The Samsung Galaxy S4 blends a 5-inch 1080P HD display with a solid but plastic design and a collection of software features in a package that isn’t much larger than the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy S4 last night at a Radio City Music Hall with an over the top launch highlighting software features like automatic pause, eye tracking technology that enables smart scrolling and a new dual camera mode that combines images and video from both the front and rear facing cameras at the same time.
The Galaxy S4 also runs the latest version of Android, Android 4.2.2, which isn’t always the case on flagship phones.
After the announcement, Gotta Be Mobile spent an hour using the Galaxy S4, using the software features and checking out the numerous Samsung Galaxy S4 accessories Samsung announced a the event. Until we can share our full Samsung Galaxy S4 review, here are our first impressions and hands on with the Galaxy S4.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Hands-On Video
The video below highlights the design and features of the Samsung Galaxy S4, and includes a look at the new Dual Camera mode, as well as other features like Air View, which let users interact without touching the display.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Display
The 5-inch, actually 4.99-inch, Samsung Galaxy S4 display looks very nice. This is a full 1080P HD display, which means your smartphone has as high a resolution as your HDTV. On a smaller screen this translates into a 441 pixel-per-inch rating, which means crisp text and sharp-looking photos. There are no pixels to see here.
Samsung’s Super AMOLED display delivers beautiful looking images, videos and an overall stunning to use Android experience. We heard that the Galaxy S4’s display is covered in Gorilla Glass 3, which should keep things looking good even with some abuse.
The Galaxy S4’s 5-inch display excels at video and at multitasking thanks to the Multi-View feature which allows users to run multiple apps on-screen at the same time. What’s the point of a 5-inch display if you can’t use it to do more?
Samsung was able to put this display into a small package by cutting down the bezels on the sides of the phone, so in the end the Galaxy S4 is no larger than the Galaxy S3.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Design
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is made of plastic, of that there is no doubt. But, we aren’t quite sure how Samsung was able to up the look and feel of plastic this much.
The new polycarbonate back and bezels look nice, and feel nice. The back still feels somewhat like plastic, but it is not plastic-y feeling. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is 7.99mm thick and weighs in at 133 grams, thicker and heaver than the iPhone 5, but not by much.
The side of the Galaxy S4 features a silver band, which looks metallic enough that several other journalists asked if it was plastic or metal. The device feels very solid for a phone that offers a removable plastic back.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is about the same size as the Galaxy S3 or Nexus 4, despite the larger screen and multitude of sensors.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Features
Samsung packs in a number of new software and hardware features on the Galaxy S4. The device now users eye tracking to enable new features that should simplify use for many users. When the device detects a users’ eyes, tilting the Galaxy S4 back or forward will scroll on a webpage, a nice trick for enabling one-handed use on a larger phone. Check out Smart scroll in action in the video below.
Other smart features allow users to take calls by waiving their hand over the device and other control of the Galaxy S4 with motion gestures, such as scrolling up and down a webpage and other more advanced actions.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses an Infrared sensor to deliver a touch free experience with Air View. This feature used to require the S Pen and other technology, but now users can simply hover over a message or photo to see more details.
Samsung also showed of S Voice Drive, an in-car version of S Voice and S translator, which can automatically translate between a number of languages.
Samsung packs in eight sensors into the Galaxy S4 including on for temperature and humidity. Like the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4 features an IR port so users can control their home entertainment system without an extra remote.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Camera
The 13Mp camera on the Samsung Galaxy S4 took good looking photos of gadgets, scenery and people at the event. We couldn’t take any Sample photos with us, but the Galaxy S4 photo samples looked good on the device.
The Dual Camera Mode allows users to take a photo or video with the front and rear cameras, so that you can still be in the photo.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Accessories
Samsung announced a variety of Galaxy S4 accessories including a Galaxy S4 wireless charger that may or may not arrive on all carriers and regions. Samsung also showed off an S Health strap that monitors heart rates and pairs up with S Health.
The Samsung Galaxy S View cover is a Galaxy S4 case with an opening for the notification bar and clock, so users can see what’s going on without opening the case. Time will tell if this is a gimmick or a useful feature. We also saw a number fo Galaxy S4 flip covers and other accessories.
Samsung is planning to deliver an Xbox-like controller in May, which will work with up to 80 games, offering a more console like game experience.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 feels like a solid device that promises a good mix of hardware and software features. The new industrial design offers a more premium feel than the Galaxy S3, but still comes up short of the HTC One.
The expandability, a Micro SD card and a removable battery pairs up with a wide range of official Samsung accessories. These should help with consumer appeal, in a market dominated by iPhone only accessories.
Couple the design with new smart software features and the Galaxy S4 features a lot of potential. We are looking forward to spending more time with the Samsung Galaxy S4 for a full review.