, though – which means it uses an RGBG arrangement rather than an RGB one.
Everything else has changed though. Screen size has been upped from 4.8 inches to 4.99 inches, which is the largest Samsung could afford without making the phone itself larger. The Galaxy S4’s screen also benefits from significantly improved resolution. It’ll have a 1080p panel instead of a 720p one, offering 2.25 times the number of pixels as the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Samsung has introduced a series of new features on the Samsung Galaxy S4, including, Air Gestures, Smart Scroll, WatchON, S Translator, a redesigned camera app and Group Play. Some critics believe these features are simply gimmicks, but time will tell.
Samsung has given the Galaxy S4 a solid camera upgrade. It features a 13-megapixel sensor. This is in-line with the Sony Xperia Z’s snapper, but is a big upgrade from the 8MP sensor of the Samsung Galaxy S3. The Samsung Galaxy S4 also features a live HDR video mode.
Samsung has redesigned the interface of the camera app too, making it look a lot like the interface of the Samsung Galaxy Camera, based around feature dials you can flick around. Though it is likely the Samsung Galaxy S3 will get this at some point.
Samsung Galaxy S4 - Should You Upgrade?
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is more powerful, larger, has a more detailed screen and a higher megapixel-rated camera. So it seems worth upgrading. However, there have been suggestions that many of the other extra bits offered by the phone will eventually be added to the Samsung Galaxy S3, so maybe an upgrade is not as essential as you might think.